Political Science: Global Politics

Learn how power works

Political Science: Global Politics

Studying Global Politics?

How did Trump win the 2016 presidential election? Will the US remain the world’s leading power or will China become the dominant player? What are the implications of rising populism for European democracy? During the bachelor’s programme in Political Science: Global Politics at VU Amsterdam, you will study political power structures and the influence they have on society.

Unlike most other universities, VU Amsterdam offers a mix of public administration, national and international politics in the first year. All courses are English-taught and tailored towards generating unique experiences and insights. The Bachelor’s student body is as diverse in nationality and background as the teaching staff.

As a Global Politics graduate, you are well prepared to work as a consultant, journalist, researcher or policy officer at a municipality, ministry, embassy, company, research agency or a social or political organisation. Your knowledge of politics and political processes will appeal to a wide range of employers, including international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union, multinationals and NGOs. 

During the bachelor’s programme in Political Science, you will study how societies and international relationships are organised politically and how decisions are made. You will examine the way municipal councils, political parties or the United Nations Security Council function and who ultimately decides.

You will explore topics such as the shifting global balance of power, EU governance and migration and the origins of war and conflict. At VU Amsterdam you will be trained to conduct independent academic research. Using various scientific methods and techniques, you will learn how to formulate and answer your own research questions. In the classroom, you will discuss issues such as the Brexit vote and the geopolitical tensions with Russia. You will be able to analyse current affairs and the structures that underpin them.

Programme overview

First year
You will start off with a thorough introduction to the core concepts and theories of national politics, international relations and public administration. You also will visit the Senate of the Dutch Parliament and immerse yourself in the philosophy of politics. In the academic skills workshops you will develop the advanced reading and writing skills that you need in your future academic and professional career. At the end of the first year, you and your fellow students will participate in a United Nations simulation. You will get acquainted with the workings of the UN through a case study on a current topic, such as the conflict over the South China Sea. 

For more information on the first year, see our study guide.

Second year
You further specialise in global politics. You will study great power rivalry and how strong states such as the US and China end up in conflict. You will also study the micro-level of politics and will look at states and non-state actors like NGOs and multinational corporations. Grasping how they help shape and govern global challenges such as climate change is crucial in understanding today’s interconnected and fragmented world.

In the second semester, you will take Social Sciences for Society together with students from other disciplines. You will choose one of the three major themes from the social sciences: globalisation, diversity or digitisation. In lectures and in study groups, you will work to find solutions for the societal challenges of the world today.

Third year
In the first semester, you will largely determine what your course load looks like. You can study abroad, do an internship, for example at an embassy, or follow a minor in another area of interest such as journalism or economics. You will finish off the year by writing your bachelor's thesis. For this, you will conduct research on a topic of your choice in the field of political science. 

  • Political Science at VU Amsterdam is ranked the best political science bachelor’s programme in the Netherlands in the 2018 National Student Survey.
  • This is a small-scale programme. The instructors are easily accessible and you will receive personal attention as a student and there is an active student community.
  • You will spend the first year studying public administration, national and international politics. Subsequently, you can choose different specialisations, allowing you to further specialise in the area that you find interesting.
  • The programme gives specific attention to political science in practice. You will visit the Senate of the Dutch Parliament and simulate United Nations proceedings.
  • You are part of an international classroom with students and teachers from various backgrounds.
  • The VU is an easily accessible campus university where you will meet students from all disciplines.
  • Diversity is important at VU Amsterdam. Everyone is welcome.
  • Unlike at most other universities, you will be working with students from other disciplines to find solutions to contemporary societal challenges such as globalisation, diversity and networks.
  • You are interested in the news and would like to know more about the politics and power relationships in the Netherlands, Europe and the world.
  • You are critical, socially involved and eager to debate.
  • You are curious by nature. You like to do research and work independently.
  • You have affinity with history, social studies and/or economics.
Master’s programmes
After the Bachelor’s programme, you can proceed with the English-language Master's programme in Political Science, where you can specialise in areas like International Security, Global Political Economy and Global Environmental Governance. Alternatively, you could decide to follow another social science Master’s programme at VU Amsterdam, such as Sociology or Journalism.

Job opportunities
As a political science graduate, you will not only be attractive to governmental institutions. With your knowledge of how people in politics and society work together and against each other, you can also work at a company, social organisation or research agency. You could work, for example, as a consultant, journalist, manager, researcher or policy officer.

Do you have questions?

  • You can call us on +31 20 5985000 (on working days from 10.00 till 16.00).
  • Or email us at contact@vu.nl.
  • Furthermore, you can also send us a text message on Whatsapp on +31 6 825 48 367.

Do you have a question about admission?

Students with a Dutch degree:

  • Please contact the Student Desk on +31 20 5985020 from 10.30 – 12.30 or 14.00 – 17.00).
  • Or email them at studentdesk@vu.nl.

Students with an international degree:

For questions about admission and entry requirements, please contact the International Student Advisor:

Gijs van Ierssel

Contact a Student Ambassador
Would you like to hear from an international VU student about their student journey, what it is like to study at VU, the programme that they are doing and/or their student life in Amsterdam? Contact our student ambassadors! Our Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and would be happy to answer all your questions.

VU Bachelor's day
Come join our Open Day and see for yourself what it’s like to study Political Science at VU Amsterdam! Register here.

Taster day
Come to a Taster day at the VU campus in Amsterdam's Zuidas district and experience what it is like to be a student at VU Amsterdam. Please sign up for the Taster Day.

VU Matching 
VU Matching enables you to check whether you have chosen the right degree programme. The matching programme consists of two steps: a digital questionnaire on VUnet, which is part of the application process, and an online matching activity. By taking part in this matching activity, you can check whether the programme is really the right one for you. For more information, please see the VU Matching website.

Please note: You will only be invited to the Matching activity if you have logged in to VUnet, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s information portal. It is also important that you fill in the digital matching questionnaire on VUnet before you join the matching activity! Doing so means you have completed the first step of VU Matching and are well prepared for the matching activity. The invitations for the activity will be issued from the end of April 2020. 

Would you like to know more?
Further details about VU Matching are available at VU Matching website. If you have specific questions about the Political Science matching day, please get in touch with matching.fsw@vu.nl. Have a look at: Application and registration regulation.

Admission criteria and application

If you have obtained or will obtain a Dutch diploma, please check the criteria on our Dutch webpage. Applicants holding a diploma from another country must meet a number of requirements:
  1. A diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO diploma
    See the Diploma Requirement List for examples of accepted diplomas per country.
    Please note: this list is meant to give you an indication of admissibility; no rights can be derived from it.

  2. Proof of sufficient proficiency in English
    See the General Admission Requirements for the English language requirement.

  3. Proof of sufficient proficiency in Mathematics
    After you apply to the programme and upload the required documents in our student portal, your International Student Advisor will have a look at your transcripts to determine whether your diploma is equivalent to the Dutch VWO diploma and whether your mathematics level is sufficient.

These examples of diplomas demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the required level of mathematics:

  • International Baccalaureate: All IB Mathematics subjects.
  • British GCE A-Levels: A-levels or AS-level in Mathematics with a grade A, B or C.
  • Germany: Zeugnis der allgemeinen Hochschulreife
  • European Baccalaureate: Mathematics; written or oral examination, at least 3 hours during the Orientation Cycle.

If your diploma is not considered to be at the right level and/or if your proficiency in mathematics is considered to be insufficient, your International Student Advisor will inform you about the possibilities how to meet the requirements with additional certificates.
When advised to sit an entry exam, the following certificates are deemed equivalent to the required Dutch VWO Mathematics C level.

Exams in the Netherlands
Boswell-Bèta (English). Boswell-Bèta in Utrecht (the Netherlands) provides a VWO Mathematics C exam in May, July and August.

Application procedure
Please check our step-by-step application guide for more information. 

International applicants will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • Transcript(s) of records (e.g. High School grade list)
  • Curriculum Vitae (your personal details, previous education and any relevant work experience in approximately one A4 page)
  • Copy of valid passport
  • English language test results (if already obtained)

Deadline: International students who require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 April.
Students who do not require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 May. You will be informed about your admission within four weeks after the completion of your application (including all required documents).

Ready to apply?
Great! All applicants must start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl portal.

Overview Political Science: Global politics




3 years (fulltime)


1 April (students requiring visa and/or housing services) / 1 May (students who do not require visa and/or housing services)


1 September




norm 42 EC

VWO Profile



Economics, Business and Law
Behavioural and Social Sciences