Courses, Immersion and Mentoring

Study Plan



The courses are taught by faculty members (professors and lecturers) and integrate at least two disciplinary approaches from the five represented at the Graduate Institute (anthropology and sociologyeconomicshistorylaw, international relations/political science).

Dedicated tutors offer assistance and guidance to students, both to help them get the most out of their courses and to facilitate the transition to their new study environment.


Curriculum (30 ECTS)


The curriculum (30 ECTS) is composed of:


Two substantive courses
(2 class hours/week run over 14 weeks, 12 ECTS)


Spring semester 2020

1. The Role of Law in International Relations, Professor Andrea Bianchi, International Law

International law is a discursive practice used in international relations to deal with legal claims. It is best conceived as a language used by a group of people interacting in a social practice. This basic international law course is designed to acquaint students with the main concepts and principles of contemporary public international law. It will cover, among others: the nature and function of international law; customary international law; treaties; general principles of law and soft law; the role of States, international organisations, NGOs and individuals in the international legal system; jurisdiction of States to prescribe and enforce law; foreign sovereign immunity and diplomatic immunities before municipal courts; obligations of States under international human rights law; use of force and the UN collective security system. The course will also consider the relationship between international law and municipal legal systems, as well as international law enforcement mechanisms. Particular emphasis will be placed on discussing actual cases with a view to ascertaining how the main actors of international law behave. Ultimately, the goal is to train students to speak competently the language of international law and to teach them how to argue and interact in the different professional settings where the language of international law is spoken. 

2. United Nations: A Global History, Professor Jussi Hanhimäki, International History

Why was the UN founded? How has it changed over the course of its 75-year history? Where might it be heading?  By analysing the evolution of the United Nations’ role in global affairs, this course aims to find answers to these broad questions.  It surveys the historical and political contexts that shaped the birth, behaviour and performance of international organisations in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the transformation of the League of Nations into the United Nations;  the impact of the Cold War and decolonisation on the UN’s goals and effectiveness; and the changing role of the UN in the post-Cold War era. We will examine the functions of the different parts of the UN system and analyse the evolution of UN policies and practices against the patterns of change and continuity in international affairs.




Two courses at the MA-level
2 class hours/week per course run over 14 weeks, 6 ECTS/course

Choose two courses from a large range of themes (international law, political science, international economics, history of international relations, anthropology and sociology of development). Check out the course catalogue (some courses are subject to prerequisites)

Examples of master courses chosen by our students:

Autumn Semester

  • HI057 - Peripheral Visions: The Birth and Evolution of Japanese Imperialism (1850-1937)
  • DI107 - Transnational Legal Processes
  • MINT054 - Migration and Development
  • RI-SP075 - Political Economy of Contemporary China
  • DE133 - Poverty and Inequality

Spring Semester

  • DE136 - Migration Governance in Times of Crisis: the UN and EU Compared
  • MINT102 - Histories of Truth, Facts and Uncertainty
  • MINT038 - International Environmental Institutions


French Language Course * (from beginner to intermediate levels)
(2 hours/week run over 14 weeks, 6 ECTS) 

*Alternatively, students with an advanced level of French can take an additional course in another discipline.


Visits to International Organisations as well as discussions with their representatives
(workshop series)


This workshop series features speakers from the United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, UN High Commission for Refugees, International Committee of the Red Cross, US Mission in Geneva, Doctors without Borders, etc., to discuss current issues and present organisational challenges, including professional trajectories.

Supervision, Coordination and resources

An experienced team of academic and administrative staff supervise the programme and provide students will full support. In addition, advanced PhD students are also available to assist students on a daily basis.

Students benefit from multiple resources at the Institute, including various conferences and events taking place on campus. 

Immersion and Mentoring

Experience the world of international affairs in Geneva through our unique immersion programme, which combines visits of several international organisations and discussions with high-level practitioners in small groups.


MENTOR: Elisabeth Schubiger 

PhD, Anthropology and Sociology
Spring 2020 Semester Mentor


After earning her professional diploma in Dressmaking, Fashion & Design, Elisabeth decided to work for a small NGO in a Vocational Training Centre for women in Haiti. During her two years there, she not only developed a new curricula, but she also managed a small production unit. Inspired by her work in Haiti and motivated by a curiosity for the world of development, she began her studies in Social Anthropology at University of Bern. There she assisted in various courses and research projects. During her studies, Elisabeth’s field of interest was large-scale land acquisition in Western Kenya. Later, as research assistant at the HEP Fribourg, she researched international education. In 2016 she earned her Master's in Social Anthropology and Art History. Thereafter, she worked on organizational development and knowledge management at a partner organisation of the Swiss NGO, Comundo, in Kenya. Since the summer of 2019, Elisabeth has worked at the Graduate Institute, conducting research for the SALMEAproject as a PhD candidate. She also works on self-accomplishment and local moralities in Turkana, Kenya.   


Sample immersion and mentoring programme 



  • Activity: Discussion about working with UNHCR, focusing on the Rohingya crisis

  • Speaker: Deputy Director Division of Programme Support and Management

World Health Organisation

  • Activity: Discussion about the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

  • Speaker: Senior Advisor Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children

World Trade Organisation

  • Activity: Discussion about the work at WTO, followed by Q&A session

  • Speaker: Dispute Settlement Lawyer

World Economic Forum

  • Activity: Discussion about the work at WEF, followed by Q&A session

  • Speaker: Delegates from WEF

Bank for International Settlement

  • Activity: Presentation of the activities of the Bank for International Settlements

  • Speaker: Administrators from the Bank

ICRC Museum

  • Activity: Visit permanent and temporary exhibitions