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Introduction to International Studies


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


International Studies offers a new academic approach to understand the world’s complexities and challenges of today. This approach is multidisciplinary, humanities-based, local as well as global oriented, and takes the present as its starting point.

We will see that the world has changed dramatically from less than a century ago: new ideals are pursued (equality, autonomy, human rights), there are new developments in world population (increase in demographics, health, education, prosperity), governments are facing new demands from their population (democracy, transparency), we hold new views of ourselves (gender, equality), and there is an unprecedented strain on earth’s resources (food production, oil and gas, water, essential minerals). The various approaches of International Studies will provide us with the means to come to a more comprehensive understanding of these large global issues.

Central in these issues is mankind itself: the world’s complexities and challenges are not discussed as abstractions, but as issues that are either created by people or that people need to deal with. An important aspect of this course therefore is to make the student realize that national and personal positions, perspectives and preconceived notions about ‘other peoples’ and ‘other cultures’ play an important role when reflecting on international issues.

The course is divided into thematic issues like international justice, religionization, migration, sustainable development, armed conflicts, resources and food production. Each of these issues will be addressed through the mentioned approaches. We will see, for instance, that not only national interests are driving motivators in the international domain, but also ideas and identities; that imagery and social media has an enormous impact on international politics; that foreign and domestic policy are not separate realms but very intertwined; that old politics of power and prestige are in competition with new politics of peace and prosperity.

Course objectives

  • The student will learn the specific approaches used in International Studies (i.e., multidisciplinary, humanities-based, local as well as global oriented)

  • The student will get acquainted with current issues in the international domain

  • The student will be introduced to the academic discussions and theories regarding current issues in the international domain

  • The students will become familiar with a variety of sources that are relevant to current issues in the international domain

  • The student will acquire the basics for knowledge and skills that will be relevant for work in the international domain

  • The student will develop familiarity with some of the major theoretical and methodological challenges involved in studying “other peoples” and “other cultures” in a global context


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every two weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. With online education, it is more important than ever to maintain communication and stay in touch with your study groups. For this reason, if you are unable to attend a session, it is required that you inform your tutor in advance. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Assessment method


During the semester, the student’s knowledge and insight will be assessed in three different ways:

  • Essay (800 words): on the basis of the various concepts and theories mentioned in the lectures, and the different source materials that will be studied in the Tutorial, the student is to write a Essay about a topic that will be assigned during the course.

  • Tutorial Assignments: during 6 meeting, the student will make Assignments about different source materials and various concepts and theories. These Assignments are meant to assist the student in the writing of the Essay.

  • Multiple Choice questions: every week, during 12 weeks, a set of MC questions about the lecture from the previous week must be answered. The student may re-do the MC questionnaire as many times as it takes until ALL questions have been answered correctly.


Partial grade Weighing
Essay 50%
Tutorial assignments 30%
MC questions (if all questions are answered correctly, the grade will be an 8.0) 20%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Essay grade, Tutorial Assignments grade and MC questions grade.

  • The average grade of the Essay grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Essay is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of taking a Resit Exam. No resit for the Tutorial Assignments is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade does not bring the final average grade into more than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2020 – 2021.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

Required and / or suggested readings will be announced on Brightspace before the start of the course.


  • Enrolment through uSis for Tutorials and Lectures is mandatory.

  • Students will be enrolled for Exams by the Administration Office, as long as they have a valid Tutorial enrolment.

  • General information about uSis is available on the website.

The programme’s administration office will register all first year students for the first semester courses in uSis, the registration system of Leiden University.

Contact M.S. Berger

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.
Please use your University email-address (uMail) when communicating with any person or department within Leiden University.

Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies