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Reading & Writing in International Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


Academic writing and basic research skills is a course in university-level writing. The course covers the stages of composition of an academic essay, such as close reading of sources, summary, citation and reference, identifying rhetorical aspects in a text or flaws in reasoning, developing a thesis, finding and using textual evidence, organising ideas with clarity, signposting an essay, compiling and referencing bibliographic material, and finally, strategies for revision.

Course objectives

Students can write a nuanced and critical thesis statement or problem question, and can answer this question in the body of their essay, using a logical structure and clear argumentation. Students can use both primary and secondary sources critically, and can find their own niche in a discussion.
Students can formulate counter-arguments, and are able to rebut these. Students are aware of the appropriate academic register used in essay writing, and can use this effectively. Students are able to use the MLA-stylesheet when presenting their written work. Students master close reading techniques and develop the skill to analyse and summarize the main argument of a text in a critical and nuanced manner. Students can conduct library research, gather and assess academic sources, and acknowledge academic work by others by referencing sources in accordance with recognised academic citation protocol. Students have developed a nuanced view on the workings of rhetoric. Students show intercultural awareness in giving useful peer-feedback and offering constructive criticism.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

This course will begin with two plenary lectures, the first by Prof. Gerrits, Why study International Studies?, and the second by Dr. Magliano, How to study International Studies. These are followed by a series of 8 weekly tutorials and two workshops. At the beginning of the course students will be provided with an introductory text into the field of International Studies. Subsequently, students will be offered a choice from seven cases which focus on a problem that was presented in the introductory text. Each case is accompanied by, usually, two more texts. These texts offer a basis for students study one problem from the field of international studies. For the essay assignment, students will be asked to submit an analysis of their own argumentation. They will be given feedback on their analysis by their tutors as well as their peers, enabling them to critically assess their own argumentation. In addition to the texts, study materials include a guide to writing with sources and practical writing skills-oriented materials made available via Blackboard.

Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Lectures 4

  • Tutorials 16

  • Assignments 36

  • Essay 84

Total course load: 140 hours (5 ec)

Assessment method

The following assignments are to be completed for the course:

  • Assignment 1: Online Library Tutorial.

  • Task Deadline: by Saturday 10 October.

  • Penalty of 0.5 off final mark if incomplete.

  • Assignment 2: Bullet-point list of arguments for essay, including all relevant references in MLA format.

  • Task Deadline: hand in during the tutorial in week 7

  • Percentage 15%.

  • Assignment 3: 3 body paragraphs of final essay.

  • Task Deadline: Hand in during the tutorial in week 9.

  • Percentage: 15%.

  • Assignment 4: Final essay, also to be uploaded via Turnitin.

  • Task Deadline: Friday 10 December at 16.59.

  • Percentage: 70%.

There is no re-sit option for assignments 1-3.

  • If you fail this course, you can re-submit an improved version of your final essay, for 70% of the grade. The final grade for a re-submitted essay can be no higher than a 6 (out of 10).
    The deadline for this re-submitted essay is January 21.


Blackboard will be used.

For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

The reading materials are available through Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

The student administration will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Passing this course is an additional requirement for a positive Study Recommendation at the end of the year.


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