The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate center offering advanced graduate degrees (MAs, LLMs and PhDs), taught in English, covering the spectrum of international affairs, politics and law.
Studying in Brussels will allow you to carry out in-depth analysis of contemporary issues including conflict, security, development, migration, the political economy, the climate and environmental crises and the legal basis of a changing world order. At Kent in Brussels, our programmes take advantage of the incredible location, home to European Union institutions, NATO and many other international organisations, NGOs and representations, Brussels itself is the extension of your classroom.
The broad selection of taught and research programs available, ranging from politics and international relations to law, migration and conflict studies, means you can choose a degree that best reflects your interests. We promote flexibility and offer course start dates in September and January, as well as access to our incredible career service, to support you with your internship/job search during your studies and post-graduation.
You may choose to focus on one degree, but you also have the possibility of selecting one of these subjects as a secondary area of focus. You could, for instance, take a Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus in Human Rights. The choice is 100% up to you and your desired career path.
The University of Kent is the only UK institution to have a school in Brussels, and are proud of their international supportive postgraduate community, representing over 45+ nationalities it’s a great place to get connected. Our Kent degrees in Brussels are full English degrees and are accredited in Belgium, by the higher education accrediting body for the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and recognized by the Flemish Government.
The students here benefit from close access to professors, support team, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organizations.
As well as being close to numerous European and international organizations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, the students enjoy unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement. Take your ambition further.
To receive information directly from the Admissions Department, click here or contact them directly at [email protected]
Kent in Brussels are always open to visits so, pay them one if you are around Brussels (it is warmly suggested to arrange this in advance!).
What could a post-pandemic world look like at the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS)?
In challenging times, we need a vision for the future that will transform the world and provide solutions for rapidly changing social and political environments. Such a vision requires an education that anticipates the next steps. At BSIS, we provide an educational opportunity that support future leaders and thinkers with the skills and ideas that offer effective solutions to new international problems and with an understanding of how to build strong communities.
The pandemic has led us to find new, safe, and flexible ways to live. Our dynamic and friendly community has remained connected and thrived in these times, proving that connectivity and communication are vital for our future educational flourishing. We have worked hard to maintain the close-knit BSIS community, and we are delighted with how our students have approached this new world—with the enthusiasm to study and the resilience in adjusting and engaging in hard work to build new careers.
What changes will we see at BSIS?
The pandemic has allowed us time to reflect on the subjects we deliver and the way in which we teach them. One theme that has emerged from the pandemic has been the focus on global health matters and its link to international policy—this is a subject we intend to bring to BSIS over the next year. We also plan to develop a focus on new environmental concerns, which will inform some of our additional research events during the academic year. We are unique in addressing these new global issues through our international and interdisciplinary approach, bringing students and researchers from different backgrounds to think together. Via our specializations, we allow students to create rich interconnections for a stronger career profile.
How has innovation developed at BSIS during the pandemic?
Innovation came quickly in the form of hybrid teaching. Our commitment to students is to offer safe in-person teaching; while this remains as we look beyond 2021, the elements of online and digital delivery will supplement lectures and seminars, where appropriate, to offer students the best of both approaches.
Looking beyond the pandemic as the world starts to re-open, our students will have the opportunity to attend conferences, seminars, and internships in Brussels while having the advantage of looking beyond Brussels via new online deliveries, bringing a real international flavor to studies.
Our students have an appetite for critical thinking, and, undoubtedly, the topic over the next years will be an analysis of how the pandemic was handled at a local, national, and international level. At our school, we believe we are ideally located for students to be part of this—as European Union and international players meet in Brussels to discuss and debate the topic. Being at the crossroads of international affairs, BSIS will play a pivotal role in challenging debates and shaping leaders of the future. Join our world for tomorrow’s world.
What makes the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) special?
Our school is right at the heart of Europe and sits close to the institutions making decisions influencing all of us, wherever we are in the world. Our students are part of this, combining a world-class master’s level education while being immersed in conferences, internships, seminars, and lectures across the city. It’s a truly unique experience that will prepare students for an exciting range of careers in the international sector. We have met the challenge of delivering high-quality education during the pandemic by committing to face-to-face teaching in a responsible way, while continuing to offer guest lectures and conferences online during the immediate future. This hybrid model ensures we are prepared, should a second wave force us to move teaching back online.
What international cooperation does BSIS participate in?
We have a long history of collaborations and partnerships, whether it’s local via our link to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Commission or farther afield via our Two Capitals exchange program with the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing and Virginia Tech in the United States. The pandemic has shown that the globalized world is more connected than ever. Through our programs and research links, we aim to bring the world to the classroom.
Brussels is known as the “capital of Europe.” In this, Brussels is an international city like no other, home to international institutions, headquarters, charities and CCC. This allows us to offer students unparalleled access to organizations through internships, conferences, seminars, and university partnerships. We believe that international cooperation benefits students and research beyond anything else and enables excellent prospects during and after studies, in terms of job prospects in an ever increasingly global world.
And how does this cooperation work on a day-to-day basis at BSIS?
Our students choose us for many different reasons, but the ability to combine a world-class education with outstanding networking opportunities in Brussels among the international community is the reason we hear most. In a post-pandemic world, the job market will have greater competition. To help our students, we aim to bring in expertise from the international community to enhance our in-class teaching. We find that a blend of theoretical teaching and analysis fits well with the more case-study, practical orientation that our practitioners bring to the classroom. Besides teaching and internships, our location in Brussels allows interaction with organizations in terms of visit days, research links, and collaboration on seminars and workshops.
What developments are taking place at BSIS?
We are launching a new master’s degree in global health policy. This new master’s degree will draw on our strengths by looking at the issue of global health in relation to conflict zones, development and aid, and human migration. Brussels is a natural home for global health studies. Many organizations are increasingly focusing on issues related to health, and policy is changing rapidly to reflect this. Given the pandemic, this is likely to accelerate.
What makes the Brussels School of International Studies special?
Our school is right at the heart of Europe and sits close to the institutions making decisions influencing all of us, wherever we are in the world. Our students are part of this, combining a world-class master’s level education while being immersed in conferences, internships, seminars, and lectures across the city. It is a truly unique experience that will prepare students for an exciting range of careers in the international sector. Students that hit the ground running and grab all the opportunities that Brussels has to offer will find a rewarding experience that is hard to beat.
Can you discuss in more detail about how students are equipped with flexibility in problem-solving?
Our programs are interdisciplinary, and this encourages students to build a degree that brings together a variety of disciplines. For example, following a master’s degree in Conflict Studies allows students to study conflict in a theoretical and historical context and also looks at the legal and practical aspects via modules such as Law of Armed Conflict and Negotiation and Mediation. The variety of classes ensures students learn a range of problem-solving skills, and the combination of academic and practitioner teaching brings a contemporary flavor to the classroom, sometimes involving real-life, ongoing case studies. In several modules, students play simulation games—for example, acting as mediators in an international conflict or negotiating among EU member states.
Could you expand on your curriculum and program structure, and how it has developed?
We are a truly international school and endeavor to teach on contemporary issues that reflect the changing world order. Our master’s degrees in Migration and International Relations particularly investigate the challenges faced by organizations, charities, and NGOs to keep abreast of shifts in political structures and a more globalized world. Students relish the opportunity to combine two specializations into one degree, and this interdisciplinary approach ensures students are equipped with a wide range of skills. New modules in Development, Disability, and Disadvantage, along with Politics of Health in Humanitarian Disasters, will enhance our offer and bring in subjects from a global health pathway. Global health issues continue to dominate headlines and are likely to become more prevalent, directly impacting international relations.
How do you prepare graduates to lead on the local, national, and global levels?
At the Brussels School, we aim to equip our students with a quality education while exposing them to internship, job, and networking opportunities across a wide spectrum of industries in the city of Brussels. This approach enables students to implement their knowledge in a variety of sectors and gain valuable experience for future careers. Internships with lobbying groups, for example, enable students to develop skills that will teach them to be influential within various sectors, be it politics, the oil industry, or within human rights. International organizations invariably have an office in Brussels, and this gives our students fantastic access to develop networks on an international level and bring these skills back to their own local or regional area.
Could you tell us about the curriculum at your school in relation to conflict studies?
Conflict studies is at the heart of what we teach at the Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS). Through our modules and research, conflict studies, from a theoretical and historical perspective as well as via contemporary case studies, plays a major role in our teaching. Students do this via our master’s degree in international conflict and security or enhancing another degree at BSIS with elements from the conflict subject area. Our classes span a large spectrum of conflict-related themes, such as law of armed conflict, negotiation and mediation, critical approaches to security, and theories of conflict and violence. Our teaching takes an international view but focuses on key regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, Russia and Ukraine, or the Middle East. Students are encouraged to develop their own regional interests—be it the Korean peninsula or Afghanistan—and how conflict studies fit with the wider international relations issues.
How are conflict studies taught at BSIS?
Our students are encouraged to come at the topic of conflict from different angles and perspectives—studying conflict in the context of law, development, migration, or human rights. This interdisciplinary focus provides students with the ability to think about how conflict is interlinked with other international issues, such as the migration crisis or human rights violations, or via the legal ramifications of conflict events. Negotiation and mediation is one of our most popular classes. This practical, hands-on class informs students about the complexity of managing negotiations and is delivered by a global expert in conflict resolution.
We also have a PhD degree in conflict, where students take advantage of the expertise of academic staff as well as being part of the wider Conflict Analysis Research Centre.
How do you account for the role of technology in global conflicts?
Conflict and technology is a rapidly developing area of study and one which our students find fascinating. We aim to incorporate the role of technology into our teaching, but we also did this with our latest international conference hosted at BSIS. At the conference, Digital Disruptions: How Technology Changes Our Reality, a range of panel sessions were covered on subjects such as technology regulations, the role of technology on political extremism, and the ever increasing role of governments on shaping online narratives. The role of technology is likely to become a key component of our teaching in the future—for example, whether technology can lead us to world peace or make conflicts more complicated.
How do you account for emerging roles in addressing conflict, for example, applying a gender lens?
We do this in many ways, but one example is within our gender and conflicts module, where we look at the differing impact of conflict on women and on men and the diverging meanings of conflict and security. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, and norms that affect how both males and females or, rather, how masculinities and femininities are defined or understood within society. We also expand this to look at gender within development and migration issues, which often run parallel with conflict issues.
What is it about the Brussels School that encourages diverse opinions?
Our diverse international student body, representing fifty-five nationalities and backgrounds, ensures students are exposed to diverse perspectives—it is what our school is built on. The different backgrounds, academically but also professionally, create a stimulating environment in our seminars. We encourage this participation and consider all other viewpoints, which results in some lively discussion! These perspectives are built into the classes that students take as electives; for example, our module on migration, conflict, and human rights challenges students’ perceptions by inviting guest speakers into the class each week to cover a range of issues across the spectrum of human migration. These speakers, with personal firsthand experiences of conflicts and human rights, inspire students to think beyond the theories.
How does the Brussels School equip students to face the challenges of an uncertain world?
Our students choose us for many different reasons, but the ability to combine a world-class education with outstanding networking opportunities in Brussels among the international community is the reason we hear most. The ever-increasing competitiveness of the job market post-graduation puts a heavy emphasis on the combination of study and internships. To help our students, we come at the challenge from two angles.
First, through our academic programs, we ensure that students have a firm grasp of both the theoretical approaches and practical applications of the subject they are studying. We teach them to read critically, to analyze problems, and to learn how to develop a coherent and balanced argument. Our lecturers are a mix of academics and practitioners who are not only at the cutting edge of their fields of research but also have extensive work experience, and they bring that experience and advice into the learning environment. Second, our careers coach helps students consider the international job market. Through a series of workshops, seminars, and networking events, students make contacts across a range of organizations and practice their networking skills with potential employers.
What specific skills do you provide students to allow them to remain flexible in their career paths?
Achieving a balance between the theoretical and the practical is something that is vital toward building a flexible career. For instance, our module on European Union (EU) migration law provides students with a sound grounding in the law governing regular migration within the EU as well as an opportunity to undertake an internship at the EU Rights Clinic and put their theoretical knowledge to use by advising them on their rights under EU migration law. In several modules, students play simulation games—for example, acting as mediators in an international conflict or negotiating among EU member states. By learning how to use these tools effectively, our students are able to achieve success in many avenues of life, even if these sometimes fall outside of the formal scope of their education.
- Annual Enrollment:
- 100 (avg)
- Average GPA:
- Work Experience:
- Internships possible
- % International:
- Over 90%
- Employment Sectors:
- EU Institutions, NGOs, diplomacy, government, law, international commerce, finance
- Degrees offered:
- MA, PhD
- Info here
- Employment record:
- Over 94% find a job or further study opportunity after graduation