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Governing Transnational Linkages: Energy and other infrastructure in a climate-constrained world


Admission requirements

Only students of the Advanced MSc International Relations and Diplomacy programme can take this course.


This course focuses on the interaction between transnational infrastructure arrangements and international affairs. Transnational energy, transport, and telecommunication linkages not only facilitate economic exchange but also contextualise international relations. The governance of infrastructure matters: Large-scale construction projects require organisational frameworks to channel personnel, funding, and material resources. Subsequently, governance structures support the functioning of infrastructure links. With the ongoing low-carbon energy transition, new transnational infrastructure will be built, while the consequences of climate change already impact the utilisation of energy, transport, and telecommunication infrastructure.

Starting with an introduction to the governance of energy infrastructure in the EU, the course studies the role of vital transnational infrastructure in international affairs. The students learn about the topic by reading academic sources, such as journal articles and book chapters, as well as news coverage of relevant developments. To enable students to productively study transnational infrastructure arrangements in the context of international relations, the course considers the topic from several scholarly perspectives, including international political economy and political ecology approaches.

Infrastructure is at the core of governance responses that seek to deal with the challenges of both realising global climate neutrality and adapting to global warming. Governance arrangements in this realm will have long-lasting effects, domestically and internationally. Gaining a deeper understanding of the modes that govern transnational infrastructure is worthwhile. Knowledge of the interaction between infrastructure governance and international relations is helpful for practitioners in national governments and international bodies. It also enriches academic research on global affairs.

Course objectives

  1. Students will acquire basic knowledge of the governance of the EU energy sector and the challenges of the transition to a climate-neutral economy.
  2. Students will learn how to study the governance of infrastructure in the context of international relations, taking into account the governance structures, political economy, and political ecology of transnational linkages.
  3. Students will further develop their presentation, research, and academic writing skills.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-Prospectus you will find a link to the online timetables.

Mode of instruction

The course is seminar-based. For the duration of one block, the students will meet with the instructor once a week for a classroom session of 1.5 hours. Participation in the weekly classroom sessions is mandatory.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive 5 ECTS credits. This amount of credits is equivalent to a workload of 140 hours.

Attendance Policy
Attendance is mandatory, subject to course structure (see syllabus for details).

Assessment method


  • Presentation: on the governance of transport or telecommunication infrastructure in the EU

  • Policy Brief: on the governance of a transnational infrastructure topic in a self-chosen region

  • Essay: on a self-chosen infrastructure topic, written as a short version of an academic article (word count = ca. 1,800)

Final grades are calculated based on the assignments and active participation:

  • participation (10%)

  • presentation (20%)

  • policy brief (30%)

  • final essay (40%)

Failed partial grades or components should be compensated by passed partial grades or components. The calculated grade must be at least 5,5 to pass the course. It is not possible to re-sit a partial grade or component once you have passed the course.

  • Passed partial grades obtained in the academic year 2023-2024 remain valid during the academic year 2024-2025.

  • Should a student fail the overall course, s/he can complete the course in the next academic year. In cases of exceptional circumstances, a student may apply to the board of examiners for a resit to complete the course in the same academic year.

Reading list

Students will do most of the reading in preparation for the assignments (i.e., presentation, policy brief, and essay). Compulsory reading will include academic articles, book chapters, and news coverage related to infrastructure developments.
Academic articles and book chapters that are part of the compulsory reading list are available in the Leiden University Library.
A syllabus will help the students to prepare for the class sessions and detail the requirements for a successful completion of the assignments. It will be available at the beginning of the course.

This will be posted on Brightspace.


The programme will register the students in Usis based on the group division. Use Brightspace for course information.


Dr. Susann Handke
Questions regarding matters related to this course can be sent to this e-mail address. Personal meetings can be arranged as agreed upon by e-mail.


  • This course is an elective designed for MIRD students.

  • This elective is conditional on at least 5 students registering for this course.

  • Second year students have priority for the registration to this course.