The track’s educational offer takes the scholarly distinction between politics, polity, and policy as its focus. The term politics denotes the set of activities, practices, and affairs involved in running a State, or government, including strategies and relations whose purposes are the acquisition, consolidation, and expansion of power understood as decision-making, agenda-setting, and thought-control. The term polity denotes the body of legal norms and procedures determining the basic features, scopes and operative modes of the major institutional actors in the national and super-national perspectives. The term policy refers to the domain of binding, or quasi-binding, plans of action adopted and implemented by the institutional actors operating at the national and super-national levels. The didactic approach of the teachers active in the track constitutes a good example of the Socratic method. The inter-disciplinary openness defining the Liberal Arts and Sciences educational philosophy is widely and consistently practiced within the track. 

It is widely acknowledged that Political Science intersects with a variety of fields of investigation such as economics, law, sociology, anthropology, human geography, psychology, history and philosophy. On account of its inter-disciplinary openness the track plays a role of crucial importance in fostering the LAS approach at the UCU.

Recommended Methods

Given its inter-disciplinary character, students interested in the track are recommended to choose one of the following Academic Core courses: UCACCMET24; UCACCMET2A; UCACCMET2B; UCACCMET2D; UCACCMET2F.

BA research thesis in Political Science

Given their high level of expertise, the teachers involved in the Political Science track are able to supervise BA research theses concerned with a vast array of topics reflecting the complexity and plurality of the issues and questions that characterize the study of politics in all its aspects and sub-discipline and the corresponding variety of research methods.

Access to Master Programs

It is known that Master programs in Political Science and related fields such as International Relations, Diplomacy, Conflict and Development Studies, European Studies, Political and Economic Affairs, and International Journalism are generally less strict or demanding as to requiring a minimal amount of disciplinary courses if compared with Master programs in Law, Economics, Psychology, and Anthropology. Our students greatly profited from such a state of affairs and over the years their applications have been constantly successfully received in Europe as well as elsewhere.  

100-level courses

The two 100-level courses provide an introduction to the study of politics by examining basic questions, issues and ideas through the theories of the great political thinkers as well as the basic issues and institutional frameworks in the comparative perspective

UCSSCPOL11: Introduction to Political Theory
The course is an inquiry into the ways in which political thinkers conceived of power and power relations, and addressed the issue of the practical implications of the organization of power relations. The course primarily surveys a number of visions of politics, polity, and policy, past and present, considered on their own merits. Students are expected to become familiar with the ways in which the masters of political theory conceptualized their concerns and formulated their arguments, as well as with what is at stake in their statements. By the use of a variant of the hermeneutic approach, students are expected to gain familiarity with the basic grammar of politics. 

UCSSCPOL13: Introduction to Comparative Politics
The course aims to familiarize the students with the concepts, ideas and analytical tools necessary to understand the structures and processes inherent in different political systems. Students will be provided with the analytical tools that are needed to compare political systems. Furthermore, students will be introduced to the dominant approaches in the field (institutional, rational choice and political culture approaches) and some crucial methodological questions about how we conduct studies in comparative politics, across time and across different governmental levels. The course also exposes the students to specific country cases, which serve as illustrations of broader patterns of politics.

200-level courses 

The two 200-level courses focus on contemporary political science and international relations and their key themes, findings and debates. They introduce to the understanding and application of the main theoretical approaches and methodological options.  

UCSSCPOL21: Political Science: State of the Art
This course is an introduction to the broad range of scholarship produced by contemporary political scientists, emphasizing the key themes and scientific debates within all sub-fields of political science. Students acquire a basic knowledge of a wide variety key theories and methods in political research. Students are encouraged to reflect on the scope and limitations of the discipline and to discuss the core paradigms. Access to the course presupposes either UCSSCPOL11 or UCSSCPOL13.

UCSSCPOL23: International Relations
This course aims to provide students with an introduction to the field of International Relations with regard to its specific methodological problems. During the course multiple theoretic IR perspectives are explored and applied to contemporary international issues. They will allow the students to comparatively reflect on a range of issues in international politics, from international justice to diplomacy, hunger, warfare, and security. Students are expected to become familiar with the complexity of international decision-making through an online role-playing game. Access to the course presupposes either UCSSCPOL11 or UCSSCPOL13.

300-level courses

The four 300-level courses seek to widen and deepen the understanding of complex political phenomena in the national as well as international dimensions by focusing on the key themes and issues in the comparative, organizational, policy and IR perspectives.

UCSSCPOL31: Comparative Political Institutions
The course has the primarily purpose of comparing political systems in the democratic perspective. The first part of the course examines the key features of the British and the Dutch political systems in the comparative perspective. The second part of the course focuses on models of democracy.  Students are expected to critically assess how the checks and balances principle is applied in the case-study context and the existing gaps amongst democratic institutional frameworks as designed by national constitutions and democratic practices. Access to the course is granted to all students who have taken at least one the following courses: UCSSCPOL21; UCSSCPOL23; UCSSCLAW21; UCSSCLAW22.

UCINTPOL32: Religion and Politics
This is a course that aims at understanding the relationship between religion and politics. In the first place, it offers a sweeping historical survey, starting in ancient times but focusing on the time from the French Revolution on. It examines across continents the modern effort to separate religion from politics or, in the case of fascism and communism, to create a this-worldly “political religion.” And it follows efforts of religious actors to reclaim a place in politics, from the Religious Right in the United States to political Islam in the Middle East. Students will get the chance (after talking to Dutch experts about the Dutch case) to develop in-depth studies of contemporary “church-state” relations in the country of their choice, all the while drawing comparative insights from their fellow students. Finally, students will personally reflect in an essay on the pitfalls and opportunities in the relationship between religion and politics, on the basis of conversation with leading thinkers in the field. Access to the course requires at least one of the following: UCINTHIS21, UCSSCPOL23, UCSSCPOL23, UCHUMREL24, UCHUMHIS21, UCHUMHIS22, or UCHUMHIS24

UCSSCPOL33: Advanced International Relations
The course provides insight into current debates about the methods and narratives through which international relations are studied. Students are expected to produce IR research projects through which IR theory and methods are applied in empirically verifiable cases. In this context students are able to explore the IR landscape and develop basic research skills in the field. The course also offers relevant information concerning the state of the art. Access to the course presupposes UCSSCPOL23.

UCSSCPOL36: International Organizations in Theory and Practice
The first part of the course provide an insight into the major theoretical approaches that help understand key aspects of international organizations: their creation and design, decision-making processes, and their impact and policy effectiveness. The second part shows how the acquired analytic tools are applied in practice and seeks to explain why and how international organizations are thought to help solve global problems, illustrating the big challenges IOs face in achieving their goals. Particular attention is paid to the United Nations and related agencies and programs, as well as to non-governmental and regional organizations. Access to the course presupposes UCSSCPOL21 and UCSSCPOL23.

Level Fall Spring Summer
1 SSCPOL11: Introduction to Political Theory SSCPOL11: Introduction to Political Theory  
  USSCPOL13: Introduction to Comparative Politics  
2 SSCPOL21: Political Science: State of the Art SSCPOL21: Political Science: State of the Art  
SSCPOL23: International Relations: dimension of world politics SSCPOL23: International Relations: dimension of world politics  
3 SSCPOL33: Advanced International Relations: from theory to practice SSCPOL31: Comparative Political Institutions  
SSCPOL36: International Organizations in Theory and Practice INTPOL32: Politics and Religion in the Modern World  
  SSCPOL33: Advanced International Relations: from theory to practice  

Dr. Gamze Avci – Dr. Avci serves as deputy Head of the SSC Department. She studied Political Science and International Relations at the Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and at the University of Georgia, Athens, USA. She completed her graduate studies in Political Science at the LSE and obtained a PhD in Political Science at the University of Georgia. Dr. Avci taught political science at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and served as NWO Research Fellow at the Department of Turkish Studies of the University of Leiden. Her main areas of research interests are Turkish immigration and Turkey and the EU. A list of publications is available on request. She teaches: Introduction to Comparative Politics (UCSSCPOL13; SEM2), Political Science: State of the Art (UCSSCPOL21; SEM1 and SEM2), International Organizations in Theory and Practice (UCSSCPOL36; SEM1). She also co-teaches: European Integration (UCSSCGEO33; SEM2).

Olivier Blarel – Olivier Blarel studied European Studies and International Relations at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Strasbourg. He then studied Comparative Politics at Sciences Po, Paris, where he is also currently working on his PhD in Political Science. Olivier Blarel has taught South Asian studies at ESSCA, Angers/Paris and currently teaches Political science, International Relations, and Research Methodology at Erasmus University- Rotterdam, Leiden University, and at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He served as Scientific secretary and Research fellow at the Centre des Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, India. His main areas of research interests are contemporary Indian politics and interstate and transnational dynamics in South Asia. He teaches: Introduction to Political Theory (UCSSCPOL11; SEM2), Introduction to International Relations (UCSSCPOL23; SEM1).

Prof. Dr. Meindert Fennema – Prof. Fennema is the political science fellow (ad interim) and emeritus professor in Political Theory at the University of Amsterdam. He published extensively on anti-immigration parties, ethnic mobilisation, political theory and political violence. With Wouter van der Brug and Jean N. Tillie he has published extensively on anti-immigrant parties and on social capital of immigrant communities and their political participation. Furthermore, Meindert has published a textbook on the history of democratic theory (Van Thomas Jefferson tot Pim Fortuyn, third edition 2012). In 2007, he published in Dutch a biography of Hans Hirschfeld, the highest Dutch civil servant under Nazi occupation and later the architect of the European Recovery Program. In 2010, he published 'Geert Wilders. Tovenaarsleerling' on the spectacular rise of an anti-immigrant politician in The Netherlands (Tovenaarsleerling, Bert Bakker, 2010; second edition 2016). 'Help! De elite verdwijnt' (2012), is a collection of essays. In 2013 his first novel has been published (Het Slachthuis, Prometheus). More recently he published an autobiography: 'GOED FOUT. Herinnering van een meeloper' (Prometheus, 2015). He teaches Comparative Political Institutions (UCSSPOL31).

Dr. Francesco Maiolo – Dr. Maiolo studied Law at ‘La Sapienza’, Rome, and Political Sciences at Roma III, Rome. He obtained a PhD in Law and Politics at the University of Maastricht, and a PhD in Philosophy at Roma III. Dr. Maiolo taught legal and political theory at the Universities of Leiden, Nijmegen, and Maastricht. He taught political theory and philosophy at the University College Roosevelt. He is currently attached as Associate Researcher in political philosophy to the Radboud University, Nijmegen. He is a regular guest-lecturer at the University of Oxford. A list of publications is available on request. He teaches: Introduction to Political Theory (UCSSCPOL11; SEM1 and SEM2); Comparative Political Institutions (UCSSCPOL31). Dr. Maiolo also contributes to the Philosophy Track courses at the UCU.

Dr. Gerard van der Ree – Dr. van der Ree studied Spanish Language and Literature, as well as History of International Relations, at the University of Utrecht. He obtained a PhD in History at the Research School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies (CNWS) of the University of Leiden. He taught at the History Department of the University of Utrecht. His main areas of research interest are methodology in International Relations theory and critical theory of World Politics. A list of publications is available on request. He teaches: International Relations (UCSSCPOL23; SEM1 and SEM2), Advanced International Relations (UCSSCPOL33).

Contact person

Dr. Gamze Avci is the Fellow for Political Science at UCU.