Political Science: International Relations (MSc)
'UvA is not only a well-known and highly-respected school in the field of Social Sciences, but it also provides a different perspective on the study of International Relations.’ Read what Lucia Kovacikova tells us about International Relations.
My name is Lucia Kovacikova and I am from Canada. I completed my undergraduate degree in International Relations in Calgary, Canada. During that time, I was very much aware that travel and international study opportunities were absolutely essential in understanding foreign affairs and multicultural cooperation. At the University of Calgary, I was able to complete two exchange programmes, first at the Umeå University in Sweden and second at the The Washington Center in Washington, D.C. I was also able to work internationally in different sectors, which gave me a better understanding of my field and pointed out to me the necessary requirements of working in NGOs and international research institutes. I came to understand that International Relations, rather than being just an interesting field, is also very competitive and prestigious.
'I believe it is essential to study such a complex subject from different angles and my experience at UvA has certainly allowed me to do that'
UvA is not only a well-known and highly-respected school in the field of Social Sciences, but it also provides a different perspective on the study of International Relations, which is what I was originally drawn to. I believe it is essential to study such a complex subject from different angles and my experience at UvA has certainly allowed me to do that. I had the opportunity to study under four professors, each from a different country, from a different academic and research background, with different areas of interest. For any student, such atmosphere is anything but boring! It allowed me to explore my own views on the subject and eventually to focus on a specific topic I always wanted to explore in more detail.
'I was very excited to find the support from my adviser to delve into an area of interest that I was not completely familiar with'
In my second semester I settled on writing my thesis about the institutional cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union regarding their peacekeeping efforts in Burundi, Darfur and Somalia. I was extremely excited to be able to tackle this topic, not in the least because it presented a unique challenge for me. I have never fully concentrated on African conflicts and I was very excited to find the support from my adviser to delve into an area of interest that I was not completely familiar with. I believe this is a great testament to the way studies are approached at this university; the professors respect academic curiosity and allow students to choose a specific focus based on their preferences. I greatly enjoyed learning about a different aspect of International Relations that I rarely had the opportunity to study before. However, this is also an important point to mention to all prospective students. Having the freedom to pick an area of interest for a Master’s thesis is a difficult process. I struggled with trying to formulate my original ideas and especially with taking the risk to pursue a topic so distant from my previous academic study, especially in terms of geo-political analysis.
'I would advise students to start thinking about a possible topic for the thesis way before the deadline'
Just as I was told on the beginning of the semester by my study adviser, I would advise students to start thinking about a possible topic (or even a number of possible topics) for the thesis way before the deadline. More so than any other essay, a Master’s thesis does require a lot of research before submitting the proposal for the topic, which makes it very time-consuming. Of course, for the undecided, it is not easy to settle on a topic right away, but starting to think about it early is a good idea!
'Such diversity always made for an interesting discussion on world politics and ultimately made the experience in and outside of the classroom that much better'
However, being part of UvA is not just about the programme, it is also about living in the city of Amsterdam. It has been an incredible experience to see the history of this city and to be able to walk along the famous canals each day on the way to school. The atmosphere in the city is great, and for all the lovers of music and film, this is an excellent place to stay, with so many cultural activities being planned around the centre. It is also a great aspect of university life. The students in my programme came from wide range of countries and from all walks of life. Such diversity always made for an interesting discussion on world politics and ultimately made the experience in and outside of the classroom that much better. I believe that UvA is really a wonderful place to study, and Amsterdam a wonderful place to live. I would definitely recommend this programme to all students who wish to pursue a graduate degree in International Relations.