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Introduction to International Relations



The course gives an introduction to international politics from a theoretical perspective. The discipline of international relations looks at political interactions at the global level. In the context of this course, we will look at states as the most important actors in international politics, although we will also look at the influence of, for example, international governmental organizations (such as the United Nations) and non-governmental organizations (such as Amnesty International or terrorist groups like the Islamic State). How can the behaviour of states and other actors be explained? This question is central to the course. Assumptions from various schools of thought, such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism are discussed extensively. In the course, the most important insights that these theories have presented are dealt with on the basis of concrete examples. Therefore, attention will also be given to specific issues and developments in international politics, such as globalization, regionalism, terrorism, war and peace, human rights, poverty and development, climate change and nuclear non-proliferation.
The course also includes Academic Skills working groups that focus on improving students’ ability to identify and relate the core elements comprising scientific research articles in the fields of political science and international relations. During the working groups students are also taught essential academic skills such as how to find literature and how to make correct references to the literature when writing academic texts.

Course Objectives

Goal 1: to introduce key issues, theories, and debates in international relations
Goal 2: to apply this knowledge to understand international relations
Goal 3: to teach students the following academic skills:

  • How to identify and relate the core elements comprising scientific research articles in the fields of political science and international relations.

  • How to write a summary of an article or book chapter in which all the core elements of a scientific text are identified;

  • How to find literature.

  • How to make correct references to literature (i.e., citations).

Mode of Instruction

Lectures and working groups

Work group coordinator: F.F. Mansvelt Beck

Study Material


The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations (7th edition) edited by John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens

Working Groups:

A reading list for the working groups is provided in the course syllabus.

Assessment Method

60% final exam
30% written assignments
10% working group participation

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Blackboard no later than the publication of the grades.


See general information on Tab 'Year 1'

Timetable - courses and exams