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Course descriptions

 Introduction to International Law (1st semester) 

The course Introduction to International Law provides students with a thorough overview of the international legal system. Students will analyse current events from a legal perspective and track the impact of international law in international relations. The course reviews, amongst others, the role of the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, human rights and the UN norm “responsibility to protect.” Students will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of international law and examine whether it matters.

Introduction to International Security (1st semester) 
This course will provide students with the foundational concepts to understand and analyze the contemporary security environment. While news cycle are replete with information on the North Korean nuclear program, the Russian challenge to European security or the development of new military technologies, there is a need to better understand the dynamics underpinning those issues. Therefore, this class will focus on traditional issues in security studies such as deterrence, arms control or alliances, and more recent issues such as human security and peacekeeping. The class will systematically combine conceptual analysis with contemporary empirical examples of the dynamics described, in order for students to develop their analytical skills.

International Security and Order (1st semester)

International Security and Order provides a detailed understanding of the evolution of the international system, the main forces of change and continuity, how all this comes together to define the contemporary order, and how international relations theories at the same time rely on and affect different readings of history. The aim of the course is to provide students with a theory-informed overview of modern and contemporary history and with the necessary insight to assess current political problems and participate in advanced debates on the international order. The course is constructed to clarify and illustrate key principles of order and ordering factors through historical events from 1648 to the post 9/11 period.


Human Rights (1st semester)
What are rights? Are rights universal or fundamentally Western? How does international politics lead to the prioritization of some rights over others?  What does it mean for groups to have rights? This course will provide students with the theoretical tools to understand how human rights function within the international system.  It will introduce students to a variety of human rights issues and place them within a historical context to explore their development and contestation.  

New Wars and Conflicts (2nd semester) 
The course, New Wars and Conflicts, provide the students with a theoretically informed understanding of changes in modern warfare since the end of the Cold War as well as insight into the distinct characteristics of different types of contemporary wars. New Wars introduces the most important theories and concepts of contemporary warfare and enables the students to place current military conflicts in historical and theoretical context. The course thus also addresses the basic question of whether the nature of war has fundamentally changed during the past two decades.  

The Laws of War (2nd semester) 
The atrocious conflicts in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan underscore and bring into question the significance of the laws of war: what is the role and impact of international law in such situations, if any? When can states legally use force in  international relations? What are the current challenges faced by UN peacekeeping, the fight against international terrorism and the use of drones? What are soldiers and non-state actors allowed to do during armed conflict and what qualifies as a war crime? How should we understand the scope and capacity of the Geneva Conventions as guides and constraints on individual and state behavior? These questions are examples of the issues analyzed in this course.

Challenges & Dilemmas of International Security and Law (2nd semester)
This class is built on simulations involving challenges and dilemmas in international security and law. Each class the students will review a different case from a political and legal angle, and will apply the tools of foreign policy analysis and international law to gain a nuanced understanding of the implications each policy option carries. Students will encounter classic cases of political and legal decision making such as the interwar attempts to contain Italian and Japanese aggression through an international sanctions regime, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kosovo Intervention. Moreover, they will tackle contemporary dilemmas such as the politics and ethics of arms exports into crisis regions such as Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, or the difficulties of containing North Korea’s nuclear arms programme. During the semester the students will write one short policy brief; a simulated policy brief will comprise the final written exam, which will engage both international law and international politics.

International Organisations (3rd semester) 
The aim of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of the key issues of the law as well as the functioning of selected international organisations, including the UN, the EU, the AU, the ICC and NATO. At the end of the course students are expected to demonstrate a sound understanding of the entity “international organisation”, the rules and principles governing their creation, structure and functioning, as well as their relationship with other international actors. They will be able to use this knowledge to select and apply theories, concepts and methods to analyze and suggest solutions to specific problems. An optional class trip to The Hague to visit several international organisations complements the course materials.

Transitional Justice and International Security(3rd semester) 
Today many countries struggle with the question of how to address massive human rights violations that were committed against parts of the population.  Are trials of war criminals necessary or divisive – or both? Are amnesties or truth commissions perhaps preferable or an insult to the victims of atrocity crimes? How do processes that pursue truth, justice and reconciliation impact international security and what is the role of the international community? This course examines different experiences of transitional justice, comparing cases such as that of Germany after World War 2, Rwanda after the genocide in 1994 and that of today’s Syria. Students will learn about the challenges and prospects of dealing with a violent past and be invited to join a study tour to Den Haag to learn more about transitional justice in practice.

Humanitarian Intervention and Peace Building(3rd semester) 
A traditional way of approaching security has been to focus on the state and the kind of security mechanisms that states can agree to set up. Sometimes these mechanisms explicitly build on the balance of power, as when states make alliances, and at other times they seek to move beyond balances, as when states construct collective security organisations. With this course on Human Security we challenge these perspectives by moving the focus to individuals and their security needs. It makes for a transnational and indeed global view of security, and it encourages critical thinking in regards to state policy. The course will investigate cases of intervention and state building where different security concerns interact, and it will investigate outcomes and the durability of peace.

Strategic Communication in International Relations (3rd semester)

Diplomats and military staff alike increasingly incorporate communication tools as a deliberate part of their work. This course introduces students to central theoretical debates and practical approaches to strategic communication in international politics. Throughout the course, we develop a communication toolbox that will be applied to different relevant cases, such as NATO’s strategic use of communication in military conflicts, the EU’s Eastern enlargement and the Ukraine crisis, Danish nation branding, and the strategic use of disinformation in hybrid warfare by Russia.