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International Studies provides students with the tools to investigate globalization, and its regional effects, from a humanities perspective. They study these effects through the prism of four disciplinary perspectives: culture, history, politics and economics, coupled with in-depth knowledge of one of eight world regions. The humanities perspective is ensured by placing an understanding of the historic and cultural context central in the programme, and linking this directly to the political and economic conditions. Students learn to apply the acquired knowledge of the four disciplinary approaches in the analysis of a geographical area of their choice with the aid of a language native to that area.

Multidisciplinary knowledge, geographic specialization, language training, and a global perspective

The programme’s combination of multidisciplinary knowledge, geographic specialization, language training, and a global perspective, provides students with a unique understanding of the interactions of global, transnational, national, and subnational conditions and developments. Disciplinary understanding is introduced in three stages. The programme starts with a general introduction of the relevant theoretical and methodological approaches. It goes on to provide students with practical knowledge of the historical, cultural, political and economic conditions in a specific geographical area, and completes the disciplinary understanding by placing these conditions in their international context.
Parallel to the disciplinary approach the students are equipped with a range of instruments essential to the study of the impact of global developments on an area, including language and research skills. In their higher level courses students can further pursue self-selected combinations of an internship or exchange programme, electives and a consultancy project culminating in the BA thesis. Students thus exit the programme with a set of analytic skills and tools for investigating, understanding, and navigating the world and its diverse regions.

Multidisciplinary programme

The BA International Studies is designed around four elements:

  • Core courses that introduce disciplinary concepts and that analyze the international setting;
  • Area courses that analyze the situation in a selected region from a disciplinary and increasingly interdisciplinary perspective;
  • Language courses that prepare students for access to the cultural context in the relevant language;
  • Academic skills in International Studies, both general and programme specific.

And, in addition, a free-choice section of one semester, which offers a flexible learning path: Elective Credits.

The core concepts, ideas and methods are taken from four broad disciplinary approaches:

  • History (mostly modern history)
  • Cultural Studies (modern cultural phenomena in their societal settings)
  • Economy (and the concepts from International Political Economy)
  • Political Science (and Sociology and Anthropology)

The areas offered in the degree, and their corresponding languages are:

Area Foreign Language
East Asia Mandarin, Japanese, Korean
Latin America Spanish, Portuguese
Middle-East Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Modern Hebrew
North America French, Spanish
Russia and Eurasia Russian
Africa Swahili, French, Portuguese
South and South-East Asia Hindi, Indonesian
Europe French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German

Students have to decide about their preferred  area of specialization and corresponding language towards the end of the first semester.

Six semesters

Once the second semester starts, the core disciplines, the areas and the foreign language training begin to interact. These four disciplinary approaches are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, allowing students to develop increasingly sophisticated frameworks analysis. These ideas are explored and tested inside the chosen areas, often also with a comparative approach within the area. By the end of the third semester students choose from a range of thematic seminars designed to exploit and extend their increasingly sophisticated analytical capacities and ambitions. On the basis of these fourth semester courses and in consultation with their supervisor, students choose a thesis topic.

The fifth semester is reserved for a study abroad, an internship or a minor, in other words, the elective credits. The first year of the study must be completed to start the elective credits and a 7,0 GPA  is needed to be able to study abroad. Some universities require a higher GPA.

In the sixth semester, students follow a thesis seminar in the context of which they write their thesis. They also participate in the course Practising International Studies, a consultancy project with real life partners intended to train them in employing their academic skills in a professional context. The final language course, focused on application of the language, concludes the sixth semester courses. 

If students prefer to fill their elective space with courses that are taught in the fifth and sixth semester (as opposed to concentrated in the fifth alone), this is also possible; they then follow a thesis seminar in the fifth semester.

The tutorial system of BA International Studies is a crucial component of the International Studies Bachelor Programme. Since core courses are attended by a large number of students, it is in the tutorials that small-scale teaching takes place.

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