Politics, Law & International Relations in Europe

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are at the core values of the European Union (EU). No other region has displayed similar willingness to give up important parts of national sovereignty in pursuit of peace and stability, and economic and social justice. Yet in the wake of the European debt crisis and the rise of Euro-scepticism, the future of the EU is far from certain. International relations and human rights issues are fundamental to current challenges facing the Union, as exemplified by the EU’s ongoing refugee crisis. In a world of converging cultures and different political and legal systems, Politics, Law & International Relations in Europe students explore how policy-makers negotiate between member states with a wide range of different nationalities, languages and agendas.

Why this programme?

The Netherlands holds an unparalleled position in the international legal universe and is at the forefront of civil liberties and human rights. Picture-perfect Maastricht is uniquely suited to study Politics, Law & International Relations in Europe, with its famous treaty establishing the European Union in 1992. The city is a stone’s throw away from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the ‘legal capital of the world’, as well as institutions such as the European Parliament in Brussels, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. At these institutions you can examine national agendas, opposition to political union and the roles of international actors such as NATO and the UN. The Politics, Law & International Relations in Europe programme offers students a greater understanding of the contemporary European political and legal issues.

At CES we have a small team of young-hearted, dedicated people ready to help you, so you can focus on the things that really matter during your stay abroad. 
More information about CES services

Classes with a distinct European focus

Students in the Politics, Law & International Relations in Europe programme are directly enrolled at Maastricht University and able to take classes at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - awarded the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for outstanding education and research on European integration - and the internationally renowned European Law School, as well as the Center for European Studies (CES). Courses can also be taken at the highly selective liberal arts and sciences programme at University College Maastricht.

Programme dates:

Integrated study trips
The two-week introduction offers a variety of academic and social activities and the European study trip. The introduction includes CES services (such as airport pick up and phone rental), a tour of Maastricht and the surrounding area, Maastricht University orientation, a Problem-Based Learning workshop, Intercultural Communication seminar and integration into Dutch student life.

The programme has integrated cultural and study trips. The programme begins with the five-day European Study Trip to Berlin which provides a vivid European context for the central programme theme. 

We also include two cultural weekend trips: 
‘If it Ain’t Dutch it Ain’t Much’; where students explore their choice of political or cultural highlights in The Hague, take a stroll through Dutch culture at the open air museum Zaanse Schans and bond with the group over the creation of their very own Delft blue tile.
‘A Taste of Paris’; where students will explore the city of light, indulge in the cuisine, experience the rich architectural and artistic beauty, and taste of one of the plethora of cultures which exist across Europe.


Maastricht University uses the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) to measure academic progress. Maastricht University courses typically have between 5-12 ECTS. How ECTS transfer depends on a student’s home university or college. Generally a 5-6.5 ECTS course is the equivalent of a full semester course (3 American credit hours).

You can earn a minimum of 24 and maximum of 32 ECTS per semester at CES. This is considered a full semester workload and usually transfers back as 15 American credit hours. CES advisors help students select classes to meet the requirements of their home university.

High academic standard

CES programmes are designed for enthusiastic and intellectually curious students dedicated to expanding their academic horizons while abroad. To ensure that students do well, CES offers extensive academic advising, workshops and regular monitoring. Maastricht University uses Problem-Based Learning (PBL), a student-centered teaching approach. Small groups of students (12-15) work on academic or practical cases prepared by their professors. Faculty act as guides to students who are in charge of their own learning and are expected to be committed, active and self-motivated.


During a regular course (5-6.5 ECTS), students spend an average of 4-6 hours in class per week. For every hour in class students are expected to spend an additional 2-3 hours on study. The total workload for two regular courses or one intensive course is around 40 hours per week.

Admission requirements

Acceptance to the open enrolment programmes is competitive and early application is recommended. While most students participating in our open enrolment programmes are undergraduates at the junior or senior level, applications by motivated students at the sophomore and/or freshman level with a good GPA will be considered too.

You should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to apply for a CES open enrolment programme. If you have a lower GPA you can request to be considered if you can show a recommendation from a professor or academic advisor at your home university or college with specific details about your academic development so far.

Applicants must be proficient in English. Non-native speakers are required to demonstrate proof of English language proficiency.

Students with an International Baccalaureate or European Baccalaureate diploma are exempted, as are EU-nationals. International students who are enrolled as fulltime students at university or college in a native-speaking country where English is the language of instruction are also exempted.

All other prospective students must present a current TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Testing System), score before they can be admitted.

Your TOEFL test score has to be at least:

  • 575 points (paper-based version)
  • 230 points (computer-based version)
  • 90 (internet-based version)

Your IELTS test score must be at least 6.5.

Admission & registration

Application procedure

Complete and submit the online application form and send all additional information mentioned below via email / regular mail to your coordinator. Your CES coordinators will contact you within a week after receiving your application and additional information to assist you in the registration process and the preparations for your stay in Maastricht.

Additional required information

  • Official transcript
  • Letter of recommendation from teacher or study abroad advisor
  • Motivation letter
  • 1 Colour passport picture (digital, in jpeg format)
  • Scan or a clear copy of your passport (information page with photo and any other pages with stamps etc)

Regarding the criteria for the motivation letter, CES staff are interested in what inspires a student to apply. Why are they drawn to this programme, to Maastricht University or to Europe? Students may want to highlight academics and certain courses, the culture, history or personal goals. The motivation letter should be 1-2 pages in length.

An academic letter of recommendation is a 1 page letter (approximately) that highlights a student's academic background, character, academic or career goals and other related interests or achievements. The letter expands upon a student's record or transcript, providing insight into what kind of student they are and their suitability for the programme. It should be written by a professor, academic or study abroad advisor.

Please note that once your course list is finalised you will receive a course approval form which you will need to fill in with the help of your home institution.

Application deadlines

  • Fall 2019                1 April 2019
  • Spring 2020           1 October 2019 

CES cancellation policy

The Center for European Studies incurs costs for each student we register. CES applies the following cancellation regulations:

  • If a student withdraws 8 weeks or more before the start of the programme, no costs will be charged with the exception of any non-refundable visa fees, where applicable
  • If a student withdraws between 8 and 4 weeks before the start/arrival day of the programme, CES will charge 5% of the tuition fee and any non-refundable visa fees, where applicable
  • If a student withdraws between 4 weeks and the start/arrival day of the programme, CES will charge 10% of the tuition fee and any non-refundable visa fees, where applicable

Exceptions to the above-mentioned cancellation regulations will be reviewed by CES on a case-by-case basis.


Laura Marley

International relations officer
Monday - Thursday part-time

+ 31 43 388 5283