Taught in English, the Master is a one-year programme dealing with two of the most important fields of political science: European studies/governance and international politics/relations. It will allow Belgian and international students to acquire the skills and know-how needed for kickstarting a career in diplomacy, national and international institutions or related professional fields (such as lobbying, journalism, policy and academic research). If students are interested to get a higher degree of specialization, the programme can be extended in an easy and favorable way to a second-year interdisciplinary MasterAfterMaster on European integration.


It is hard to imagine more interesting times to study European and international politics. The European Union (EU) is facing internal and external challenges that were almost inconceivable until a few years ago. They include the rise of nationalism, fissures in the European project, economic inequalities and an ever-growing urgency to mitigate climate change and find a coordinated response to international mobility and forced displacement. In a similar vein, the context in which nations interact in world politics has altered substantially. Factors such as the erosion of the liberal world order, the rise of China and more assertive foreign policies of Russia and Turkey increasingly dominate international politics.

Are you interested in better understanding these dynamics? Do you aspire to contribute – if not shape – European and international politics, be it as diplomat, journalist, administrator, official, think-tanker, scholar or simply engaged citizen? Then you are the ideal candidate for the VUB’s Political Science Master on European and International Governance. The programme is taught in English by experienced professors with close links to the policy-making community in Brussels. It will be the ideal stepping stone to develop a career in the fascinating fields of European and international politics.


Our program is taught in one of the world's centers of governance, at a stone's throw from the European institutions, NATO, and hundreds of embassies, corporate offices, and NGO's. This is the ideal point of departure for any student with an interest in international politics, offering the opportunity to participate in conferences off-campus, to find internships, to network and to engage in one of the many organizations.

Many of our professors do not only have a strong track record in academic research and shaping the public debate; they are also involved in policy-making. They have thus an ideal background to mix academic knowledge with practical insights and can offer their network at the disposal of students.

Our program balances academic and theoretical knowledge with a strong focus on current affairs. The aim is to develop in-depth academic knowledge about European politics and international relations, the functioning of diplomacy and organizations, and the main powers in world politics.

In a unique module on modern diplomacy, practitioners share their experience and insights. In this module, students are challenged to develop indispensable practical skills, like negotiating, reporting, the writing of a diplomatic cable, as well as to speak before different groups of officials.

The program also includes a high-level lecture series in which ambassadors, officials, corporate leaders and renowned officials are invited to offer a glimpse of their world, to provide some of the latest insights in key policy discussions.


Professors from academia teach you up-to-date political science concepts and theories on European and international challenges and responses. In a module on modern diplomacy, practitioners will share their experience and insights on how to contribute to the peaceful management of international relations.  Beyond this module, the programme will fully capitalize from its embedment in Brussels, a city hosting NATO and EU institutions as well as the largest number of embassies and international journalists in the world.

The programme overview


A closer look at the content


Institutions and Governance of the European Union

This course will focus on the patterns and dynamics of the European integration process in times of crisis. It seeks to enhance the skills of Master students to analyse and understand some of the most important challenges the EU has faced in recent years, from the economic and financial crisis, the threat of terrorism to the rising number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe. The course will discuss these and other issues from different theoretical perspectives on European integration and governance. The overarching questions to be dealt with will include:

  • How democratic is the EU?
  • How to theorize European integration in turbulent times?
  • How has the EU reacted to the Euro crisis?  
  • What is the EU doing to protect the environment?
  • Counter-terrorism: does the EU manage to balance ‘liberty’ and ‘security’?
  • Is there a Common European Asylum System?
  • To what extent has the freedom of movement for EU citizens become contested?
  • Is the EU’s enlargement policy vis-à-vis the Western Balkans and Turkey still credible? 
  • Is the EU able to stabilize its Southern and Eastern neighbourhood? 

European Economics

This course examines European integration from an economic perspective, with emphasis on both microeconomics and macroeconomics. The course builds upon basic economic concepts and focuses in detail on the role and evolution that macro- and microeconomic structures and theories have played in providing the EU with its past and current market architecture. It also does so by examining a variety of key EU policies: competition, trade, agricultural, regional, monetary and fiscal policy. Finally, the course offers a thorough analysis of the Eurozone crisis by looking at the effects of the global recession on the fundamentals of the European economy. Various course topics will be illustrated with press releases on the latest news or interesting scientific articles.

International Security and Strategic Studies

War and peace have the power to change world order and the daily lives we lead. This course aims to provide students with a conceptual toolkit to navigate contemporary questions in international security as perceived from a European perspective and make them familiar with key debates in strategic studies. Combining insights from history, political science, international relations and economics in an interdisciplinary spirit, this course offers students a range of lectures delivered by academics and expert policy-makers. These lectures will cover various conceptual questions (such as the causes of war, the logic of deterrence and the function of strategy) as well as geographical and thematic approaches (such as the present instability in the wider European neighbourhood, the transatlantic relationship and security in East Asia).

World Politics

This course focusses on the world's major powers and their foreign policy, as well as on the political outlook of key regions. The aim is to develop, in each case, in-depth knowledge of the internal drivers of foreign policy, the main objectives and organization of their foreign and security policy, and the interaction with countries in the neighbourhood, other major powers, and international institutions.

Modern Diplomacy

Diplomacy serves the function of allowing for the peaceful cohabitation between a specific political community and the wider world. This course aims to provide master students with a conceptual introduction to discussions about modern diplomacy as it unfolds in practice, and to prepare them for a variety of related career paths. It will feature a number of lectures on key concepts and  topical issues, as well as sessions focused on practical diplomatic skills, such as negotiation techniques and drafting policy notes.

High-Level Lecture Series on European and World Politics

In this High-Level Lecture Series, senior politicians and officials will share their knowledge and insights on International Relations and European Politics. By inviting well-known policy-makers to discuss topical issues, the course will fully capitalize from the VUB’s embedment in Brussels, a city hosting NATO and EU institutions as well as the largest number of embassies and international journalists in the world. Students will get the possibilities to engage in the debate and directly challenge the choices of policy-makers. Students will receive a tailor-made preparation program for the different guest lectures.

Meet the core lecture team



Caroline Buts is professor at the VUB’s Department of Applied Economics at Solvay Business School, where she teaches Economics of European Integration and Competition Policy. Her research focuses on competition economics as well as on defense and peace economics. She frequently advises industry as well as policy on state aid matters. Since 2014, Caroline is managing editor of the European State Aid Law Quarterly.


Jonathan Holslag teaches international politics at the Free University Brussels, as well as to various defence academies and leadership programmes. He has written various academic papers on Asian security and geopolitics, as well different books that were widely translated. Jonathan worked as a columnist and reporter for different news papers, as special advisor to the first vice-president of the European Commission, Benelux director of the Trilateral Commission and serves as a reserve officer in the Belgian armed forces.


Alexander Mattelaer is an associate professor at the Institute for European Studies and a senior research fellow at Egmont – the Royal Institute for International Relations. His research interests include defence policy-making and NATO, the ongoing redefinition of state sovereignty, the politics of European integration, and the Brexit negotiation process. Earlier he was a Fulbright Schuman fellow at Harvard University and at the National Defense University.


Florian Trauner holds a Jean Monnet Chair at the VUB’s Institute for European Studies. He is also a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe and a regular lecturer at the summer school of Renmin University of China in Beijing. He has published widely on issues relating to European and international migration management and counter-terrorism policies, among others the ‘Routledge Handbook of Justice and Home Affairs Research’. Florian Trauner acted as an advisor for different institutions including the European Parliament, the European Commission and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development

Application procedure 2019

The screening process takes time since several departments are involved. We advise you to start the online application procedure as soon as possible.

  • Submit your application file here
  • Screening process (both at central and faculty level) can take up to several weeks
  • Outcome of screening: if accepted, you will receive a Conditional Letter of Acceptance
  • Enroll at VUB university campus (in person) before October 8th 2019

Entry Requirements

Academic requirements

  • Direct admission: Candidates with a Flemish degree of ‘Bachelor in de Politieke Wetenschappen’ or 'Bachelor in Social Sciences'
  • Admission after Academic Screening: An Admission Board will evaluate all other applications on an individual basis. Candidates must have obtained at least a bachelor or undergraduate degree in a relevant field with preferably some courses on Political Science, International Relations and/or the European Union.

Language requirements

Good English language skills are an important prerequisite for successfully following the master. There are three ways to prove your proficiency:

Option A: send us one of the following language certificates proving your CEFR B2 level:

  • TOEFL (only the internet-based test is accepted): minimum level: 79
  • IELTS: minimum level academic module 6.5
  • Cambridge English: CAE grade B or CPE grade C (equivalent to the CEFR B2)
  • ITACE: minimum grade B2

Option B: having successfully completed secondary or higher education with English as language of instruction:

  • submit official proof of the language of instruction of your previous study;

Option C: having successfully completed Belgian secondary education

  • submit official proof that you completed a study in the Belgian educational system

Certificates and other proof of language tests may not pre-date the first enrolment by more than two years.

Tuition Fees

All Belgian universities offer high-quality education at a very reasonable cost. The 2019-2020 fee is €938,80 for regular EEA students and €3.850,00 for non-EEA students. For more (up to date) information on tuition fees, check this overview.


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