International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology

Gain a true understanding of conflict-related crimes

Crimes against humanity, terrorism and organized crime

How can a child soldier become a torturer? Can the International Criminal Court prosecute terrorists? How does human trafficking in the Sinaï work? In this Master’s programme, you’ll uncover all aspects of crimes related to conflict, focusing on the role of individuals, groups, states and the international community. You’ll delve deep into the psychology of perpetrators, learn about criminological theories on organizational processes, and discuss justice responses at local, national and international level.

International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology

In an ever more complex and globalized world, war, terrorism and criminality are increasingly intertwined. Conflicts lead to looting, killing, recruitment of child soldiers, genocide - and even terrorism. They can also lead to cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, kidnappings and wildlife crimes. International organizations, non-governmental (interest) groups and governments are confronted with questions about how to prevent and respond to these criminal acts, and how to deal with their harmful consequences. But a lack of knowledge means that effective responses often never get off the ground.

This Master’s programme is unique in several ways: literally, in that it’s not offered by any other university in the world. But also in its scope, because you’ll learn to combine insights and methodologies from several different disciplines: criminology, law, psychology, sociology and political science. And finally, our university is close to The Hague – home to the UN’s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court – the legal capital of the world. This programme will truly prepare you for an international career in the field.

Lisa-Claire Hutchinson

Student from Australia

Lisa-Claire_Hutchinson

“International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology combines two of my passions. Prior to taking this programme, I had studied the domestic application of Criminological theory, and my exposure to International Law was confined to its legal context. Exploring the two disciplines together now is such an eye-opener! Reconciling the social science and the legal perspectives challenges students’ assumptions regarding the adequacy of past international criminal outcomes and encourages us think critically and flexibly about how the commission of international crimes might be averted in the future.

International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology is a one-year, full-time programme taught entirely in English. You’ll learn to analyse why people commit crimes in times of conflict (etiology), how to measure and investigate these crimes (prevalence), and how to critique modes of transitional justice (reaction). But the course isn’t just theoretical: you’ll have active discussions about international criminal law, and you’ll get the chance to apply criminological, sociological and psychological theories and methods to real-world case studies.

The ultimate aim of the programme is to understand why and in what contexts criminal acts take place, and what the suitable responses should be. This isn’t just an academic programme – it’s training for your professional career. You’ll have the tools to look at the evidence objectively, get hands-on experience in the field, challenge criminology theories, draft up policies to fight crime, and develop strategies to prevent future crimes.

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Programme
The goals of this Master’s programme are to:

  • Measure and map conflict-related crimes;
  • Define and conceptualize conflict-related crimes;
  • Explore the consequences and measure the costs of conflict-related crimes;
  • Study the causes of conflict-related crimes;
  • Analyse ways to effectively prevent and react to this type of criminality.


The following real-life case studies are covered by the programme:

  • The genocide in Rwanda and the civil war in former Yugoslavia;
  • The history and political context of the ad-hoc tribunals and the International Criminal Court;
  • Case law: command responsibility, superior orders, joint criminal enterprise;
  • Transitional justice processes in Colombia, South Africa, Angola and Afghanistan;
  • The involvement of corporations in human rights violations in the oil and mining industries;
  • Social psychology: Stanford Prison experiment, Milgram;
  • Conflict and terrorism in Syria, Libya and Iraq;
  • Transnational crimes: human trafficking, weapons trade, wildlife crimes;
  • Internal displacement and forced migration.


Schedule and courses
The academic year in the Netherlands runs from September to June, and is divided into a semester system. July and August are holiday months.
The programme consists of three compulsory courses in the first semester, and a choice of several optional courses in the second semester. You’ll conclude the programme with an interdisciplinary Master’s thesis focused on conflict-related crimes.

Here are just three examples of courses offered in the programme:

  • Atrocity Actors: Perpetrators, Bystanders and Victims
    Who are the people involved in atrocities? Why do perpetrators commit crimes like rape, torture and genocide? Why do so few people actively intervene? What are the consequences for victims? The aim of this course is to truly understand the psychology of the actors involved in atrocities.
  • International Criminal Courts and Tribunals
    Learn more about the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Of course, to understand the inner workings of the International Criminal Court, you’ll need to take field trips to The Hague – the legal capital of the world is just a 30-minute train ride from the VU. Guest lectures from criminology experts complete the package.
  • Corporations, Conflict and Crimes
    Understand why and to what extent businesses are involved in gross human rights violations and international crimes. Use insights, knowledge and theories from disciplines such as history, social psychology, organizational sciences, business ethics and political science to complement your criminological approach.


Every April, you have the opportunity to join the ‘Transitional justice in reality’ field trip to Bosnia. See our Facebook group for more details

Programme schedule 2018/2019
Additional course descriptions

All schedules are subject to change.

Title
A Master of Science (MSc) degree is awarded to all students who earn a minimum of 60 credits. Credits are listed according to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), which is based on your workload – including hours spent in class, studying, writing papers and completing assignments. A full academic year is equivalent to 60 EC, one semester to 30 EC.

After graduating, you could look forward to a career in:

  • International criminal courts and tribunals
  • National prosecutions services and police
  • Europol, Eurojust
  • Intergovernmental organisations such as the UN, IOM
  • Human rights organisations
  • Refugee organisations
  • Ministries and think tanks
  • Universities or other research institutes
  • Journalism

Interdisciplinary perspective
The programme uses many different disciplines to approach conflict-related crimes – including insights from criminology, sociology, psychology, international criminal law and political science.

Strong research links to practice and academic research
You’ll visit all the important legal institutions in The Hague, while international experts regularly teach guest lectures and provide research seminars. If your grades are particularly high, you might be invited to take part in the research projects run by researchers at the Faculty's Centre for International Criminal Justice and the selective International Law Clinic course.

International and diverse
We attract and bring together a select group of highly skilled and motivated students from various backgrounds and nationalities. They have one thing in common, though: a deep desire to analyse, understand and help combat international crimes and gross human rights violations. In recent years, lawyers, journalists, criminologists, psychologists, sociologists, historians and many others have taken this programme. We have alumni from across the globe, including Rwanda, Colombia, Afghanistan, Armenia, Sudan, the United States, Canada and the EU. This diversity makes the exchange of knowledge and experiences even more stimulating. VU Amsterdam is the only university in the Netherlands, and one of the few universities in the world, to offer this specialization – giving you truly unique skills and experience to kick off your international career.

Summer School on International Criminal Justice
Is a whole year too long? Many of the questions addressed in the Master’s programme are also covered in the two-week Summer School on International Criminal Justice in Amsterdam. Fields of interest comprise criminology, law, psychology, social sciences and conflict studies.

Overview International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

1 year (full-time)

TUITION FEE

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 April for students from non-EU/EEA countries. 1 June for Dutch students and EU students.

START DATE

1 September

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

FIELD OF INTEREST

Economics, Business and Law
Behavioural and Social Sciences

Study programme details

We regularly recruit interns to help with our academic research in CICJ projects such as ‘When Justice is Done’, ‘Escaping Justice’, and ‘Criminal Careers of Dutch War Criminals’. Students assist in gathering data – for example, through file analysis, discourse analysis or interviews. They then analyse this information and may even have the opportunity to publish in academic journals. We have many professional contacts in the field, and regularly help students to get internships at relevant institutions in or near The Hague. Past students have interned at many institutions, including:

  • International Criminal Court
  • International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
  • United Nations
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Amnesty International
  • Team International Crimes, Netherlands Police
  • Royal Marechaussee
  • Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement
  • Netherlands Institute of International Relations, ‘Clingendael’

Teaching staff of the International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology Master's programme conduct research at the Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ).

CICJ is a university-based organization dedicated to interdisciplinary study, debate and research relating to the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, the crime of aggression and other gross human rights violations. In the search for effective means to study, prevent and react to such violence, the CICJ conducts legal and empirical research projects within an interdisciplinary environment.

As a Master’s student, you will be the first to hear about the outcomes of the research carried out, since the results will be incorporated in your lectures. High performing students are given the opportunity to assist as interns in ongoing research projects.

All the professors and assistant professors who teach the International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology Master's programme are highly qualified and engaged in ongoing research on international crimes. All staff members regularly publish in well-known peer-reviewed academic journals. Workshops and occasional lectures are taught by assistant professors or PHD candidates.

Staff members include:


Each year, several guest lecturers are also invited to teach – either giving a single lecture or a series of lectures in the context of a research seminar or an expert course.

Throughout the year, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in interesting activities, such as guest lectures, excursions or other extracurricular activities like documentary nights and study trips. These activities are organized either by teaching staff or by students who participate in the social committee. For more information, and to get an impression of past activities, visit our Facebook page!

Student experiences

Mohammed_Khatir

“I am from Sudan and I worked for several years for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The programme in International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology gives me the unique opportunity to compare the practical side of the work that I have done for the Red Cross with its theoretical component. The subjects in the programme reflect reality and they give me a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on the field. It requires quite some effort, intellectually as well as emotionally, but it’s so valuable that I can recommend it to anyone."

Mohammed Khater (Sudan), International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology student

Federica D'Alessandra "Before enrolling in the ICCC Master's programme, I had been conducting research on genocide and mass atrocities for four years, including field research in Northern India, the DR Congo, Northern Uganda and Rwanda. The programme constitutes a great opportunity to penetrate the core of international crimes, whether from a victim, perpetrator or bystander’s prospective. Active participation is encouraged, so I organized a guest lecture about the International Community as a Bystander with colleague Dr. Knauss, associate to the Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. The Master's programme gave me the chance to conduct a research parallel to my own, including an independent field trip to Somalia, resulting in an interesting work on transitional justice. The programme also gave me the chance to expand my network and develop important intellectual connection, as well as to meet some of the dearest friends I have today in my life. It is an enriching and unique experience, and I recommend you to take up the challenge."

Federica D'Alessandra (Italy), International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology student

Jelmer Brouwer "What I liked most about the International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology Master’s programme is that the group of students is small but very diverse and that the classes are truly interactive. The study has been demanding but definitely worth the effort, as it provided me with great opportunities outside the classroom as well. I have conducted a six-month internship at the human rights division of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where I was able to see the daily realities and practical aspects of my study. Afterwards I spent several months in Burma and Thailand, where I did research for my Master's thesis on ethnic conflict in Southeast Burma. I interviewed numerous staff members of embassies, NGOs and international organizations and was even able to interview the leader of the ethnic rebel group that my thesis focuses on. Besides that, I visited Burmese refugee camps in Thailand where I spoke with some of the 150.000 people that live there. The internship and fieldwork were the perfect contemplation of the theoretical courses and made the whole experience into the most enriching and educational of my life."

Jelmer Brouwer (The Netherlands), International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology student

Isabella Regan MSc ICCC "During my exchange to Oslo I attended classes in both human rights and international humanitarian law my attention was drawn to International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology (ICCC). ICCC is unique in the Netherlands, not only because of its programme, but also because of the students participating. With different backgrounds like law, sociology, psychology or criminology and coming from different nationalities each student contributes a different vision or context on the subject. Therefore, you learn to not only observe international crimes, but include history and political events in your analysis as well. "

Isabella Regan, International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology student

Former and current students have created a Facebook group and a LinkedIn group for exchanging news, experiences and professional opportunities. Here you can see what students and alumni are up to.

Admission with a Dutch degree

This Master is selective and open to a limited number of students only. The Admission Board selects on merit.

Factors which will be taken into account are:

  • a GPA of at least 3 or an overall grade average of B or 7.3
  • a student's level of interdisciplinarity
  • a student's level of English language proficiency
  • relevant experience (e.g. internship and (voluntary) work)
  • general impression of the candidate based on letter of motivation; letter(s) of recommendation, and proof of academic writing

Applicants must show a special interest in conflict related crimes, political violence, international crimes and/or international criminal justice and support this with documentary evidence.

Applicants with a Bachelor's degree in Law (LLB) can apply.

Applicants with a Bachelor's degree in Criminology, Social Sciences, Political Science or Psychology or any other related subject can apply.

Applicants who do not meet the abovementioned requirements may also apply, their application will be assessed on:

  • talent and motivation
  • proficiency in research methods and techniques

You cannot apply on the basis of an HBO degree alone.

Applicants with a relevant HBO degree and a relevant premaster (in Law, Criminology, Social or Political sciences or Psychology) may apply, their application will be assessed on:

  • talent and motivation
  • proficiency in research methods and techniques

The faculty does not offer a pre-master for the ICC Master.

For this Master’s programme a minimum C1 proficiency in English is required. This requirement is met if no longer than two years before the start of the programme, the applicant has successfully completed one of the following examinations with at least the scores indicated:

  • IELTS: minimum total score ≥ 7.0, minimum score per test section: 6.5
  • TOEFL paper based test: 600 
  • Revised TOEFL PBT: minimum total score 68, minimum score per test section: 22 
  • TOEFL iBT (internet based test): minimum total score ≥ 100, minimum score per test section: 22 
  • Cambridge Advanced English: minimum score B 
  • C2 Proficiency (formerly Cambridge English: Proficiency): minimum score C

Exemption is granted to students who:

  • have completed their secondary education or an academic degree in the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, New Zealand or Australia; or
  • have an English-language ‘international baccalaureate’ diploma.

The proof of English proficiency can be submitted after the application deadline, but must have been received by the faculty before the start of the programme. Without an English proficiency test score which meets the specifications mentioned above or a waiver, you cannot start the programme.

Application is possible from 11 October. The application deadline is:

1 April for students from outside the EU/EAA
1 June for EU/EAA students

Application steps

  1. Register via Studielink.
  2. After registering you will receive log-in details for VUnet.
  3. Upload the following application documents via VUnet (preferably PDF format):
    1. certified transcript in English of grades obtained so far;
    2. curriculum vitae;
    3. letter of motivation, explaining your reasons for wishing to participate in the programme;
    4. proof of academic writing in English:
      • Introduce and answer the following research question (max. 1000 words including references): What are the differences between international crimes and (transnational) organized crime?
      • Upload your proof of academic writing in a Word or PDF document on VUnet as document type thesis;
    5. 2 letters of recommendation from academic referees (if possible including the ranking position of the applicant); we prefer digital copies uploaded in VUnet, but referees may also mail their references directly to admission.law@vu.nl
  4. If applicable to you: send English language requirement test score to admission.law@vu.nl, this may be send at a later stage(see Language requirements for details).
  5. As soon as all required application documents have been received, your dossier is submitted to the Admission board. Please note that your dossier must be complete on the application deadline! Incomplete dossiers cannot be taken into consideration.
    The Admission board may ask for additional information on your academic record if this is deemed necessary to come to a decision.
  6. You receive a decision according to the schedule below.
  7. If you have been admitted: finalize your application

More information on the application process + documents.

You will receive practical information regarding the start of the programme during the summer.

Decision schedule
The Admission board starts reviewing applications and accepting students in January. For applicants with an excellent academic record it may be advantageous to apply early.
The board has monthly application reviews until the end of June. 

As this is an interdisciplinary Master with a limited number of students, the admission board pays special attention to the heterogeneity of the cohort. An overall balance in terms of disciplinary and geographical origins is a specific consideration for selection. In order to achieve this balance, the board can decide to put its decision on a specific application on hold.

Application dossier complete by 31 Decemberdecision in week 7-10 January 2019
Application dossier complete by 31 January decision in 11-15 February
Application dossier complete by 28 February decision in week 11-15 March
Application dossier complete by 31 Marchdecision in week 8-12 April
Application dossier complete by 30 Aprildecision in week 13-17 May
Application dossier complete by 31 Maydecision in week 10-14 June
Application dossier complete by 1 Junedecision in week 8-12 July
Admission / Applicationadmission.law@vu.nl (Rianne van Empelen/Anneke de Laaf)
Details programmecontact@vu.nl
Tuition, Studielink, VUnetStudent Desk
Information days, general questionscontact@vu.nl


Information days
Visit our VU Master's event and get acquainted with our Master's degree programmes. Our students and staff are available to help you with all your questions during the information sessions and at the information market.

Admission with an international degree

This Master is selective and open to a limited number of students only. The Admission Board selects on merit.

Factors which will be taken into account are:

  • a GPA of at least 3 or an overall grade average of B or 7.3
  • a student's level of interdisciplinarity
  • a student's level of English language proficiency
  • relevant experience (e.g. internship and (voluntary) work)
  • general impression of the candidate based on letter of motivation; letter(s) of recommendation, and proof of academic writing

Applicants must show a special interest in conflict related crimes, political violence, international crimes and/or international criminal justice and support this with documentary evidence.

Applicants with a Bachelor's or equivalent degree in Law (LLB) can apply.

Your bachelor education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes. Especially students from non-EU countries should factor in the possibility that a relevant Bachelor’s degree could not be sufficient to enter into this Master of Science programme and their application could result in a rejection.

The faculty does not offer a pre-master for the ICC Master. 

Applicants with a Bachelor's degree in Criminology, Social Sciences, Political Science or Psychology or any other related subject can apply.

Applicants who do not meet the abovementioned requirements may also apply, their application will be assessed on:

  • talent and motivation
  • proficiency in research methods and techniques.

Your previous education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes. Especially students from non-EU countries should factor in the possibility that a relevant Bachelor’s degree could not be sufficient to enter into this Master of Science programme and their application could result in a rejection.

The faculty does not offer a pre-master for the ICC Master.

For this Master’s programme a minimum C1 proficiency in English is required. This requirement is met if no longer than two years before the start of the programme, the applicant has successfully completed one of the following examinations with at least the scores indicated:

  • IELTS: minimum total score ≥ 7.0, minimum score per test section: 6.5
  • TOEFL paper based test: 600 
  • Revised TOEFL PBT: minimum total score 68, minimum score per test section: 22 
  • TOEFL iBT (internet based test): minimum total score ≥ 100, minimum score per test section: 22 
  • Cambridge Advanced English: minimum score B 
  • C2 Proficiency (formerly Cambridge English: Proficiency): minimum score C

Exemption is granted to students who:

  • have completed their secondary education or an academic degree in the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, New Zealand or Australia; or
  • have an English-language ‘international baccalaureate’ diploma.

The proof of English proficiency can be submitted after the application deadline, but must have been received by the faculty before the start of the programme. Without an English proficiency test score which meets the specifications mentioned above or a waiver, you cannot start the programme.

 

Application is possible from 1 October. The application deadline is:

1 February for international students who wish to apply for one of the VU scholarships.
1 April for students from outside the EU/EEA
1 April for EU/EEA students not residing in the Netherlands who wish to apply for housing
1 June for EU/EEA students

Application steps

  1. Register via Studielink.
  2. After registering you will receive log-in details for VUnet.
  3. Upload the following application documents via VUnet (preferably PDF format):
    1. certified copy of academic degree or if not yet graduated: declaration from your home university with an expected graduation date;
    2. certified transcript in English of grades obtained so far;
    3. curriculum vitae;
    4. letter of motivation, explaining your reasons for wishing to participate in the programme;
    5. proof of academic writing in English:
      • Introduce and answer the following research question (max. 1000 words including references): What are the differences between international crimes and (transnational) organized crime?
      • Upload your proof of academic writing in a Word or PDF document on VUnet as document type thesis;
    6. 2 letters of recommendation from academic referees (if possible including the ranking position of the applicant); we prefer digital copies uploaded in VUnet, but referees may also mail their references directly to masters.law@vu.nl
    7. copy of passport and copy of residence permit (if applicable);
  4. If applicable to you: send English language requirement test score to masters.law@vu.nl, this may be send at a later stage(see Language requirements for details).
  5. As soon as all required application documents have been received, your dossier is submitted to the Admission board. Please note that your dossier must be complete on the application deadline! Incomplete dossiers cannot be taken into consideration.
    The Admission board may ask for additional information on your academic record if this is deemed necessary to come to a decision.
  6. You receive a decision according to the schedule below.
  7. If you have been admitted: finalize your application

More information on the application process + documents.

You will receive practical information regarding the start of the programme during the summer.

Decision schedule
The Admission board starts reviewing applications and accepting students in January. For applicants with an excellent academic record it may be advantageous to apply early.
The board has monthly application reviews until the end of June. 

As this is an interdisciplinary Master with a limited number of students, the admission board pays special attention to the heterogeneity of the cohort. An overall balance in terms of disciplinary and geographical origins is a specific consideration for selection. In order to achieve this balance, the board can decide to put its decision on a specific application on hold.

Application dossier complete by 31 Decemberdecision in week 7-10 January 2019
Application dossier complete by 31 January decision in 11-15 February
Application dossier complete by 28 February decision in week 11-15 March
Application dossier complete by 31 Marchdecision in week 8-12 April
Application dossier complete by 30 Aprildecision in week 13-17 May
Application dossier complete by 31 Maydecision in week 10-14 June
Application dossier complete by 1 Junedecision in week 8-12 July
Admission / Application/ International services
masters.law@vu.nl (Laura Smit)
Details programmecontact@vu.nl
Tuition, Studielink, VUnetStudent Desk
Information days, general questionscontact@vu.nl


Information days
Visit our VU Master's event and get acquainted with our Master's degree programmes. Our students and staff are available to help you with all your questions during the information sessions and at the information market.