University of Iceland

Welcome to the Faculty of Political Science

We offer undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies in Political Science and Gender Studies

Political Science

Small-State Studies

Small-State Studies

Small State Studies: Small States and European Integration

The Faculty of Political Science and the Centre for Small States at the University of Iceland offer a graduate diploma (30 ECTS) in Small-State Studies with a special focus on small states in Europe.

The diploma is open to all students who have completed their undergraduate studies



Aim of the diploma: The diploma offers a detailed study of small state theories based on the literature on the state and the international system. It also emphasizes the opportunities and constraints facing small states in Europe, i.e. how they are affected by and have responded to the process of European integration, new security threats, globalization and other domestic and international challenges.
Special attention is devoted to the Nordic states and their reactions to European integration. Another particular focus will be on Iceland's position - as a small state - in the international system. A detailed study of small states in Europe and internationally has never been so important. A vast majority of member states in today's European Union are most often categorised as small states, i.e. 22 states out of 28 members - and the same applies to a majority of member states of the United Nations.

Learning outcome: At the end of the diploma students should have a solid knowledge of the position of small European states in the international system and in the context of ongoing European integration; a clear picture of the opportunities and constraints which small states face both domestically and internationally; and an understanding of how the European small states have responded to international challenges.

Why Reykjavik? The Centre of Small States at the University of Iceland has already established itself as one of the main institutes in research and teaching on small states. The Centre can draw upon a network of academics from all over the globe studying in this field. The Centre has, in cooperation with six European universities, held an annual Summer School on Small States in Europe - funded by ERASMUS+ - since 2003. It has published a number of books and papers on small states and held conferences and seminars in Iceland and abroad.

The director of the programme is Dr. Baldur Thorhallsson, Jean Monnet Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Centre for Small States, a leading expert in the field of small-state studies and European integration.

Programme Structure

The diploma consists of four courses in the autumn semester, starting in the beginning of September and running to mid December: All courses are taught in English.


STJ301M Small States Theory: Opportunities and Constraints of Small States in the International System (6 ECTS)
by Jean Monnet Professor Baldur Thorhallsson

ASK101F European Security Institutions and Small States (6 ECTS)
by Jóhanna María Þórdísardóttir

STJ303M The Power Potential of Small States in the European Union (8 ECTS)
by Jean Monnet Professor Baldur Thorhallsson

STJ312M Term Paper in Small States Studies (4 ECTS)

Restricted electives:

ASK113F Small States and Arctic Governance (6 ECTS). Lecturer: Associate professor Page Louise Wilson


STJ405M Small States in Europe: Towards a cross-disciplinary approach (8 ECTS)
Two -week Summer School hosted by the Centre for Small State in Reykjavik - taught by leading experts in the field of small states from Europe and the United States.

Students apply specifically for the diploma at the University of Iceland, or take the courses as part of their ‘semester abroad’, as exchange students.

Students can also take individual courses from within the diploma programme, and gain the credits for these courses, without necessarily having to complete the full programme.

Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership

The course “Small States in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges” is now offered for students in Small state studies. The course was developed through an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project led by the Centre for Small State Studies at the University of Iceland with partners from five other European universities: University of Copenhagen, Tallinn University of Technology, Vilnius University, University of St. Andrews and the University of Malta. This course gives students access to online teaching material that they in turn use to work on individual assignments in small state studies. 

Application deadlines:

Please contact for further information on the diploma programme.

Institute of International Affairs - Centre for Small States Studies

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