International Relations

The minor International Relations introduces you to international relations and international history, in order to gain insight in the historical perspective of contemporary issues.


Number of EC

30 EC

Number of courses

4 compulsory courses


Block 3


Dr. Marloes Beers

Course overview

International Relations

Code minor


Entry requirements
  • At least 45 EC for category 1 courses
  • Basic knowledge of the 20th century
Associated MA-programmes
Register between 30 October and 24 November 2023

Make sure to register for the minor as well as all its courses


The International Relations minor offers you a comprehensive and in-depth introduction to International Relations and International History. If you are interested in gaining more insights into the backgrounds of topical issues of today’s international relations, this minor will be of interest for you. We approach contemporary political issues from both a historical as a theoretical point of view.

This minor brings together approaches on International Relations (IR) from both a historical and social science perspective. Within the minor, the four courses look at IR from different angles emphasizing different actors in the international arena. First, emphasis is given to the more traditional focus on interstate relations in contemporary history and connected theories. Thereafter, other (theoretical) viewpoints and actors are at the center of discussion. For instance, we take a close look at the roles of NGOs, business, and small states in the international arena since World War II. You learn how to understand complex problems in IR by looking at them from different perspectives. This provides you with a good base to get more grip on contemporary issues within the continuously changing international relations of today.


The aim of this minor is to help you get comfortable with and reflect on:

  • Historical and theoretical approaches of contemporary, 20th and 21th century topics.
  • Designing, conducting and presenting independent research in the field of International Relations
  • The study of historical primary sources and their use in historical research

The minor IR welcomes second and third year Bachelor students who are interested to know more about understanding topical issues of today’s International Relations and develop their academic research skills. We expect that you possess (and develop further) a basic knowledge of the general history of 20th / 21th century international relations and basic academic skills to conduct research.


    The Minor International Relations starts in block 3. The first course introduces you to the main theories of International Relations. You will delve into the history of the modern international state system, focusing on important themes: diplomatic relations, war, conflict management and international cooperation / integration. During the second course we will discuss the functioning of international organizations such as the EU, the UN and the 1998 established International Criminal Court (ICC) as normative power organizations. To what extent have they been successful as keepers of international peace and international norms like human rights? The third course focuses on the position of small states in the world, especially in Europe. You dive into archive material or sources on the internet and you investigate the leeway of smaller, European states in international politics during the Cold War. In the fourth course you will discuss important developments in transnational politics through the lens of environmental issues. Major current issues of climate change, depletion of natural resources and biodiversity are challenges at transnational level, with non-state actors also playing an increasingly important role.

    Application and registration

    How to register for this minor and its course modules, depends on whether you are a student of Utrecht University or not.

    More information

    If you wish to know more, or have questions about this minor, please contact the Student Desk Humanities.