Universiteit Leiden

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European Union Studies (MA)

About the programme

The European Union Studies programme is a specialisation of the master’s programme in International Relations and examines the processes of European integration from an interdisciplinary angle by a mix of specialist, academic researchers and experts with direct experience in policy-making and policy-implementation.

Programme structure

Semester 1 Semester 2
History of European Integration (5 EC) 3 electives (15 EC total)
Institutions of the EU (5 EC) Thesis (15 EC)
EU Law (5 EC)  
Economics of the EU (5 EC)  
Regionalism in World Politics (5 EC)  
Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research (5 EC)  

In addition to these courses, you will attend a number of EU seminars.

You may choose electives from a wide range of graduate level courses offered across the Faculty of Humanities. You will also have the possibility to exchange one elective for an internship at an organisation / institution in the field of international or foreign relations, in or outside of the Netherlands. Note that students have to find their own internships, follow an internship procedure for approval, and that pursuing an internship may have consequences for the date of graduation.

The preparatory course introduces you to core conceptual, methodological and theoretical issues you meet when you initiate, research, and write your MA thesis. In addition, a series of seminars will enable students to discuss specific issues relating to International Relations. Your thesis is supposed to be based on original research that speaks to the core themes of the MA International Relations.

Below you will find some recent examples of thesis subjects:

  • Normative Power Europe? The EU Projection of Normative Power Outside and Inside the UN (2016-17)
  • Investments in Solar Power: a Practical Approach to Transaction Cost Theory: case study of Italy and Germany (2016-17)
  • What are the pull factors of migration? Evidence from the Central Mediterranean Route 2011-2016 (2016-17)
  • The Europeanization of national foreign policy in the Middle-East Peace Process: The cases of France, the United Kingdom and Germany (2016-17)
  • Civil Society Participation in EU Policy-Making: ‘Greening’ in the 2013 CAP Reform (2016-17)
  • The protection of Media Freedom as a Fundamental Right au pays des droits de l'homme - A focus on Institutional Act n°2009-257 (2016-17)
  • How Westbindung prevailed over Ostpolitik (2016-17)
  • The possibility of fighting terrorism through the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) (2016-17)
  • The Enforceability of Labour Rights in Bilateral Trade Agreements of the European Union: The Case of CETA (2016-17)
  • Freedom of Expression: Religiously Offensive Speech in France and the Case of Charlie Hebdo (2016-17)
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Flipped classrooms
  • Role plays
  • Moot courts
  • Self-study
  • Internship (optional)
  • Thesis
  • Exams
  • Peer feedback and assessment
  • Essays, reports and final thesis
  • Oral presentations

The acquisition of advanced academic skills in the interpretation of texts and the analysis of complex conceptual problems, as well as the ability to independently conduct high-quality scientific research are key goals of the programme.

A second MA at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe: School of Advanced International Studies

Due to a special agreement between the two universities, it is possible to earn a second degree at the European campus of Johns Hopkins University SAIS, in Bologna, Italy. Your Leiden MA degree in International Relations gives you access to the second year of the research-oriented Master of Arts in International Affairs (MAIA).  Candidates admitted to the Bologna programme would be given a full year’s credit towards this two-year MA. The MAIA at SAIS Europe is a research-focused program where students have the flexibility to personalize their curriculum and focus on the contemporary issues in international affairs of the greatest importance aligned with their career interests. Courses at SAIS Europe emphasize economics, political science, history and foreign language proficiency, providing a cross-disciplinary approach.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, please check the Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Jan Oster

Researcher and University Lecturer

Jan Oster

“The main strength of our MA in International Studies: European Union Studies programme is that we focus on one topic: the European Union, but from the perspectives of theories and concepts from different disciplines including history, economics, political science and law. This makes our programme unique and unrivaled.”

Classes by practitioners

“Our classes are given by academic staff as well as by practitioners with a background in politics, diplomacy, business and the non-governmental sector. Our students also attend the very popular European Seminar in The Hague, where academics, journalists and politicians provide first-hand insights into their work. One of the highlights of the academic year is a three-day trip to Brussels, where our students visit EU institutions, member states’ representations and lobby groups together with one of their lecturers."

Ideal career preparation

"With their MA in International Relations: European Union Studies qualification, our students are experts in the ever-increasing field of EU policy, which is  ideal preparation for a career in an EU institution or as a policy advisor. We also furnish students with the necessary analytical, research and writing skills, and encourage their independent and critical thinking. Many graduates of our programme also work in private companies or pursue an academic career."

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