The curriculum consists of five parts (click or scroll down to read):
Click on the title to read the synopsis of a course
IR Core Module (30 ECTS)
The course reviews the current state of IR as a discipline. A series of lectures and seminars will focus on the key formative concepts, such as sovereignty, anarchy and governance, agency, structure and the state, international system and international society, power, security, war and peace, conflict and cooperation, norms and identity, the role of the individual. As a rule, each concept will be introduced both from the rationalist and the constructivist perspective, and where possible, also through the prism of empirical studies. The concluding part of the course will link the problematic of IR with the notion of modernity and asks whether today’s practice of world politics is evolving beyond modernity or is taking back to pre-modern times.
The course is designed to meet the need for a practical guide for those concerned by the study of international issues. It reviews the main processes by which international law is made and applied, and the main principles and institutions of international law. It gives an overview of the essence, theoretical grounds, historical development, sources, subjects of the public international law and the relationship between international and internal law. It covers issues such as individuals, states, organizations dealt by international law, international duties and responsibilities, treaties and treaty law, diplomatic and consular law, maritime law, human rights and use of armed force.
The course aims to critically engage with major theories, concepts and debates of Security Studies with an emphasis on contemporary critical approaches to security. Looking for the politics behind speaking and acting security, we will discuss how the discipline of Security Studies has developed as an academic field from its narrow beginnings as 'Strategic Studies' to its contemporary complex and broadened field of social and political inquiry. The course investigates how 'security' sits with other core IR concepts, such as 'power' and 'sovereignty', and problems, such as war and the use of force in international politics across different traditional and critical traditions.
The course seeks to explain how foreign policy leaders, high ranking diplomats and decision-makers act in situations of uncertainty, international crises and security challenges. It examines key theories and concepts applicable to analysing foreign policy objectives, strategies and mechanisms. It studies foreign policy decision making, the process and dynamics that lead to the decision, biases and errors, and models of decision making (rational actor, bureaucratic politics, prospect theory, etc.) on three different levels: systemic, state and individual. Finally, it explores the determinants of foreign policy decisions such as geographical environment, international constraints, domestic influences and psychological factors.
The course is designed to examine various approaches that have been developed to understand conflict in its different forms. It explores the origins of different kinds of conflicts; conflict prevention, conflict management and expected conflict resolution practices through critical lenses. It reviews inter-state and inter-group competitions as those affected by identity, power and structural dimensions of adversarial relationships. It discusses issues related to legality of war and legitimacy of the warring state; international peace-keeping, peace-building and peace enforcement; conflict mediation, negotiations, dialogical practices and expected outcomes in the form of reconciliation and power-sharing models.
Methods module (18 ECTS)
The objective of the course is to provide students a foundation in social science methodology that will serve as a basis for their studies in the rest of the program and for completing the MA thesis. The course has three parts: an introduction to core components of social science methodology, an examination of various epistemologies in the social sciences, and an examination of approaches to research design and case selection. It will also feature the pedagogical approach of a flipped classroom, in which in-class assignments and group work figures prominently.
The aim of the course is to provide students with the conceptual background and practical skills necessary for being able to assess and carry out qualitative evaluations in applied policy research and related fields of professional inquiry. The course offers hands-on skills development in qualitative data collection methods (such as in-depth interviewing, focus group research, ethnographic techniques) and in qualitative data analysis. In addition to applied research skills, the students will have a chance to learn about the issues of ethics and quality in conducting qualitative evaluation in professional settings.
The aim of the course is to place more emphasis on the development of academic writing. It examines how writers (whether novice or expert) understand the requirements set by writing assignment within their discipline and respond to these assignments appropriately (supporting different writing tasks). As the course is about developing skills, students are required to write a text. The text will be developed by writing a series of drafts, which will be commented on by peers and teachers to support the development of writing as well as developing a better sense of audience in writing.
The aim of the course is to enable students to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of constructivist political theory, and to use constructivist methods in their own research. This interactive course provides an overview of constructivist and post-structuralist approaches in political theory, introduces key concepts, critically analyses the strengths and weaknesses of particular approaches and discusses their methodological consequences and possible research designs. A significant part of the course will be devoted to discourse analysis as the method most widely used by constructivist scholars.
NB! As an alternative to Quantitative Methods course
The objective of the course is to provide an overview of different quantitative methods in the social sciences and help MA students acquire the necessary skills for applying these approaches in their own research. The course covers the basic elements of social science methodology with an emphasis on quantitative methods and approaches (tests for means, measures of association, regression analysis, logical models, graphing). The students will acquire skills necessary for understanding scholarly texts using statistical methods, especially regression analysis. The course includes multiple sessions where the covered methods are applied on real data and research questions using specific software. The ultimate aim of the course is giving students the skills necessary for using these methods in writing their MA thesis.
NB! As an alternative to Constructivist Theory and Method course
Specialization Module in European Studies (24 ECTS)
The aim of the course is to offer a comprehensive overview of the main theoretical approaches to European integration. A critical engagement with the ideas, concepts, and theories enables us to gain a deeper understanding of what the EU is (a supranational state-like entity?), how it works, how it came about, who or what drives integration and how the EU continues to evolve in the future. Studying theories of European integration also makes us better equipped to answer the question of whether and how comparable levels of regional integration could be reached in other parts of the world.
The objective of the course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the main institutions, policies and policy-making processes of the EU. The course seeks to familiarize students with the complex system of multi-level governance in Europe by scrutinizing the competences, interests and strategies of various actors at the European, national and subnational level, as well as the formal and informal rules and norms that govern their interaction. It explores the main institutions of the EU, their functioning and interaction with each other, national institutions and various non-governmental actors. It analyzes the evolution of the EU’s policy portfolio and discusses different national and subnational reactions to European integration.
The course seeks to examine the policy conflicts and tensions within the union and provides an historical and theoretical evaluation of the EU’s role in international politics. The first half explores the origins of the multiple policy areas to the EU’s participation in international politics. The second half deals with the character of the policy-driven, external relationships between the EU and major powers. In covering the institutions and thematic dimensions of EU foreign policy, this course introduces students to the current challenges and opportunities faced by the EU in relations with the UN, the USA, Russia and China as it looks to assert itself as an actor on the world stage.
The aim of the course is to review EU law as a dynamic process which co-exists and overlaps with national legal systems. It aims at expanding the knowledge in legal drafting and treaty-making, the legislative roles of the EU institutions, as well as the mechanism to settle legal disputes within the EU. This course examines the creation, legal nature and foundations of the EU; the fundamental rights and freedoms in EU law; the general principles of EU law; the relationship between the national and EU law; the law-making procedures of the EU and member states’ participation thereof; the implementation of EU law in member states; the judicial system of the EU and actions and procedure in the Court of Justice of the EU.
Specialization Module in Russian and Eurasian Studies (24 ECTS)
The course presents a comparative overview of political systems in the post-Soviet space, focusing on the critical re-assessment of the transition paradigm. It introduces a typology of regimes and discusses the main factors behind the diverging trajectories of political transformations. In doing that, the course relies upon the literature on democratization, as well as on the more recent works on the varieties of authoritarianism. The course explores constitutional elements and the form of government, relations between the branches of power, political parties and interest groups, corruption, the state of fundamental rights and freedoms In individual countries of the region.
The aim of the course is to uncover the specificity of regional integration mechanisms after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It introduces conceptual vocabulary of integration studies (“post-Soviet space”, “Eurasia”); examines ideational factors of post-Soviet integration (post-Soviet nostalgia, ideas of Eurasianism, and civilizational discourse); explores political cycles after the fall of the Soviet Union (the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Customs Union and Eurasian Union projects); and finally focuses on the region in the context of Russia – EU relations: from ideas of common neighbourhood to geopolitical competition.
The aim of the course is to provide the students with necessary theoretical and empirical background for the analysis of Russian foreign policy. It addresses the issues of national identity and memory, conceptual and institutional foundations of foreign policy-making, and focuses on certain key dimensions of foreign policy practice in the last 10–15 years. The course examines the mechanisms of policy-making, reviews the major sources and factors of foreign policy formation, examines the significance of historical narratives and national identity for contemporary foreign and security policy, and maps the current foreign policy debate.
The course presents a broad overview of the current state of the Russian economy against a historical background, including an overview of the macroeconomic and sectoral issues. The emphasis throughout the course is on the specific features of Russia’s economic development, its transition to the market relations and pertaining structural constraints. The main sectors to be considered are industry and the military-industrial complex, energy, and finances. Special attention is given to investment climate, foreign direct investment, as well as to the economic role of Russia’s regions. The role of Russia in the global economy is examined with an emphasis on post-Soviet integration. The final part of the course concentrates on the problems and prospects of Russia’s modernisation.
The course aims to provide an overview of a number of pending regional conflicts in Eurasia, to introduce their key players and their main stakes, and to critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of particular IR theoretical perspectives in making sense of these conflicts. The course seeks to bridge the empirical analysis of the post-Soviet region with postcolonial theory, contextualising the regional conflicts in Eurasia against the broader backdrop of contemporary insurgency and counterinsurgency in the ´Global South´. It examines closely a number of pending regional conflicts in the former Soviet space, ranging from Central Asia, Northern and Southern Caucasus to Transnistria and contemporary Ukraine/Crimea from the collapse of the Soviet Union until today.
Specialization Module in the Baltic Sea Region Studies (24 ECTS)
The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the historical development of the nations of the Baltic Sea Region (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia) within a broad regional context from the Viking Age to the end of the Cold War. The course emphasizes the historical dynamics of the Baltic Sea nations, the influence of external actors upon them, as well as the regional interaction between them.
The course gives an overview of the BSR as a region in the making. It provides a general understanding of the BSR, including analysis of how different countries position themselves in the region, how each country contributes to a regional identity and how the region affects foreign policy making in the individual states. It examines bi- and multilateral relations, regional cooperation, as well as foreign and security policy issues within the region. The BSR will be mainly viewed through the European guise. However, a number of issues linking the BSR to the global level will also be examined.
The aim of the course is to compare and contrast different political systems in the Baltic Sea Region. It reviews constitutions and political institutions, party systems and electoral politics, relations between the legislative and executive branch; major political actors behind parties and interest groups and their influence on policy-making, the current state of civil liberties and political rights as well as explores the level of social integration in the countries of the BSR. It asks how democratic are these political systems and what conditions democratization in the whole region.
The aim of the course is to introduce the dynamic economic development of the Baltic Sea Region and its growth components during the last decade. It examines structural changes in different sectors of economy after the EU enlargement while paying particular attention to diversity of economic policies of the countries in the region. It explores monetary systems and capital markets, trade and investment activities, banking, fiscal and tax policies, manufacturing, retailing, structural policies, energy and transportation issues, labour market and social policies. In the end it examines issues related to the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy.
Elective Module (18 ECTS)
The aim of the course is to critically assess and analyse the rapid and wide-reaching transformation of traditional diplomacy in the 21st century. It does so by drawing on the writings of historians, theorists and practitioners. Students are expected to grasp the evolution of the basic ideas and practices that go by the name of "diplomacy" and to appreciate their modifications throughout history. It also examines practical implementation of the foreign policy of sovereign states and international organizations with the focus on organizational aspects and diplomatic procedures, comparative diplomacy as well as diplomacy and democracy. In the end it highlights the impact of WikiLeaks on the diplomatic practices.
The course aims to unpack globalization as a theoretical concept and as a set of political practices constitutive of international relations in the 21st century. It does so by presenting globalisation from an ideational viewpoint, i.e. as a set of concepts, theories, and ideas; by covering the issues of agency with a focus on different global actors, norms and policy outcomes; by studying intellectual and institutional resistance to globalisation. Finally, it gets into the debate on alternative scenarios for the global world in the years to come.
The aim of the course is to explore and discuss the meaning, role and normative status of the concept of sovereignty in different theories of IR, combining the perspectives of political theory and international politics. The course introduces the main theories in which this concept has evolved and been contested, while also exploring the practical contexts in which these theories have been formed. It sheds the light on dilemmas that arise when sovereignty is perceived to conflict with the ideals of international peace, democracy, national self-determination, and human rights, paying special attention to the current norms and practices of sovereignty in international relations.
Although rising powers, such as China, are challenging U.S. power in the beginning of the 21st century, the U.S. still remains a “global policeman”, the country which is expected to respond or even intervene in various crises and conflicts that erupt in far-flung areas of the world. The aim of the course is to understand and critically assess the historical development of U.S. foreign policy, its main contemporary issues, schools of thought, influential factors of foreign policy making, and institutions. Students will also learn how to analyse the position of the U.S. in the contemporary international system and the major means of the implementation of its foreign policy.
The course aims to provide students with a conceptual framework and with analytical tools for studying the most complex field of memory as political scientists. They will learn how to examine the multi-level processes by which collective memories are constructed and interact with politics in both transitional and consolidated democratic state contexts. The course also aims at engaging in conceptually informed discussions on one of the most salient issues in the study of identity politics, ethnic conflict regulation and democratic political culture on a global level. It does so by delving into more case-specific examinations of the politics of transitional justice and memory in a large variety of political and international contexts.
The course explores how geopolitics has been created, negotiated and contested within a variety of intellectual and popular contexts, how geopolitical conversations between European scholars and the wider world unfolded; how wise men have tried to educate their masters and how geopolitical writings have influenced foreign policy doctrines, interventionist thinking and annexation of territories. It brings together different schools of geopolitical thought (Anglo-American, German, French, Latin-American and Russian), compares and contrasts them with each other, explores the contextuality (the specifics of time and biographies, national interests, prevailing ideologies and spatial characteristics) and links it with hegemonic aspirations to rule the world.
The course aims to offer a comprehensive knowledge of the core issues at stake in relations between the U.S. and its European allies. It charts the development of transatlantic relations through a period spanning the U.S. involvement in the reconstruction of Western Europe after 1945 to the uncertain contemporary prospect concerning potential demise of U.S. interest in the transatlantic partnership. It does so by analysing transatlantic relations from the roots of the Cold War to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the integration of a united Germany into NATO; by examining the core Euro-Atlantic security challenges during the 1990s ; by assessing NATO’s ‘out-of-area’ conflict management and stabilisation roles; and by dealing with the divisions that have emerged in contemporary transatlantic relations.
The aim of the course is to understand and critically assess the development of political party systems, electoral systems, legislatures and executive branches of government, as well as the foreign policies and European integration efforts of Western European states. The course asks where is the power, who has the power, and how is power exercised. To answer these questions, the course examines the context and evolution of governance and political institutions in five major Western European countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.
The course aims to study international relations and security issues in East Asia. It explores variables such as ethnocentric worldview, traditional culture, memory politics, economic potential and political aspirations to condition conflicting / cooperative environments in the post-Cold War era. The course deals with the core states, – China, Japan and Korea – and analyses the conflict dynamics from the point of view of geopolitics, memory politics, identity politics and power politics. It is about the collision of ideational deep structures, and its impact on the security environment in East Asia.
The aim of the course is to explore the dynamics and the complexity of the decision-making process of peace negotiations of intrastate conflicts. It examines the range of strategies, roles and interests of internal and external parties to the mediation process through a simulation of selected peace talks. Students use their knowledge from the course ‘Conflict Management and Resolution’ and combine it with practical skills of negotiations through the simulation.
The aim of the course is to demonstrate and substantiate the interdependent and mutually reactive nature of the EU – Russia relations; to provide an overview of the current political and economic agendas of EU – Russia relations; to analyse the key factors shaping this conflictual relationship; and finally, to discuss to prospects of different institutional models in a wider Europe (great power management, spheres of influence, balance of power, normative conflicts, global government, etc.). The course covers the key political, economic and security issues of the EU – Russia relations against a broad theoretical and methodological background. It demonstrates how different theoretical concepts (identity, interests, institutions, etc.) can be applicable to the analysis of the empirical matters in question and examines the normative importance of political debates between Moscow and Brussels.
The primary goal of an internship is to provide the student with the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to solve practical real-world problems in a professional setting. Students may obtain an internship in the state civil service, media outlets, international organisations, local municipalities, third sector units, etc. Internship may be also conducted in the form of fieldwork, data mining, research and teaching assistance. Interns are expected to work closely with both their academic and site supervisors.
The student can choose any course offered by the University of Tartu or from other universities.
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