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Careers Centre

International Relations - using your degree


Popular career areas for International Relations students:

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.

Review your degree skills

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.

Where do our International Relations graduates go?

Recent International Relations graduates
Bank of America Merrill Lynch - Credit Analyst BT - Operational Effectiveness Project Manager Fifth Dimension Partners - Investment Banking and Private Equity Analyst
J Walter Thompson - Graduate Scheme PwC - Assurance Associate Bank of England - Associate
Graduates who are established in their profession

Defence Industry at IHS Jane's - Snr Analyst

Crown Commercial Service - CDD Category Specialist

Government of Manitoba - Director, Policy and Legislation

Aegis Defence Services Ltd - Senior Operations Manager, Response

The Scottish Government - Policy Assistant

UNICEF - Vice President at US Fund

Emily Gray

Emily graduated in 2012. She is a Policy and Programmes Officer for Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia for the Department for International Development.

Read Emily's case study.

Daniel Richardson

Daniel graduated in 2010. He has worked as a Senior Investment Associate at Mercatus, Inc.

Read Daniel's case study.

Visit the Graduate Destinations page to see what graduates and postgraduates from your School are doing now.

Network with alumni

Many jobs and internships are not advertised. One of the best ways to find out about these ‘hidden opportunities’ is by networking. Networking can also help secure a job that is publicised or is part of a training scheme. Your contacts can open doors, set up meetings, help prepare you for interviews, and provide you with an inside look at a company or industry.

How to contact alumni

There are two main ways to contact alumni on-line:

  1. Saint Connect - brings together alumni and current students to facilitate networking, enable informal mentoring, provide industry discussion groups, and enable graduates and students to stay up to date with their student societies and sports teams.
  2. LinkedIn - most comprehensive resource to connect with alumni is the University of St Andrews LinkedIn – Alumni Tool. There are also many LinkedIn St Andrews Groups, mainly based on location, which you can join to network with fellow students and alumni, eg St Andrews North America Careers Link.

Postgraduate study/research

In 2014, 33.3% of International Relations graduates went on to do further study.
Advisers are able and willing to discuss postgraduate applications - vocational and academic.

Summer internships/work experience

Campus Opportunities

Work experience is becoming ‘essential’ in the UK when it comes to securing graduate level employment.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offered paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates. Altogether, 55% of St Andrews finalists had completed some element of work experience with a graduate employer whilst at university – much higher than the survey average. More than two-fifths had a part-time job during term-time and three-fifths had some form of casual vacation work.Source: High Fliers –The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2016.


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. At St Andrews you have a wealth of societies to choose from. Here are a few relevant examples:

Case studies

Key links and resources