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 have the option of replacing one of your electives with an internship or you can choose to do this as an extracurricular activity, so for example as an extra semester or during the summer. You can do an internship at an organisation or institution in the field of international or foreign relations, in or outside of the Netherlands.

This experience is highly valued within international organisations. In the past years International Relations students have done internships at a huge variety of organisations, including:

  • Security Policy Department (DVB) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Dutch Ministry of Defense
  • NGOs, for example Gender Concerns International or NGO’s focused on humanitarian aid
  • Think tanks, such as the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’, the International Centre for Counterterrorism and the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies around the world
  • European institutions - examples include Estonian presidency of the European Union, internships for members of the European Parliament
  • Media outlets such as Een Vandaag in Hilversum
  • Netherlands Permanent Mission to the United Nations

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)

For a more 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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