The educational offer in Political Science 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 constitutes a good example of the Socratic method. The interdisciplinary 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 interdisciplinary openness the track plays a role of crucial importance in fostering the Liberal Arts and Sciences approach at University College Utrecht.

Recommended Methods

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

Bachelor's research thesis in Political Science

Given their high level of expertise, the teachers involved in the Political Science track are able to supervise Bachelor's 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.

Master's programmes 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's programmes in Law, Economics, Psychology, and Anthropology. Our students greatly profit from this flexibility. Oer the years their applications have been constantly successfully received at European universities 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 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 London School of Economics 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 European Union. 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 Organisations in Theory and Practice (UCSSCPOL36; SEM1). She also co-teaches European Integration (UCSSCGEO33; SEM2).

MA Arendt-Jan Boekestijn is Lecturer in History of International Relations. He obtained a Master of Arts in History and Political Science at Free University Amsterdam. He has published on History of International Relations, European Integration History, Development Aid, and Defense policy. He is Foreign Policy Columnist for the Elsevier magazine.


Dr Choolwe Muyzamba holds a PhD from Maastricht University and an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science-LSE (Cum Laude/With Distinction). He specialises in political economy, decoloniality studies, decolonized research methods, global/public health, Public policy and Governance, Sexual Reproductive Health and rights (SRHR), HIV and maternal health, Community Mobilisation, and participatory development/health promotion. 

Dr Gerard 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 Utrecht University. 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) and Advanced International Relations (UCSSCPOL33).

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