- Annual Enrollment:
- 200 (avg)
- Average GPA:
- Work Experience:
- Internships possible
- % International:
- Over 70%
- 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
The University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) is a specialist postgraduate center offering advanced English language-based degrees covering the spectrum of international affairs. We host three academic schools of the University of Kent which allows students to specialize in one program while informing their personal approach to international studies with courses spanning such disciplines as political science, law, sociology, history and economics.
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, and the opportunity to take up an internship to complement your studies.
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, read for a master’s degree in International Relations with a focus in Human Rights.
Degrees are full degrees of the University of Kent, and are also accredited by the higher education accrediting body for the Flemish Community in Belgium (NVAO) and recognized by the Flemish Government. The University of Kent is the only UK University with a School in Brussels.
BSIS is known as a friendly, diverse, and cohesive community of approximately 250 students from about 55 different countries. Students benefit from close access to professors, a research-active environment, and exposure to practitioners from Brussels-based organizations.
Home to the main institutions of the European Union and numerous European and international organizations, such as think tanks, lobby groups, NGOs and multinational companies, Brussels is at the heart of Europe. You can earn a degree from a British university while enjoying unparalleled opportunities for networking, academic development and professional advancement facilitated by the School's excellent location in the 'capital of Europe'.
To receive information directly from the Admissions Department, click here.
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.
What makes BSIS different from comparable institutions offering advanced postgraduate teaching?
While being an integral part of the University of Kent, a top 20 UK university, we give students an opportunity to study international affairs in a city where key decisions are made on a daily basis, be it on the refugee crisis or the deployment of troops on NATO’s eastern borders. Students have the opportunity to specialize in two subjects within their degree—an MA in International Migration with Human Rights Law, for example. Although our focus is on international studies, we link back to how this integrates with the EU and the EU’s relationship with the outside world e.g. through our degree in EU External Relations.
How does your teaching adapt to the changing world?
Our teaching is developed and enhanced annually by the introduction of new modules which integrate the specialist knowledge of our academic staff with the changing world order. For instance, this year we are introducing new modules in African politics and Middle Eastern politics. This will enhance our curriculum in many of our MA degrees, particularly Conflict and Development.
We are also introducing a new secondary specialization in Foreign Policy, which will complement all of our degrees and allow students the opportunity to link their chosen specialization to theory and give a greater breadth of study within contemporary themes. Due to the nature of the subject, our curriculum is constantly evaluated and developed to reflect the rapidly changing world of international relations.
Are internships integral to your degrees?
Our focus is academic; but by being in Brussels and exposing students to the wealth of opportunity in the city, internships can enhance the learning experience. There are many exciting experiences for students within NGOs, think-tanks or larger organizations such as the European Parliament. It’s also important to factor in the huge number of seminars, conferences, public lectures and guest speakers that occur on a daily basis—students are spoiled for choice.
Achieving a balance between the theoretical and the practical is at the heart of what we do. One example is our module on Negotiation and Mediation; in order to solve international conflicts, the combination of theory and practice is essential, and this module blends these two to equip students with these skills. EU Migration Law is another module which provides students with a sound grounding in the law governing regular migration within the European Union, as well as an opportunity to undertake an internship at the EU Rights Clinic and put their theoretical knowledge to use.
How does this prepare students for life after BSIS?
The exposure to the world of international studies in a city like Brussels is what really sets our School apart. Our links within the field mean that students are able to network with influential players which in turn leads to job opportunities not only in Brussels but also further afield. We present students with the necessary skills to make a career in international affairs a possibility.
The University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) has a reputation for delivering research-led graduate programs taught by a combination of high-quality academics and practitioners. Dr. Tom Casier, the school’s Academic Director, holds a prestigious Jean Monnet Chair and is an expert on EU-Russian relations and Russian foreign policy.
How does BSIS benefit from being in the world’s diplomatic capital, Brussels?
Our location in Brussels enables us to call upon the considerable talent available in the city. Working in the EU Institutions, NATO, lobbying firms, and international companies are a number of skilled individuals with rich academic backgrounds and professional experience in their areas of research. We make active use of the presence of international institutions to organise public lecture series and conferences.
We also maximize Brussels’ air and rail hub to bring lecturers from other European cities, such as Berlin, Vienna, and Paris, as well as from Kent’s campus in Canterbury to teach. Feedback from students clearly shows how much they value access to such a vibrant and diverse teaching faculty.
What makes BSIS different from comparable institutions offering advanced postgraduate teaching?
While being an integral part of the University of Kent, a top 20 UK university, we give students an opportunity to study international affairs in a city where key decisions are taken on a daily basis, be it on the Eurozone crisis or on deployment of troops on NATO’s eastern borders. Students have the opportunity to specialise in two subjects within their degree, for example an MA in International Conflict and Security with International Law.
We also recently launched a new MA in EU External Relations that allows students to study the EU’s international role critically, both as trade bloc and as political actor.
How do you use your research in your teaching?
Synergies between research and teaching are key to all of us. I am currently coordinating an EU funded project that studies EU-Russia relations. Not only do I integrate this in my classes, but it also allows us to organise several high-profile events in which students can participate. Earlier this year, we confronted the Russian ambassador and his EU counterpart on the Ukraine crisis. With the developments over Crimea, I have recently been called upon to provide advice on the current situation in Ukraine for the European Parliament and the House of Lords. I draw on these experiences and integrate them into my teaching.
So the practical aspects of what students are learning in the classroom are important?
Absolutely. Achieving a balance between the theoretical and the practical is vital. For instance, our module on EU Migration Law provides students both with a sound grounding in the law governing regular migration within the European Union 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.
The University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) has a reputation for delivering research-led graduate programs taught by a combination of high-quality academics and practitioners. Dr.Tom Casier, the school’s newly appointed Academic Director, holds a prestigious Jean Monnet Chair, and is Deputy Director of the Global Europe Centre. He is an expert on EU-Russian relations and Russian foreign policy.
How does BSIS bring together the faculty to be able to teach such a wide variety of different courses?
Our location in Brussels facilitates our calling on the considerable talent available in the city because of its role as the de facto capital of the EU. Working in the EU Institutions, NATO, lobbying firms, and international companies are a number of skilled individuals with both rich academic backgrounds and professional experience in their areas of research. We are also able to make the most of Brussels’ air and rail hub to bring lecturers from other European capitals such as Berlin, Vienna, Paris, and Geneva, as well as from Kent’s main campus in Canterbury, to teach. Feedback from students shows how much they clearly value access to such a vibrant and diverse teaching faculty.
How do you use your research in your teaching?
Having written my doctoral thesis on the transformation process in Central and Eastern Europe, Europe has been at the heart of my research in one way or another. These are compelling times for someone whose interests are Russian foreign policy and the relationship between Moscow and the European Union. I have recently been called upon to provide advice on the current situation in Ukraine, much of which has found itself in to the media. As I prepare my classes for the upcoming academic year, I draw on these experiences and integrate them into my teaching. One module enables students to gain an advanced understanding of the functioning of the European institutions and the politics of EU policy-policymaking. Another module focuses on the changing global political structures and Europe’s role within them and looks in detail at the way the EU’s neighborhood policy has been put under strain over these past few months. To stimulate debate, we invite high-level EU policymakers and diplomats into the classroom to discuss the evolving relationship between the EU and Russia over events in Ukraine and Crimea, which brings a practical dimension to their studies.
So the practical aspects of what students are learning in the classroom are important?
Absolutely. Achieving a balance between the theoretical and the practical is something that is vital. For instance, our module on EU Migration Law provides students with both a sound grounding in the law governing regular migration within the European Union and an opportunity to undertake an internship at the EU Rights Clinic. Last year, students working at the clinic received more than 80 complaints from EU citizens about excessive delays at the Spanish-Gibraltar border crossing and then put their theoretical knowledge to use by advising them on their rights under EU migration law.