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Ideas in World Politics


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.


This course discusses the theoretical and the empirical dimensions of ideas and beliefs in world politics. Central to the course is a keen interest in the theoretical explanation and the practical relevance and topicality of the ideas and beliefs that move and inspire people, governments and states. The principal claim of this course is that no coherent and balanced understanding of international relations and global politics is possible without taking into full consideration the rich diversity of ideas, beliefs and (self) perceptions that are behind current political changes and events.

During the first block, we discuss the challenges the current world order presents to the study of international relations (IR) and global politics. We will focus on the role and relevance of ideas in major IR traditions and other ‘grand ideas’ about global politics. We will discuss how ideas influence policies; how ideas and norms diffuse; and how ideas relate to power and interests.
In the second block the course discusses the actual role and relevance of major ideational aspects of international relations, across time and space. We will focus on the contrasting notions of democracy and authoritarianism, sovereignty and intervention, and identities and interests in world politics.

Course objectives

The course requires students to engage with the scholarly debates and the practical implications concerning mainstream and critical political and social concepts, ideas and beliefs in global politics today. Students are required to study both academic texts and other relevant primary and secondary sources. With regard to learning outcomes, students will expand their knowledge of the major theories and / or theoretical approaches of International Studies (including International Relations), with special reference to what these theories tell us about the ideational dimension of world politics. Additionally, students are required to research and discuss the various manifestations and the global relevance of key ideational concepts and issues in current global politics, including sovereignty and intervention, democracy and authoritarianism, and identities and interests.



Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar.

Course Load

subject to change

  • 24 Hours of classes (attendance seminars is mandatory)

  • 60 Hours of reading and class preparation (5 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 18 Hours to prepare for the presentations

  • 30 hours to complete the critical review element

  • 20 Hours to complete the research essay.

Total 152 hours

Assessment method

subject to change

  • Participation: 20%

  • Policy Paper: 35%

  • Critical Review: 45%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit for the final examined element is only available to students whose mark of the final examined element is insufficient.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

Required and recommended readings will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course, or during the course. Check Blackboard for timely information.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Lectures: Professor André W.M. Gerrits
Seminars: your seminar professor.