Political Anthropology, Advanced Course: Anthropology, International Relations and Diplomacy

Course content

The aim of this Advanced Course in Political Anthropology, Anthropology, International Relations and Diplomacy, is to investigate relations between the fields of political anthropology and international relations.

The course will introduce students to the study of international relations and diplomacy through an anthropological lens, focusing on how human political (inter)actions and everyday negotiations shape state politics and impact on current developments on the global political scene. The purpose is to explore both how political anthropology can contribute to the body of international relations studies and how, in turn, the study of international relations and diplomacy can inspire the thinking and professional practice of anthropologists. The course will be highly focused on practical application, striving to prepare students for internationally oriented careers by discussing concrete tools and testing them through use of interactive elements (see below).

International relations (IR) is a well-established academic discipline studying relations and interactions between national governments, NGO’s, international organizations and multinational corporations. Students will gain an understanding of some of the central elements of IR such as international security, state power, diplomacy and human rights. At the same time, they will explore how the study of foreign policy and sovereign states can be grasped anthropologically, approaching global changes through the study of local phenomena and applying central concepts from political anthropology including rituals, authority and negotiation.

Learning outcome

After completing the course, the students should be able to:



  • account for key debates and contributions within political anthropology.
  • demonstrate knowledge of central focal points in the study of the interrelations between political anthropology and international relations.



  • critically discuss and communicate interrelations between the academic disciplines of political anthropology and international relations.
  • reflect on how political anthropology can contribute to the field of international relations and vice versa.



  • independently identify and apply central concepts from political anthropology to a current international problem.

The course will consist of 14 three-hour weekly seminars, including class lectures, group discussions, student presentations as well as interactive elements such as real life simulations. The purpose of the interactive element is to give students a possibility to apply concrete tools and strengthen professional skills that can be put to use in subsequent careers.

As part of the applied element of the course, experienced practitioners with lifelong experiences from the field of IR and diplomacy will attend as guest lecturers to share concrete experiences, best practices and lessons learned. Experts from related disciplines, such as political science, might also be invited to share insights from their respective fields.

Course literature includes anthropological theory as well as literature from the field of IR and diplomacy.

BSc students: 500 pages of mandatory reading.

MSc students: 500 pages of mandatory reading + 200 pages of own choice.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, .
Essay length: 21,600–26,400 keystrokes for an individual submission. 6,750–8,250 keystrokes per extra member for group submissions. The maximum number of students who can write an essay in a group is four.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • English
  • 42