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Issues and Perspectives in International Politics


Admission requirements

The prerequisite of this course is a 200-level course in World Politics.

This course explores issues in political, economic, and social development and underdevelopment in a range of countries in the third world. It aims to acquaint students with the major challenges faced by developing countries, and with attempts and strategies in national and international politics to address them. We study this field on a thematic basis (dealing with contemporary issues such as democratic change, inequality, rapid urbanization, cultural pluralism, ethnic conflict, and politics and religion) and in a comparative perspective. Our handbook analysis development challenges, a selection of articles will place these challenges in an international political perspective.

Course objectives

This course aims to,
1) Provide students an overview of theoretical and conceptual instruments to analyze issues of development and underdevelopment.
2) To acquaint students with general and specific problems of developing countries, and to show that development issues are central to some of the most important concerns in the world today.
3) To develop analytical and research skills by writing a research based paper on a subject related to the issues in this course.


Second Semester. Block 4.
Tuesday 9-11 and Friday 1400-16.00 ours.

Please see the LUC website:

Mode of instruction

Classes are primarily meant to explain and discuss the literature. Students are expected study the literature each week and prepare for class by thinking of questions, critiques, and points for discussion to be brought up.

Work in the seminar is based on discussions of the literature and real world cases. Preparation is essential for participation in the class and for everyone’s learning experience. All the students need to read all texts in advance!

Moreover, students will be assigned presentations of part of the literature.
Each session will start with a 15-20 minutes presentation of an assigned text by the students, followed by a discussion chaired by the lecturer. Presentations are NOT intended to be summaries of the texts but critical analyses of the main argument. They should pick out the main themes, questions and arguments, and comment on how these relate to the topic of this course. A good presentation initiates discussion (preferably by presenting discussion issues).

Finally, students will (in the second half of the course) present and discuss their end-paper proposal in class.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through In-class participation (20% of final grade): Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Engagement with course readings: assessed through Presentations (20% of final grade): To be assigned
  3. Understanding of course content : assessed through oral presentation on paper proposal (20% of final grade): Week 6
  4. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through Final research essay (max. 3000 words; 40% of final grade): Week 8


This course will be supported by a BlackBoard site.

Reading list

Handelman, Howard. 2011 (2006). The Challenge of Third world Development (Sixth Edition). Boston: Pearson Education Ltd

Reader with selected articles to be made available in hard copy.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Dr. Frank de Zwart
Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden. E-mail:

Dr. Frank de Zwart – Faculty of Social Sciences, Leiden University

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Understanding underdevelopment
Week 2: Democratic Change/ Religion and Politics
Week 3: Pluralism and Ethnic Conflict/The Dilemma of Recognition
Week 4: Weak States/Strong Societies
Week 5: International Organizations and Politics
Week 6: Urbanization and the Politics of Rural Change/ presentation paper- proposal
Week 7: Main themes and questions.