International Relations MA/PGDip

Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

The MA in International Relations explores issues and problems crucial to international politics, which are of international, regional and national import. It promotes the study of those problems through theoretical, ethical and practical inquiry, drawing on the expertise of a large and diverse team of research-active international relations specialists. It is designed for students who are either familiar with the study of international politics at undergraduate level or who are enthusiastic to focus on this area of study at the postgraduate level.

Our students follow a flexible programme with a wide choice of modules. Students take two core modules in International Relations Theory and Dilemmas in International Relations. Together, these core modules provide students with the theoretical and conceptual foundations needed to understand and think about the subject. Students then design the rest of the programme around their own interests by selecting four modules from a wide range of options.  The flexibility of this programme is ideal for those with a broad range of interests in international politics or for those who want to construct a curriculum around a particular area of interest, such as security, diplomacy, international political economy or gender.

As a postgraduate student in POLSIS you will also have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events. You will be welcomed as a member of the international relations and security research group. This group includes members of academic staff and postgraduate research students who meet regularly to discuss their own research, recent publications and to organise research events including inviting visiting speakers. 


We can confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who intend to start their studies in 2018 or 2019 will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time (may be subject to annual increases for inflation) for the duration of their course. The Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan will also be available to eligible EU students for the duration of their course. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Course details: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

The MA in International Relations provides students with a thorough grounding in core issues and dilemmas in world politics the key theoretical debates that have shaped this field of study. The course covers both long establish fields of study such as war, security, foreign policy and diplomacy and new research agendas such as rising powers, global justice, and gender issues.  The core aims are to provide an introduction to International Relations Theory for those students new the subject and to ground theoretical studies in a range of concrete puzzles, problems and dilemmas. Gradually, week by week, we will build to the level of deep knowledge and understanding of this diverse field. A further aim is to prepare you to conduct independent research and analyses of international politics. 

Key issues and questions examined include:

  • What is the nature of international or world order?
  • Which actors have power and how is power exercised?
  • Why are there wars?
  • What is ‘security’ and how can security be achieved at national, regional and international levels?
  • When and how is international cooperation possible?
  • Is there a relationship between democracy and peace?
  • Are human rights universal?
  • Is it possible to realize global justice?
  • What are the legal and political condition for humanitarian intervention and can intervention be justified on ethical grounds?

Who is the programme for?

The degree will be of interest and benefit to those interested in pursuing careers in national and international governmental agencies, in NGOs, journalism, the public sector and education as well as those interested in undertaking doctoral work in international relations. In all cases, students are encouraged to work closely with staff in a supportive and intellectually-committed environment. 

Please note these courses have changed for 2019/20. For students studying in 2018/19 please refer to the Programmes and Modules handbook.

Why study this course

  • Choose from an extensive range of optional modules
  • Study in a supportive environment with research-active specialists in international relations
  • Be a part of the International Relations and Security research group
  • Participate in a range of intellectual and social events alongside your programme

Modules

This degree programme comprises the following modules:

Core modules

Optional modules

Please note these courses have changed for 2019/20. For students studying in 2018/19 please refer to the Programmes and Modules handbook.



The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Masters degree fees 2019-20
  Full time Part time
Home/EU students £9,250  -
Overseas students £17,910  -
Postgraduate diploma fees 2019-20
  Full time Part time
Home/EU students £6,167  -
Overseas students £11,940  -

Please check with the Department for the latest fees information.
Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

The Postgraduate Student Loan has increased its maximum loan amount to £10,609. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page.

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or visit studenthelp.bham.ac.uk 

Scholarships and bursaries in the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS).

Entry requirements

For the MA programme you require a good Honours degree or its equivalent. For those whose first language is not English, an IELTS Certificate is required.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Making your application

Applications will open for 2019 entry on Monday 1st October 2018.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the programme of study we offer, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.

To help you develop the above-mentioned skills, we adopt a range of teaching methods. They may include:

  • Lectures - listening to experts sharing their knowledge and discoveries in challenging and provocative ways. Students are expected to 'read-around' the subject matter of their lectures, adding to their understanding and developing their critical faculties and analytical skills.
  • Seminars - where you present and discuss your ideas and knowledge in smaller groups and debate interpretations and opinions with other students.
  • Tutorials - are your opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor, usually in small groups.
  • Workshops - are problem solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Our lecturers and tutors will ensure you have all the resources you need to make the transition from A levels to the more rigorous demands of a degree.

More about teaching and learning at the University of Birmingham.

Enhancing your student experience

In the School of Government and Society we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.

Some of these are targeted to help you build skills and experience for your CV, others are more open events designed to expose you to high-level speakers on current debates relevant to all Government and Society students.

Read more of our students' experiences and profiles on the school website.

Graduates from the School have gone on to work in a range of careers, with recent graduates working with organisations such as the United Nations, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, local authorities in the UK and overseas and the Department for International Development.

The School takes employability very seriously and as well as linking students to the central careers services, also incorporates opportunities to enhance their employment prospects, including highlighting work experience opportunities, encouraging volunteering in extra-curricular projects (such as student seminars and events) and by inviting backgrounds for students to meet.

Careers Network

The Careers Network provides a dedicated service to help you find work experience or internship opportunities outside of your studies, either part-time during term-time, or over the summer vacation. Right from the start of your degree you will have access to our interactive careers service, through which many regional, national and international employers advertise their vacancies, and your college internship officers will go out and about to find vacancies that will be a useful addition to your CV. 

Find out more about support for work experience and internships, bursaries, or mentoring.