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The Humanities and International Relations


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


This elective is focused on how the study of international relations (IR) is intertwined with the humanities disciplines, particularly history, cultural and religious studies, and area studies. While IR is a relatively new discipline, having only emerged as a formal field of study in the twentieth century, historians, philosophers, theologians and regional experts have been reflecting on questions of international cooperation and conflict for as long as they have existed. What insights can we draw from this ancient and modern wisdom for the study of international cooperation and conflict today? How, in turn, can humanists benefit from the insights and conceptual depth which IR has developed over the last century? These are the key questions addressed in this course.

As well as reflecting on the broader links between IR and the humanities, students will consider how the interchange between the humanities and IR can enrich our understanding of particular topics such as the rise of China, the future of the European Union, and America’s role as a superpower. Students will have an opportunity to write a research paper focused on a particular region, historical moment, or theoretical issue. Towards the end of the course, we will convene a conference spread over two classes in which students present their research proposals and have the opportunity to receive feedback from the class as a whole.

Course Objectives

The course is focused on teaching students to think critically about the ways in which scholars in different disciplines try to understand international affairs, and how they can learn from each other. The focus is not so much to transmit knowledge as to develop critical faculties and the ability to research, articulate and defend a position. The conference-style presentations will give students experience of moderating, chairing and debating before an audience, valuable skills inside and outside of academia in the future. The weekly reviews of literature will also help students learn how to analyze and critique written arguments, a skill they will find useful when writing research papers and their theses later on.


Via the website.

Mode of instruction

Weekly two-hour seminars.

Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes (attendance is compulsory)

  • 120 hours of reading and writing of reviews (10 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 30 hours to prepare research proposal

  • 30 hours to prepare presentation

  • 76 hours to complete the final essay

Total: 280 Hours for 10 ECTS

Assessment Method

Students are expected to:

  • do the pre-assigned readings prior to each class, and participate fully in the discussions. You should bring the readings to class;

  • submit a short discussion paper every week before class (max 1 page) reviewing the main arguments of the pre-assigned readings (no summaries!)

  • submit and present in a conference-style format a proposal for an end of term paper, which contains: research question or hypothesis; a 1 page outline, and a preliminary bibliography;

  • write end of term paper on a well-defined aspect of the course (max.
    3,500 words).


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average according to the following:

  • Participation and attendance: 15%

  • Discussion papers: 15%

  • Proposal and presentation: 20%

  • End of term paper: 50%


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

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

To be posted on Blackboard before class begins.


Via uSis.

Contact information

Dhr. Dr. A.J. Gawthorpe