International Politics Summer School 2021 (Online)


An eight-day online summer school tackling the vital issues that shape politics in the modern world, with a regional focus.

The summer school will enable students to undertake in-depth analysis of key countries in regions outside of Western Europe and North America - Africa, China, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Russia and the Former Soviet Union.

The academic programme consists of

  • 5 x 60-minute recorded lectures per seminar group;
  • 10 x 60-minute tutor-led seminars;
  • 5 x 60-minute live moderator-led discussion groups; and
  • 5 x 60-minute live guest lectures.

Applicants choose one course from:

  • Critical Approaches to African Politics
  • The New International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa
  • The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America
  • The Politics of the Chinese Party-State
  • Power, Resources and Political Identity in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.

Seminar groups will usually contain no more than 16 students.

Programme details


All timings listed below are UK time zone (BST/GMT+1).

Friday 30 July 2021

  • Welcome to the course: overview and structure (video recording)
  • Introduction to Canvas - Oxford University's virtual learning environment (video recording)
  • Introduction to ORLO - Oxford Reading Lists Online (video recording)

Saturday 31 July 2021

  • Introduction: Programme Administrator (live Q&As), 10.00 and 17.00
  • Quiz at 15.00

Sunday 1 August 2021

  • Seminar lecture 1 (video recording)
  • Welcome: meet your tutors live event, 15.00

Monday 2 August-Friday 6 August 2021

  • 12.30-14.00: Guest lecture and Q&A (live)
  • 14.30-15.30: Seminar 1 (live)
  • 15.45-16.45: Seminar 2 (live)
  • 17.45-18.45 and 19.00-20.00: Moderator-led discussion groups (live) - each student will participate in five sessions during the week

Seminar options

Critical Approaches to African Politics

There is a long history of misunderstanding the politics of African countries. This module challenges these myths and introduces a range of critical approaches to understanding governance and development-related issues, with a particular focus on South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and the countries of the Great Lakes and the Horn. Seminars are designed to debate issues such as:

  • colonialism, race and ethnicity
  • nations, states and conflicts
  • development, aid and infrastructure projects
  • democratisation since the 1990s
  • youth, protest and demographic change.

Tutor: Dan Hodgkinson is a Lecturer in African History and Politics and Leverhulme Research Fellow at Oxford's Department of International Development as well as a member of Green Templeton College. His research interests include histories of protest and dissent in Zimbabwe as well as political histories of African cinema. He focuses on Southern Africa, specifically Zimbabwe, but has a wider interest in Anglophone Africa, specifically Ghana. He is the author of Zimbabwe’s Student Activists: An oral history from Colonial Rule to the Coup (Cambridge University Press), and has published in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, the Journal of African History, the Journal of Southern African Studies, and Oxford University Press’s Handbook on Zimbabwean Politics among others. His current project, Visions of Life is a film-project that explores the political aims of the continent’s first generation of film-makers.

The New International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa

Popular uprisings have transformed domestic politics across the Middle East and North Africa since 2011. No less important have been changes in relations among the countries of the region, along with the rise of disruptive transnational movements and the restructuring of regional organisations. This course explores current trends in international politics in this part of the world, including:

  • the post-uprising Middle Eastern states system
  • popular revolts and inter-state conflict
  • explaining the Iranian-Saudi cold war
  • roreign intervention in the Yemeni civil war
  • conflict in the Nile Basin

Tutor: Fred Lawson is Professor of Government Emeritus at Mills College, USA, Visiting Professor of International Relations at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, and a Visiting Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford. He was Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aleppo, Syria, in 1992-93, and Fulbright Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Aden, Yemen in 2001. His publications include: Global Security Watch Syria (Praeger, 2013); Constructing International Relations in the Arab World (Stanford University Press, 2006); Why Syria Goes to War (Cornell University Press, 1996); and Bahrain: The Modernization of Autocracy (Westview Press, 1989). He is past president of both the Syrian Studies Association and the Society for Gulf Arab Studies.

The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America

Human rights are a salient social, political, legal, and cultural issue in Latin America as well as the rest of the globe. This course explores key themes in human rights, using case studies from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. After an initial introduction to human rights, two seminars focus on the challenges of accountability for past human rights violations in transitions from dictatorship and conflict, while the remaining two sessions address novel human rights challenges across this region. The topics covered include:

  • how to respond to past atrocities: amnesty, trials, or truth commissions?
  • achieving peace and justice after war
  • violent democracies: the militarisation of public security and gender-based violence
  • socio-economic and cultural rights: threats to indigenous communities and the environment

Tutor: Francesca Lessa is Departmental Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Development at the Latin American Centre, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and the Oxford Department of International Development, at Oxford University. She is also Academic Affiliate at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and a Senior Member and College Advisor at St Antony's College, Oxford. She completed her PhD in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2010. Her publications include Memory and Transitional Justice in Argentina and Uruguay: Against Impunity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Amnesty in the Age of Human Rights Accountability: Comparative and International Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2012), the latter co-edited with Leigh Payne. Her articles have been published in Human Rights Quarterly, International Journal of Transitional Justice, Journal of Human Rights Practice, International Journal of Conflict and Violence, Latin American Research Review and Journal of Latin American Studies.

The Politics of the Chinese Party-State

This course explores the anatomy of the Chinese Party-state. It considers both the written and unwritten rules of governance in China. It explores the dynamics of contemporary Chinese politics including recent developments in Hong Kong. It will focus on questions such as:

  • what is China’s unwritten constitution?
  • does the Communist Party govern through the state, alongside it, or instead of it? 
  • what are the prospects for social and economic reform?
  • will China grow into its foreign policy aspirations, including the Belt and Road Initiative?

Tutor: Ewan Smith is a Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford, and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and an associate at the Oxford University China Centre. He read law at Brasenose College, Oxford (BA, DPhil), and at Harvard Law School (LLM). He has previously worked at SOAS, and at Peking, Tsinghua and Renmin Universities in China. He is admitted to practice in New York, where he worked for Debevoise and Plimpton LLP. Before returning to Oxford, he spent ten years at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His work explores how rules govern powerful institutions in China, with a focus on foreign affairs and comparative public law. This research has been published in journals such as the Law Quarterly Review, the China Journal and the Asian Journal of Comparative Law.

Power, Resources and Political Identity in Russia and the Former Soviet Union

The fifteen post-Soviet states that emerged from the collapse of communism faced similar challenges in 1991. Yet, their political trajectories have differed significantly over the last quarter of a century. This course explores the reasons for this variation in post-communist political development. Focusing on the non-EU states of the former Soviet Union – Russia and the Eastern European (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine), Central Asian and Caucasus states - it will explore topics such as:

  • the collapse of communism and its legacies
  • economic interests and resources
  • regimes, presidents and party rule
  • nationalism and ethnic conflict
  • geopolitical influences

Tutor: Paul Chaisty is Professor of Russian and East European Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford, and Director of the Oxford University International Politics Summer School. His publications include Legislative Politics and Economic Power in Russia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective: Minority Executives in Multiparty Systems (with Nic Cheeseman and Timothy Power; Oxford University Press, 2018); and articles in journals such as Electoral Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, European Journal of Political Research, Government and Opposition, The Journal of Legislative Studies, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies and Post-Soviet Affairs.


All students who complete the programme will receive an attendance certificate.


Description Costs
Programme fee £800.00


Invoicing and payment

Successful applicants who accept their offer of a place on the summer school will be invoiced for the programme fee once they have been formally enrolled on the programme.

Invoices will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment. Fees may be paid online with a credit or debit card, or by bank transfer.

Students are required to pay the full fee within 30 days of the date on which their invoice was issued.

PLEASE NOTE: Successful late applicants (ie those who apply between 16 June and 9 July 2021) who accept their offer of a place on the summer school are required to pay the full fee by 23 July 2021.

Please note that:

  • students need to take out insurance to cover the programme fee  (see "Cancellations", below);
  • a student's place on the summer school is not confirmed until their fees have been paid in full;
  • places will not be held for students whose fees are not paid in full by the due date; and
  • in no circumstances will students be admitted to the summer school unless all fees have been paid in full.

When you have paid your fees

Your place on the summer school is confirmed as soon as your payment is received by OUDCE.

You will receive a receipt for your payment: an automated email from if paid online, or via email from if paid by bank transfer.


All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Short Selective Course Terms and Conditions.

A contract between OUDCE and a student comes into being when a student accepts an offer of a place on the summer school.

You have the right to cancel this contract at any time within 14 days, beginning on the day you accepted the offer.

Please be aware that if you cancel your place at any time after the expiry of the 14-day period you will not be entitled to a refund of the price paid for the summer school.

If you wish to cancel your place on the summer school you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at

You need to take out insurance to cover the programme fee, and you should consult your insurer for information and advice. OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover.

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a course or seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 15 June 2021. If it is likely that individual seminars or the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days, and possible options clearly explained.

If you have not heard from OUDCE by 22 June 2021, you should assume that the course and your seminar will be running; there is no need to contact us to confirm.

Teaching methods

Students will:

  • participate in seminars in their region of interest - elements of seminar teaching will normally include tutor-led discussions and student presentations based on set readings and recorded lectures;
  • attend a lecture programme focusing on all regions covered by the summer school, and participate in discussion groups.

Assessment methods

There is no formal assessment.


Before you submit your application

  • ensure you meet the admissions requirements (see "Selection criteria", below);
  • make sure you have all the required supporting documents listed below; and
  • ensure you are familiar with the terms and conditions of enrolment on the summer school, especially those relating to payment of fees and cancellations (see "Payment", above).

The application process

Download, print and complete the application form.

Please ensure all sections are completed fully, clearly, and in BLOCK CAPITALS.

The form must be accompanied by:

  • a brief statement of purpose detailing your academic reasons for wishing to attend the summer school. This should include what you hope to get out of the programme, and what you are likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the summer school. This may include details of politics, international relations or political science courses you have previously taken, or the relevance of the summer school to your present course of study or professional development.

Applications should be emailed to:

After you have submitted your application

You will receive an email from confirming receipt of your application materials, and informing you when your application will be reviewed by the Programme Director.

Application deadline

Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served or rolling basis until 15 June 2021.

There is a limited number of places available on every seminar, and in assigning successful applicants to classes the Programme Director will pay particular attention to applicants' personal statements.

PLEASE NOTE: Subject to availability, late applications for the Africa and Russia seminars will be accepted until 9 July 2021.

Notification of the Programme Director's decision

Applicants will normally be notified of the Programme Director's decision by email from within 14 days of their application having been received.

Applicants who are offered a place on the summer school must respond in writing within 14 days to accept or decline their offer. In accepting an offer of a place applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by the due date.

PLEASE NOTE: Late applicants (ie those who apply between 16 June to 9 July 2021) will be notified of the Programme Director's decision within one working day of their application having been received. Successful applicants must respond in writing by 15 July 2021 to accept or decline their offer. In accepting an offer of a place late applicants are committing to paying their programme fees in full by 23 July 2021.


Students will be formally enrolled on the summer school once they have accepted their offer of a place.

The enrolment process includes the issuing of invoices, which will be emailed to students together with full instructions for payment (see "Payment", above).

Any queries?

Please contact the Programme Administrator by email at

Level and demands

All participants are expected to

  • undertake preparatory and on-course reading;
  • be actively engaged with their seminar topic; and
  • attend all seminar meetings, lectures, and discussion group sessions.

Disabled students

The aim of Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) is to treat all students equally and welcomes applications from people with disabilities. Individuals' needs are taken into account as far as possible, providing reasonable adaptations and assistance within the resources available. We ask that people let us know of any disability or special need (confidentially if required) so that we can help them participate as fully as possible.

Selection criteria

This is an intensive programme of study taught to an informed international audience.

Applicants should be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

Academic requirements

Applications are welcomed from:

  • graduates with a subject-appropriate academic background - this could include students who are currently engaged in postgraduate study, or former students who wish to refresh and update their knowledge of international affairs;
  • teachers of politics, history, law, international relations or related social science courses in schools and colleges;
  • professionals in governmental or non-governmental organisations (current or retired) who have experience of international politics and related fields; and
  • senior undergraduates who have completed at least two years of a full-time university degree programme in politics, history, law, international relations or related social science subjects.

English language requirements

As students are expected to participate fully in seminar discussions it is important that applicants can demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency in the four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.

IT requirements

The live sessions will be delivered either using Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

This programme is delivered online. To participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.