Courses

Below you find the course descriptions of International Relations in Historical Perspective. The programme consists of compulsory courses, electives, an internship, and a Master's thesis. Read more about the curriculum.

International Relations in Practice (compulsory)

This course will focus on primary sources. The students will not only learn how to interpret primary sources such as resolutions, declarations, speeches and policy memos, but they will also become a policy advisor themselves by actually creating primary sources. Rather than passively analysing other people’s sources the students will actively engage in past and current affairs and make policy themselves. This course will raise the students’ awareness of the fact that the sources they usually study merely as static historical objects have actually been part of a dynamic process, which was intended to shape the future rather than reflect the past. After selecting and studying a wide range of sources from inter alia international organisations in depth, students will write their own policy memo, resolution or declaration, while taking the political context and the relevant goals into account. At the end of the course, students will also participate in the simulation of a large international organisation, such as the UN, so as to put their knowledge of International Relations in practice.

To pass this course students are expected to attend the extracurricular Meet the Experts Seminar Series. These are meant to increase the students' knowledge and understanding of how IR works in practice.

Career Orientation
By learning to write policy memos, resolutions and declarations and testing and defending these in a practical working situation, and by attending and actively participate in seminars with experts from the field students prepare themselves for a career in (foreign) policy making.

Research Seminar in International Relations in Historical Perspective (compulsory)

The research seminar’s main objective is to strengthen your research skills in accordance with an advanced MA level. To make this effort successful the seminar is divided in two parts. Part 1 is directed at gaining in-depth knowledge – both theoretical and empirical - concerning 1 of the 3 central focus areas of the Utrecht International Relations Department’s research program: Security and Conflict; Europe and the World; Globalisation and Global Governance.

During the second part you will write a well considered research proposal on the basis of the topics discussed during part 1. You will write your research proposal within the framework of a small tutor group, supervised by your lecturer. Your proposal will be assessed in accordance with the relevant criteria used to asses MA theses, though they still will be applied rather flexibly.

The following topical working groups are available:
Working Group I: To be confirmed

Working Group II: European integration and diplomacy
Lecturer: Dr Marloes Beers and Dr Trineke Palm

Working Group III: The Asian century
Lecturer: Dr. Steffen Rimner

The Modern World and States System: Comparing Historical and IR Theories (compulsory)

This course examines the theories and concepts designed to explain the nature of contemporary international relations, and how the modern world and its state system developed throughout history. This course enquires into the nature of international politics, questioning the role of theory and of history in advancing our understanding of it. The course relies on books by prominent authors, who analysing the international state system, or international society, from different perspectives. The focus will be on the emergence of the modern state, the correlation between the nation state and capitalism, the subsequent stages of development of the state system, the implications of humanitarian rules and values, the most recent developments in this field, as well as a view towards the future – one in which non-state actors, transnational networks and global organizations seem to be the key protagonists. This course aims to provide students with a range of concepts, ideas and perspectives on the evolution of international politics.

Case-studies in Europe and the World

The elective on this theme focuses on the international history of Europe and its relations with the wider world from the early modern period until the present. The history of Europe is marked by wars and crises as well as phases of international cooperation and even integration. Our aim is to uncover their driving forces by analysing the role of transnational ideas and networks, state- and non-state actors, and (multilateral) institutions and policies.

This elective deals with topics such as European multilateralism and integration, both within certain regions, ideological blocs and international organisations as well as between them. Furthermore, the foreign relations of empires and states in a changing historical context are investigated. The role of religion and the clash between religions within and outside Europe is also part of this research area.
The exact topics of this elective can vary from year to year, but they range from the international actors in the Spanish Civil War to the clash between Christianity and the Islam. In each year’s MA-programme book the available topics will be described in depth.

Themes include the foreign policies of early modern states and the role of ideological and religious networks as well as the relations between different European actors in the twentieth century, such as the relations between the Netherlands and Spain before and during the Cold War.

Case-studies in Globalisation and Global Governance

This elective studies long-term shifts in global affairs. International relations are increasingly shaped by global developments. Major security issues, economic interdependencies and international migration force us to think in global terms. These are not just issues of our time; it has been so since the heyday of imperialism, and has continued in ever changing configurations in the era of decolonisation, the Cold War and into the present day. We therefore argue that the recent rise of new states in the international arena, the conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the postcolonial relations that shape the global order and inform global political discourses ask for historical analyses.An angle that may be researched is the development of the processes of global governance, including issues of humanitarian intervention and post-conflict resolution. Another approach concerns the political developments in the Global South, in particular the problems of state building and democratisation, and the relationships in the postcolonial and Cold War global order.
The exact topics of this elective can vary from year to year, but they range from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the international history of Indonesia and the Global South. In each year’s MA-programme book the available topics will be described in depth.

Case-studies in Security and Conflict

The elective on Security and Conflict combines cutting-edge advances in theory and historiography with new empirical findings on political conflict and security. Issues of collective violence, terrorism, war and (in)security are studied from a range of theoretical angles and methodologies.

We aim to understand and explain international issues and processes with a particular focus on the way governing practices of conflict and security intersect with particular threat perceptions, knowledge practices and histories of intervention.
The exact topics of this elective can vary from year to year, but they range from military violence to terrorism and intelligence. In each year’s MA-programme book the available topics will be described in depth.

The topic at stake will be approached from a wide range of perspectives. International relations, domestic social and political relations, geographical position, technological developments, experiences in the recent and far past, institutional interests and cultural factors: all of these dimensions influence how states or other entities perceive threats against their security and how they respond to these.

Applied Research Lab (compulsory)

An applied research project of at least three months offers you the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills in practice. In this applied research track you will work with a number of students on a UU-based project with external stake-holders, ranging from e.g. Intelligence to Terrorism in the Classroom. You will learn how to analyse sources and data and put them to practical use, how to work in a team, and how to translate your research skills into the demands of society. This applied research track will thus equip you for the job market in both practical and professional terms.

Please note: students must have at least 20 credits for the category M (Master), obtained by completing the following courses:

GKMV16010 Ges-Modern world and states system (5 EC)
GKMV16012 Ges-Research seminar MA IR/HP (5 EC)

And two of the programme's electives:

GKMV18004 Ges-Security and Conflict (5 EC)
GKMV18005 Ges-Europe and the World (5 EC)
GKMV18006 Ges-Globalisation and Global Governance (5 EC)

Internship MA Programme International Relations in Historical Perspective (compulsory)

An internship of at least three months offers you the opportunity to test your knowledge and skills in practice. Keep in mind that international organisations like the EU or the UN, or the Foreign Ministry of your country cannot offer a job to everyone with a MA degree in IR. However, with your skills in gathering reliable sources of information, and using these to write in-depth analyses on a variety of policy issues in an understandable language, you have the right profile to start a career as a policy maker with every organization and agency in the profit and non-profit sector. An internship in the world of international politics is great, but a policy internship with a multinational, a bank, or a consultancy agency can be rewarding and valuable as well. Of course you may also want to test your skills in the world of journalism. And if you opt for an academic career contact applied research agencies like Clingendael, Center for Terrorism and Counter Terrorism and the Insitute of Military History. When having acquired an internship, please contact you MA coordinator who will assign you to an internship supervisor. Note: you must have at least 20 credits for the category M (Master) before starting your internship, obtained by completing the following courses:

GKMV16010 Ges-Modern world and states system (5 EC)
GKMV16011 - Ges-IR in practice (5 EC)
GKMV16012 Ges-Research seminar MA IR/HP (5 EC)

And two of the programme's electives:

GKMV18004 Ges-Security and Conflict (5 EC)
GKMV18005 Ges-Europe and the World (5 EC)
GKMV18006 Ges-Globalisation and Global Governance (5 EC)

Thesis MA Programme International Relations in Historical Perspective (compulsory)

In the Middle Ages student-craftsmen had to show their master that they were really capable of building a decent piece of furniture or forging a fine example of ironwork before they were allowed to enter the guild of their profession. Writing a final thesis is in fact a comparable exercise. Equipped with the knowledge and skills you have acquired and expanded during your MA it is now time to show whether you may verily call yourself a Master in International Relations.

Thesis supervision takes place within the framework of so-called Thesis Tutorial Groups. Thesis tutorials start in February.The lecturer coordinating your Thesis Tutorial is also your supervisor. The Thesis Tutorial Group intends to guide you through the thesis writing process without any delays.

Note: you must have at least 20 credits for the category M (Master) before starting your thesis, obtained by completing the following courses:

GKMV16010 Ges-Modern world and states system (5 EC)
GKMV16012 Ges-Research seminar MA IR/HP (5 EC)

And two of the programme's electives:

GKMV18004 Ges-Security and Conflict (5 EC)
GKMV18005 Ges-Europe and the World (5 EC)
GKMV18006 Ges-Globalisation and Global Governance (5 EC)

Research Tutorial MA International Relations in Historical Perspective (compulsory)

This research tutorial will deal with themes of global governance, in particular related to the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East, past and present, in a global context, including several fields adjoining international and global history such as international law, protest movements, new patterns of international cooperation, non-state roots of global governance and the historical origins of global security threats. In this tutorial the nexus between global and European affairs will also be explored in an international comparative framework, and students will get ample of opportunity to select a theme of their own interest within this broad expertise.

This tutorial offers you the opportunity to find your way through hardly discovered territory. The underlying idea is to sharpen your analytical skills even more in order to prepare you for writing a 20 EC research thesis at an expert plus level. If you have set your eyes on a research career in the field of International Relations, this tutorial is a must.

Note: students must have at least 25 credits for the category M (Master) before starting the Research Tutorial, obtained by completing the following courses:

GKMV16010 Ges-Modern world and states system (5 EC)
GKMV16011 Ges-IR in practice
GKMV16012 Ges-Research seminar MA IR/HP (5 EC)

And two of the programme's electives:

GKMV16013 Ges- Globalisation and Global Governance (5 EC)
GKMV16014 Ges-Security and Conflict (5 EC)
GKMV16015 Ges- Europe and the World (5 EC)

Research Thesis MA International Relations in Historical Perspective (compulsory)

In the Middle Ages student-craftsmen had to show their master that they were really capable of building a decent piece of furniture or forging a fine example of ironwork before they were allowed to enter the guild of their profession. Writing a final thesis is in fact a comparable exercise. Equipped with the knowledge and skills you have acquired and expanded during your MA it is now time to show whether you may verily call yourself a Master in International Relations.

As you will be writing a research thesis we expect you to offer something extra. Your 'piece of furniture or ironwork' should apart from decency also show some eloquence. In other words your research should not only be more extended, but also show a higher level of analysis including a more expanded use of primary sources (such as archival material, interviews and resolutions, declarations, proceedings and policy-papers from the internet). You should aim to provide a clear contribution to scholarship, by making an independent and important contribution to the relevant field.

Note: you must have at least 25 credits for the category M (Master) before starting your thesis, obtained by completing the following courses:

GKMV16010 Ges-Modern world and states system (5 EC)
GKMV16012 Ges-Research seminar MA IR/HP (5 EC)
GKMV16018 Ges-Research Tutorial MA IR/HP (5 EC)

And two of the programme's electives:

GKMV18004 Ges-Security and Conflict (5 EC)
GKMV18005 Ges-Europe and the World (5 EC)
GKMV18006 Ges-Globalisation and Global Governance (5 EC)