International Political Theory (MLitt) 2024 entry

The MLitt in International Political Theory provides students with a dynamic and systematic understanding of how political theory can be brought to bear on international politics and world affairs. It is not a general international relations or international relations theory programme but a specialised programme in political thought.   

Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
School of International Relations

Application deadline

Friday 26 April 2024

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“ My degree has expanded my horizons and offered various career paths. I have been able to delve deeply into my area of interest with guidance from the best minds in their discipline. A highlight is the community of postgraduates from around the world who connect easily and share their variety of experiences and backgrounds. ”
Photo of Alison - International Political Theory
- Washington, USA

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé 
  • personal statement indicating your knowledge of the programme and how it will benefit you (500 words) 
  • sample of your own, single-authored academic written work (2,000 words) 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.  See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MLitt in International Political Theory is a one-year taught postgraduate programme run by the School of International Relations. The programme commences in September and ends the following August. 


  • Offers a uniquely deep focus on both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory. 
  • Distinctive approach, different from that of traditional programmes in international relations or international relations theories. 
  • Ideal for further academic work leading to a PhD at St Andrews or elsewhere. 
  • Prepares students for a wide range of professional fields including law, policy research and consultancy, NGOs, charities, international organisations, civil service and publishing.


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.

All International Political Theory MLitt students take two compulsory and two optional modules over the course of the programme. You may, with permission, take modules from other MLitt programmes in the School of International Relations or from another School. 


  • Analysis and Interpretation in International Political Theory: introduces methods and interpretive approaches that can be taken in the study of international political theory. 
  • Concepts in International Political Theory:  introduces students to a range of core concepts in International Political Thought, such as the state, power, law, justice, class, gender, race, empire, democracy, agency, borders, rights, and sovereignty.

Students choose two optional modules.  

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered, subject to staffing and availability. 

International Political Theory-focused options: 

  • Global Constitutionalism:  explores the role of constitutional thinking and draws upon legal theory and international law as well as broader themes. 
  • Migration and Political Theory: explores the relationship between political thought and the complex phenomenon of migration, including how migration influences understandings of citizenship, rights, borders, justice, and security.  
  • Political Theory of Race and Caste: gives students an opportunity to study forms of social hierarchy and injustice based on race, caste and descent, through reading key texts in political theory that grapple with conditions of racial and caste subordination and that gesture at the possibilities for emancipation from them.  
  • Politics After the ‘Death of God’: Evil and Tragedy in Modern Politics: explores contributions in post-Nietzschean political philosophy and 20th-century political theology as a way to understand the currency of notions such as tragedy, evil and hope in modern politics.  
  • 'Reason of State': Origin, Nature and Career of a Concept: studies the meaning, origins, development and significance of the notion of 'reason of state' in western political thought.  
  • Theories of Friendship and Enmity: addresses a number of classical texts in western political thought on the themes of friendship and enmity.
  • Topics in International Political Thought: introduces students to key themes in the international realm through a close engagement with the ideas of a single theorist. 
  • Political Economy of Conflict: provides a political economy perspective on conflict in a developing economy. 
  • Political Order and Violence in the Middle East: examines the causes and consequences of political order and violence in the Middle East. 
  • Security and Justice Institutions in World Politics: examines the development and efficacy of institutions in the fields of peace, security and justice. 
  • Terrorism and Liberal Democracy: addresses conceptual and definitional issues concerning terrorism; the relationship of terrorism to other forms of political violence; the origins, dynamics and development of contemporary terrorism; the efficacy of terrorism as a political weapon; the dilemmas and challenges of liberal democratic state responses to terrorism; and case studies in terrorism and counter-terrorism. 

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University's position on curriculum development). 


The final element of the MLitt is a 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation should focus on an area of international political theory in which you are interested. Each student is supported by a relevant supervisor from the School who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation must be submitted by the end of August. 

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt. 


The programme consists of four taught modules taken over two semesters and a 15,000-word dissertation in an area of your choice. 

Modules are taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Average lecture sizes range from 20 to 30 students, and tutorial sizes range from 1 to 15 students. 

Assessment methods include a combination of examination and coursework. 

Every MLitt student is assigned a dissertation supervisor who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. 


The School of International Relations hosts a variety of research seminars throughout the academic session to promote the work of the faculty, students and visiting speakers. 

A number of student-led associations and organisations contribute to development and profile of International Relations throughout the University and the community. 




More information on tuition fees can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


Students who graduate from the MLitt in International Political Theory go on to work in various professional fields including: 

  • law 
  • policy research and consultancy 
  • NGOs 
  • charities 
  • international organisations 
  • civil service 
  • publishing. 

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option in International Political Theory. 

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in a PhD programme at St Andrews.  

Postgraduate research

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Postgraduate online visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 1944
School of International Relations
The Arts Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

School of International Relations website