Specialization Tracks



As part of the curriculum, students choose one major and one minor out of three specialization tracks:  Global Security, Trade & International Finance, and Environment, Resources & Sustainability. The track Environment, Resources & Sustainability is also offered within the Master in Development Studies, which reflects the Graduate Institute’s expertise in this area and the general thematic relevance of this topic. 

The specialization tracks consist of a core course and a number of disciplinary and interdisciplinary electives specific to the track. Students must obtain 24 credits in the major and 12 credits in the minor.



Global Security


This specialization track offers a variety of courses that provide students with a systematic and critical understanding of the global security architecture, as well as the transformations shaping it at the beginning of the 21st century. In a core course, students will learn about the history, political economy and the sociology of the global security system, and about the changing nature of war and political violence. The course will explore structural factors such as great-power dynamics, state repression and security governance, as well as on emerging threats to global security.

The bi-disciplinary course and the elective courses will deepen this understanding by focusing on how security policies play out at the national, sub-national and local levels, emphasising factors related to individual and group agency in the context of social movements, armed non-state actors, intra-state violence, insurgencies and civil wars, urban violence and insecurity, and transnational and criminal networks. 

During a series of applied skills workshops, simulations and hands-on trainings, students will be exposed to situations as they are faced by decision-makers in international policy-making communities. This experience will help them acquire the practical skills necessary for effective leadership in this field.



The Global Security Architecture


This course will provide students with a systemic and critical understanding of the global security landscape, as well its transformations at the beginning of the 21st century. Students will be exposed to the political economy, and the sociology of the global security system, its history and evolution during the Cold War, and its remaking after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

The course will further touch on structural factors such as great-power dynamics, authoritarian and military regimes, state repression and security governance, as well as on emerging threats such as cyber crime, data theft, transnational criminal and terrorist networks, and the potential contagion effects of social media. The teaching will seek to impart on students a critical approach to security that emphasizes the various and cross-cutting ways in which the growing "securitization" of state and society play out at the sub-national and local levels, emphasizing factors related to individual and group agency in the context of social movements, armed non-state actors, intra-state violence, insurgencies and civil wars, and urban warfare. 


Iran Nuclear Negotiations
Islam in Europe: Between Rejection and Acceptance
Cold War and European Security
Business and Security in Fragile States
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Laws of War
The Politics of Disruption: Making Sense of the Global Protest Movement
The Transformation of Armed Groups
Articulations, Disruptions, Contestations





Trade & International Finance


The Trade & International Finance track introduces students to core issues in international economic integration. Students can take a compulsory course either on Trade or International Finance. The Trade course exposes them to modern trade theory and key recent development such as the emergence of global value chains. Students will develop a critical understanding of trade policy and its enforcement at the global level. 

The International Finance course introduces students to the basics of exchange rate dynamics, capital flow, balance of payments and international macroeconomic policy. Drawing on the disciplines of the Institute and the expertise of experienced policymakers, a range of electives courses will provide other perspectives on international economic integration, in particular from history and anthropology. 

The course will also cover specialized topics such as international business, competition and industrial policy, Internet governance, international standard setting and the global governance of intellectual property rights. Through case-based teaching and the opportunity to develop a capstone project, students will be challenged by concrete problems.  



Macroeconomics and International Finance

Ugo Panizza

The course covers some of the most important and controversial topics in economics. How are exchange rates determined? What are the differences between the conduct of economic policy under fixed and floating exchange rates? Is one exchange rate regime better than the other? Are trade deficits harmful? What are the drivers of international capital flows and the roots of balance of payment crises? Do countries manipulate their exchange rate, and if so why?

The course will apply economics tools to discuss real-world events such as the crisis of the euro and to evaluate potential latent vulnerabilities in the world economy. The course will mostly use graphical analysis and no mathematics beyond high-school level.


Richard Baldwin

This course looks at how the information revolution has changed globalisation, its impact on national economies and how government should react to it. The first part takes a brief look at alternative conceptualisation of globalisation. The second part looks at the long history of globalisation. The third part presents an extension of the traditional globalisation narrative that accounts for why and how globalisation changed.



Environment, Resources & Sustainability


Environmental issues are becoming more salient for international relations and are critical now in livelihood and for framing of development programs at all scales. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals chart this vision for international relations, but innumerable local, regional and nation state programs structure their development strategies through environmental policies and practices. The advancement of those visions depends critically on knowledge, cutting-edge policy development and innovation at all levels. The track offers an opportunity to focus on the emerging questions of governance, environment, resources and sustainability/resilience. As part of their specialization they are required to take the core course to the track, which introduces them to multidisciplinary debates and concepts, related to these questions. The additional three and six-credit courses (or equivalent) can be taken either within one of the four specialized areas, if students are interested to develop a specific type of expertise, or across the courses offered in the curriculum track.


The Global Framework
The first sub-pillar looks at the environmental issues from the global optic reviewing the institutions, legal frameworks, multilevel and multilateral forms of governance, and how these shape both the realm of international relations as well as on ground transformations and political ecologies. Given the increasing salience of international agreements and even subnational international jurisdictional practices, this part of the track might usefully be thought of as the more IR inflected part of the curriculum, but one which maintains a strong connection to field outcomes.
Climate Change
This sub-pillar focuses on questions of Climate Change in light of the planetary history and current responses to these changes through mitigation, abatement, adaptation and increasingly, even the role of forests in “negative” emissions.” Consumption patterns, technological change, social reorganization, rural development, urban patterns, climate justice and climate refugees are all part of this topic area. This section provides insights into the historical processes as well as the global array of legal, economic political and social responses that now confront modern societies challenged with the increasingly difficult problem of holding global temperatures below projected tipping points. The politics of energy, dynamics of populations, forms of innovation and the dynamics of the living planet itself inform this sub track.
Resources, Economics, Governance and Politics
This sub-pillar addresses the intersection of the politics and economics of resources, access and development, how economies structure their uses and their conflicts. Mining and hydrocarbon development, water resources, biotic resources, land politics of many kinds underpin both highly successful resource based development and unfortunately, many failed states. Larger questions of changing efficiencies, emergent resources and technology and what social configurations evolve for managing complex systems while maintain their longer term ecological social and physical viability underpins this field.
Agrarian Environments and Food Systems
Agrarian Environments and food systems are central drivers of land use change and potentially land use recuperation. About half the world population still remains agrarian to some degree, it remains a considerable sources of rural employment, as well as important sites of meaning and identity. Currently rural areas and their forms of farming are locations of extraordinary social, ecological and political transformation, conflict, land grabbing, and new globalized production technologies and markets. Such systems are both drivers and victims climate change which enhances the vulnerabilities of both traditional and modern agricultural systems. This sub-pillar takes on the agrarian and agriculture from its historical roots to its current problematics.


Social Movements and the Environment
Programme: TESt ECTS 6
Course Kind: Elective    
Faculty: Jorge E. Viñuales Professor    


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