Module on career preparation
You have chosen the Master Political Science. But what’s next once you are a freshly graduated political scientist? Where do we find political scientists on the job market? Political Science does not lead to one specific profession. You find political scientists in many different fields on the job market. Political Science alumni work for the Dutch government, for the media, in international organisations, at embassies, in academia or they start their own business in consultancy. Preparing for the job market starts during your studies by reflecting on your own wishes, your possibilities, and of course your capacities. There are many choices to make on the basis of that. The choices you make, already during your studies – the courses you take, the (research) assignments you conduct, the (extra) activities you do, the questions you ask yourself – all give direction to your future career. This module on Career Preparation pays attention to important components of a student’s career orientation and preparation for the job market.
Important questions to ask yourself when preparing for the job market are: ‘What do I want?’; ‘What abilities do I already have?’ ; ‘What capacities should I obtain?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’ The objectives of this module on Career Preparation are:
Teaching students practical skills - academic skills that help them to complete their studies successfully and professional skills that help them prepare for their further career.
Learning about the different fields that political science graduates find jobs in, and on the basis of this knowledge, making informed choices in one’s study career that correspond to one’s personal capacities and wishes for one’s future career.
Gaining work experience and obtaining job search and application skills such as composing a good CV, writing an effective application letter, building a network, and doing a successful job interview.
Learning to reflect upon one’s abilities and learning how to successfully link the knowledge, skills and experience (such as work experience from an internship at a relevant organisation) that one obtains during the master studies to one’s possibilities and wishes for a future career.
Methods of Instruction
The module on Career Preparation consists of several components spread throughout the whole year of the master studies: an Introductory session, a ‘Sollicitatiedag’, a Skills course, an optional Internship Track, assignments and activities within regular master courses, and elective modules and workshops that students may take in the extra-curricular space. Within each component the focus lies on different questions and topics. Partly, the assignments and activities are integrated in regular courses of the master programme, for instance by means of the Advanced Academic and Professional Skills course (5 EC) in the 2nd block (November/ December) of the master; or by Political Science alumni giving guest lectures during a master seminar, telling students about their experiences on the job market; or by practical assignments such as writing policy papers, advisory reports, case studies, etc. Also the opportunity of doing the Internship Track (30 EC) during which students do an internship for three months, giving students the opportunity to gain practical experience in an (international) organization, is a component of the master programme that fits into the module on Career Preparation. This component i.e. the Internship Track is further described below and in the e-Prospectus on the website.
Programme Module Career Preparation:
The Module on Career Preparation exists of four components, each of which will be elaborated on below. The four components are:
1) Plenary sessions (co-curricular)
2) Skills education (curricular)
3) Courses that include components that are linked to Career Preparation (curricular)
4) Workshops and events (extra-curricular)
Ad1. Plenary sessions
In the 1st week of September a welcome meeting with the Director of Studies takes place. Within this plenary session the Director of Studies introduces the Political Science master programme and the Module on Career Preparation to the students with a specific focus on the Skills course within the curriculum, the ‘Sollicitatiedag’ in May, and the career events and activities that are organized by the student association SPIL. Representatives from the SPIL will introduce themselves and tell about their activities during this plenary session.
Sollicitatiedag in May: during this day the master students take part in a number of workshops in which they are taught how to apply for jobs effectively. They receive training in job search and application skills. Workshops that are offered are: ‘CV, Application letter and LinkedIn-profile’ and ‘Job Interview’. These trainings are organised on that day by the Career Service of the Faculty of Social Sciences. They are all about teaching students the practical skills that they need to be able to powerfully present themselves in an application letter (and in their LinkedIn-career profile) and during a job interview, and to enhance their chances on the job market and as such help them reach their goals.
Ad2. Skills education
Advanced Academic and Professional Skills (5 EC)
Within the course “Advanced Academic and Professional Skills” students train a set of practical skills that are essential for their future career. Whether one pursues a career in academia or in politics, in government or in NGO’s, in media or consultancy, these skills are imperative for any graduated political scientist.
During this skills course students learn to develop thoughtful, interesting, and well-designed research projects and to improve their skills in persuasively presenting the ideas behind, as well as the findings resulting from, their research.
Students work together on developing compelling research questions, devise sound schemes for conducting the research necessary to answer those questions, and, ultimately, follow through with the research itself. Students will acquire the skills required to give a talk in front of a critical audience by giving a presentation, while being recorded, based on their own research and discuss it with peers.
Students also practice their writing skills in a specific political genre; they learn how to write a policy paper which is the core course assignment.
Optional Internship Track (30 EC)
Students who choose for the Internship Track within the master Political Science will be given the opportunity to do an internship with for instance an NGO, interest group, government or international organisation, political party or media organisation (see the Course Information on Blackboard). This is the perfect opportunity for students to gain practical experience and to set up a network that can help them later on when they start as applicants on the job market after graduating from their studies.
During their internship at the organisation students implement a research project relevant to the organisation or its activities. The internship is concluded with an internship report that includes a reflection on the internship in light of the academic study of political science, and on the contribution of the internship to the development of professional skills. It is followed by a three month internship project seminar in which the student will write his or her thesis on the research project. This research paper invokes theory to help answer a clearly formulated question (or hypothesis) on the basis of data that was systematically collected at the internship organisation.
Optional Skills Lab modules in the extra-curricular space:
The Faculty of Social Sciences offers a Skills Academy where you can pick workshops that best match your career goals. Do you want to explore your personal trajectory toward meaningful work? Gain insight into your personal competences? Train practical skills in consultancy, project management, entrepreneurship, and leadership? Join the Skills Academy! The course ends with formulating your vision on your future. Upon successful completion of the academy you receive an official certificate. Read more.
Ad3. Courses with components that are linked to Career Preparation
Several courses from the Master Political Science contain components (i.e. lectures about the working field by political science alumni) and/or assignments (i.e. writing of policy memos, case studies, advisory reports) that are relevant to the students’ orientation on the job market and preparation for their further career. Please find an overview of these courses as an Appendix to this document.
Ad 4. Workshops and Events
On top of the curricular and co-curricular activities students are invited within the Module on Career Preparation to take part in the following events:
1) Workshops such as ‘Self-Assessment’ and ‘Career Orientation’ and the Career Colleges such as ‘Working as a Trainee’, ‘Working as a researcher’, ‘Working in Policy’, and ‘Working in Consultancy’, offered by the Career Service. During these so-called Career Colleges students learn about several fields in which they can work after graduating from the political science master programme;
2) “MSc in Political Science Career Bootcamp”, offered by the FSW Career Service and the company JobBootCamp on Thursday, 14 December 2017 - Time: 13:00 -17:30 | Location: FSW Pieter de la Court, Leiden – room 5A41. Students are offered a workshop “What drives you?” by the trainers of JobBootCamp; experts with the aim to help people find a job that really suits them. JobBootcamp specializes in mobility, providing application training and increase job satisfaction and effectiveness.. This workshop gives students a first insight into the questions “Who am I? What do I want? What can I do? And what do I desire?” After this workshop, students will work with a Career Specialist on 1. A hands-on update of your LinkedIn Profile and your search options in LinkedIn and 2. A hands-on update of the structure and content of your current CV. Registration via uSis code: MSc Political Science Career Bootcamp – 6444PSCBH.
3) The SPIL-LAP Career Event where students are speed dating with Political Science alumni and as such can build a network with alumni from several parts of the job market. This event is organised by the political science study association (SPIL) and the Political Science Alumni Association (LAP). This event is organized in April;
4) The Career Orientation Day (FLO) of the Faculty of Social Sciences, offered by the Career Service, where special attention is paid to helping students to develop a strong career profile for the job market. This day is organized in March.
5) Event: “Tweet Your way into a job in Politics – Workshop & Keynote” on Monday, 18 Dec 2017 | Time: 16:00 – 18:00 | location: Wijnhaven, The Hague - room 3.48. This workshop and lecture will be offered by Jon Worth, communications consultant and political blogger who regularly writes about EU policy, Brexit and Germany policy. His "Euroblog" (jonworth.eu) started in 2005. It was ranked 3rd most influential left of centre blog in 2010 by Social Europe, and among the 10 must read EU blogs by Fleishman Hillard. Hill+Knowlton Strategies ranked him as the third most significant non parliamentary EU influencer on Twitter (@jonworth) and was in EurActiv's list of most influential Britons in EU policy.
The module on Career Preparation is a compulsory component of the master programme. Courses or programme components in which professional skills are taught and practiced as well as components such as the Sollicitatiedag are mandatory for students. Attendance is required and assignments (if applicable) need to be successfully completed. Components such as the plenary session and the Sollicitatiedag are mandatory but not rewarded with credits. The master courses in which academic and professional skills are taught and practiced, such as Advanced Academic and Professional Skills and the (optional) Internship Track do generate credits for students. Also components offered in regular master courses that are linked to career preparation (such as the writing of policy memos, case studies, advisory reports, etc.) are rewarded with credits via successful completion of those courses.
For the Module on Career Preparation students don’t need to acquire study materials. Information and assignments are provided during the meetings (or through E-mail/Blackboard).
Drs. A. Caubo (Leiden master specialisations), firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drs. E. Blom (The Hague master specialisations), email@example.com.
Instituut Politieke Wetenschap
NB. The activities on Career Preparation are organised in cooperation with the Career Service of the Faculty of Social Sciences. For more information or specific events of the Career Service, please check
Appendix: Master courses that include components linked to Career Preparation
Several courses from the Master Political Science contain components (i.e. lectures about the working field by political science alumni) and/or assignments (i.e. writing of policy memos, case studies, advisory reports) that are relevant to the students’ orientation on the job market and preparation for their further career. Examples:
Assignment crisis simulation
Foreign Policy Analysis:
Assignment report with policy recommendations on one specific foreign policy event
Applying Game Theory in International Relations:
Assignments application of game theory on problems and situations in the field of International Relations