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Decentering International Relations: Views from the Global South


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.
Pre-existing knowledge of the study of International Relations (including IR theories) is a strong recommendation.


This course problematizes the Western-centric nature of International Relations (IR) as a field of study, asking how ‘international’ IR really is, and why this matters. If we accept that someone’s positionality influences the way they understand the world, it makes sense to investigate whether there are ways of thinking about international relations and all of its associated challenges that are overlooked when applying theories and models that originated based on a particular geo-cultural context. Beyond critiquing existing frameworks, part of our quest is thus to explore how we can think and do IR differently by looking beyond the mainstream Western canon. This entails searching for both difference and similarity. While we will explore alternative perspectives from the global South that could help us to think differently about the state, sovereignty, development, conflict resolution, the relationship between humans and nature, etc., we will also investigate the implications of centuries of interaction and entanglement between different parts of the world for knowledge production and labeling. The course challenges you to revisit your own assumptions about the world, and to be open to alternative interpretations. As the project of decentering/decolonizing/ globalizing IR is an ongoing one, the class forms part of the discussion with every participant contributing to its development, and everyone learning from each other.

Course objectives

Once you have completed this course you will be able to:

  • Problematize the Western-centric nature of the field and its implications;

  • Illustrate familiarity with a range of ways of (re-)thinking/decentering/globalizing/decolonising IR;

  • Assess the challenges associated with different approaches to decentering IR;

  • Think critically and creatively about ways to broaden our understanding of world politics.

In addition to the above, this course also facilitates:

  • Critical reading: recognizing and understanding the authors’ arguments, discerning the underlying assumptions, and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses;

  • Thinking about real-world problems in an abstract way;

  • Writing and speaking about theoretical questions.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method



  • Participation (10%)

  • Short written assignment (20%)

  • Group presentation (30%)

  • Individual assignment (40%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the above assessments. Resit opportunities are available for written assignments for which a student has not achieved a passing (6+) grade.

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

The required readings will be indicated in the syllabus.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website


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

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


Not applicable.