Master in International Relations in Historical Perspective


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Explore Complex Issues in Modern International Relations

Will the EU become an ever-closer union under German leadership or will it collapse? Are we heading for a new Cold War with Russia? Have the Asian powers surpassed their former colonial rulers? Does the current climate of increasing international competition and growing nationalism still allow enough space for ethical norms and values such as human rights? How can terrorist violence be countered? Is it possible to control such violence with warfare and the optimal use of ‘intelligence’?

The international political stage is much like a game of chess between multiple players. During the course of this MA, you will gain a greater understanding of the parties involved and of their political agendas and prepare yourself for a future as a participant in the game of global politics.

Bridging History and Political Science

Political theory is an important tool in the analysis of international issues. In order to fully understand those issues, however, we strongly believe in the importance of adopting a broader historical perspective - and while history never repeats itself (or at least not exactly), one can learn a great deal from it. By bridging the fields of history and international relations, the M.A. in International Relations in Historical Perspective (IRHP) offers an in-depth insight into both worlds.

Build a Strong Foundation for Understanding Modern Politics

The programme revolves around core research themes that shed light on contemporary international politics and it aims to provide the students with analytical tools to engage with a wide range of topics. The core thematic pillars of our MA programme include:

  • The history of security and conflict, including wars, terrorism, humanitarian interventions, and the role of intelligence services in international politics.
  • The history of European international relations, including the European integration process.
  • The history of global processes including colonialism, decolonisation, and North-South relations.


As part of the MA programme, you can choose to participate in an internship of at least three months. With an internship, you will put your knowledge and skills into practice, and this experience will form an important part of your resume. Recent studies show that 80% of students who took part in an internship found employment within a year of graduating.

Judged Best in the Field

The highly regarded Keuzegids Master’s Selection Guide 2018 ranked Utrecht University’s International Relations in Historical Perspective programme as the best in the field in the Netherlands.

In the last edition of the Elsevier Best Studies Survey, students have also rated International Relations as the best programme.

After Graduation

After graduating from the Master of International Relations in Historical Perspective programme, you will have:

  • Gained insight into the history of international relations, especially of the 20th and 21st.
  • Become an expert in at least one of the thematic areas central to the MA programme.
  • Learned to discuss relevant issues in modern politics and to research them independently.
  • Gained research skills, including the ability to work with historical primary sources and using theories drawn from the fields of political theory and international relations.
  • Learned to report research clearly and understandably, in both written and oral form.

Throughout the programme, you will have the opportunity to actively work on your career development.

Career Prospects

Professionals with an IR/HP degree find their way easily in the world of international politics, and their career options extend beyond foreign affairs, the EU, and the UN. Graduates will have the skills to create effective policy, and such expertise can be employed in other areas as well.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less