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Actors in World Politics



This course introduces students to the study of actors in international relations. Mainstream approaches to international politics have theorized the international as a space composed essentially of states. While addressing the central question of state formation and domination in world politics, this course will give the keys to understand the complexity and diversity of the contemporary international, composed among others, of NGOs, diasporas, pirates, mercenaries, transnational hacktivist and terrorist networks. It will conclude by assessing the possibilities and limits of a cosmopolitan society.
The course also includes working groups that have the dual focus of improving students’ fluency in the theories and concepts introduced during the lectures and their ability to analyze and critically assess academic and non-academic arguments.

Course objectives

Goal 1: At the end of this course, students will possess the analytical and critical skills necessary to make sense of state and non-state actors in world politics.
Goal 2: With regard to academic skills, students who complete the course successfully should have knowledge of:

  • The general structure of an argument;

  • What makes an argument a good argument;

  • Common argumentative fallacies.
    Goal 3: With regard to academic skills, students who complete the course successfully should be able to:

  • Parse the arguments of others;

  • Evaluate the relative strength of an argument.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and working groups. The lectures of Dr. Ragazzi will consist of a lecture (hour 1) and participatory reading of the assigned text (hour 2).

(Exchange students follow this course for 5 EC and do not take the working groups)

Work group coordinator: F.F. Mansvelt Beck

Assessment method

60% final exam
40% work group assignments and participation

The final grade for the work groups is the weighted average of two assignments (a midterm and final assignment respectively, each counting for 40% of the grade) and a participation grade, which counts for 20% of the final grade.

The midterm assignment will be due in the third week of the course. The final assignment will be due in the sixth week of the course. Both assignments will be handed out a week in advance of the deadline.

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

Reading List


Khagram and Levitt (2008) The Transnational Studies Reader, Routledge: New York and London

Working Groups:

Weston, A (2017). A rulebook for arguments (fifth edition). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett

A complete reading list for the work groups is provided in the course readings folder on the Content page on Blackboard.


See general information on Tab 'Year 1'

Timetable - courses and exams