Are you interested in politics and would you like to specialize in European politics and a comparative perspective? The one-year full-time English-language Master’s program Political Science: European Public policy might be the right choice for you. In this Master’s program you will analyze how social, economic and political change impacts on European political systems and governance institutions at both the international and national level from a comparative perspective.

You will be instructed in current research endeavors and policy debates, explore theoretical perspectives and develop sophisticated research skills, which you will apply to the two principal dimensions in European politics. One is how national policies and political structures cope with global social and economic change and supranational decisions. The other is how supranational institutions, such as the EU are, in turn, affected by national interests and political mobilization. By integrating these two angles, students of the specialization Political Science: European Public policy will acquire fundamental knowledge and a set of skills that are in high demand for decision making positions at the levels of European and national policymaking. The program offers personalized tutoring by an internationally acclaimed staff whose research record has recently been assessed as being among the best of Europe in this field.

This program is accredited by the NVAO. After finishing the program you receive the internationally recognized degree of Master of Science (MSc).

Study Program

Our Political Science Master program gives you a thorough, broad-based training in social and political science methodology and theory. This involves the application and practical use of a variety of political science research methods and getting acquainted with a range of theoretical perspectives and how to integrate these in your research. The Master’s is a one-year full-time program, taught entirely in English. It has a workload of 60 credits.

Political Science: European Public policy courses in the study guide.

Program structure

The program starts with a broad common base and gradually allows you to determine your own profile.

  • In Period 1 you follow two courses on basic theories and approaches in the two major sub-disciplines of political science: comparative politics and international relations. These courses provide you with a common knowledge base and introduce you to the full breadth of the discipline.
  • In Period 2 you choose two selected issues courses that cover different aspects of contemporary political processes. You can choose one selected issue belonging to your specialization, and one to broaden your scope.
  • In Period 3 you follow a more general course on the philosophy of science and research design that is to contribute directly to the preparation of your thesis work and provides you with both theoretical insights and methodological tools.
  • In Period 4 you practice your research skills in a workshop within your own specialization. Working in small groups on specific topics, you practice all stages of the empirical cycle: choice and formulation of the research question, literature review, research design, data analysis, and report. The practical experience and the range of relevant and up-to-date research topics within your specialization that will be presented here allows you to use the work in the workshop as a stepping stone towards your Master's thesis.
  • In Period 5 and 6 you work individually on your Master's thesis, supervised by one of the staff members from our various research groups.

Why Study Political Science at VU Amsterdam?

  • Broad base, clear specialization

Our program has a unique cumulative structure, in which you specialize further every month. From a common start in the two major sub-disciplines of the field (International Relations and Comparative Politics), you split up in smaller groups in the selected issue courses and gradually work towards your own specialization. This culminates in your individual Master thesis subject.

  • Intensive supervision, extra-curricular activities

The program consists of highly interactive tutorials, workshops, and intensive individual supervision. Given the relatively small scale of the program (50-70 students divided over three specializations), you really get to know your professors, and they will know you. Extra-curricular research seminars, excursions, and workshops provide you with an opportunity to also engage with politics and (political) organizations outside the classroom.

  • Strong research component

The program encourages the employment of both quantitative and qualitative methods and offers you a broad scope in theoretical approaches, from the more traditional theories of the discipline to critical theory. Within the different courses special attention is paid to the combination of theoretical knowledge and skills (reasoning, writing, presenting and research techniques) and there is a great emphasis on developing argumentation to support your own findings. Finally, under the supervision of a staff member with expertise in your specialization you will conduct independent research for your Master thesis.

  • International reputation

The program is developed and taught by an internationally renowned team with an extensive international network. The quality of our teaching is evidenced by positive assessment results: in recent years our teachers have been voted the best in the Netherlands. The program has an international character as at least 35% of the staff are international and approximately 50% of the students that start every year come from abroad.

  • Double degree

It is possible to obtain a double degree. Choosing this you will follow a 2-year program during which you will spend one year at the VU and one year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more information see below: ‘Double degree European governance’.

  • What students say

Students of the Master Political Science at the VU have stated in the 2017 national student survey that they are satisfied with the challenging education, the Internationalization, the study facilities, timetables, study load and group size of the program.

Career Prospects

As a graduate of the Master’s program in Political Science at VU Amsterdam, you are capable of working effectively in a multidisciplinary environment: you are familiar with and have a solid foundation in the approaches used in the wider world of the social sciences. You have developed skills in research methodology (analysis, data collection, and processing), writing, presenting, public speaking, and teamwork.

Because of the emphasis on research methodology and writing, many graduates find work as a policy analyst or advisor within an international governmental or non-governmental organization, in the private sector, or as a civil servant in a government ministry. You will also be well qualified to work in the field of journalism. Graduates also find jobs in communication and external relations. The thorough application of research skills offered by the program also prepares you for a further career in academia. Many of our graduates participate in reputable Ph.D. programs around the world.

Finding a position in an (international) organization can be difficult, especially in the current job market. During the program, you will find out more about your own interests and how you can use them for an international career. After having completed the master, highly motivated students can approach their professors for internship possibilities within the professors’ network. A research internship at our own department of Political Science is also an option. This work experience will help you further in your career.

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated August 6, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 1, 2019
1 year
2,083 EUR
for EEA-EU students.
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1 April for non-EU-students.
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