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International Negotiations: Theory


Course Description

This course analyzes bargaining and negotiation processes in international relations and their contribution to the management of international conflict. It focuses on how the process of conducting diplomatic negotiations and other informal processes aimed at managing inter-state and intra-state conflicts have an impact on the outcomes of those negotiations. Conflicts of interest and identity, as well as misperceptions and misunderstandings, are ubiquitous features of international relations. While these conflicts may be resolved in many different ways, this course deals explicitly with “the art and science” of negotiations as a means to resolve those conflicts, preferably before they escalate to violence.

The course involves three different kinds of material, which will be integrated with one another. First, the course examines theories of bargaining and negotiation drawn from a wide variety of academic disciplines. Then it seeks to evaluate how well those theories may be applied in order to help explain concrete cases of international conflict management from recent history. Finally, the course entails participation in a number of exercises and simulations, in which students may evaluate the negotiation process from the perspective of a participant, gaining some insight into how the various theories do or do not work in the actual conduct of diplomacy.

Course objectives

The students will emerge from this course with a better theoretical understanding of the conflict management process, especially with a better understanding of some of the factors that contribute to or detract from attaining agreement in international negotiations. This will enable them to better understand how the process of negotiation in general interacts with the context of each and every specific negotiation to produce whatever results may be achieved, whether agreement, stalemate, or breakdown. Through this understanding the students will also gain some ideas about ways in which the negotiation process might be used more effectively to reduce international tensions and to resolve international conflicts. Through practical exercises and from the close examination of actual negotiations, the students will gain some insights into ways for conducting the important business of international diplomacy in order to manage both inter-state and intra-state conflicts more successfully.


On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

The course is taught in seminar format. Active participation by students and an interactive teaching style are central to the course.

Course Load

5 EC.

Assessment method

Students will be assessed on the basis of the following elements:

  • Short essay (30 percent)

  • A presentation (20 percent)

  • A final research paper (40 percent)

  • Class participation (10 percent)

You can find more information about assessments and the timetable exams on the website.
Details for submitting papers (deadlines) are posted on Blackboard.
On the Public Administration front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website, uSis and Blackboard.

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’.


On the Blackboard course site, students will find all relevant information for this course and reading materials not available via Leiden University’s electronic library holdings (such as academic manuscripts and research papers).

Reading list

Journal articles, manuscripts and academic research papers.


Use both uSis and Blackboard to register for every course.
Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). 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.



Dr. Siniša Vuković