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Power Instruments


Admission requirements

This course is designed for the minor Global Affairs. It is not possible to follow single courses of this minor. You need to be enrolled in Usis for the minor to be accepted to this course. There are 300 places open for registration, on a first come first serve basis, where LDE students are given priority.

This course is also open for inbound exchange students if they wish to take the entire minor Global Affairs; it is not possible to take single courses from this minor. Exchange students must be admitted by the FGGA International Office prior to the start of the minor; priority will be given to direct exchange partners of FGGA. For more information about the application procedure for exchange students, please contact the FGGA International Office at


This course addresses the main features and limitations of instruments of power at the international level. It investigates in detail the recourse to military power and/or economic sanctions in the cases of, for instance, Libya, Kosovo, or Syria, together with the resulting political backlashes and legitimacy questions. It also investigates the impact of the new policies of the presidents Trump, Putin and Xi and puts those policies in a broader geopolitical framework.

The course also examines shortcomings arising from soft power usage, especially against the background of regionally diverging norms and values, and discusses new concepts such as hybrid warfare and strategic deterrence. The dilemmas and implications arising from the employment of specific power instruments will also be addressed from a practical perspective of decision-making.

Course objectives

The course objectives are:

  • To provide students with a theoretical knowledge of instruments of power and the practical challenges arising from their usage

  • To ensure students have a substantial knowledge of the pillars of power so as to be able to participate constructively in debates on global affairs

  • To enable students to conduct independent research and to critically assess and apply the literature

  • To enhance students’ analytical abilities in combination with their skills in writing, presenting and debating


The timetable will be displayed with a link on the website, Brightspace and on the front page of this minor programma.

The schedule 2020 will be published asap.

Mode of instruction

The class will consist mainly of lectures and class debates in which current affairs pertaining to the course content will be discussed and analyzed.

The course will conclude with a simulation game.

The total study load for this course is 140 hours, consisting of:

21 hours attending lectures and seminars
30 hours writing papers
89 hours studying the compulsory literature

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. For each missed class, an extra assignment needs to be made.

Assessment method

Research paper

  • 25% of total grade

  • Resit not possible

  • Grade can be compensated


  • 75% of total grade

  • Resit possible

  • Resit will take the same form

  • Grade must be 5.50 or higher to pass the course

Students will be permitted to resit the 75% final exam if they have a calculated overall course grade lower than 5.50 or with permission of the Board of Examiners. The research paper needs to be compensated.

Late hand in penalty: 0,5 minus per day, and after seven days we do not accept papers any longer.

The Course and Examination Regulation Security Studies and the Rules and Regulation of the Board of Examiners of the Institute of Security and Global Affairs apply.

Reading list

TBA on Brightspace


Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course, after registration for the entire minor.
Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. Important information about the course is posted here.
After enrollment for the course in uSis you are also enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.



All sessions will be in English.
Essays need to be written in English.