nl en

Humanities-Based International Relations


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.


The course is designed as a post-graduate level introduction and survey to the theory and practice of world politics from a broad and inclusive humanities-based perspective. The complexity of the world we inhabit requires us to approach processes of change in global politics through multiple lenses and multiple contexts. A humanities-based approach focuses on how international relations shapes social conditions and systems of meaning across and within countries. The appreciation of how understandings of self, other, and the world are generated, sustained or transformed are essential. We therefore research global processes from a diversity of viewpoints—cultural, historical, religious, philosophical, ideological—whether in isolation or as assemblages, cognizant that human understanding shapes ways of seeing and acting in the world. We consider this as not just a pedagogical choice but also a pressing practical need. Humanities-based IR recognizes the normative implications of the study of global affairs, and it raises pertinent questions about policy relevance.

As a discipline IR expanded significantly in the second half of the twentieth century, and it did so largely within the social science. Historians, philosophers, cultural and regional experts and other ‘humanists’ however have been reflecting on issues of international cooperation and conflict for a very long time. Such approaches, moreover, have undergone an important renaissance in recent years. In this course we especially focus on the broader relationship between IR and the humanities.

This reading-intensive course constitutes two components: lectures (during bloc 1) and seminars (during bloc 2).

Course objectives

This course has three major objectives:
1. To introduce students to the approaches and perspectives of humanities-based IR.
2. To discuss the intertwining between IR and humanities disciplines.
3. To reflect on alternative critical perspectives on the theory and practice of IR from around the world.

During the lecture series, we introduce our HBIR approach that reflects on many of the complex challenges which the current world order presents. We will engage with scholarly debates and the practical implications involving a humanities-based approach to global politics today. We will draw insights from how other disciplines have reflected on questions relevant to IR and global politics. We will also discuss how IR as a discipline is understood and negotiated in different parts of the world.
During the seminars, students are prompted to expand on the topics discussed in the lectures. Based on academic texts and other relevant primary and secondary sources students will engage critically with the ways in which scholars in different disciplines as well as thinkers in different parts of the world have made sense of international affairs, and how they have learned from each other. Students will develop their critical thinking capacities and improve their ability to research, articulate, report, and defend their position (while evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of contrasting perspectives).

Students who finish this course are expected to:

  1. gain knowledge of the descriptive and prescriptive approaches and perspectives of humanities-based IR as a field of academic inquiry;
  2. acquire the ability to locate their area of interest within the discipline;
  3. reflect on the complex relationship between IR as a scholarly discipline and as a real-world, practical activity;
  4. develop their writing and oral communication skills that are crucial for professional careers.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar

Assessment method


  • Class participation – 30%

  • Policy proposal / presentation / paper – 30%

  • Research paper – 40%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.