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History of International Relations

History of International Relations encompasses more than merely the state and the relationships between countries during the last two and a half centuries.

Internationale betrekkingen
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, Yalta Conference 1945.

The analysis of a specific historical situation forms the central element for the exploration of the different components of international relations. As opposed to other social sciences, theorisation isn’t the key feature; general models and theories are only used as aids for explaining historical developments within their unique character.


International relations research is focused, inter alia, on themes from the history of globalisation and imperialism in the early twentieth century. These include:

  • Dutch foreign relations
  • themes from the World War One and World War Two periods
  • the history of decolonisation following the Second World War
  • the history of the Cold War
  • cultural aspects of recent international relations
  • the economic rise of developing countries and regions since 1945
  • recent transatlantic relations


  • The Master’s programme HIR seeks an equilibrium between specialisation, through own thesis research, and knowledge accumulation via thematic courses.
  • Students receive a general introduction to the field in the core course and systematically work towards their own thesis research.
  • The thematic and elective courses interlink with the lecturers’ own research activities. An interdisciplinary lecture series is occasionally offered via the research group ‘Violence and Society’.
  • During their study programme, many students obtain practical experience by doing an internship at a governmental institution or NGO.