Prospectus

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International Relations: Culture and Politics

The one-year Master of Arts in International Relations, specialisation Culture and Politics offered by the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University, considers the cultural dynamics of power, dominance, and resistance, and more generally explores critical perspectives on the complexities of culture as an inextricable part of global politics.

The programme (60 EC total – 30 EC per semester) consists of a Core Course Culture and Politics and two general core courses (Humanities-based International Relations and Regions in World Politics) as well as a combined thesis seminar and methods course and a thesis. The remaining 20 EC (10 EC per semester) can be acquired by choosing two electives (max. 20 students per elective): one elective has to be chosen from the core specialization electives, the other elective can be picked from the complete list of electives that are offered for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

Please note that there may be additional entry requirements for electives that are offered by other departments, and that the number of places available for Culture and Politics students might be limited. Also make sure you read the details under ‘more info’ for more detailed information about the curriculum and your options.

All students have to apply for admission, see mastersinleiden.

All students of the February 2023, September 2023, and February 2024 intakes please refer to the more info tab for a full overview of the curriculum.

Programme

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Programme details for students starting in September 2023

September Semester

Mandatory courses (20 EC)

Core Course Culture and Politics 10
Humanities-Based International Relations 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations and Research (CP) 5

Electives (choose 10 EC)

During the complete programme, students take 20 EC worth of electives. Of these, students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

See: Electives for a complete overview

February Semester

Mandatory courses and thesis (20 EC)

Regions in World Politics 5
* MA Thesis Culture and Politics 15

Electives (choose 10 EC)

During the complete programme, students take 20 EC worth of electives. Of these, students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

See: Electives for a complete overview


Programme details for students who started in February 2023

September Semester

Mandatory course and thesis (20 EC)

Regions in World Politics 5
* MA Thesis Culture and Politics 15

Electives (choose 10 EC)

See: Electives for a complete overview


Programme details for students starting in February 2024

February Semester

Mandatory course (20 EC)

Core Course Culture and Politics 10
Humanities-based International Relations 5
Thesis and Methods in International Relations and Research (CP) 5

Electives (choose 10 EC)

During the complete programme, students take 20 EC worth of electives. Of these, students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

See: Electives for a complete overview

Courses and Thesis, September 2024 (30 EC)

For mandatory courses and Electives for September, semester 2024, see e-prospectus 2024-2025 (will be available on the first of June 2024)

Electives

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester 1 (September 2023)

Core specialization electives (choose 10 EC minimum during the complete MA):

Electives that can be chosen within the specialization.

Brazil in Latin American and Global Perspectives 10
Remapping the City in Modern Literature and Visual Cultures 10
The Politics of Heritage in the Middle East 10
International Relations of the Middle East: Everyday Matters 10
The Power of Words: Discourse and Society in the Middle East 10
Interculturality: Key Concepts 10

Additional electives (choose 10 EC maximum during the complete MA):

Electives that do not count toward the specialisation

Modern United States Foreign Policy 10
Informality, Exclusion and (Adverse) Inclusion: Foundations and Key Concepts 10
The place of the political in Latin American literature and cinema 10
The Museums of the Future: Ethics, Responsibilities and Practices 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 10
Narratives That Matter: Literature, Film and Television Drama in the Middle East 10
Social and Cultural History of the Middle East: the Ottoman Empire (1300-1922) 10
Post-Soviet Wars: Economic Collapses and Their Violent Consequences 10
Internship MA International Relations 10

Semester 2 (February 2024)

Core specialization electives (choose 10 EC minimum during the complete MA):

Electives that can be chosen within the specialization

Cultures of Resistance: South Asia and the World (10 EC) 10
Politics of Culture in Southeast Asia (10 EC) 10
Issues in Latin American Foreign Policies 10
Decentering International Relations: Views from the Global South 10
In the Time of Cities: Space, Place, and Politics in the Urban Middle East [CANCELLED] 10
Cold War Terror and Cultures of Resistance in Latin America 10

Additional electives (choose 10 EC maximum during the complete MA):tiv

Electives that do not count toward the specialization

China and Global Cyberspace 10
Contemporary Indian Politics (10 EC) 10
Esotericism, Politics, and Global South Asia 10
Global Social Policy: The Political Economy of Social Reproduction 10
Leiden Elective Academic Periodical 10
Contemporary Brazil 10
New Latin American Feminisms 10
Art, Museums & Cultural Memory (with excursion to Berlin) 10
From Inkwell to Internet: Text and Transmission in the Muslim World 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10
The Gulf and Arabian Peninsula: Power, Class, Mobilities 10
Internship MA International Relations 10

More Info

Objectives Structure Master thesis and requirements for graduation Specialisations Contact information

Objectives

The programme has the following objectives:
1. to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of International Relations;
2. to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • independent academic reasoning and conduct,

  • the ability to analyse complex problems,

  • the ability to clearly report academic results, both in writing and orally;

  1. to prepare students for an academic career and further education;
  2. to prepare students for a career outside academia.

Structure

  • Students wishing to replace the additional (non-specialisation) elective (10 EC) with an external course or internship, please contact the study adviser to discuss your options. Other courses can't be replaced.

  • If you wish to receive an exemption for one or more courses based on similar previously completed courses on Master level, please contact the study adviser.

September 2023 semester for students who started in February 2023:

  • Elective (10 EC) - students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

  • Regions in World Politics (5 EC)

  • Thesis (15 EC)

September 2023 semester for students starting in September 2023:

  • Core Course Culture and Politics (10 EC)

  • Humanities-Based International Relations (5 EC)

  • Thesis Seminar and Methods in IR Research (5 EC)

  • Elective (10 EC) - students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

February 2024 semester for students starting in September 2023:

  • Regions in World Politics (5 EC)

  • Elective (10 EC) - students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

  • Thesis (15 EC)

February 2024 semester for students starting in February 2024:

  • Core Course Culture and Politics (10 EC)

  • Humanities-Based International Relations (5 EC)

  • Thesis Seminar and Methods in IR Research (5 EC)

  • Elective (10 EC) - students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

September 2024 semester for students starting in February 2024:

  • Regions in World Politics (5 EC)

  • Elective (10 EC) - students must choose one core specialization elective and can choose one elective from the complete list of electives on offer for the specialization (core specialization electives and additional electives).

  • Thesis (15 EC)

Master thesis and requirements for graduation

A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with a supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analyzing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. Moreover, this process must be recorded in an academically sound report.

Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a Master’s course that they followed. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which inspired the thesis. In case of doubt, students can always consult other supervisors within the Humanities Faculty.

During the first semester, students will complete the 5 EC course Thesis Seminar and Methods in International Relations Research in which they will choose a topic for their thesis, formulate a research question, and submit a research proposal and literature review. Students who have not fulfilled the requirements of this course or have not received the approval of the Examinations Committee will not have their MA thesis supervised.

The thesis for the MA International Relations is a maximum of 15.000 words including notes, bibliography and appendices. The thesis is supervised by a lecturer in the Humanities Faculty, who possesses expertise in the relevant field. The thesis is judged by two lecturers involved in the program.

In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:

  • Formulating and analyzing the research question;

  • Structure of the thesis;

  • Integration of primary and secondary literature into the argument;

  • Argumentation skills;

  • Style, use of language and lay-out;

  • Independent and original research

Graduates of the programme have attained the following learning outcomes, listed according to the Dublin descriptors:

1. Knowledge and understanding

a. knowledge and understanding of the discipline of International Relations, including its evolution, key
debates and paradigms;
b. insight into regional and global politics grounded in the diversity of human understanding and experience
across time and space.

2. Applying knowledge and understanding

a. the ability to conduct independent academic research that is original and reflects insight into the key
discussions of the field;
b. the ability to comprehend diverse perspectives and apply appropriate theoretical frameworks and
methodological approaches in the conduct of research.

3. Judgement

a. the ability to locate primary and secondary sources and critically evaluate evidence derived from them;
b. the ability to recognize and assess arguments on the basis of their quality and reliability;
c. the ability to analyze complex issues, logically, systematically, and coherently;
d. the ability to draw original, evidenced-based conclusions.

4. Communication

a. the ability to present analyses in a cogent manner both orally and in writing and through a variety of
formats (including digital) to academic and non-academic audiences;
b. the ability to debate constructively and negotiate effectively

5. Transferable skills

a. the ability to apply the academic research skills acquired during the programme of study to professional
environments;
b. the ability to work creatively and effectively, in a self-directed manner and with proper time-management,
both individually and in a team;
c. the capacity to assimilate feedback from supervisors and peers and in turn offer feedback to the work of
others.

Specialisation in Culture and Politics

1. Knowledge and understanding

a. the ability to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts, and methods by which culture
and politics are analysed to an advanced level that provides a basis for originality in developing and/or applying
ideas within a research context;
b. the ability to demonstrate insight into the ways in which state and non-state actors leverage culture politically,
and how diverse cultural understandings produce, circulate, and reinforce meaning about global political
phenomena.

2. Applying knowledge and understanding

a. the ability to conduct independent academic research that reflects insight into key discussions of culture and
politics;
b. the ability to analyse cultural works and practices which are diverse with respect to medium (e.g., movies,
literature, music, comics and cartoons, games, ceremonies) and relevant to the study of international relations.

Specialisations

Culture and Politics is one of the specialisations of the Master International Relations.

The Master International Relations has five specialisations:

  • Culture and Politics

  • European Union Studies

  • Global Conflict in the Modern Era

  • Global Order in Historical Perspective

  • Global Political Economy

Contact information

For more information, please contact the study adviser.

Career Preparation

Career Preparation in the MA International Relations

The programme

How can you use the knowledge and the skills that you acquire during the MA International Relations? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you’d like to do after graduation?

These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.

Activities

You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of the MA International Relations include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.

The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of the MA International Relations

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester.

Contact

If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your coordinator of studies, Janneke Walstra