Universiteit Leiden

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Global Conflict in the Modern Era (MA)

About the programme

In the Global Conflict in the Modern Era specialisation of International Relations you will explore the security measures that have been instituted locally, regionally and globally in the modern world.

Programme structure

All specialisations (except European Union Studies) follow the same format:

Semester 1 Semester 2
Core course for your specialisation (10 EC) Regionalism in World Politics (5 EC)
Preparatory course for your thesis (5 EC) Elective (10 EC)
Humanities-based International Relations (5 EC) Thesis (15 EC)
Elective (10 EC)  

MA Thesis

When it comes to picking a topic for your thesis, you have great freedom in what you want to write about. We have many thesis supervisors who have different expertise.

MA Thesis preparatory course

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 you to discuss specific issues related to International Relations. 


You have the opportunity to replace one elective with an internship or to pursue an internship as an extracurricular activity. Both options usually imply a study extension because you would delay graduation by one semester. Yet this possibility is valued and used by many of our students.

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


You may choose electives (20 EC total) from a wide range of specialist courses. Please see the examples below or in the online study guide.

Detailed programme

Course EC
Core Course Global Conflict in the Modern Era 10
Ideas in World Politics 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations Research (GC) 5
Regionalism in World Politics 5
MA Thesis Global Conflict in the Modern Era 15
Core Course Global Conflict in the Modern Era 10
Ideas in World Politics 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations Research (GC) 5
Course EC
International Intervention 10
International Relations of the Middle East 10
Modern United States Foreign Policy 10
Security Governance 10
Strategy and Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice 10
War by Contract? The Drivers and Implications of Security Privatization 10
War, Peace, and Mass Media: The Arab-Israeli Conflict in the Public Sphere 10
A History of the United Nations 10
Brazil in the Portuguese Speaking World: Political and Cultural Dynamics 10
Corruption in Russia and Eurasia 10
Decentering International Relations: Views from the Global South 10
Economic Development and Social Change in Southeast Asia 10
Histories of Southeast Asia (10 EC) 10
Human Rights and Global Governance: History, Theory, and Politics 10
International Relations in the Slavic Triangle: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus 10
Rethinking Secularism in International Relations 10
Internship MA International Relations 10
Gender and Race in Historical International Relations 10
Issues in Latin American Foreign Policies 10
International Relations of the Middle East: Everyday Matters 10
Non-state Actors in International Peace and Conflict 10
Power and Resistance in the Modern Middle East 10
Researching Authoritarianism: the Politics of Conflict, Violence and Genocide 10
Strategy and Grand Strategy in Theory and Practice 10
Violent Rebels in International Affairs 10
China-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order 10
China and Global Cyberspace 10
Contemporary Brazil 10
Contemporary Indian Politics 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (10 EC) 10
U.S. Culture and Identity in an Age of Globalization 10
Internship MA International Relations 10

Online Study Guide

For a more detailed programme and an overview of the electives, 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.

Eugenios Cusumano

University Lecturer

Eugenios Cusumano

"Security, threat, terrorism, and war are essentially contested concepts that need to be studied from different theoretical perspectives and disciplinary angles in order to be fully understood. By combining political science, history, and area studies, the programme in Global Conflict in the Modern Era at Leiden University offers unique insights into the study of today’s security crises and humanitarian emergencies."

Challenging state-centric understandings

"As a multidisciplinary programme, the Master's in International Relations offers an ideal environment to study phenomena that challenge traditional, state-centric understandings of international relations such as the increasing role of non-state actors in international security."

Debating controversial questions

"By joining the programme students will have the opportunity to engage in debates on controversial questions such as the balance between security and individual rights including privacy and freedom of movement, the appropriateness of humanitarian intervention, the extent to which migration should be considered a security issue, and the role of commercial actors in the conduct of military operations."

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