Courses, Immersion and Mentoring

Study Plan



The courses are taught by faculty members (professors and lecturers) and integrate at least two disciplinary approaches from the six represented at the Graduate Institute (anthropologyeconomicshistorylawpolitical sciencesociology).

A dedicated tutor offers assistance and guidance to students, both to help them gain the maximum benefits from the courses they attend and to facilitate the transition to their new study environment.


Curriculum (30 ECTS)


The curriculum (30 ECTS) is composed of:


Two substantive courses
(2 class hours/week run over 14 weeks, 12 ECTS)


Spring semester 2020

1. The Role of Law in International Relations, Prof. Andrea Bianchi, International Law

International law is a discursive practice used in international relations to deal with legal claims. It is best conceived as a language used by a group of people interacting in a social practice. This basic international law course is designed to acquaint students with the main concepts and principles of contemporary public international law. It will cover, among others: the nature and function of international law; customary international law; treaties; general principles of law and soft law; the role of States, international organisations, NGOs and individuals in the international legal system; jurisdiction of States to prescribe and enforce law; foreign sovereign immunity and diplomatic immunities before municipal courts; obligations of States under international human rights law; use of force and the UN collective security system. The course will also consider the relationship between international law and municipal legal systems, as well as international law enforcement mechanisms. Particular emphasis will be placed on discussing actual cases with a view to ascertaining how the main actors of international law behave. Ultimately, the goal is to train students to speak competently the language of international law and to teach them how to argue and interact in the different professional settings where the language of international law is spoken. 

2. United Nations: A Global History, Prof. Jussi Hanhimäki, International History

Why was the UN founded? How has it changed over the course of its 75-year history? Where might it be heading?  By analysing the evolution of the United Nations’ role in global affairs, this course aims to find answers to these broad questions.  It surveys the historical and political contexts that shaped the birth, behaviour and performance of international organisations in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the transformation of the League of Nations into the United Nations;  the impact of the Cold War and decolonisation on the UN’s goals and effectiveness; and the changing role of the UN in the post-Cold War era. We will examine the functions of the different parts of the UN system and analyse the evolution of UN policies and practices against the patterns of change and continuity in international affairs.




Two courses at the MA-level
2 class hours/week per course run over 14 weeks, 6 ECTS/course

Choose two courses from a large range of thematics (International Law, Political Science, International Economics, History of International Relations, Anthropology and Sociology of Development). Check out the course catalogue (some courses are subject to prerequisites)

Examples of MA courses chosen by our students:

Autumn Semester

  • HI057 - Peripheral Visions: The Birth and Evolution of Japanese Imperialism (1850-1937)
  • DI107 - Transnational Legal Processes
  • MINT054 - Migration and Development
  • RI-SP075 - Political Economy of Contemporary China
  • DE133 - Poverty and Inequality

Spring Semester

  • DE136 - Migration Governance in Times of Crisis: the UN and EU Compared
  • MINT102 - Histories of Truth, Facts and Uncertainty
  • MINT038 - International Environmental Institutions


French Language Course * (from beginner to intermediate levels)
(2 hours/week run over 14 weeks, 6 ECTS) 

*Alternatively, students with an advanced level of French can take an additional course in another discipline.


Visits to International Organisations as well as discussions with their representatives
(workshop series)


This workshop series feature speakers from the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the UN High Commission for Refugees, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the US Mission in Geneva, Doctors without Borders, etc., to discuss current issues and present organisational challenges, including professional trajectories.

Supervision, Coordination and resources

The programme is supervised by an experienced team of academic and administrative staff who provide full support to students. In addition, an advanced PhD student will be available to assist students on a daily basis.

Students benefit from the resources available at the Institute, including the many conferences and events that take place on campus. 

Immersion and Mentoring

An immersion and mentoring programme of visits and career discussions with practitioners in international affairs. Experience the world of international affairs in Geneva through our unique immersion programme, which combines visits of several international organisations and discussions with high-level practitioners, in small groups.


MENTOR: Sorina I. Crisan

PhD in International Relations/Political Science
Fall 2019 Semester Mentor

Sorina Crisan

During this Fall semester, Sorina will design a programme of activities in line with the participants’ interests and will accompany them during their visits and discussions. She will offer advice to students on their studies and the related resources available at the Institute. She will also advise them on graduate studies in international affairs.

Originally from Romania, Crisan has been living abroad for the past fifteen years and has thus far studied, worked, or volunteered in eight different countries. After earning her Baccalaureate degree, she lived in the U.S. to advance her education and work primarily for the U.S. Government and think tanks. Thereafter, she conducted research at Lund University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Sweden, and then studied French at Sorbonne University, in Paris. She has now lived in Geneva for the past five years, focusing on writing her PhD and working with the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and our Institute. 

Sorina holds an MA in International Relations and International Communications from Boston University, and a BA in Political Science from Bates College. She completed her PhD early this year. Her thesis is titled: “The Politics of Intervention: The Role of Psychological Distance in Foreign Policy Decision Making.” Her work focuses on: foreign policy analysis, international communication, international security, military alliance relations, military interventions, and political psychology (main regional expertise: North America and Western Europe; specific country expertise: Afghanistan, Australia, France, Germany, Iraq, the U.S., and Vietnam.)


Sample immersion and mentoring programme 



  • Activity: Discussion about working with UNHCR, focusing on the Rohingya crisis

  • Speaker: Deputy Director Division of Programme Support and Management

World Health Organisation

  • Activity: Discussion about the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

  • Speaker: Senior Advisor Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

World Trade Organisation

  • Activity: Discussion about the work at WTO, followed by Q&A session

  • Speaker: Dispute Settlement Lawyer

World Economic Forum

  • Activity: Discussion about the work at WEF, followed by Q&A session

  • Speaker: Delegates from WEF

Bank for International Settlement

  • Activity: Presentation of the activities of the Bank for International Settlements

  • Speaker: Administrators from the Bank

ICRC Museum

  • Activity: Visit of the permanent and temporary exhibitions