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Core Course Culture and Politics


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track Culture and Politics, or track International Studies (for students of the February 2019 intake).


This course examines the relationship between culture and politics. It begins by exploring various understandings of culture from high culture to popular culture, and from anthropological notions of culture as “a way of life” comprising the whole set of practices characteristic of a group or society to notions in literary and cultural studies of culture as a set of relations of production, circulation, reception and power. The first half of the course explores a variety of modes of culturally inhabiting the world of international politics as well as their contestation; examples may include metaphors and models, narratives and myths, rituals, as well as images and icons. The second half focuses on political themes in popular cultural works. Examples may include the representation of the developing world in discourses about aid, the image of the military in films and recruitment advertisements, and the relationship between superhero narratives and global capitalism. Students will be introduced to a range of methods, including semiotics, content analysis, and discourse analysis, among others drawn from the fields of linguistics, media and cultural studies that will be useful for the analysis of politics later in their degree. The course will also examine and critique attempts to mobilize culture in order to achieve political goals.

Course objectives

Through active participation in this course, diligent students will:

  • Gain understanding of key concepts, debates and methods regarding culture and politics

  • Deepen knowledge of how culture serves to disclose the character of international politics in distinct ways

  • Expand awareness of the manner by which culture functions both to reinforce and to contest relations of power

Through active participation in this course, diligent students will also:

  • Develop critical thinking skills while exploring a diversity of cultural traditions as well as how culture is leveraged in the international political realm and the study thereof

  • Cultivate the ability to synthesize large amounts of information and to distil complex arguments

  • Improve writing skills through assignments

  • Strengthen public speaking skills through engagement with peers in class discussion

  • Foster teamwork skills through group projects



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 280 hours
Lectures: 26 hours

Students are expected to organize their time to complete the required readings and coursework in a way that best suits their abilities.

Assessment method

  • 10% Participation

  • 10% Presentation #1

  • 10% Presentation #2

  • 35% Research Paper #1 (3000 wds.)

  • 35% Research Paper #2 (3000 wds.)


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


Students who have been active participants in class (i.e., received a sufficient participation grade) and submitted their assignments on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of course elements that received an insufficient grade.

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.


Yes, course information will be accessible via Blackboard before the start of the course.

Reading list

  • Gillian Rose, Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials, Sage, 2016, 4th Edition. Please make sure you purchase the correct edition. This will be supplemented with additional texts.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Dr. J.H. Valk