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Elective: International Migration: Contemporary Practices, Trends, and Debates.


Admission requirements

This course is only available for second year students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


This course familiarizes students with a range of issues concerning international migration, including literature from different disciplines (history, sociology, economics, politics and law), which allow for a substantive exploration of this key issue for contemporary global politics.

After a historical overview of migration trends and an analysis of the main approaches to the study of migration, the course looks at contemporary forms of mobility, including ‘economic’ migration and forced migration as a result of conflict. The second part examines the migration-development nexus and the policies of labour sending and receiving countries. The third part introduces the issue of forced displacement in global politics: we will study the legal pillars of the refugee regime, the ‘securitisation’ of immigration policies following the events of September 11, and the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the relationship between the European Union and southern Mediterranean countries.
Throughout the course, case studies will be used so that students can translate into practice the analytical instruments they have learned. Moreover, this course familiarizes students with key concepts in comparative politics and crucial issues in international relations.

The study of migration provides a vantage point for examining changing international and state-society relations of both Western and less developed countries as well as critical issues of civil liberties, human rights and conflict in the contemporary context.

Additionally, the students will work through:

  • W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using up-to-date presentation techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:

1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation; b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria; c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques; d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Each class consist of a lecture of approximately 50 minutes and a short (max. 10 minutes) presentation by one or two students, followed by a general discussion. For each session, students are required to read all the assigned readings and to reflect on the questions, which are designed to stimulate students to critically engage with the literature. Each student will develop one reading question more fully and share his/her answer (in writing) with the class so as to stimulate general in-class discussion. Moreover, each student will give an oral presentation (8-10 minutes) and share with the class a one-page memo/outline of the presentation. Students will be assigned presentation topics in the first week of the course. Further instructions TBA on Blackboard.

All students are expected to write a 5000-word (excluding bibliography) research essay critically engaging with the course themes. The paper is due on 15 June at 23:59 and counts as 50% of the total grade.
Students are free to propose a topic based on a comparative research involving issues and readings discussed in at least two different lectures. The papers are written on the basis of the literature listed under Further Readings for each week, although students are encouraged to find additional (not alternative) material. Students are also required to submit a short (max 350 words) proposal for their term paper, including: (1) a paper title, an abstract/proposal, and a bibliography. Further instructions and deadline TBA on Blackboard.

The ability to incorporate feedback into revised work and successive assignments is an essential part of the learning process. Thus, students are strongly advised to seek individual feedback (during office hours) on their proposal. The lecturer will also be available to discuss the paper first draft, but no later than three weeks before the submission deadline of the final paper.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attendance and participation to weekly seminars: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: = 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature (8 hours per week): 96 hours

  • Preparation for presentation: 10 hours

  • Preparation for midterm assignment (paper proposal): 10 hours

  • Writing the final research essay (including reading, research and paper proposal): 140 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
In-class participation 10%
In-class presentation 20%
Midterm assignment: paper proposal 20 %
Final research essay (max 5000 words) 50%

Please note that in-class participation means active participation in the discussion rather than mere attendance. In class presentations and discussion will help students to develop oral skills as well provide a supportive forum for questioning competing perspectives, thus developing students’ critical thinking. Group work will also help to establish a collaborative learning environment, practicing informed and respectful discussion and building up a constructive dialogue throughout the semester.

The objective of written assignments is to train students in approaches to research and academic writing. The preparation and writing of memos and paper proposal trains students’ ability to synthesize and integrate information. The literature review is an essential part of the paper. For a guide on writing a literature review, see for instance
Detailed instruction on the research paper TBA on Blackboard.

The instructor may also assign additional informal assignments (quizzes, presentations and reviews) at her discretion.

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

There are no essential textbooks for this course. The texts in the list below are useful introductory books on the politics of migration:

  • Alexander Betts and Gil Loescher (eds.). Refugees in International Relations, Oxford University Press, 2011.

  • Steven Castles, Hein de Haas and Mark Miller. The age of migration, Palgrave 2013 (and newer editions).

  • Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh et al. (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford University Press, 2014.

  • Peter Gatrell, The Making of the Modern Refugee. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

  • We will also work with W.C. Booth, G.G. Colomb, J.W. Williams, The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Selected readings for each weekly seminar and the course syllabus, including information on where publications can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand, will be made available on Blackboard before the start of the course. Articles and books listed in the syllabus as ‘required readings’ can be found in the library catalogue or online.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. A. Sottimano

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.
Passing this course is an entry requirement for the thesis and thesis seminar.