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Core Course Global Order in Historical Perspective


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations, track Global Order in Historical Perspective, or track International Studies (for students of the February 2017 intake).


Understanding the processes behind the evolution of the global order, the pursuit of global justice and the variety of ethics, ideologies, institutions and norms that underpin the international political system is the central focus of this specialization. It regards the international political system as socially constructed and continuously reconfigured by different actors across time and space. Expanding upon critical, post-Western and feminist perspectives, it engages with different trajectories of states, organizations and peoples, examining how they are manifested in power relations and interact at different points across time to order the world. It asks whether the idea of pursuing global or universal ethics and justice is possible. Drawing on the multiplicity of perspectives and expertise across Area Studies, this specialization examines a range of different issues, from politics and ideologies to the evolution of international law and diplomacy, the emergence of civil society and the rise on non-state actors. It explores the development of institutions such as the UN and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which structure interactions and power relations within the international system.

Echoing the integrative approach of the MAIR, Global Ethics, Order and Justice problematizes state-centric approaches to international relations by raising the question of justice for and by people across the world. The specialization reviews how power relations are structured, from the great power politics of global governance, to diplomatic culture in regional and national perspectives through regional and transnational groupings such as BRICS and the Non-Aligned Movement. The specialization invites inquiry into a range of problems that arise when actors challenge or resist the global order in the name of justice. These topics include, but are not limited to how to deal with genocide and failed states, engaging with NGOs and responding to social movements like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.

Course objectives

The primary goals of the course are to provide a solid grounding in the concept of how the global order has been constructed, to examine the practical aspects of solving the political, social and ethical dilemmas that arise, and to probe both the potential as well as the limitations of historical understandings of the problems and issues of global justice.

Students are expected to question the relationship between the historical processes and the representation of such processes in the construction of global orders. The main goals of the course for students are to become familiar with how historical understandings of issues and problems of global justice can function to both develop solutions and foster dialogue, to diversity constructions of the North-South relationship and the ways in which it manifests itself and to reinterpret the ways in which issues of global justice are infused with a variety of internationalisms.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes (attendance is mandatory)

  • 120 Hours of reading and class preparation (10 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 36 Hours to prepare for the presentations

  • 60 Hours to complete the critical review element

  • 40 Hours to complete the research essay
    Total: 280 Hours

Assessment method

Students are required to attend and participate actively in class, to complete two essays and to do a class presentation based on the second essay. The final grade is divided as follows: participation (20%), first essay (30%), second essay (30%) and class presentation (20%).

The participation grade depends on the careful reading of course texts, attendance, and the active involvement in class discussions. Students are expected to contribute on a regular basis to discussions and engage with the course texts.


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


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


Yes, course information will be accessible via Blackboard before the start of the course.

Reading list

  • Onora O’Neill, Bounds of Justice. Cambridge: CUP, 2000

  • Duncan Bell (ed.) 2010. Ethics and World Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • Martha Nussbaum, Frontiers of Justice. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006.

  • James Tully, Strange Multiplicity. Cambridge: CUP, 1995

  • Rosemary Foot, John Gaddis, Andrew Hurrell, Order and Justice in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University press, 2003)

  • Amartya Sen, The Idea of Justice (Harvard, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Your seminar professor.