Brussels is an ideal place to study International Relations. You will find yourself studying in a city where global decisions are made on a daily basis and your access to the institutions, conferences, seminars and events enhances your understanding of the subject.
Day after day we experience what it means to live in an internationalising world. Grasping its essence, however, is all but evident. The MA in International Relations tries to grasp the complexity of international processes and to offer the necessary tools to understand its different dimensions (political, legal, economic) and the role of various actors (states, international organisations, business, etc.). The programme is built on the interaction of theory (how we approach the world), method (how we explore the world) and substance (what we know about the world). Students can choose five out of seven courses from a wide variety of electives. This allows them to assemble their personal programme, tailored to their interests and background.
The programme builds on the long tradition of the University of Kent as a leading university in the field of international relations. By offering an MA in International Relations in Brussels, we place this expertise in the unique context of a European and international capital, host to the EU and NATO. More than a context, this aspect of Brussels as hotspot of international policy-making is actively integrated into the programme and reflected in the high number of high-profile diplomats and policy-makers lecturing at BSIS.
We are committed to offering flexible study options at BSIS and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs. This programme is available with start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study options; split-site options, and students can combine two fields of study leading to a degree that reflects both disciplines.
For more information on study options, see the course structure tab.
About the Brussels School of International Studies
The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate centre offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialise in one programme while informing their personal approach to international studies with another, via a secondary specialisation.
The broad selection of taught and research programmes available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and the University is also recognised by the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK university with a campus in Brussels.
BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organisations.
Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous organisations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a top 20 British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.
Fees for this and other Kent Postgraduate Politics programmes can be found on the Student Finance page.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Politics and International Relations was ranked 15th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact.
An impressive 96% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
We are committed to offering flexible study options at the School and enable you to tailor your degree to meet your needs by offering start dates in September and January; full- and part-time study; split-site options, and allowing students to combine two fields of study leading to the award of a degree that reflects both disciplines.
The MA in International Relations allows students to choose secondary areas of specialisation from the range of programmes offered at BSIS. Thus, a focused programme of study can be constructed by studying International Relations in the context of International Law; International Conflict and Security; Political Strategy and Communication, and other subject areas we cover.
This leads to the award of an MA degree in, for example, 'International Relations with Political Strategy and Communication'.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
|Modules may include||Credits|
PO932 - International Relations Theory
This module introduces a range of theoretical approaches to the study of international relations. It does so by confronting different views, in close connection to current or historical events or developments.
The course starts by raising the problem of perception in International Relations and by highlighting some of the core dividing lines underlying theoretical debates (explaining/understanding, positivism/post-positivism, rationalism/constructivism, etc.). It critically looks into the Levels of Analysis approach and brings up the Agency-Structure problem. After having set the parameters of the debate, different theories are studied in depth: Classical Realism, Structural Realism, Liberalism, Neo-Liberal Institutionalism, the neo-neo debate, Constructivism, the English School, normative theory, Marxism and Critical Theory. To conclude, the course treats two major, related debates about the state of the world: one on the post-Cold War (dis)order, the other on globalization. This allows to demonstrate how theories interrelate and how they can be applied to current events.
1. How we perceive, explain and understand the world
2. One way of telling the story: major theories and dividing lines
3. Classical realism, the state and power
4. Structural Realism: living in an anarchical world
5. Liberalism & the neo-neo debate
6. Why and how do actors cooperate?
8. Norms, values and international society
9. 'Radical' theories: From Marxism to critical theory
10. Making sense of the world we live in I: the post-Cold War (dis)order
11. Making sense of the world we live in II: globalisation and governance
12. The 'dividing discipline'? How to bridge theoriesRead more
PO933 - Theories of Conflict and Violence
Conflict in its many forms has been a permanent feature of human history. While not all conflict is destructive, violent conflict has caused innumerable deaths and intense suffering. Over the centuries, inter-state war has been the major concern of the international community. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries are widely regarded as the most violent and destructive period of the modern era. As a result of the massive loss of life over the past two centuries, the study of conflict has developed considerably.
Today, however, the vast majority of conflicts and potential conflicts of concern to the international community are internal conflicts, most often in states or across regions undergoing major political, social, and economic transition and dislocation. These conflicts generally have different causes from inter-state war, as well as different effects and dynamics. A major challenge is to improve our understanding of such conflict in order to develop new approaches to conflict management and prevention.
Technologies of violence and their public uses for maximal political impact have also evolved significantly, forcing scholars to re-consider their conceptualisation of warfare.
Theories of Conflict and Violence is designed to examine the various approaches that have been developed to understand collective political violence in its different forms, notably by looking into the logics of users of force and the dynamics of their actions.
The aim of the course is to give students a comprehensive overview of the various theories of contemporary collective political violence. In the course of the module, it will be demonstrated how theories of conflict have evolved, and how theory seeks to explain why conflicts start, the constraints and opportunities that actors face, the characteristics of conflict, and the changing dynamics of conflict. In particular, it will:
1. Present an overview of different approaches to the study of collective political violence, including types of warfare;
2. Give students an understanding of why violent conflicts erupt and evolve (e.g. regionalise), taking into account systemic, behavioural, political, and objective factors;
3. Explain the differences between inter- and intra-state conflicts;
4. Study how perpetrators of violence engage in political violence, behave during wartime and how states or civilians respond
5. Consider the application of various theories to concrete cases, particularly in the context of contemporary conflictsRead more
PO934 - Conflict and Security
Security politics happens in between war and peace. Both are highly contested political concepts, as are 'conflict' and 'violence', that various theories try to decontest. The module explores the transformation of war in the contemporary era due to the disintegration of the state's monopoly on organised political violence. We will examine a diverse assortment of conflict constellations, including civil wars, counterinsurgencies and counterterrorist campaigns, along with information, cyber and hybrid warfare. What is the relationship between changes in military technology and the way particular wars are fought and justified, or conflicts managed and pacified? How to measure violence and conflict? Who has a responsibility to protect, and for whom are peace and security for? Ranging from the privatisation and commercialisation of organised political violence, globalisation and humanitarian wars, we examine the power and consequences of framing contemporary conflicts in particular ways. The module is divided in three main sections. First, we address the sources and causes of current conflicts in various hotspots across the globe. Second, we examine a variety of contemporary methods of conflict management and prevention. Third, we focus on the key question of ending conflicts and bringing peace, examining the premises and promises of democratic and liberal peace theories along with various transitional justice policies.
The aims of the module are as follows:
to present an overview of different concepts of and approaches to the management of international conflict and security issues;
to develop analytical tools for analysing and evaluating different strategies for managing conflicts and security threats, as perceived and articulated by various actors;
to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and encourage a reflexive reading of the normative dilemmas that may be included in political decisions;
to determine the conditions under which certain strategies of international management are more or less likely to succeed.
By the conclusion of the module, students will be able to:
explain and use key concepts in the theory and practice of international conflict and security
develop and apply criteria for the evaluation of different forms of international management of conflict and security issues
evaluate and explain success and failure of different international conflict and security management efforts
draw on a variety of sources of information on international conflicts and security issues, including on-line resources
appreciate the ethical and normative dilemmas in the management of international conflicts and security issues
identify current political challenges to international peace and security
Topics to be discussed:
How has war changed since the end of the Cold War?
Mapping contemporary conflicts and security against the bias of methodological nationalism
Can conflicts be prevented?
Humanitarian wars and dilemmas. Responsibility to protect.
Terrorism, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency
International law and the 'war on terror'. Ethics and the ambiguity of contemporary conflict
Cyber conflicts and hybrid wars in the information age
Conflicts over historical memory and state ontological security
Peacekeeping, peace-making, peace-building
Conflict resolution and legitimacy in the post-conflict setting
Transitional justice as a vehicle for peace-building in post-conflict settingsRead more
PO925 - Histories of International Conflict
This module examines the origins and causes of particular conflicts, illustrating empirical material (historical, political/organisational, economic) as well as narratives of the parties, through the lens of conflict theory. Different types of conflicts are examined, ranging from modern interstate war to ethnic intrastate conflict, in order to illuminate the various dynamics of conflict initiation, intensity, duration, and the potential for resolution of different types of conflicts. Although the main emphasis is on analyzing international conflicts in the 20th century, comparative reference will be made to earlier conflicts as well as those that have occurred at the beginning of the 21st century. Overall, the political, economic, and ideological background to, influence on, and consequences of, selected conflicts are stressed. Moreover, though the military aspects of certain conflicts are discussed in terms of impact and outcome, this course does not concentrate on battles and warfare per se. Highlighted will be the World Wars and conflicts related to the Cold War. Other problems of interest will be the success and failure of collective security, revolutionary and civil wars, the role of nationalism, regional disputes, recent attempts at "humanitarian" intervention in the post-Cold War period, and the international implications of the War on Terrorism since September 11, 2001.Read more
PO929 - Development: Theory and Practice
The module offers an advanced, critical perspective on contemporary approaches to international development and instruments of foreign aid. It proceeds in three steps. We first look at how state formation, institutions and development outcomes interplay in the long run. We then study how, in the twentieth century, ideas emerged and evolved to promote (changing) development goals and how these ideas translated into practice to eventually form the aid industry, whose contemporary instruments and politics are finally scrutinised. Particular attention will be paid to the ambiguous nature and trappings of the donor-recipients relationship.
The aim of this module is to enable students to develop an understanding of contemporary issues in development; to reflect on how ideas inform practice and vice-versa; to relate theoretical and empirical notions; to have an understanding of key actors and institutions in the fields of activity; to establish differences between challenges faced by humanitarian and classic development actors respectively; to allow students to engage critically in development practice, incorporating theory, practice and self-awareness.
Upon successful completion of the course students should be able to understand and participate in academic and professional discussions on development; be able to locate and critically assess academic literature and professional resources; develop a critical understanding of the desired professional role in the field of development; undertake research and formulate arguments on various contemporary challenges to development and exclusion, and be able to present a substantiated opinion.Read more
PO930 - Critical Approaches to Security
This module examines 'security' as one of the key concepts in International Relations (IR) theory, providing a thorough overview of the evolution of Security Studies as an academic sub-field from traditional Strategic Studies to contemporary critical approaches. The aim is to critically engage with major theories, concepts and debates of Security Studies with an emphasis on contemporary critical approaches to security. The module will provide a theoretical and conceptual scaffolding for analysing contemporary world politics through the lens of security, following the twists and turns of the concept and its application across the broad field of Social Sciences. Why do states and the United Nations speak increasingly about human security, rather than national security? Why do states prefer security and defence to invoking war? What is ontological security and how is it related to physical security? Should we put individuals or states at the centre of global security studies? Looking for the politics behind speaking and acting security, we will discuss how Security Studies has developed as an academic field from its narrow beginnings as Strategic Studies to the contemporary complex and broadened field of social and political inquiry.
The module investigates how security sits with other core IR concepts, such as power, sovereignty, and liberty, along with problems, such as war and the use of force in international politics across different traditional and critical traditions. The module outlines the main traditional and critical approaches to security, discussing competing ideas and criticism on various theoretical approaches in the study of security. It purposefully inquires and addresses the ethics of various politics of security. How can the liberal state deal with its enemies? Do exceptional times require exceptional measures? Should governments suspend rights and liberties of individuals to preserve the constitution and protect the liberal order? Can and how can the liberal paradox be resolved? Is there a right balance between security and liberties? Under which circumstances should fundamental rights be restricted? The module combines the reading and discussion of the central academic and policy debates, concepts and issues of security politics with students own thinking and research projects. It thus aims to help students to master major writings and thinking in the field, and to support their own MA dissertation projects. Topics include terrorism and liberties, criminalisation of certain historical views, borders and biometrics, and surveillance technologies. The foci have been chosen with an intent to provide students with the breadth of contemporary issues that can be analysed through the critical lenses on security.Read more
LW859 - International Economic Regulation
The module is designed to operate on two fundamental principles: it is interdisciplinary and it is research-led. This has the following implications for the curriculum:
a. Though the module runs under the responsibility of KLS, Pol/IR staff at BSIS will make a significant contribution to the module.
b. The module draws extensively from material from legal sociology, political theory, international relations, political economy and other disciplines.
c. The module is designed to offer, during the first six weeks, a solid theoretical foundation to the study of law and governance in a global economy; the remainder of the course will allow time and flexibility for staff to present a number of 'case studies' resulting from their own research.
1. The social embeddedness of markets and law: Durkheim and Gurvitch.
2. The theory and practice of legal pluralism: from Ehrlich to Teubner.
3. Systems theory, law and globalisation: Luhmann and Willke.
4. Discourse theory to the test of globalisation: Habermas.
5. Bourdieu and the theory of 'legal fields.'
6. Constitutive approaches to norms and compliance in systems of diffuse authority
7. Globalisation, governance and the revival of corporatism.
Examples of 'case studies' would include:
Market integration and polity building: lessons from the European Community
'Constitutionalisation' in International Relations
Towards a global administrative law?
Risk: legal and political responses to the 'global risk society.'
Product safety: health and safety standards in public and private law.
Disaggregating the state: the implications of international regulatory co-operation
National and international law in the regulation of money laundering
The Ordoliberal Privatrechtgesellschaft and the legal conceptual underpinnings of the social economy in Germany and the European Community.
Globalisation and the regulation of communications media
Technology regimesRead more
LW861 - Law of Armed Conflict
The following topics may be covered:
Introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL)
Distinction between international armed conflict and non-international armed conflict;
Legal criteria for assessing combatant and prisoners of war status, and 'unlawful combatants';
Definition of civilians and the concept of direct participation in hostilities;
Law of occupation;
Rules on Means and Methods of Warfare;
Protection of Environment during armed conflict;
Protection of cultural property during armed conflict;
Applicability of IHL to UN peacekeeping operations;
The relationship between IHL and international human rights law.Read more
LW883 - International Law of the Sea
The legal regime applicable to two-thirds of our planet forms the subject matter of this course. Starting point is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which entered into force in 1994, as well as its implementing agreements of 1994 and 1995. The objective of this course is to familiarize the student with this conventional framework and the delicate interaction it has with the actual practice of states.
Starting from the principle of the freedom of the high seas, this course will address the different maritime zones existing today, which all possess a distinct legal regime: the internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, the Area, and the high seas. Since all these maritime zones, in one way or another, fall back on the baseline for their measurement and often need to be delimited in case of adjacent or opposite states, introductory chapters on both issues are provided. Special attention is finally also devoted to marine pollution, the living resources of the high seas, two topical issues in the contemporary law of the sea, as well as the articles of the above mentioned convention of 1982 on the settlement of disputes, because this was the first multilateral agreement which incorporated such a detailed procedure for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
It is anticipated that the following specific topics will be addressed:
1. Freedom of the High Seas
2. Jurisdiction of the Flag State
4. Boundaries of Maritime Jurisdiction Between Adjacent and Opposite States
5. Internal Waters and Ports
6. Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, Straits, and Archipelagic Waters
7. Continental Shelf
8. Exclusive Economic Zone
9. Marine Pollution
10. Living Resources of the High Seas
11. Settlement of DisputesRead more
LW885 - Law and Development
The module will deal with three main interrelated clusters of topics. The first topic is the relationship between law and economic development. This will involve a thorough examination of material ranging from classic sociology (Max Weber, notably) up to modern assertions of the economic superiority of the common law over civil law traditions. The second topic is the relationship between law and development understood in a wider sense than mere economic growth. This will involve, inter alia, an investigation of the relationship between law, human rights and democratisation, an examination of theories of the centrality of 'good governance' in effective development policies, and an introduction to the topic of legal transplants and the associated concerns of comparative law scholarship. These two theoretical topics will be underpinned by an emphasis on the historical and ideological frameworks that have informed much of dominant legal thought on the subject. The third part of the module will deal with selected case studies, to provide students the opportunity to apply the theoretical and conceptual basis they have acquired in the first part of the course. These case studies could range from issues related to specific projects (for example, indigenous rights policies as relevant to a major infrastructure project financed by the World Bank), specific regions (for example, Afghanistan, the Balkans), and specific legal instruments (for example, the imposition of standard Bilateral Investment Treaties in North-South relations).Read more
LW899 - Corporate Governance
In recent years corporate governance - meaning the governance of the large corporations which dominate modern economic life - has emerged as a major area of political and academic interest. Increasing attention has come to be focused, in particular, on the comparative aspects of corporate governance and on the different legal regimes found in different parts of the world, with policy makers striving to determine which regimes are most likely to deliver (so-called) `efficiency' and competitive success. In this context much has been made of the differences between shareholder-oriented, Anglo-American governance regimes and the more inclusive (more stakeholder-oriented) regimes to be found in certain parts of continental Europe and Japan. One result is that the increasing interest in corporate governance has re-opened old questions about the nature of corporations, about the role and duties of corporate managers and about the goal of corporate activities and the interests in which corporations should be run.
This module will explore these debates. More generally, the question of corporate governance has become entangled with other important debates, most notably that surrounding the merits (or otherwise) of different models of capitalism: Anglo-American regimes are associated with stock market-based versions of capitalism, while European regimes are associated with so-called welfare-based versions of capitalism.
The question of corporate governance has, therefore, become embroiled with debates about the morality and efficiency of different models of capitalism. These too will be explored in this module.Read more
LW901 - International Diplomatic Law
The module pursues two closely intertwined objectives: diplomatic law in theory and diplomatic law in practice.
First Objective: Diplomatic Law in Theory. This part of the module examines inter alia the establishment and conduct of diplomatic relations, the categories and functions of diplomatic missions, the legal position in international law of Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers and diplomatic agents, the diplomatic corps, status and functions of diplomatic missions, duties of diplomatic missions, diplomatic asylum, members of the diplomatic mission, diplomatic inviolability, diplomatic privileges and immunities, and the sanctions available in diplomatic law.
Second Objective: Diplomatic Law in Practice. In this part of the module, relevant case law and state practice will be examined and discussed in class. Moreover, students will apply rules and principles of diplomatic law to facts by solving (real or fictitious) problems (problem-based learning) in order to have a better understanding of diplomatic law in practice.Read more
LW912 - Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Programming
This course engages in an examination of the different approaches to transitional justice trials, truth and reconciliation commissions, vetting/lustration, reparations, traditional justice mechanisms, and memorials and a critical discussion of some of the political, normative, and conceptual underpinnings of transitional justice. It adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of transitional justice, drawing on perspectives from the disciplines of law, political science, history, anthropology and criminology about the nature of international crimes, justice and reconciliation. The course aims to give students an understanding of how transitional justice operates, the challenges faced in implementing transitional justice, the variations in transitional justice practices across space and time, and emerging contestations around the scope and effectiveness of transitional justice.Read more
LW916 - European Union International Relations Law
This module explores the external relations law of the European Union with third countries and international organisations. This is an increasingly important area given that the EU has evolved into the largest regional trading and political bloc on the world stage. Having focused initially on developing a common trading policy with the international community, since the early 1990s the EU has steadily broadened the range of its powers to be able to engage in political as well as military issues on the international scene. A significant milestone was the formal establishment of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy by the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. More recently, the Lisbon Treaty 2007 further enhanced the EU's role in foreign affairs through a series of institutional changes and innovations, notably including the introduction of the 'External Action Service, which is the EU counterpart to national diplomatic services, and the Unions High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The module will critically explore the following aspects in particular:
1. The institutional and core legal framework of EU external relations law, including the division of competences between the EU and the Member States, the impact of human rights in EU external relations and the expansion of the EU powers over time;
2. Selected specific policy areas, such as the Common Commercial Policy, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the external dimension to EU environmental policy, along with their different (and sometimes conflicting) objectives and underlying political perspectives.
The module will also foster a contextual, interdisciplinary and critical approach to studying the subject, with reference to political science literature on the effects of EU external policies.Read more
PO8103 - Russia in International Affairs
This module seeks to offer profound insights into the role of post-communist Russia in international affairs. It focuses both on the regional and global dimension. The module seeks to transcend easy stereotypes and opts for a pluralist theoretical approach. Identities and perceptions are regarded as key to understanding Russia's contemporary foreign policy. Actors, decision-making and objectives of foreign policy are approached against a historical background and linked to domestic developments.
Russia's foreign policy is studied at three levels: bilateral (with the EU, the US, post-Soviet countries, PR China, Middle East), regional (Eurasian integration initiatives) and multilateral (Russia's position within international organisations such as the United Nations, the OSCE, WTO, etc.). Different dimensions get specific attention: security, trade, energy, integration. Case studies will focus on topic theme (at the time of writing: Ukraine, Syria, sanctions, etc.)
1. Russia and the West: identities and perceptions
2. From Cold War to contested post-Cold War structures
3. Foreign policy and security doctrines: (neo-)revisionist Russia?
4. Key actors in Russian foreign policy and the domestic dimension
5. EU-Russia relations
6. Eurasian integration processes
7. The Ukraine crisis
8. Russia and the BRICS
9. Russia and the Middle East
10. Russia and international organisations
11. Energy relations
12. Russia's power and strategy revisitedRead more
PO8104 - Politics in the Middle East
The focus of this module is the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA region). The region has been at the centre of global politics and security concerns, but is also characterised by strong internal rivalries and conflict. The central emphasis of this module is on the interconnectedness of various issues and ideologies in the MENA region, as well as on the interaction between the politics of global and regional actors.
While the emphasis is on current developments, those are situated in their historical context, with particular attention for the legacy of colonialism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Western stereotypical thinking about the region (Orientalism). Moving beyond stereotypes, the course highlights complexity and differentiation of the area.
It focuses on the politics, interests, power and identities of key regional actors (Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel), as well as on the role of global powers (the United States, Russia, EU/European states). Both religious divides (Shi'a / Sunni) and political positions are critically analysed, taking into account (self-)perceptions and social construction. The same holds for ideologies, in particular Arab nationalism and the rise of radical Islamism.
Specific issues are extensively dealt with, such as: the conflict in Syria and its internationalisation, the Palestine question, the 'Arab Spring', energy in a changing context, Saudi-Iran rivalry, Iran's WMD programme, integration and cooperation (in particular the Gulf Cooperation Council, OPEC).Read more
PO814 - European Foreign and Security Policy in the 21st Century
This course focuses on contemporary security issues facing Europe today and on how the EU and its member states are adapting to its new role in providing security beyond its territory. The creation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and the increasing number of civilian and military crisis management operations since 2003 raise important issues over the EU's performance in foreign and security policy; the creation of a European strategy and strategic culture; and changing relations with NATO but also the United States. The institutional changes as a result of the Lisbon Treaty, in particular the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), have further raised expectations as to the EUs external role. The course will thus examine the institutions of EU foreign and security policy; the future of the transatlantic relationship and of NATO; inter-institutional cooperation between the EU and the UN and other international actors in pursuit of 'effective multilateralism; regional challenges such as integrating the Balkans and solving the frozen conflicts as well as European engagement farther afield such as Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa; and European responses towards the rise of emerging powers and their effect on global governance. The aim of the course is to give students a thorough overview of contemporary security issues and how they are addressed by European and international security- institutions. Lectures will provide a conceptual overview of the most important topics, whereas seminars will discuss specific case studies to illustrate concepts and themes addressed in lectures.Read more
EC878 - Development Economics
1. Introduction to Development Economics
2. The development gap, poverty and underdevelopment
3. Theories of economic growth
4. Determinants of economic development: land, labour and capital
5. Obstacles to development: dualism, cumulative causation and population
6. Market versus state in development
7. Project appraisal and finance
8. Environmental issues in development
9. Financing economic development: savings, financial liberalisation and inflation
10. Foreign aid and debt
11. Trade and the balance of payments
12. International policy towards developmentRead more
LW814 - Public International Law
This module provides a detailed study of the history, rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. It offers a critical analysis of the international legal order and a firm basis upon which to found arguments concerning the political importance of international law. The module pays special attention to the way in which the evolution and operation of the international legal order influence not only international relations, but also daily domestic life.
At the end of the course students will be able to assess, both internally and in context, the main the rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. Students will also develop the necessary tools to reflect critically on some of the most important problems and tensions that define the contemporary global order: from calamities resulting from war, international interventions and surveillance strategies in countries like Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan, to the everyday effects of increasing socio-economic disparities and environmental decay in both the Global South and the Global North.
The teaching, discussions and readings in the module will equip students both with a doctrinal understanding of public international law, and with an approach to the field that is grounded in a Critical, Socio-Legal and Law and Humanities perspective.Read more
LW832 - European Union Migration Law
The course will be divided into two parts. The first, in weeks 1 to 6, will consider the law relating to the free movement of persons within the European Union. This will include a treatment of the law of nationality, of the main specific rights of personal movement within the European Union and of the implications of European Union citizenship for rights of personal movement.
The second part of the course, in weeks 7 to 10, will examine the emergence of a common immigration policy at the level of the European Union. This will include a treatment of the rights of personal movement of non-European Union nationals within the European Union, of the early steps in the co-ordination of national immigration policies, and of the implications of the 'Immigration Chapter' inserted into the European Community Treaty in 1999.Read more
LW843 - International Human Rights Law
This module is designed to enable postgraduate students to obtain both essential knowledge of and critical insight into, issues relating to international human rights law. Human rights occupy an extremely important place in contemporary discussions about law, justice and politics at both the domestic and the international level. Across all spheres of government, bodies of law and, pretty much, in every single social mobilization, human rights are invoked and debated.
This module approaches the key place occupied by human rights in the contemporary world from an international perspective. The module aims to link the international origins of human rights and the main human rights systems, with the actual practice of human rights. Particular attention is paid in the module to the value, as well as the limits of human rights when they approach, or try to address the problems and the aspirations of five important 'subjects': the Citizen, the Refugee, the Cultural Subject, the Woman and the Poor.
The module is organized around lectures and seminars delivered by the convenor, as well as lectures given by invited guests speaker. Guest speakers will explore in their lectures how they have approached in their research and practice the five 'subjects' mentioned above (ie, the Citizen, the Refugee, the Cultural Subject, the Women and the Poor).
Emphasis is placed on maximum student participation during seminar discussions for which students will need to prepare. Students are encouraged to develop a critical perspective in light of historical and socio-economic backgrounds.
Similar to the module public international law, the teaching, discussions and readings in the module will equip students both with a doctrinal understanding of international human rights law, and with an approach to the field that is grounded in a Critical, Socio-Legal and Law and Humanities perspective.Read more
PO848 - Negotiation and Mediation
The course provides an overview and framework for considering the evolving field of international conflict resolution with an emphasis on negotiation and mediation. The module will focus primarily on the practical as well as on the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, or more broadly third party intervention in conflicts. Its aims are to give the students an overview of the main problems involved in negotiation and mediation (broadly defined), but also to give them a chance to work individually and in groups on case studies and material related to the resolution of conflicts. The course is designed to introduce the students to theories of negotiation and bargaining, discuss the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem solving real cases of international conflict, and allow them to make use of such techniques in role playing and simulations.
This course is not taught in the conventional manner with lectures and seminars but, due to the nature of the material taught, involves block teaching and work over weekends. Students should consult the timetable and syllabus for further details.Read more
PO868 - Political Communication
Students are introduced to the logic and logistics of political communication, with a focus on rhetoric and techniques of persuasion such as framing and spin control.Read more
PO881 - State, Market and Society
A critical understanding of the key dynamics of social, political and economic life, of the relationships between states, markets, individuals and the civil societies in which they function, is an essential basis for the study of international relations, international political economy, and conflict resolution. The module introduces students to the main issues and theoretical approaches in the study of modern Western democracies.
Part One: Main categories and perspectives of political analysis.
Week One: The Concept of the Political. About Theory and Methodology;
Week Two: The Body Politic: Essence and Organisation. Models of governance. Governments, Systems and Regimes;
Week Three: The Modern State in Historical and Analytical Perspectives.
Week Four: Liberal Democracy: Historical and Conceptual Genesis. The causal and constitutive relations between capitalism, political liberalism and democracy. (Weber, Habermas, Giddens)
Part Two: Key theoretical perspectives in (international) political economy
Week Five: Capitalism and democracy1: rational choice theories of social cooperation (Locke, Hobbes, Hume, Smith); Neorealism, Neoliberalism.
Week Six:: Capitalism and Democracy2: Structural theories: Marx, World Systems and Theories of Hegemonic Stability
Week Seven: Strange's Structural Realism, the State and Structural Power.
Week Eight: Social Constructivism (Gramsci, Hardt and Negri)
Part Three: Key themes of contention
Week Nine: Modern Democracy: transformations and crises. Polanyi and Arendt
Week Ten: Social Justice and the Political Mandate of the State. Debates on Redistribution (Polanyi, Jouvanel, Condorcet, Hayek, Erhard, Keynes, Condorcet);
Week Eleven: From redistribution to empowerment. Schumpeter, Bernstein, Gramsci, Sen.
Week Twelve: Overview and conclusionRead more
PO903 - Political Strategy
This class offers a threefold approach to the study of strategy and power. First, it introduces political strategy as context, structure and actor-specific, and offers non-technical and accessible introductions to game theory, case studies, and Foucauldian discourse analysis as methods useful in the analysis of strategy and power. Second, to convey the context-specific nature of political strategy, the course allocates six weeks to applied analyses of three contemporary case studies. They examine strategic behaviors of state and non-state actors and the relations of power in which they operate. Third, the course concludes with an in-class strategic exercise simulating the work of - and negotiations in - a major intergovernmental institution.Read more
PO904 - The Politics of International Development
This module studies how power relations shape the policy and academic practice of International Development. It helps the students rethink critically the ideas and realities of wealth, hunger, poverty, health, (in)equality, economic growth, and progress. It consists of four core elements. First, the course examines how power relations have shaped the origins and meanings of development ideas and images integral to them (those of backwardness, failure, misery, hunger, progress, wealth, etc.). It problematizes the historical role and legacy of colonialism and exploitation of humans and natural resources as inseparable from the riddles of poverty and (un)successful economic growth across formerly colonized spaces. Second, the module goes on to analyze the mainstream framings and definitions of development problems as well as some of the historically deployed solutions, interventions, strategies, and models of growth and development. The third part of the course consists of a detailed study of state, interstate and non-state development actors, their development agendas, approaches, instruments and track records, as well as the aid and international trade regimes that they have established to tackle "underdevelopment" and poverty across the globe. Finally, the survey of international development structures and actors concludes with an inquiry into the potentials and prospects for alternative, more equitable, more inclusive and more effective approaches to human welfare and safety.Read more
PO939 - Identity, the State and Belonging
This module will begin by outlining key issues relating to migration in the context of nationalism, national identity and belonging/membership. It will explore the definitions of each of these terms from a variety of theoretical/disciplinary perspectives. The interactions between the three will be examined as well. In so doing, the module will look at diaspora groups, immigrant groups, non-migrant populations and minorities. Developing and developed countries will both be discussed, while minorities such as African-Americans in the United States as well as Hungarians in Romania will be included. Sociological, political science and legal perspectives will be emphasized.Read more
PO940 - Theories of Migration, Integration and Citizenship
This module will present key theories of migration, integration and citizenship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, primarily sociological and political science, but including elements of anthropology and psychology. This curriculum will ensure that students gain an understanding of the most significant theories in the field, including the importance of the context of reception, including government policy and public opinion as well as institutional factors. Through the presentation and discussion of the theories, students will gain the knowledge of how the theories are applied to specific examples/case studies.Read more
PO941 - Migration: Conflict, the State and Human Rights
The module will address the wide variety of migration in the world, primarily from a contemporary perspective, but also including some historical comparison. This examination will broadly be structured along three lines of investigation: conflict, human rights and the state. The first comes into play with the discussion of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), while human rights (and conflict, to some extent) are discussed in the sessions on trafficking, smuggling and irregular migration. State control of migration is an overarching theme thoughout the module, but is explicitly discussed in many sessions, including a discussion of nation-state sovereignty and migration, labour migration and family unification. These themes will be addresed in both developing and developed countries, while we will seek to identify any patterns which are similar in different regions of the world (e.g. post-war guestworker migration to Germany and contemporary migration to South Korea and Japan).Read more
PO944 - Gender in Conflicts, Migration and Development
This module will explore the various intersections between gender and conflict: how masculinities and femininities are constructed in times of conflict and war, the impact of these constructions within the conflict/post-conflict context, and how gender and ethnicity are used in narratives and political discourses. We will discuss the relationships between gender, militarism and war, between gender and power, and more generally between gender and social structures. The goal for this course is to analyse the relationship between conflict and gender. This course also aims at understanding the differing impact of conflict on women and on men and the diverging meanings of conflict and security for women and men.
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, norms, and so forth, which affect how both males and females, or rather how masculinities and femininities are defined or understood within society. A gender relations approach examines the interplay between masculinities and femininities. While feminism increased the attention to gender-related issues, most notably in regards to females, more recent men and masculinities research has offered a complementary understanding of how gender and gender relations affect us all.
Conflict-related policies such as UNSC 1325, and more generally the broader focus on gender mainstreaming, gender specialists and gender trainers, have further emphasised its centrality to conflict research. The changing nature of conflict itself, including civilians increasingly being targeted, rape as a weapon of war, and both female and male combatants, necessitates a more complex approach, which takes gender into account.Read more
PO947 - Public Policy Analysis
Please note: This module is owned by the VUB (Free University of Brussels) as partner institution. Kent students can take the module under certain conditions and will receive Kent credit for successfully completing it (on a pass/fail basis). The content is subject to minor change and the calendar of the term may differ slightly.
Public policy analysis is a problem-oriented, multidisciplinary, and value-oriented system of analysing policy, both for descriptive and prescriptive ends. The methods used stretch over several disciplines, but this course aims to introduce the approach to policy analysis practiced in political science. It divides the policy process in phases and presents the most important theoretical approaches and research results that illuminate the specific features of each moment in the policy cycle, from the setting of an agenda, through decision-making, to the implementation and evaluation of policy. Contrasting theoretical approaches are presented as reflections of a tension between policy analysis for policy and about policy. The student acquires critical tools for a better understanding of present day policy analysis and the relative advantages and disadvantages of different approaches, which are then applied in the preparation of a model policy analysis.
The course introduces the policy cycle approach. Subsequently, major approaches to public policy analysis are introduced and evaluated in view of their explanatory strengths and weaknesses. The course then offers an in depth discussion of each policy phase in the cycle, highlighting key theoretical and empirical contributions relevant to the policy phase under scrutiny. While learning the policy cycle approach, we will concentrate on key concepts and case studies, aimed at the furthering of critical skills needed for contextual and fine analysis of policy. The course offers students a framework to conduct their own research on a policy or policy reform/change. Students need to apply the policy cycle approach to a concrete case study, in the form of a Briefing Note.Read more
PO948 - Europe and Global Change
This course seeks to offer an International Relations perspective on one of the most crucial challenges today: how is Europe's role in the world changing? The course starts from the idea that the economic globalisation since the beginning of the 1990s is increasingly translated into new political structures. New players have arisen and new challenges have emerged. Inevitably this changes the role of Europe. The focus is both on wider Europe and on the EU. Both dimensions of integration and of fragmentation are taken into account, so that Europe appears in its multi-dimensional complex forms (states and regional organisations). Different aspects are dealt with: interests, power, identity, perception, institutions; regional and global impact; foreign policies, trade, development cooperation; multilateralism; global challenges (climate change, energy, financial markets, etc.). Also the varying role of the EU in international organisations (UN, WTO, IMF, etc.) is being studied. Students learn to approach these issues in a critical and balanced way.Read more
PO949 - EU Politics and Governance (Brussels)
The course has a double focus. First, it deals with the formal role of institutions and actors in the EU. Secondly, it focuses on the politics and governance structures in the EU. It looks into power and influence, interests, coalition formation, balancing, bargaining, policy networks and multilevel governance, as well as issues of identity and perception. During seminars a case of EU legislation is being studied, so that students learn to apply different concepts and approaches to a specific case. Moreover, by studying the chronological development of this case through the stages of the policy cycle, students come to grips with both the formal competencies and political factors that influence the process. The course is concluded by a research-based simulation game at COREPER level. Students play the role of member states. For the simulation students have to do autonomous research to prepare their national position, giving the exercise a new dimension. The purpose is for students to be able to retrieve and analyse relevant information and to understand the practicalities of decision-making, it complexity and political character.
1. EU politics in context 1: the historical perspective
2. EU politics in context 2: the nature of EU policies
3. EU core institutions
4. Theories of European integration
5. Theories of governance
6. The policy cycle
7. Power and influence
8. Coalitions and balancing
9. Inter and intra-institutional relations
11. The debate on the democratic deficit
12. Research-based simulation game: COREPER meeting on the directive on patient mobilityRead more
PO954 - Power, Interests and Identity in the Asia-Pacific (Brussels)
The module starts with introductory sessions, which examine the historical and geopolitical settings of the Asia-Pacific, conceptualise it as a region, and explore the main contending theoretical perspectives relevant to the study of the region's international relations. Following the introduction, attention is given to the foreign policies of, and the relations between the major powers the US, China and Japan. The module further investigates the unresolved historical problems between Japan, China and South Korea, and rising nationalism in the Asia-Pacific, and the major sources of regional conflict the Taiwan issue, North Korea's nuclearisation, and the territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Also discussed are Russia's and the EU's regional policies, as well as regional cooperation and Asian- Pacific institution building, including in the framework of APEC, ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit. The module concludes by examining the main trends in the evolving regional order in the Asia-Pacific.
1. Introduction to the module
2. Conceptualisation of the Asia-Pacific and contending theoretical approaches
3. Power shifts (1): the US in the Asia-Pacific and China's rise
4. Power shifts (2): China's regional strategy and policy towards the US
5. Alliance politics: The US-Japan alliance and Asia-Pacific security
6. Identity, nationalism and historical memory in the Asia-Pacific
7. Identity, sovereignty and security: Taiwan and China
8. Conflict management on the Korean Peninsula
9. Territory and interests: Maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas
10. Power and purpose in Russian and European engagement in the Asia-Pacific
11. Regional cooperation and institution building in the Asia-Pacific
12.Evolving regional order: current trends and future scenariosRead more
PO955 - Human Security in Forced Migration
The module will broadly discuss the impact of the experience of forced migration upon the individuals and communities involved, both in sending, receiving and transit countries. In this module, we understand forced migration to be a broad concept which includes conflict- and climate-event-generated refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), victims of trafficking, irregular migrants, unaccompanied minors, as well as political refugees, and others still. Migration is understood to include both South-North and South-South migration.
The module will be framed by the concept of human security, as well as theoretical and conceptual approaches to the overall well-being of forced migrants. Well-being so stated includes not only the granting of refugee status often mistakenly seen as the end of the experience of forced migration but broader social integration, inclusion and sense of belonging, as well as health and mental health. The concept of borders and border control, including the securitisation of borders and more conceptual borders, such as that between citizen and non-citizen, child and adult, forced and voluntary returnee, will be explored. These overarching concepts will then be maintained throughout the term via a discussion of topics such as human security, health and mental well-being and a variety of forced migrants including, but not restricted to asylum-seekers and refugees.Read more
PO957 - African Politics
The module will engage with the abundant literature in political science, history, sociology and anthropology concerned with the transformations of the state and the societies in Africa. Africanist literature is empirically exceptionally rich and conceptually innovative. The objective of the module is to explore the tools this literature offers to study contemporary political dynamics on the continent, using a comparative approach, and understand the importance of Africa in international relations
1. African stereotypes in global media
2. Rule and State formation in historical perspective
3. Colonial legacies
4. An 'extraverted' continent?
5. Heterogeneity of contemporary political systems
6. The military in politics
7. Politics from below
8. Culture and political representations
9. Dissent and its management
10. Identity politics
11. Political violence
12. African borderlands
13. Regional cooperationRead more
PO924 - Foreign Policy Analysis
Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) is a field of study that analytically straddles international relations and comparative politics. It captures the porousness of the borders between the domestic and international, examining the rich interchanges which happen in between. The module understands foreign policy as a processual, relational and thoroughly political phenomenon. In the ocean of possible methods of study of how state and non-state actors (such as the EU) and various social structures shape (and are shaped by) events and expressions of power across the globe, this module adopts a fourfold approach. First, it analyses foreign policy practices of states from a variety of theoretical perspectives (realist, liberal, constructivist, and critical). It highlights their mutual tensions and complementarities in addressing two central questions of FPA: Why and how do states engage in and articulate cooperation and conflict abroad? Second, having learned about the different conceptual lenses, the module moves on to combine them with a layered understanding of foreign policy practices structured along multiple levels of analysis (international systemic, state, sub-state, and individual). Third, the module will focus on the different foreign policy actors (governments and their bureaucracies, domestic and transnational social groups, individuals, etc.) and conceptual models that explain their decisions and actions in international relations (including the role of power, psychology, and rationality in the dynamics of individual and group-level decision-making). Herein, your understanding of theories will certainly come in handy since they largely inform these more specific models. Finally, we will discuss a set of distinct 'mechanics' of foreign policy, such as power (including preventive and coercive diplomacy, and the questions of ethics) and strategy. The module will conclude with exploring change in foreign policy, revisiting the domestic-international nexus in foreign policy formulation and implementation.
Topics to be discussed
Foreign Policy Analysis: What, How, and Why?
Realist and Liberalist approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis
Constructivist, Poststructuralist, and Critical lenses on Foreign Policy Analysis
Levels of analysis in Foreign Policy Analysis: international system, the state, and the in-between
Levels of analysis in Foreign Policy Analysis: sub-state and the individual
Diplomacy and diplomats
Decision-making in foreign policy
Intelligence, pundits, academia, public opinion, and non-state actors in foreign policy
Force and power in foreign policy making
Strategy in foreign policy
Foreign policy change
Standing, status, recognition, representations, images, identity and memory in foreign policy analysis
Models of decision-making
Analysing foreign policy speeches and strategy documentsRead more
LW844 - Legal Aspects of Contemporary International Problems
There are a number of ways to approach the field of international law. It can be treated doctrinally as a system of rules from various sources such as treaties, state practices that are seen to have the binding force of law, and general principles shared across domestic jurisdictions built up over time to regulate interactions between states and other entities. It can be studied as a historical phenomenon, emerging from out of a colonial history with contemporary implications. It can also be studied as an (imperfect) approach to addressing international 'problems', placing international law in broader social, political, and historical contexts as one possible source of 'solutions'. This course highlights international laws limits and possibilities in relation to a set of contemporary inter- and trans-national concerns, including the use of armed force, responses to emerging security threats, and unresolved territorial disputes. It focuses on key themes of international law, such as sovereignty, statehood, self-determination, and the regulation of armed conflict, drawing upon perspectives from the humanities and the interpretive social sciences. It explores these overlapping themes as they emerge across several issues and case studies, bringing international law into a relationship with contemporary geopolitics, political theory, and the fields historical inheritance. Along the way, we will address philosophical and theoretical questions such as the binding character of international law, problems of representation and interpretation, and the rhetorical dimensions of customary international law.
The topics covered vary year to year to align with changing circumstances and also according to student interest, but are anticipated to be as follows:
- The use of force and the law of armed conflict
- Reframing sovereignty: the responsibility to protect
- Regulating the global arms trade
- Targeted killing
- Enforcing the prohibition against torture
- Border conflicts and colonial legacies in international lawRead more
PO846 - International Political Economy (BSIS)
The module is built around 12 lectures and 12 one-hour seminars.
The module explores doctrines of state-economy relations and theories of international political economy in order to equip students with a capacity to analyse the complexities of an ever-more dynamic global economy in ways that the disciplines of economics and international relations on their own cannot capture. Our focus is on the transformation of democratic capitalism from its emergence as an institutionalised social order in the 19th century, to its 20th century modalities (the post-WWII welfare state and the late 20th century neoliberalism) to its current form.
The module will involve 12 lectures and 12 class discussions. Students will be strongly encouraged to participate in these discussions. Indeed, there are a number of student readings that are not required readings for the class but which will be individually assigned to students, who will write very short briefs on these readings to be made available via e mail to other students in the class. These summaries will be very briefly presented during the class discussion.Read more
EC877 - International Economics
1. Introduction to methods of economic analysis
2.The Law of Comparative Advantage
3. Pure theory of international trade: The Heckscher-Ohlin Model
4. New Theories of International Trade: Factor movements, migration and strategic trade policy
5. Open Economy Macroeconomics I: Balance of payments and the Exchange Rate
6. Open Economy Macroeconomics II: Macroeconomic policy in the open economy
7. Economics of the EU I: Theory of Preferential Trade Areas
8. Economics of the EU II: Monetary coordination, optimal currency areas and the Euro
9. Trade and development I: Theories of economic growth
10.Trade and development II: International aspects and world trade policies
11. International Economic Institutions and policy coordination
12. International economic issues: Globalisation, climate changeRead more
PO935 - Global Governance and International Organisation
The aim of this course is to achieve an analytical understanding of global governance and international organizations. More specifically, the course aims to deepen the students':
- contextual understanding of the history of international organizations;
- understanding of theories explaining actor behavior and policy outcomes in the context of international organizations and global governance;
- analytical and practical understanding of various global governance fora and policies;
- understanding of philosophical and normative accounts of global governance;
- understanding of strategies, norms and interests that drive the states and non-governmental actors in various global governance fora and policy areas (e.g. the United Nations, the WTO, the G7/G8/G20, global security governance, global economic governance, global development cooperation, etc.)Read more
PO997 - Dissertation in Politics and International Relations
The module is built around 16 hours of lectures and 24 hours of seminars over the course of one term. Following on from Fundamentals of Dissertation and Research in Politics and International Relations (PO9971) which addressed the ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues in the social sciences; the main approaches to social science; analytical approaches, modes of reasoning (deduction, induction) and levels of analysis (agency, structure, co-determination); this module will demonstrate how these concepts are used differently in different subject-specific contexts which represent the main fields of inquiry at BSIS, including legal analysis, political analysis, historical analysis, and economic analysis. The module then moves on to practical questions of research and writing the dissertation, including the construction of the dissertation proposal and the dissertation itself, the use of research materials (qualitative and quantitative data), using research and resources (libraries, documentation, and the internet); and drafting and writing, including the use of appropriate academic style and format.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide a programme that will attract, and meet the needs of, those seeking advanced training in the discipline of international relations
- provide you with a research-active learning environment which gives you a good grounding in the study of international relations, including its political, social, and economic aspects
- examine how state, non-state and supra-national actors behave and interact through a dynamic appreciation of different levels of analysis
- ensure that you acquire advanced knowledge of the theories of international relations, the heritage and development of the discipline, its major debates, its inherent nature as an interdisciplinary study, and a critical appreciation of the essentially contested nature of politics in general and international relations in particular
- ensure that you acquire an advanced understanding of the relationship between the theoretical, methodological, and empirical content of the issue-areas studied
- for the MA and MA (120 ECTS): develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills), in particular through a substantial dissertation.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- historical and theoretical issues at the forefront of the discipline of international relations, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
- the epistemological and methodological principles in their application to the study of international relations
- key ontological, theoretical, and methodological problems of international relations
- current challenges to international order, co-operation, identity, social formations, and global issues, and possible strategies to address them
- the changing role of the state in the context of globalisation and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security
- for the MA and MA (120 ECTS): how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions, deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
- gathering, organising and deploying evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
- identifying, investigating, analysing, formulating and advocating solutions to problems
- developing reasoned arguments, synthesising relevant information and exercising critical judgement
- reflecting on, and managing, your own learning and seeking to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
- managing your own learning self-critically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- applying concepts, theories and methods used in the study of international relations, the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions and practices
- evaluating different interpretations of political issues and events
- describing, evaluating and applying different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting political information
- developing a good understanding of the main epistemological issues relative to research in the social sciences, including some major theoretical and epistemological debates in the social sciences, such as explanation of, and understanding the differences between, positivist, realist and other accounts of social science and the practical implications of the major alternative philosophical positions in the social sciences for research.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
- information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases;
- working with others: define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
- improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
- important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
- problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
For many students, coming to Brussels is a great opportunity to seek out internship and job opportunities. There is a wealth of opportunities in the city to gain valuable work experience in the institutions, organisations and companies in Brussels which could potentially lead to a career post graduation.
At the Brussels School of International Studies, students have access to the services of Key2advance, a dedicated careers service that provides students with assistance in developing skills and accessing the international job market. The weekly career workshops cover all aspects of the job market starting with rewriting your CV and cover letters to learning networking skills. This leads to a networking event during the Autumn Term that allows students to meet and network with employers and alumni.
The University of Kent has its own excellent network in the city which has developed over the last 20 years. These networks enable students to take up internships with some key players in the Brussels job market such as NGOs, charities, public relation firms, think tanks, lobbying companies and the international institutions. Students will find there are many opportunities for an internship during their time at BSIS and In addition, our students and alumni comprise a tightly-knit network through which internship opportunities pass frequently.
Recent examples of internships are with the Red Cross, Norwegian Refugee Council, Weber Shandwick, Coca cola, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transatlantic Business Council (among many others).
Kent has an excellent record for postgraduate employment: over 96% of our postgraduate students who graduated in 2015 found a job or further study opportunity within six months.
Students have access to excellent e-library facilities online via the Templeman library in Canterbury; inter-library loans within Belgium; 50,000 online journals are also available off-campus. Students also have outstanding access to libraries in Brussels, such as at our partner universities Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Royal Library of Belgium, among others. The School’s resources include a dedicated selection of more than 1,000 key texbooks on the subject of international affairs and law. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with computer terminals and access to wi-fi in all areas at the Brussels centre.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. The Brussels School produces its own journal, The Brussels Journal of International Studies, which was founded in 2003. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests section.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
Students should hold a bachelor degree for entry to this master's degree.
We accept a wide range of subjects for entry and you do not need to have necessarily studied Political Science or law previously. Typical first degrees of our students include Economics, History, Classics, Languages, Philosophy, Geography & Psychology (among others).
The standard of the degree will normally be at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree from countries such as the UK, Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya, or a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 under the American system from an accredited institution or equivalent. We do review candidates application on a case by case basis and extensive work experience may compensate for a slightly lower degree result.
We accept a wide range of qualifications and you can find the general entry requirements for some countries on the University’s main website. If your country is not listed or you need further clarification, please contact the School directly at email@example.com.
Students can apply before completion of the bachelor degree and if successful in obtaining a place, you would be made a conditional offer.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Our research interests span a broad spectrum of the discipline, with particular strengths in the fields of conflict analysis and resolution, political theory and European politics. The strength of the School’s research culture is reflected in the numerous books and articles published and in the existence of its three core research groups: Conflict, Security and Human Rights; Comparative Politics; and Political and Social Thought. We also host four University-recognised research centres: the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC), the Global Europe Centre (GEC), the Centre for Critical Thought (CCT), and the Centre for Federal Studies (CFS).
In 2011, the University successfully applied for ESRC recognition as a provider of doctoral training in political science and international studies (and other areas of the social sciences) as part of a consortium. As a result, we are now part of the South East ESRC Doctoral Training Centre, making us one of the key training outlets in our subject in the UK. Further details can be found on the South East DTC website.
Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC)
Kent has been at the forefront of conflict negotiation and resolution for almost 50 years. The Conflict Analysis Research Centre brings together academics working on different aspects of conflict and security as well as PhD and Master’s students studying International Conflict Analysis, International Law and International Relations. Current research includes an investigation into how migrant communities can support peacebuilding in their home society and how South Africa and the UK treat refugees and security. The Centre is also at the forefront of trying to resolve actual conflicts – for example, it played a role in the Moldova-Transnistria peace process and has supported reconciliation efforts in Africa.
Global Europe Centre (GEC)
The Global Europe Centre is a pioneering research-led learning centre focusing on the study of Europe and its relations with the outside world. The GEC’s research focus is on contemporary policy challenges to Europe and its nation states, the engagement with policy-makers and policy-shapers is at the core of its activities. The GEC mission is to promote excellence, through innovative research and knowledge exchange and to facilitate research-driven impact through its learning and teaching activities. The GEC’s activities include dissemination of policy-relevant research via publications, research-led knowledge transfer workshops, conferences and public lectures, and keynote addresses by leading public figures. The Centre has a strong commitment to the creation of the next generation of ideas innovators and policymakers and pursues these through its learning, teaching and knowledge exchange activities and via the Global Europe Student Forum. GEC is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming to develop synergies across Politics and International Relations, Economics, Law, Business, History, and European Languages and Culture.
Centre for Critical Thought (CCT)
The Centre for Critical Thought is an exciting multidisciplinary initiative across both the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculties, co-ordinated by staff in Politics and International Relations, Law and Italian Studies. It enables staff and students interested in cutting-edge critical thought to discuss their work together and to explore the insights of interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, it serves as a forum for distinguished lectures, seminars and an annual workshop. The Annual Kent Lecture in Political and Social Thought is the headline lecture series and recent speakers have included Professor Bernard Stiegler, Professor Chantal Mouffe and Professor William Outhwaite. All students interested in contemporary critical thought are encouraged to become members while at Kent.
Centre for Federal Studies (CFS)
The Centre for Federal Studies, officially launched in October 2005, is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom and it welcomes expressions of interest from both students and established scholars in any branch of federal studies. The focus of the Centre’s activities is not only the established federations, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Austria but also the European Union (EU) as an emergent federal union together with those parts of the world where federal arrangements have the practical possibility to promote peace, justice and stability. The work of the Centre is consonant with world trends that indicate a renaissance of federal ideas, proposals and practices appropriate to the new age of justice as the recognition of difference, diversity and human rights.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Bojan Savic: Lecturer in International Relations (Brussels)
Game theory; qualitative and quantitative research strategies in relation to conflict and development.View Profile
Dr Albena Azmanova: Reader in International Relations
Political traditions and democratisation; globalisation and political identities; European integration.View Profile
Dr Tom Casier: Senior Lecturer in International Relations
EU as an international actor; EU-Russian relations; Russian foreign policy.View Profile
Professor Richard G Whitman: Professor of Politics
European studies; international relations; international role of the European Union.View Profile
Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels: Senior Lecturer in Migration and Politics
Dr. Klekowski von Koppenfels' current research interests focus on the concept of diaspora and transnational engagement of migrants, in particular with respect to Global North migrants, although she remains interested in the phenomena more broadly.View Profile
Dr Yvan Guichaoua: Lecturer in international Conflict Analysis (Brussels)
The dynamics of insurgency formation; rebel governance and state responses in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004.View Profile
Fees for this programme can be found on the Student Finance page.
General additional costs
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: