Political Psychology of International Relations MSc

Course details: Details | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

Our MSc degree is designed for students interested in pursuing studies in this exciting new field at the intersection of political psychology and international relations.  Students follow a unique and highly specialised module pathway which offers research-led interdisciplinary training in the theory and practice of international political psychology. The programme has been designed to provide a uniquely tailored experience to students keen to explore this innovative new field.

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.


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Course details: Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

Our MSc degree aims to equip students with the tools to address the complex psychological mechanisms which influence political decision and action. It examines processes at the individual, group, mass, and state levels, and engages with theoretical and empirical analyses. It uses timely issues and puzzles in international politics and highlights the role of political psychology in explaining, describing, and predicting their origins and outcomes.

You will gain a multidisciplinary understanding of the psychological underpinning of International Relations, alongside structured training in Research Methods.

Topics and issues examined include:

  • Emotions in crises and conflicts
  • The psychology of radicalization, terrorism, and political violence
  • Identities of religion, gender, and nationalism
  • Trust and empathy in International Relations
  • Interpersonal dynamics in face-to-face diplomacy

Our MSc degree has one more distinctive feature: it is offered by the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS), a world-leading interdisciplinary research centre, in partnership with the Department of Political Science and International Studies. Our MSc students can also become members of the four ICCS Research Working Groups: Trust; Political Settlements; International Political Psychology; Unmanned and Remote-Piloted Systems.

Who is the programme for?

Our MSc degree is designed for individuals interested in pursuing studies and careers in this innovative new field at the intersection of political psychology and international relations.  Undergraduate-level qualification in IR and/or Security or experience in a cognate discipline (politics, psychology, sociology, history, geography) is desirable but not essential. We welcome all students who share our strong motivation to engage in the multidisciplinary study and practice of global political psychology.

You might also be interested in one of our other MSc programmes Global Cooperation and Security

Modules

This degree comprises the following modules:

Compulsory core modules:

Dissertation MSc students to submit a 13,500 word dissertation (not applicable to Diploma Students)
60 credits

Political Psychology of Conflict and Cooperation (20 credits)
This fascinating module engages students in theoretical and empirical applications of political psychology that address stimulating debates in International Relations. With a particular focus on processes of conflict and cooperation at the international level, this module cements your interdisciplinary training and provides you with an overview of fascinating puzzles and central debates in political psychology. This includes the psychological processes of decision making for political actors, elites, social groups, and mass publics in environments that generate conflict and cooperation. We will also examine the role of emotions in crises, identities of religion, nationalism and gender, and the psychological processes behind extreme politics like radicalization, terrorism and political violence. While the course is grounded in political psychology and IR, we also draw on insights from political communication, sociology, and social neuroscience. As part of this module we engage in the design and implementation of a political psychology research project

Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (20 credits)
In this cutting-edge module, our students develop an informed appreciation of how fear, cooperation and trust shape the contours of world politics. The module explores the obstacles to building cooperation and trust, using a series of case studies. It also investigates whether these obstacles can be overcome through institutions, norms, and personal diplomacy between leaders. A key focus of the module is to introduce students to trust-building strategies and techniques, including the potential for face-to-face diplomacy to build trust and transform conflicts. The module is taught through interactive role-play scenarios in which students take on the role of policy advisors and diplomats in crisis and multilateral negotiation situations (for example, the Cuban Missile Crisis, US-China relations, nuclear non-proliferation, and global climate change).

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods (20 credits)
This module introduces students to the principles and practice of data collection, collation and analysis. Teaching and learning exercises demonstrate the value of research skills in relation to both textual and numeric data. The module develops understanding of different stages of the research process. The importance of ethical practice in research development, collection, collation, analysis and dissemination is stressed throughout.

On completion of the module, students are expected to be able to:

  • Recognise the potential contribution of a range of collection and analysis methods and identify which are best suited to address specific research aims/ questions
  • Understand the impact of the social context in which research takes place
  • Identify and negotiate with research stakeholders
  • Have knowledge of how to operationalise concepts in actual research
  • Understand the development of research questions and selection of appropriate sampling, data collection and analysis methods, in terms of exploratory research
  • Design and carry out a variety of data collection strategies e.g. questionnaire surveys, structured interviews, open or semi-structured interviews
  • Appropriately apply descriptive statistical methods to their research questions and know how to develop primary themes in qualitative analysis
  • Understand practical issues in the field, including ethical conduct

Foundations in Qualitative Research (20 credits)
The module builds on Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods as students progress to a deeper level of understanding of social research in practice. Two large-scale studies (research materials, datasets) are employed to build research skills.

Secondary research skills (using textual and numeric data) are explicitly explored as a base from which to conduct informed and appropriate data handling/analysis. An introduction to multivariate analysis will be provided, up to the level of multiple regression and analysis of variance. Techniques for analysing textual data will also be covered.

On completion of the module, students are expected to be able to:

  • Understand large-scale data collection, data management skills, data preparation, variable coding and recoding, and transcription techniques
  • Assess research approaches used to generate large scale datasets
  • Understand the construction of numeric and textual data in social research practice
  • Recognise the importance of a range of data collection and analysis methods and identify which are best suited to address specific research questions or hypotheses
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the role of data analysis in social research
  • Know how to generate, extract and interpret data
  • Understand the role of inferential statistics
  • Appropriately apply statistical methods to their research questions
  • Develop thematic or narrative accounts by analysing textual data
  • Report and present research with close reference to theoretical frameworks
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the role of reflexivity across the research process

Optional Modules

You can choose an additional 40 credits from specialist pathways in the Political Science and International Studies department (POLSIS) and the International Development Department (IDD). Options include:


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 2018-19
  Full time Part time
Home/EU students £9,000 £4,500
Overseas students £17,010  -

Please check with the Institute 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 £10,280. 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 MSc programme you require a good Honours degree or its equivalent. For those whose first language is not English, an IELTS Certificate is required. Entry at Graduate Diploma level is possible for those with a reasonable first degree. Graduate Diploma students can upgrade to the Msc on satisfactory examination performance.

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

International students requiring visas
Monday 2 July 2018 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2018 made after this date. A a new application should be made for September 2019. Applications will reopen for 2019 entry by 21 September 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.

Facilities

Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.

Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.

The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for postgraduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.

Our MSc students pursue exciting and stimulating career opportunities with a range of organisations including government agencies, international organisations, the armed forces, NGOs, think-tanks, the media, the political world, and multinational corporations. Our excellent academic training is complemented by networking opportunities and voluntary work placements. Our four research-focused working groups invite applications throughout the year in the following areas:

In addition, the Careers Network provides a valuable source of information on employment opportunities, internships, and funding.

The School offers a number of opportunities for learning enhancement throughout the year, including Model NATO, which sends a student delegation each February to participate in a role play exercise of decision making in NATO. Students are also encouraged to attend the regular seminars offered by ICCS, POLSIS and IDD to complement and broaden their studies.

Student Enhancement Fund

The Student Enhancement Fund allows students to take greater control of their own personal development, encouraging creative thinking about enhancement opportunities and providing tailored experiences for individuals or groups of students with specific interests and career ambitions. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for up to £100 (individuals) or £300 (groups).