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Comparative International Security: Atlantic Allies and Authoritarian Adversaries (Previously: 'Pivots and Partnerships')


Admission requirements

This course is part of the minor Global Affairs and can thus only be followed as part of the minor or the track. The minor is accessible for bachelor students who have obtained their ‘propedeuse’ and have a keen interest in global affairs, but the level of teaching is most suitable for third-year students, particularly of Political Science, Public Administration, Law and International Studies. If there are any uncertainties about the suitability of your programme and profile to the minor, please do not hesitate to send an email to


Though the world has steadily become more peaceful, international security remains a key component of international politics. Ever since the Second World War, Western Europe has relied on its special relationship with the US for its security. This transatlantic relationship has been characterized by overlapping norms, economic interests, and security interests. This transatlantic relationship also found itself mostly opposed by authoritarian adversaries. Historically, it sought to balance against Soviet influence in Europe. After the end of the Cold War, it has taken a more ad-hoc role, as the US became the dominant power. Still, even today, the transatlantic relationship remains of special importance to European security in a mostly authoritarian world. This is demonstrated by the coordinated use of force in Bosnia, Libya, and the broader Levant as well as by political coordination with respect to Russia or Iran, for example.

This course on Comparative International Security examines how interests and regime characteristics of key actors interact to affect international security. To account for the widely different backgrounds of students, we will first provide a short overview of the international environment. We will then enter into an analysis of the transatlantic relationship and US interests therein. Third, we will examine authoritarian regimes with a focus on the pillars of support that these regimes rely upon and the deep insecurities that plague these regimes. Finally, we will bring these elements together to see how they affect key issues that we care about in international security, such as war and violence. In doing so this course not only provides a deeper understanding of the security implications that are associated with the political structure of the various actors, but also raises new questions with regards to foreign policy implications. These questions will carry through to the other courses in the second block of the minor.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students will be able to:

· Demonstrate an understanding of US foreign policy
· Demonstrate an understanding of the violent nature of authoritarian regimes
· Reflect on the complex nature of the authoritarian environment, its politics, and its relation to international security
· Reflect on the possibilities and limitations for the EU and US for dealing with authoritarian regimes
· Analyze, present and write about the topics above at an academic level


On the Global Affairs frontpage of the E-guide you will find a link to the timetable.

Mode of instruction

The course will primarily consist of lectures.

Assessment method

Short paper (40%)
Final exam (60%)

You can find more information about date and location assessments in the timetable.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.

On the Global Affairs frontpage of the E-guide you will find a link to the timetable, uSis and Blackboard.

_Resit_Students will be permitted to resit an examination if they have taken the first sit and have a mark lower than 5.5 or with permission of the Board of Examiners.

Resit written exam

Students that want to take part in a resit for a written exam, are required to register via uSis. Use the activity number that can be found on the ‘timetable exams’.



Reading list



Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.

Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted here.

Contact information

Global Affairs.


This course is part of the minor Global Affairs and can only be taken as part of this minor.