A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

The Global Affairs Minor

As promised, here is a more in-depth review of the Global Affairs minor offered by Leiden University.

As the name suggests, Global Affairs is part of Leiden’s International Relations department. It’s taught at the campus in the Schouwburgstraat (Wijnhaven’s predecessor!) and is a great introduction to International Security and International Political Economy. I took the minor last semester – and I wholeheartedly recommend it!


On the way to the faculty – by Laura Cirigliano


Gateway to Global Affairs: Welcome to the world of international affairs! Gateway to GA is not just a great introduction to everything from international law and international political philosophy – it’s also your first contact to real-life politics: It has amazing guest lecturers who are involved in politics almost every session.

War, Media and Globalization: Hands down my favourite course ever. In a nutshell, it’s about how media coverage of violent conflicts influences the political landscape. As a former war correspondent, lecturer Aernout van Lynden has years of experience in storytelling and a good hand in picking our reading material. It’s probably the most interesting class I’ve had; and let me tell you: Aernout’s stories keep everyone on the edge of their seats.


The exam location was directly above the central station! -Photograph by Laura Cirigliano

Power Instruments: Hybrid warfare, economic sanctions and strategic deterrence sound interesting, right? They are! In this course, you’ll learn what it means to wield power on an international level, and take a close look at the dilemmas that arise with it (aka “With great power comes great responsibility”).

Geo-Economics: Honestly, I was never really interested in economics, so I was super surprised by how much I enjoyed this course! We were discussing recent political developments related to economic diplomacy and then linked them to the underlying theoretical frameworks. Out of all the courses of the minor, this one probably helps the most in making sense of the newspaper.

Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Talk about a course with a badass name. Even better, the actual content is just as intriguing as its title: You will learn about common assumptions and misconceptions surrounding terrorism, what the academic difficulties are with studying it and how different government levels might react to a potential terroristic attack. Also, this course is blending different teaching methods: There were in-person lectures, workgroups and an online course!


Photograph by Laura Cirigliano


Humanitarian Intervention and Peacebuilding: Whenever the UN decide on a peacebuilding mission, it sounds like a great thing. But, how effective are those missions actually? Are they sustainable? And what is the difference between peacekeeping and peacebuilding? These questions and more will be answered by Prof. Dr Osinga, who has first-hand experience in the military and holds the Special Chair in War Studies!


Overall, this minor is a great choice for everyone who wants to learn more about the international playing-field of security and economics. To me, the only real downside was that there were no web-lectures. Even though it was a good experience to attend the lectures, it would have been great to be able to re-watch the lectures before exams. Also, some courses were quite focused on Western societies – it would have been very interesting to consider other perspectives as well.

Personally, I was most impressed by how the course connected the academic world and “real-life”. Most lecturers weren’t just experts in their fields – they had first-hand experience with the topic they were teaching, which gave the course a refreshing authenticity.


If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I absolutely recommend signing up for Global Affairs.

Did you pick a minor yet? Let us know in the comments!

PS: There are also a lot of other minors offered by Leiden University. Check out the e-prospectus or this blog entry to learn more!


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