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International Politics


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


This course focuses on the study and practice of global politics in the post-Cold War era. Students will receive a critical introduction to a range of theoretical approaches and contemporary issues and policies that help us to understand the diversity and complexity of our world across space and time. With this in mind, the course emphasizes the connections between the development of international relations today and global history. In particular, we consider how the Cold War (broadly speaking, 1947-1991) impacted upon the conduct and nature of global politics, as well as transforming the study of international relations itself. The relevance of the Cold War for current global politics can hardly be overestimated. Students are therefore strongly encouraged to have read John Lewis Gaddis’ book ‘the Cold War’ in advance of the first class.
We live in a complex world in which political, economic, security, and cultural issues and practices are interconnected. It is therefore important to stress contemporary changes in global politics, such as globalization and regional integration, and consider international relations from a variety of different levels of analysis. While the state remains an important actor in international affairs, power is also concentrated in global and regional institutions, and non-state actors, such as NGOs and Multinational Corporations, increasingly influence global politics. In addition, this course encourages students to adopt a critical and comparative approach to international studies, as it is central to consider how people across the world perceive and shape global politics today.
The course begins with three lectures that set out a critical approach to international studies. These lectures consider how we can study today’s rapidly changing world, the legacies of the Cold War, and the evolution of International Relations theory. The course continues by tackling a number of key issues and policies in international relations. These issues and policies include: appeasement and containment since WWII, the development of regionalism in Europe, the collapse of communism, the legacies of decolonization and the Non-Aligned Movement, globalization and neoliberalism, polarity and universalism, the rise of Great Powers, and terrorism. The course concludes by reconsidering the end of the Cold War and its aftermath. Throughout the course, students will learn and apply key concepts used in the study of international relations. By following this course students will gain a solid and critical understanding of the history and dynamics of contemporary global politics, as well as an appreciation for the major changes and challenges of world politics today.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of key issues and processes related to international relations since the Cold War. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of a number of complex issues and concepts in global politics since the Cold War.

  • Apply complex conceptual tools to analyze and critique key events and processes in global politics.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, and critique major texts on and approaches in international relations.


The timetable will be available on the BA International Studies website this autumn.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and tutorials.

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC x 28 hours is 140 hours, broken down by:

12 lectures: 24 hours
4 tutorials: 8 hours
Reading & self-study: 40 hours
Preparing end-term exam: 26 hours
Research & paper writing: 42 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Research Essay 40%
Final Exam 30%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam/essay (maximum grade for rewritten essay is 6), replacing both the earlier grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

Before the start of the course, students are expected to have read:
Gaddis, John Lewis. 2005. The Cold War. London and New York: Penguin.
In addition, students will use the following book throughout the course:
Roach, S. Griffiths, M. & O’Callaghan, T. 2013. International Relations: The Key Concepts. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Hum – OSZ International Politics