Course Overview

The two-year Master (Laurea Magistralis) in World Politics and International Relations is taught entirely in English, and includes core courses with a comparative and international focus.

The comparative courses in Politics, Political Economy, and History of Government study the different political systems of the world as outcomes of path dependent economic and political structures and developments. The courses in International Relations, History of International Relations, and International Law study how the interactions among political systems have unfolded in the most important geopolitical settings.

These core courses are integrated with further courses on negotiation and management skills in international organizations, on the history of diplomacy, on migration, on regional integration, on ethical issues in international relations, and on the methodology of the social sciences applied to international relations. In addition, students are offered choices among a number of elective courses, including language courses. Non-Italian students are offered basic and intermediary courses in Italian.

Students may independently seek out internships in their second year, which are then accredited as part of the degree course itself, or may decide to follow an advanced training course, offered by experts from the “Osservatorio di Pavia – Media Research”, on electoral monitoring in consolidated and new democracies.

The number of contact hours between students and faculty is unusually high by European standards (40 hours for a standard 6 credit course), and much of the teaching is interactive.

Examination is by a mixture of written coursework, written and oral exams, and a final thesis viva. Over the two years, students may expect to write 5 or 6 assessed essays. During the second year, students write a thesis under the personal supervision of a member of the Department.

Some courses involve the participation of outside speakers and practitioners from the fields of diplomacy and international law. In addition, the University is sponsoring a number of visiting professorships from abroad. During the years 2017-18 and 2018-19, for example, the degree course has hosted visiting professors from China, Europe, North and South America.

Over the last years, nearly a half of the students enrolled in the degree course have been non-Italian, coming from countries as diverse as Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Italian and non-Italian students alike have reported that the international composition of the class itself serves to enrich their learning experience.

Pavia University participates in a number of exchange programs, including the Erasmus program which provides financial assistance to students currently enrolled at Pavia who wish to spend part or all of their second year abroad, substituting exams at Pavia’s partner universities for their regular Pavia exams, and the Coimbra student exchange network, which gives Pavia students the opportunity of working on their final thesis at one of the other “Coimbra group” universities. (The Coimbra group is a network of the 25 oldest universities in Europe.) Most of the students who are awarded places on these exchange programs are provided with some financial assistance.

World Politics and International Relations students have an excellent success record in applications for these mobility programs. For a list of European Universities with which the Department of Political and Social Sciences currently has Erasmus exchange agreements, click here.

The academic organization of the degree course is carried out by a Departmental Working Group (Gruppo di Riesame). The current degree course coordinator is Prof. Ian Carter. Any queries about the degree course should be sent to

Valentina Sacco, 2nd year student in World Politics and International Relations, 2014-15

Valentina Sacco, 2nd year student in World Politics and International Relations, 2014-15

 “One of the hallmarks of the World Politics and International Relations Course is the way it relates theoretical and applied knowledge. In courses like International Law, International Relations and Regional Integration, theoretical concepts are analysed and applied to particular cases. In the course on Negotiation and Management Skills in International Organizations, through simulations, students can directly experience the use of diplomatic tools and strategies in a practical way. The link between theory and practice makes a class fascinating and extremely useful. It is satisfying to improve one’s knowledge and competences through a personal, active contribution”.