The Politics and International Relations Program aims to contribute to the Institute's key objective of producing competent academics through equipping students with the learning tools and knowledge that will enable them to be accomplished political scientists of the highest calibre. It seeks to achieve this through political science methodological training to the highest international standards, and providing students with the knowledge and skills to become independent researchers capable of original contributions in various fields of Political Science. In this regard, the curriculum does not only match curricula in the mostly highly regarded universities internationally, but also incorporates a unique dimension featuring Arab contributions and concerns. Additionally, the approach to teaching and learning embodies the Institute's goal of integrating research into teaching and learning in two ways: first, by featuring a teaching team of internationally recognised active researchers, who are encouraged to maintain and enhance their research output; and, second, by adopting interactive and participatory teaching methods that actively encourage students to engage in original research. The program also takes seriously the Institute's emphasis on inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary methodology. In this regard, it is not content with the courses all students access as interlocution to methodologies in the Social Sciences and the Humanities, but also provides courses which embody interdisciplinary approaches. It makes these courses available as electives to students from other programs, and also encourages its students to take electives from other programs when this is deemed conducive to enhancing their specialization.

The program is designed to deepen students' understanding of contemporary political science and enhance their methodological competence and learning skills in this field. By engaging with major debates in contemporary political thought, students will develop analytical and critical thinking, and acquire advanced research and writing skills. By the end of the course, students will be critically aware of the core issues and rival positions in contemporary political thought, and able to show evidence of critical-analytical skills in applying theories to modern Arab and Middle Eastern politics. The unique training provided by the program should additionally encourage students to challenge and improve accepted international approaches with reference to Arab experiences, using their own research and perspectives on the issues. The resulting sound theoretical grounding and practical training will qualify students to become competent postgraduate-level researchers in the fields of Comparative Politics and International Relations. 

Program Entry Requirements

The Politics and International Relations program welcomes outstanding applicants who possess the skills and motivation required for graduate study. 

A first degree in in an academic discipline related to Politics/IR, sociology or philosophy is desirable. Applications from prospective students with a degree from any other academic background will be considered in light of their eligibility to study in the program. The admission committee may, in exceptional circumstances, accept applicants who do not meet all admissions requirements, but demonstrate outstanding research activities. 

Before applying please ensure you have visited and understood the Admissions requirements and procedures at the Institute level.

Program Faculty

Khalil al-Anani

Head of Program and Associate Professor (see full profile)

Abdelwahab El-Affendi

Professor (see full profile)

Sophie Richter-Devroe

Associate Professor (see full profile​)​

Mark Farha

Assistant Professor (see full profile)


Note: Course offerings may vary and are dependent on faculty availability, student demand and registration capacity.

A. Program Requirements - 24 credits:

1 - Core Courses:

Students are required to study all of the courses (3 credits each) listed below:

POL611 Research Methodologies in Political Science:

This course explains research methodologies and is delivered through a series of lectures and seminars on qualitative and quantitative research methodologies in research and study, in addition to the critical approaches of different schools of political thought. 

POL 612 Political Science and Arabs Seminar:

 This course addresses Arab contributions to adopting, developing and criticizing modern schools of political thought. It presents some of the major debates witnessed by Arab thought in this field.

POL 613 Comparative Politics Seminar:

 This course addresses the major theories and debates in comparative politics, including studying political systems, revolutions and the process of democratic transition and political development.

POL 614 International Relations Seminar:

This seminar examines the leading international relations theories and the theoretical debates pertaining to the foundations of the international system, the volatility of polarity internationally, in addition to the applications of these theories to reality and the transformations that occurred to them. 

POL 615 Politics in the Middle East:

 This course deals with issues in political developments of states in the region, the applicability of political theories to reality and whether this warrants a critical approach to these theories. 

POL 616 Theories of Democratic Governance:

This course explores democratization and democratic transition concepts and theories and to what extent they can be applied outside the west.

POL 617 International Organizations: (description coming soon).

POL 618 Critical Issues in Political Theory: (description coming soon).

Note: This program does not offer concentration tracks.

2- Specialized English Language course (non-credit course) – Graduation requirement

POL 001 Reading in Politics: (description coming soon).


B. School Requirements -12 credits:​​

1- Cross - Disciplinary Course - 3 credits: 

SOSH 601 Issues in the study of Social Science and Humanities: All SOSH students must successfully complete one core compulsory course offered at the School level as a cross-disciplinary introduction to the study of the social sciences and humanities. 

Please visit the “Interdisciplinarity at SOSH” page for more details about this course and its description.

2 -Two Interdisciplinary Courses - 6 credits:

Each program allows students to enroll in courses of special interest, and of a cross-disciplinary nature, which are offered jointly with one or more other programs. Courses offered as interdisciplinary courses may vary and are dependent on faculty availability, student demand and registration capacity.

All students will choose two courses of 3 credits each from the list of interdisciplinary courses. Please visit the “Interdisciplinarity at SOSH” page for more details about these courses and their descriptions.

3 - Non-restricted Elective - 3 credits:

Students may choose one course of 3 credits from any program in any of the Schools/centers in the DI (including SPADE and CHS). Students may choose their free elective from the courses offered by the Politics and International Relations Program below, which are offered on a rotating basis:

POL622 Mass Violence, State Failure, and International Intervention:

 This course addresses the reasons for the outbreak in violent intra-state conflicts and the effect of the state's weakness on these conflicts. It then examines the impact of conflicts on the strength and cohesion of states and the subsequent call for external intervention under the banner of "humanitarian intervention" or international security, and the political and legal problems posed by such interventions.

POL625 Arab gulf Politics and Society: (description coming soon).

C. Dissertation - 6 credits:

In consultation with an academic supervisor, the student will choose a dissertation topic and program of research. The student will submit a dissertation of 12,000 – 18,000 words at the end of the second academic year, but discussions about the topic begin during the first year. The coordinator of the course will organize regular sessions for students to discuss research methodologies and choose a research topic. Students will be expected to write a summary research proposal, incorporating the main assumptions to be tested, choose a research methodology and write a summary on what the dissertation will contribute to present literature, based on a critical view of existing writings on the subject. The coordinator will then chooses a supervisor who follows up with the student until completing the dissertation.

The dissertation examination consists of two parts; a marked assessment of the dissertation by two examiners and an oral defense in front of an examination panel comprised of the same two examiners.

Career Destinations

Upon completion of this program, graduates will obtain a degree in "Master of Social Sciences and Humanities in: Politics and International Relations".

Graduates of this program will acquire the necessary skills to move directly into either of these career paths: (a) doctoral studies and academic and research careers; or (b) leadership roles that involve critical analysis and strategic planning, in the public and private sectors; (c) careers in diplomacy and international organizations, (d) careers in the media and policy studies outfits.


Applicants may apply for the Politics​ and International Relations program through an online application. Please review the Admissions Dates to ensure the application and all required documents are submitted before the deadline. 

Please visit the Apply page in order to start your application.

For any academic questions please contact the School of Social Sciences and Humanities. ​​​