Universiteit Leiden

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International Relations (MA)

Why Leiden University

A top-ranked university

Leiden University's Humanities department consistently ranks in the top 30 Humanties departments worldwide in the THE World University Ranking. At Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands, you can access resources found nowhere else in the world, such as those of the famous Leiden University Library and its collections of original manuscripts and periodicals.

An ideal location for the study of international relations

Leiden University offers you one of the best locations from which to explore and study the world, as well as launch your career. Our location close to The Hague, the legal capital of the world, brings you within easy reach of some of Europe and the Netherland's most important political and international organisations.

A centre of scholarly expertise

At Leiden University, we are among the leading centres in Europe for the study of international relations, with the largest concentration of scholarly expertise anywhere in the Netherlands. Many of our staff members enrich their research and teaching with additional insights garnered from their experience working in government, NGOs and other international organisations.

An individual approach to learning

At Leiden University we have a dedicated team of researchers in the field of International Relations. All classes are taught by accomplished scholars at Leiden. Small classes ensure every student has valuable time interacting with lecturers, each of whom is personally invested in you and developing your potential.

Diversity and inclusion

We are convinced that our education can only flourish if everyone within the programme feels supported, respected and empowered to do their best work. We find it important to offer a learning environment that allows for different perspectives and points of view that students bring with them, depending on their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, health, religion, age or socio-economic background. Every new generation sees the world from a new perspective – and our students are the newest generation. We look forward to hearing more about your perspective. Leiden University has been pursuing diversity policy since 2014, with the aim of creating a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment for all staff and students.

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Humanities-Based International Relations

Leiden University’s MA in International Relations offers a humanities-based approach to international relations blending ideas in world politics with historiographical, cultural, and area studies teaching and research in ways that connect global and local processes and dynamics.


Through its focus on history the programme aims to understand the human record across time and place. To understand the history of international relations entails analysis of the role of ideas in the world and in the field of international relations itself. 


The programme’s attention to culture brings to light the myriad ways in which the realm of the international is understood, lived, and experienced. A focus on culture also highlights how culture is produced and can be used as a political instrument, and how human expressive activities and practices intersect with relations of power.

Area studies

The strengths in area studies permit in-depth explorations across and within world regions and an appreciation of the world’s diversity and interdependence. The programme’s area studies scholars address a variety of historical and contemporary themes, exploring social, political, economic, and cultural features of world regions. 

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