International Relations - using your degree
A degree from Scotland's first university is an excellent start to any future career. St Andrews has a reputation for excellence and the ability to attract the brightest students world wide. With this as a starting point you are well on the way to impressing future employers.
A degree in International Relations can lead to a wide range of jobs, such as the public services (civil service, local government, public corporations, hospital management, etc), the social services (child care, youth employment, probation, etc), advertising, journalism, radio and television, management traineeships in industry, professions such as accountancy and law (barristers and solicitors alike), banking and insurance, and various research agencies.
With expertise in area studies - including Africa, Europe and the Middle East - foreign policy, international organisations and regimes, peace and conflict studies, political theory, and terrorism and political violence, many graduates are well equipped for jobs in the foreign services and armed services. Careers in international business, as well as the media, research and business would also be a natural progression.
Graduates find employment in many fields. Some put their special skills of political analysis to direct use in the Home and European civil services, political research units, aid agencies and journalism. Others go into industry, commerce, banking and the City. Even here, the global reach of many enterprises provides graduates in International Relations with an opportunity to make their particular education count.
Read the Guardian article entitled Exploring career options for politics graduates.
Student / Alumni Profiles
Students and alumni from the School of International Relations have kindly agreed to share their experiences of work and other career-related activities with you. These profiles illustrate the wide range of careers, internships, volunteering and other work experience opportunities open to students and alumni from your School. Check regularly to see what's new.
Where Our Graduates Go
|Year||Organisation/Company||Position||Int. Relations Required|
|2009||Scottish Parliament||Parliamentary Intern||Not directly|
|2009||University of Hull||PGCE||Not directly|
|2009||University of Edinburgh||MSc Arab World Studies Women in the Middle East||Yes|
|2009||News International||Newspaper Reporter||Not directly|
|2009||Chatteris Educational Foundation||English Teacher||Not directly|
|2009||Ernst & Young||IT Risk Associate||Not directly|
|2009||Army||Officer Cadet||Not directly|
|2009||University of St Andrews||Peace & Conflict Studies||Yes|
|2009||Times of Malta||Journalist||Not directly|
|2009||Scottish Government||Civil Servant||Not directly|
|2007||Lovells LLP||Trainee Contract - case study||Not directly|
|2007||Survival International||Campaigner case study||Not directly|
|2006||Crown Agents||Development Policy Research case study||Yes|
|2006||Hiscox||Terrorism Underwriter, New York case study||Yes|
|2005(CAN)||The Scottish Parliament||Policy Researcher||Not directly|
|2004(CAN)||Arlington Capital LLC||Merchant Banker (USA)||Not directly|
|2003(CAN)||US Department of State||Diplomat (Tonga)||Not directly|
|1997(CAN)||United Nations||Press Officer (Geneva)||Not directly|
|1996(CAN)||Burns & Levinson LLP||Attorney (Boston, USA)||Not directly|
|1995(CAN)||Jane's Information Group||Senior Consultant (UK)||Not directly|
|1992(CAN)||US Fund for UNICEF||Deputy Director of Development(New York)||Yes|
|1990(CAN)||United Nations Development Programme||International Development Officer||Yes|
|1989(CAN)||National Geographic Channels Int||VP Network Development (Singapore)||Not directly|
Careers Alumni Network (CAN) indicates these alumni are willing and keen to be contacted to help St Andrews students with their careers search.
Where Our Postgraduates Go
|Year||Organisation/Company||Position||International Relations Required|
|2006||MICS||Terrorism Project Researcher||Yes|
|2006||Royal United Services Institute||Head of Resilience||Yes|
|2005||Surrey Police||Intelligence Researcher||Yes|
|2008||Blackrock||Investment Analyst||Not directly|
|2008||Global Strategies Group||Co-ordinator||Not directly|
|2009||Department Of Defence||Analyst||Yes|
|2010||RAF||Officer Cadet||Not directly|
|2010||Kodak||Trade Marketing Assistant||Not directly|
Popular Jobs for International Relations Graduates Nationally
A 2010 HESA survey of 2009 graduates revealed that half of politics and international relations graduates entered employment either in the UK or overseas within six months of graduation. Of those employed, 14% found clerical/secretarial work, 11% took up business and finance roles and a similar 10% secured positions in marketing, sales or advertising. A further 16% gained employment in the commercial, industrial and public sector managerial positions and 19% were working in the retail, catering, waiting and bar work sector.
Typical employers of politics and international relations graduates include local and national government, councils, charities, accountancy and banking organisations, law firms, retail and media companies. Further recruiters include the United Nations (UN), the European Commission, the Civil Service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lobbying, campaigning, and voluntary organisations and the public sector.
It can be very valuable to gain experience of work in various areas, but particularly in those areas that you are considering as a future career.
- The University Careers Centre has information on vacation jobs and internships in the US
- If you'd like to stay in St Andrews over the summer, you might want to apply for the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme.
- Remember to network with students in more senior years, tutors, family and friends they may have suggestions and contacts.
- The Undergraduate Research Internship Programme (URIP) was launched in 2008 by the University of St Andrews. Under the URIP scheme, the University funds 20 undergraduates to carry out research over ten weeks during the summer vacation. The students work on independent projects under the guidance and supervision of a member of academic staff. Look out on the website for application forms which normally have to be returned by the end of April.
- Talent Scotland TalentScotland offer summer internships and graduate placements in a range of areas including IT, market research, marketing, international expansion, human resources and environmental management, all with small Scottish firms.
- Several penultimate year students have been successful in getting a paid summer internship with the Saltire Foundation. These are global experiences in USA, Japan, Cayman Islands and others.
- The School of International Relations website has a list of relevant internships programmes and careers information links
- The digital political journals Your Middle East and Global Politics actively welcome contributions from St Andrews students: the editorial team have St Andrews connections.
- If you are interested in working for an international organisation or a multi-national business in the UK, being proficient in a foreign language(s) will give you the edge. You may wish to consider applying for an evening language programme run by the University of St Andrews. Another option is to spend your summer overseas picking up language skills while you work or spend time Teaching English as a Foreign Language(TEFL).
- Joining a society and particularly taking on a role of responsibility can impress future employers and also enhance employability skills such as - team working, negotiation, event management, controlling budgets, leadership etc. Have a look at the case study from a student who made the most of his time at St Andrews through involvement in societies. At St Andrews you have a wealth of societies to choose from. Here are a few relevant examples:
- Internationally Orientated - Amnesty International, European, Forum for Democracy and Human Rights, International Political Association, Model United Nations, STAND (Anti-genocide)Stop the War, UNICEF, UNYSA
- UK/Political - Conservative and Unionist, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalist Association
- Professional - Law, Economics Law, Management, Global Investment Group(GIG)
- The Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics(CSRP) and the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) offer year long internships for both Honours and postgraduates .Information about these is normally posted on the notice board early in semester one with application s in October, you can check details with the CSTPV secretary at email@example.com .
- The IOM Iraq Displacement Monitoring Programme offers a full-time internship in Amman, Jordan. The internship lasts for three to six months.
- Examples of organisations which have offered internships to IR students in the past include; Allafrica (Washington DC), Amnesty International , Chatham House, Human Rights Watch (London, New York and Washington DC), USAID Africa Internship (Sub-Saharan Africa and Washignton DC), World Bank (Washington DC)
- If you are interested in teaching or other work with children the University runs schemes in partnerships with local education authorities which give students access to school pupils. To find out more contact the staff involved by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org .More Schools are offering the UK Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme, which requires students to spend up to 25 hours working within a Primary or Secondary school or Science centre. The module is assessed and contributes towards the final degree outcome.
The table below gives some examples of the experiences of International Relations students.
|2007||United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)||Internship in the Dadaab refugee camps - case study|
Over the course of your degree you develop a good mix of subject specific and transferable core skills (communication, team work, time management, presentation etc). Consider these alongside your other activities, such as paid work, volunteering, family responsibilities, sport, membership of societies, leadership roles, etc. Think about how these can be used as evidence of your skills and personal attributes. Then you can start to market and sell who you really are, identify what you may be lacking and consider how to improve your profile.
The profile below identifies the skills that can be developed through the study of your discipline based on subject benchmark statements developed by UK higher education academic communities.
This table is able to help you to identify the valuable skills that you can offer to potential employers.
|A graduate in International Relations typically will have the ability to:||Evidence:|
|Understand the nature and significance of politics as a human activity|
|Apply concepts, theories and methods to analysing political ideas, institutions and practices|
|Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different political systems, the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate, and the relationships between them|
|Evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events|
|Understand the nature and significance of politics as a global activity|
|Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and evolution of international politics|
|Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from secondary and primary sources|
|Identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems|
|Construct reasoned argument, synthesize information and exercise critical judgement|
|Reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback.|
|Manage their own learning self-critically|
|Communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing|
|Use communication and information technology to retrieve and present information,including statistical or numerical information|
|Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organization and time-management|
|Collaborate with others to achieve common goals|
International Relations Careers/Employability Link
Each School has a Careers/Employability Link who "champions" employability. Yours is Professor John Anderson . If you have any information you consider important for your fellow students please let him know. Alternatively you can contact the Employability Coordinator for the University, Pamela Andrew,at pea1.
Links to Useful Resources
- Mapping Your Future - Employability for IR students - Pamela Andrew
- Destination Statistics of St Andrews graduates
- Prospects: Options with International Relations
- Careers in IR - Advice from the field - Tia Wheeler
- NATO Internship Programme
- Department for International Development (DFID) - Recruitment process.
- Getting into International Development -University of London site for students interested in careers in international development
- A guide to a career with the United Nations
- Research Gate research jobs