BA International Relations and Development

Start date
3 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours

For 2020/21:
£9,250 (Home/EU students)
£18,120 (International Students)
More Fees and funding details.

This programme explores some of the world’s most pressing development challenges, from poverty and inequality, to migration, conflict and climate change.

In our increasingly globalised world, these problems are growing in complexity and significance. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to tackle these challenges by 2030, but this will require global effort, co-ordination and vision. 

On the BA International Relations and Development programme you will apply an international relations lens to understanding and addressing the challenge of global development and learn how development is affected by relations between states, in theory and in practice. You will explore theories of economic and social development, from colonialism to dependency, and develop core disciplinary skills in international relations and international political economy. You will apply these theories to a variety of examples of development and change from across the world, and critically examine different forms of development assistance, from aid to trade relations. 

You will explore the implications of international relations for poverty, conflict and inequality through a range of case studies and practical exercises. The BA International Relations and Development programme uses real-world puzzles to bring to life the complex challenges of doing development in practice. It includes a specially designed Working in Development module, which will provide hands-on experience of common tools used in development projects and programmes.

The International Relations and Development programme aims to bridge the gap between your academic study and future professional life by ensuring you can apply theory to practice, and providing you with real world insights. You will have the opportunity to undertake a study visit to a low- or middle-income country, allowing you to meet a range of actors working in a development context. You will also have an opportunity to undertake a work placement through our integrated Professional Development Module. This aims to help you to identify your personal and professional strengths, and reflect on the skills you may need to prepare you for the world of work. 

The programme is co-delivered with the Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) department.


Year one

Compulsory modules

  • Politics of Development
  • Global development challenges I/II
  • Understanding International Relations
  • Pathways to International Relations Research 1 and 2
  • Global History
  • Introduction to International Development

Year two

Compulsory modules

  • Understanding development assistance
  • Working in development
  • International relations theory

Optional modules

Three second-year optional modules from IDD and POLSIS

  • Economic perspectives on development (IDD)
  • Governing states and societies (IDD)
Optional POLSIS modules in the second year
 Public Choice Theory  International Political Economy  Diplomatic History post 1945
 British Politics  International Relations Theory  International Security
 International Politics & Security in Russia & Eurasia  Modern Political Thought  Analysing Political Worlds
  International Relations of the Middle East  Feminist Political Ideas  Comparative Politics
 Elections and Voting in Britain  America and the Middle East through Politics and Film  Understanding Foreign Policy

Final year

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation

Optional modules

Four final-year modules from below. A 50/50 split of credits between IDD and POLSIS.

  • Development: The environmental challenge (IDD)
  • Identity, inequality and inclusive development (IDD)
  • African politics (IDD)
Optional POLSIS modules in the final year
 Environment, Politics and Society A and B  War-Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South Power in Britain 
 Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy  Contemporary International Political Economy  Topics in British Politics
 Democracy and Democratization in Contemporary Europe  Left Parties and Protest Movements  Gender in World Politics
 Issues in US Domestic Politics  Global Capitalism and Migration  Law, Politics and the International System: Mediating Power beyond the State
 Varieties of Capitalism and Welfare State Models  Russian Foreign Policy  Security in Europe: Actors, Crises and Threats
 Strategy and Decision-Making  Conflict, Statehood and Sovereignty in World Politics  Politics of Migrants, Refugees, and Diasporas in the Middle East
 Politics, Music and the Arts  Global Uprisings: Critique and Radical Politics  New Media, Social Media, and International Politics

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2020. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


For UK students beginning their studies in September 2020, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2020-21
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2020-21
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £18,120


At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards .

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

How To Apply

Apply through the UCAS website using code LL29.

UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

View further advice on 'How to apply for undergraduate courses', including advice for UK, EU and overseas applicants.

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:
not accepted

Typical offer AAB

International students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 32 overall with 6, 6, 5, at higher level

Standard English language requirements apply. For more information, please visit

Other qualifications are considered. For full details, please visit

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered.


International Students

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

You will be taught by world-class academics engaged in cutting-edge research on a range of global challenges and impacting international policies and debates in their field.

The BA International Relations and Development uses an enquiry-based learning approach, designed to develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills essential for working in development.

Assessment Methods

IDD brings its research directly into the classroom. You can expect a range of teaching approaches designed to give you a varied learning experience. We are committed to encouraging an inclusive learning environment, by stimulating discussion and debate inside and outside of class. To ensure you are gaining skills fit for the real world, we use forms of assessment beyond essays and exams, such as blogging, report writing, learning logs, and group and individual presentations.

Through our interactive and student-focused teaching, and innovative approach to learning and assessment, you will develop core skills in:

  • Research
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Time management
  • Global, local and cross-cultural awareness
  • A wide range of communications, from oral, to a variety of written formats (blogs, reports, essays).

A pathway to a career in international development

Globally, a huge range of organisations are working for inclusive development, opening up a variety of opportunities to pursue a career in the sector. This includes international agencies such as the United Nations, national aid agencies like the UK’s Department for International Development, and local civil society organisations operating all over the world.

Our degrees are carefully designed to provide the knowledge and skills these kinds of employers value - from critical thinking and problem-solving, to practical experience of frameworks for designing, monitoring and evaluating development. While our degrees are tailored for a career in development, these skills are also highly transferable to a range of government or non-governmental sectors.