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International Relations in the Slavic Triangle: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus


Admission requirements

Open to all students from the MA programme Russian and Eurasian Studies. Students from other MA programmes require a Russian language reading level of B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, see CEFR.


This course analyses international relations between the eastern Slavic republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, which in recent years have returned to the news headlines worldwide and the top of policy-makers’ agendas from Washington to Beijing. It examines their relations at a bilateral level, as well as how the countries position themselves vis-à-vis Europe and Eurasia. Where relevant the course traces developments since the Soviet era; at the same time it requires a high degree of awareness of contemporary developments in the so-called Slavic Triangle.

Course objectives

The objective of the course is to provide students with an insight into the relations between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus within the Slavic Triangle, and between the countries of the Slavic Triangle and external actors such as the EU. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Show an understanding of the key theoretical concepts and frameworks essential for the study of international relations in the Slavic Triangle

  • Interpret developments since the break-up of the USSR and explain why these countries have followed such different paths of conflict and cooperation with each other and external actors

  • Analyse specific issues relevant to recent and current events in the comparative context of regional and global developments

  • Demonstrate their analytical and critical thinking skills through written and oral presentations


See Timetable.

Mode of instruction

This course is built around student-led seminars and group discussion with input from the lecturer and other experts.

Attendance and participation are obligatory. Absences without notification or good reasons can result in a lower or failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Classes: 26 hours

  • Compulsory readings and seminar preparation: 100 hours

  • Independent research and written assignments: 154 hours

Assessment method


Seminar preparation and presentations (30%), written assignments including a briefing paper (20%) and final research paper (50%). Late submissions without prior agreement for extenuating circumstances will be penalised.


Seminar preparation and presentations (30%), written assignments including a briefing paper (20%) and final research paper (50%). Late submissions without prior agreement for extenuating circumstances will be penalised.

In order to pass the course, students must have completed all assessment components to obtain a weighted average of 5.50 (=6) or higher.


In case of an overall mark of 5.49 or lower students can resubmit the final research paper on a new topic in consultation with the lecturer.

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 for:

  • communicating with students

  • sharing study materials

  • submitting assignments

  • providing feedback and grades

Reading list

Journal articles, book chapters and appropriate online material will be made available through Blackboard


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For questions about the content of the course, you can contact the teacher:
Dr. M.J. Frear
Coordinator of Studies: mw. drs. T. Bouma
Administrations Office: van Wijkplaats


Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).