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Study Plan


Curriculum of the MA Program (2 years, full-time)

The curriculum has two components: core curriculum and electives.

The program offers core courses relative to various conceptual facets of international relations. Students develop their ability to apply theories from international relations, international political economy, and international law to explain key global problems, and to contribute to current policy debates. The program offers elective courses on Russia’s relations with particular countries and regions and a myriad of its specific security issues. Throughout the program students are involved in understanding of Russian identity, Russian energy diplomacy, Russian foreign policy, Russian-European relationship, and etc.

The curriculum of the MA degree program is designed to provide students with analytical skills required by leaders in the major fields of international affairs.
The program of study requires 120 credit hours during four semesters of full-time enrollment.


I) Core

1) Colloquium on Literature in the field of International Relations

PhD, professor Natalia Tsvetkova

Duration: 1 semester, 18 hours in class and 119 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 4

            The academic seminar is aimed at equalizing the previous knowledge and educational background of students to the discourse of the field of International Relations. The other goal is to enable students to make a choice about their field of research relative to the MA thesis. There are more than 100 books for reading during the fall semester. Every student must read all these books during this semester (about 30 books every month) and prepare a short presentation about the essence of the contents, ideas, and concepts discussed in each book.

2) Research Seminar

PhD, Associate Professor Natalia Tsvetkova

Duration: 4 semesters, 32 hours in class each semester and 176 hours of independent work by students each semester

Credits: 7 credits for one semester and 8 credits for the other

The aim of the research seminar is to develop and refine MA students’ skills in carrying out research relative to both their graduation papers and research tasks assigned by the lecturer. The students must demonstrate their ability to work with both primary documents and secondary literature, to present final results of their research activity in public, and to write a final academic paper. The students will acquire the following knowledge, skills, and practice: 1) traditions, specifics, and rules for doing research in Russian academic entities; 2) techniques and methods of research (how to elaborate on a theme, find literature, work with primary sources, frame theoretical frameworks, etc.), and 3) academic presentation and academic writing.

3) Analytical Practice

PhD, Associate Professor Natalia Tsvetkova

Duration: 2 semesters, 6 hours in class each semester and 187 hours of independent work by students each semester

Credits: 5 credits for one semester and 7 credits or the other

            The aim of the course is to develop students’ abilities to work with information relative to world politics, to make independent and brief expert evaluations, and to write expert papers. There are six classes but many hours allocated for independent analytical work carried out by students.

4) Current Issues in the Theories of International Relations

PhD., Associate Professor Natalia Zaslavskaya

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

            The course introduces students to international relations theories. It provides students with an understanding of the major traditions of thought in the field, with a tool kit of concepts that they can apply to understand world politics. Moreover, the course teaches students how to navigate their way through the enormous body of literature on international relations. The course is designed to arrange seminars, discussions, and presentations by students relative to such theories of IR studies as (neo)realism, (neo)liberalism, constructivism, (neo)Marxism, positivism, (post)revisionism, etc.

5) Global Governance and Global Organizations

PhD, Professor Andrey Alimov

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

            The aim of this course is to expose the historical origins and contemporary institutional and policy debates centered on both global and regional organizations such as the ASEAN, the EU, NATO, the UN, and others. The course raises questions about the efficiency and failures to develop global governance. This course serves as an excellent platform for simulation games.

6) International Security

PhD, Associate Professor Andrey Pavlov

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

            This course considers the broad topic of international security and introduces students to a range of theoretical perspectives to analyze current security challenges. The course begins with a conceptual overview that introduces international security from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The course shifts to the case-studies demonstrating the ways to resolve security problems on global, international and national levels. Students will examine a range of traditional and non-traditional security challenges: alliance politics, arms control and nuclear proliferation etc. The national security policy section of the course will focus on contemporary Russia. Central to this course is a consideration of the utility and limits of military power as a means of effectively addressing these traditional security challenges.

7) International Political Economy

PhD, Associate Professor Stanislav Tkachenko

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

            This course examines the politics of international economic relations from theoretical and policy perspectives. After studying alternative approaches to the field of International Political Economy, the course explores the history of economic relations among countries in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It then covers areas of production, trade, and finance: the major players in the postwar economy, both countries and corporations. The erosion of the postwar economic order is examined, and suggestions are made about what to do to manage the rapidly changing world economy to produce long-term growth and equity. How do we explain cooperation across national borders? Specific cases for analysis will include relations between rich and poor nations, investments, regional integration, and the environment.

8) History and Methods of International and Area Studies

PhD, Associate Professor Natalia Zaslavskaya

PhD, Associate Professor Dmitri Lanko

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

The aim of the course is to explore the main stages in the development of international relations (IR) studies as an academic discipline. Its main theoretical and methodological issues will be examined by students. Moreover, the “area studies” as the part of the International Relations studies will be reviewed from the position of its methodological approaches. Students will study scholarly methods applied in both IR and Area Studies.

9) Russian Identity: Landmarks in Contemporary Developments

PhD, Associate Professor Dmitry V. Katsy

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

This academic course is designed to provide graduate students with a reasonable introductory sense of the enormous field of inquiry about post-transitional Russian identity. As the content of numerous debates convincingly shows, contemporary Russian identity is a work in progress. It is created by multiple forces including cultural patterns of social life and governance, domestic and international politics, economic incentives, security, and spiritual needs. Due to the extreme complexity of this process, the students are not required to quantify and analyze all currently existing academic concepts in endless detail. Rather, the course is aimed at helping those who would like to understand the Russian people better by taking into account some prominent landmarks of their collective self-identification to successfully cooperate with them on a current day-to-day basis. This is an interactive and intensive discussion class. Please note that all the required topics of the syllabus and the absolute majority of reading materials will be available for students online at http://sakai.spbu.ru/portal.

10) Russia in World Politics

PhD, Professor Andrey Alimov

PhD, Associate Professor Dmitri Evstafev

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

The course gives an overview of the historical development of Russia and its economic, political, and cultural past. The second part of the course examines the impact of globalization on Russia. Finally, the course will introduce students to the economics of the Russian Federation.

II) Elective Courses

Second semester (spring semester)

Regional Aspects of Global Ecological Security

PhD, Professor Andrey Alimov

Duration: 1 semester, 62 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

Ecological security refers to a situation where conditions are ensured for the prevention of a negative impact on the human environment and the economy as a result of ecological and climatic changes, and  insufficient protection of natural resources. The course addresses these questions and gives students an opportunity to work with primary documents in order to improve their ability to understand and manage ecological problems.

The Energy Dimension of World Politics

PhD, Professor Nikolay Dobronravin

Duration: 1 semester, 62 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

Energy, energy security, and oil affect the economic prosperity of every society as well as international politics. These questions are at the heart of some of the most intractable environmental problems, national security challenges, and economic development strategies. The course maps how challenges and opportunities differ among countries that produce, consume, and transport both oil and gas. The energy diplomacy of Russia, countries in the Middle East, African states, and others is covered here. The policies of major energy consumers and producers are compared. International energy policy topics including the geopolitics of oil and gas, energy markets, climate change, and international energy-technology cooperation and competition are reviewed.

Third semester (fall semester)

Russia and Globalization  

PhD, Associate Professor Dmitri Lanko

Duration: 1 semester, 66 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

Globalization is viewed from the perspectives of theoretical and real-world politics. The theoretical dimension of globalization refers to the impact of globalization on everyday behavior by elites in a variety of countries. How does the situation of uncertainty provoked by globalization shape the process of decision-making in a country? The practical dimensions of globalization discuss how states can expand their influence in the world under the shield of globalization.

Fourth semester (spring semester)

The Arctic Region in the Modern Political System: Inter-state Relations and Research Methodology

PhD, Associate Professor Nataliya Markushina

Duration: 1 semester, 62 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

The course will deal comparatively with the policies of Arctic countries and their relationship to the changing circumstances of the circumpolar region. The main Arctic countries are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States. However, such countries as China pretend to have the status of Arctic countries. The rich resources became a main point of controversy among them. The concept of North Dimension in foreign policy is introduced to students. Students will learn multilateral, bilateral, and unilateral policies of the countries involved in a new round of struggles for the Arctic. Moreover, Russian governmental and non-governmental organizations that deal with Arctic problems are visited by students as part of their seminar work.

Public Diplomacy

PhD, Associate Professor Natalia Tsvetkova

Duration: 1 semester, 62 hours in class and 112 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 6

This course will examine institutions, methods, and big issues in US public diplomacy. It will study both the historical perspective and the contemporary case in the field of public diplomacy, exposing the practices in the field by the US, Russia, Germany, Iran, and China. Key concepts will include culture, popular culture, public diplomacy, propaganda, exchange, and soft power. Moreover, digital diplomacy, Internet diplomacy or e-diplomacy of different countries will be examined.


Russian Language Course

Teacher: TBA

Duration: 4 semesters, 34 hours in class per semester and 64 hours of independent work by students

Credits: 2


The course will teach the Russian language. The students will learn both everyday language and the academic language.


 III) Writing the MA thesis and its public defense

Duration: 4 semesters

Credits: 5 credits for one semester and 11 credits or the other


In addition to the research seminars that will prepare students to develop their own master’s thesis, each MA candidate will work closely with his or her supervisors. The students will receive counseling in how to formulate a research question, hypothesis, and methodology and how to develop a project description for their master’s thesis.

To qualify for the master’s degree in the field of International Relations, students must publicly defend their theses.


The titles and summaries of the best Master Theses are presented to our digital library electronically. The full-text dissertations on paper are available at the library of the School of International Relations:


  1. Jared Lee. American Neoconservatism: Philosophical Principles and Origin, 2013: SummaryReview by SupervisorReview by Opponent.
  2. Adcharawadee Inkao. The PreViher Temple: Signification of Thai-Cambodian Dispute for International Organizations, 2013: Summary; Review by Supervisor; Review by Opponent.
  3. Alena Lukina. Digital Society and Image of Russia, 2013: : SummaryReview by SupervisorReview by Opponent


1. Ajayi Oluwakemi Deborah. Principle of Non-intervention: a Case-Study of Sudan and Mali. Title PageReview by SupervisorReview by Opponent

2. Ayse Sogutlugil Tarakci. Turkey's Position in Regional Energy Security Complexes: The Natural Gas Case. Title PageSummaryReview by SupervisorReview by Opponent


1. Beindorff Falk Friedrich Kornelius (Germany). Axiology in International Relations: Testing Malik’s Approach

2. Vakulina Nadezda (Russia). Natural Gas aspects in Contemporary Russian-German Relations

3. Wunderlich Manuel (Germany). Comparative Analysis: Eurasian Integration / European Integration

4. Gomez Kevin Mark (Philippines). The SEA rises: ASEAN Economic Integration and the Struggle for Captainship in East Asia

5. Lee Han-wen (Taiwan). Taiwan’s Policy Toward Mainland China, 2008–2015

6. Li Hongmei (China). The Discussion on the Influence of Chinese Economy in International Relations Between China and Russia

7. Mamatova Zhanyl (Kyrgyzstan). Participation of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Economic Integration Processes in the Former Soviet Area

8. Mitrovic Mihajlo (Serbia). Serbian Foreign Policy and Globalization: Tendencies and Concepts

9. Song Dajung (France). Institutionalization of National Identity: a French-Russian comparative Perspective

10. Teregulova Anara (Kazakhstan). Energy Dimension of the EAEU. New Opportunities and Challenges for Kazakhstan

11. Cerlini Marco (Italy). The Role of Multilateral Institutions in the Process of Legal Harmonization between Russia and the EU

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Master Program in International Relations (offered in English)


Admission Requirements

Digital Library

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