Global Studies Consortium

Aarhus University : MA in International Studies

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Key features

International Studies at Aarhus University is a two-year MA programme with English as the language of instruction.

The programme includes two semesters of full time course work, one term in which students carry through a project or international internship or follow elective courses, and a final thesis written under supervision in the fourth semester.

The core courses are modern global history, global society, international political economy, global justice, international relations and organizations, and international project management.

The students can choose electives among the full array of courses offered in Aarhus University, and students are encouraged to apply for internships throughout the world as part of the programme.

The programme recruits excellent  students from all over the world to provide a vibrant learning environment drawing on concrete skills, insights, and experiences of the diverse student body.

The team of professors teaching the required core courses are all experienced and published in their academic fields and have international work experience.

Guest lecturers and prospective employers from businesses, institutions, and organizations with an international scope are part of the course and project design.

The programme is the outcome of a team effort carried out by four departments of Aarhus University: the Department of History and Area Studies, where International Studies is co-ordinated, the School of Law, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics.


Degrees awarded
  • MA in International Studies
Organization of the MA curriculum

1st year

The first year of the MA programme consists of six core classes, taught over the first two semesters. The first semester comprises Modern Global History, International Political Economy and Global Society, which provide the foundation for the second semester classes on Global Justice, International Relations and Organisations, and Project Management.

First year programme structure

Modern Global History

With the current speed of changes and development, whole societies are in a situation where they feel they need to catch-up with globalisation. The tensions between the global and the national as well as the local form today’s political, economic, cultural and social paradigms. The main concepts informing these paradigms can be understood through the study of modern global history.

The objective of the course in Modern Global History is thus for the students to learn how understandings of history inform many current political, economic and business decision-making processes and negotiations. During the cause of the course the student should be able to identify the historical dimensions of the complexities of globalisation in the relationship between nation-states, regions, supranational global networks, businesses, and international corporations and organisations.

An introduction to various perspectives on what constitutes history and the centres and margins of the world should sensitize the students to the diversity within modern global history. In order to understand approaches to history and to grasp modern global history, students will be acquainted with theoretical approaches to modernity and modern history, with different modes of doing history beyond the nation-state, especially through an understanding of conceptual history; finally, students will get acquainted with historical developments from the nineteenth century until today.

International Political Economy

International political economy addresses the complex relationship between international politics and international economics, specifically relations between states and markets, between states and international institutions as well as between states and civil society actors, such as companies, NGOs and other interest groups. With ever increasing economic globalisation these complex interactions have become increasingly more important and they impact on virtually every economic, social and political event on the globe.

An important dividing line in the international political economy concerns the relationship between the rich and well-organised states and the poorer members of the world community. This North-South divide (and to some extent remnants of an East-West divide) continues to characterize the international political economy, but new divisions and new alliances across these traditional dividing lines are constantly emerging, not least because major modernizing states (BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are of increasing importance.

The course will introduce the main theories in the field, outline the historical emergence of an integrated world economy with a particular emphasis on the post-World War II period, identify its evolving governance structure, i.e. the main international organisations, major international regimes and the most important current problems. The global management of the financial crisis (or lack of management) will play an important role here.

Global Society

Nothing in today’s fast moving world can be understood properly without a sense of the global and the complex international connections that make up society and politics. The International Studies MA at Aarhus University equips students to think beyond the local, national and regional.

The course in Global Society equips students with tools to assess to what extent the contemporary world can be described as global, globalised or globalising. Building on and/or in parallel to the course on Global Modern History, it provides an introduction to the study of globalisation reflecting the broad contributions of sociologists, human geographers, anthropologists and others to these debates. It provides solid grounding in key concepts and dimensions of globalisation, including notions of migration, mobilities, regional and global integration, glocalisation, transnationalism, flows, networks and scapes, and also seeks to identify concrete ways in which such theoretical debates can and have been operationalised in empirical terms.

The course begins with reflection on the key historical question of the comparative intensity and extensity of globalisation today in comparison with the age of empire and nation-state formation in the late 19th century; it will then trace the trajectory of regional integration(s) and globalisation in the post-World War II era, before looking at various dimensions of globalisation today in more detail. It will seek to bring in non-anglo-centric, non-eurocentric views of the world, including the broad literature on post-colonialism; it will also make broad use of the comparison of globalisation in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as questions concerning global cities, global networks and organisations, and forms of globalisation apparently challenging the dominant organisation of the modern world into nation-state-societies.

Project Management

Projects are increasingly used to solve unique and complex tasks and to increase synergy by bringing together specialists to work for a common goal. Projects range in scope from small internal to large complex international projects as well as in the outcome ranging from construction of pre-specified units (like a bridge) to highly political and ill-defined tasks (like reducing poverty in a region of a developing country). During the course we will discuss:

  • Projects as a special type of organisation. What distinguishes a project from a bureaucracy and a simple organisation?
  • Establishing a project. How to define and organise a project.
  • Project planning. How to specify the course of a project.
  • Requirements and designs. How to specify the intended result of a project.
  • Project control. How to measure and regulate progress in project work.
  • Storytelling in projects. How to assist the stakeholders' sense making and motivation.
  • Project strategies. How to design an overall approach that can lead to the intended results without upsetting the balances around the project.
  • Organisation and management of international projects.

International Relations and Organisation

In an increasingly globalised world, it becomes ever more important to be able to navigate knowingly and prudently. The study of international relations theory provides the necessary take-off competences for such navigation.The aim of the course is to familiarize you with analytical tools that can help you deepen your understanding of contemporary international relations and organisations. The course is designed to engage you in building an advanced understanding of global key issues.

You will first be introduced to the major theoretical traditions within International Relations: liberalism, realism, the international society tradition, international political economy, and the post-positivist tradition. In this fashion, you will achieve a thorough understanding of international relations through a variety of theoretical lenses. Furthermore, the course will provide you with an understanding of how key actors - states, firms, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations - interact in world politics.

To this end, the course includes three modules. The first gives you an understanding of the nature of international organisations, examining contemporary developments in some of the prominent international organisations (UN, WTO, IMF, etc.). The second module looks into the complex issue of globalisation. The third module examines the EU and its role in the world. Modules will be illustrated by means of case studies, ensuring an integration of theoretical and empirical practical knowledge. In general, the course critically appraises claims for explaining, understanding and shaping the course of events.

Global Justice

A breach of the law at a particular place in the world will be a breach of the law for everybody in the world. The German philosopher Kant noted this more than 200 years ago – but we still have some way to go before we have even a tolerable level of global justice.

Some states have been relatively successful in creating justice within its borders – formal rule-of-law justice as well as social justice. However, many states for one reason or the other have not been able to create any acceptable standard of justice, and we do not have sufficient devices in place for securing global rule of law, let alone global social justice.

In this course on Global Justice we shall take a closer look at the state of the art, what we have in terms of international law, international human rights, international accountability for atrocities and how we conceive the prevailing situation in terms of ideas and theories of global justice.

2nd year

In the second year, the students are provided with several options. They can choose to put into practice the skills and knowledge they acquired in the first year by finding an internship, or they can continue with their academic track and write a self-researched project paper. Both options provide the opportunity for the students to take optional courses in the third semester in order to deepen their interest in a certain region or topic.

Second year programme structure


An internship is good a way to test one’s interest in a variety of career fields and to gain practical experience. Not surprisingly, a majority of IS students choose this option. The internship takes place in an organisation with an international focus, ranging from NGOs to embassies to businesses or international think tanks.


The project is a self-researched and self-designed paper done outside the usual framework of a course, allowing students to profile their individual interest. The project can be designed as a pilot project for the final thesis.


The theses written in IS tackle not only international topics, but they often do so in an interdisciplinary manner. Students are able to employ skills and competences acquired through the programme in International Studies within a single analytical framework.

Academic disciplines in curriculum
  • The programme has a multi-disciplinary approach with professors from the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the School of Law who form the body of the teaching staff.
Language(s) of instruction

Courses are taught in:

  • English


Student numbers and profile

The programme recruits excellent students from all over the world with a wide range of academic backgrounds to provide a vibrant learning environment drawing on concrete skills, insights, and experiences of the diverse student body.

International Studies student body 2010:

IS students 2010


Institutional Background

The mission of Aarhus University is to ensure and develop knowledge, welfare and culture through research and research-based education, knowledge dissemination and external advice.

The values of Aarhus University are based on the ethical challenges regarding freedom and independence. Staff and students at Aarhus University work enquiringly and critically, in open and dynamic interaction with the surrounding world.

Global Studies Consortium meeting participation:
  • Tokyo 2008
  • Leipzig 2009
  • Santa Barbara 2010
  • Moscow 2013
  • Roskilde 2014

Contact details

International Studies

Institute of History and Area Studies

University of Aarhus

Ndr. Ringgade, build. 1410

DK-8000 Aarhus C


Program email address:
Hagen Schulz-Forberg