International Relations BA (International Honours) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The BA (International Honours) in International Relations will teach you to understand how major features of the international system operate as well as the major challenges it faces. You will learn to approach issues from different epistemological and methodological angles, and to relate your knowledge to issues including development, international political economies, environmental politics, human rights, and the various impacts of globalisation, among others.

The BA (International Honours) is a joint degree delivered by both the University of St Andrews and the College of William & Mary in Virginia, USA. This joint degree allows you to spend two years at each institution. 

Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2028
Four years full time
School of International Relations
“Joining the programme has been one of the best decisions of my life. The friends I have made on both campuses and amongst my WaMStA peers, the places I have explored, the materials I have studied in a subject I love dearly in two different academic styles, and the lessons I have learned transitioning between continents have changed me for the better in a way no study abroad opportunity could. I am a more well-rounded and knowledgeable person because of this programme, and I could not be more thankful for the chance to serve both institutions as a proud WaMStA student.”
- Virginia, USA

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard and Minimum entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    38 (HL 6,6,6)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of this subject is required.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.

Course details

The BA (International Honours) in International Relations is a four-year course run jointly by the School of International Relations at St Andrews and the Department of Government at the College of William & Mary

You will study for two years at both St Andrews and William & Mary, spending the first year of the programme at one institution and the second year at the other. You will then be able to choose where you wish to spend your third and fourth years of study and graduate from either university.

You will apply to the university where you intend to spend your first year, and then you will transfer to the other institution for your second year.

What you will study

During your degree, you will cover topics and issues including:

  • international security
  • world trade and finance
  • environmental politics
  • human rights
  • terrorism
  • regional and ethnic conflict
  • impact of globalisation.

In your fourth year, you will pursue an independent study project. If your fourth year is at St Andrews, this will be a dissertation; if you spend your fourth year at William & Mary, you will either complete an honours thesis or take a senior research seminar.

The BA (International Honours) is a single Honours degree, and other combinations – such as joint Honours degrees – are not available with this programme. However, during the programme, you will have opportunities to study a range of other subjects offered by both institutions. Find out more about the St Andrews – William & Mary joint degree.

About the BA (International Honours) programme

The BA (International Honours) is a four-year undergraduate degree that combines the best of the Scottish and American educational experience.

Both St Andrews and William & Mary offer a broad interdisciplinary approach to understanding global and international politics. At St Andrews, students select two-thirds of their sub-honours modules outside core international relations topics. At William & Mary, the programme covers modules from at least three departments: Government, Economics and History.

In their Honours years, students specialise in areas and topics in international politics that are of interest to them. These elective modules — covering all major world regions, trade, security, foreign policy, peace and conflict studies, international organisations, etc — are offered in a small class setting where students learn from experts researching on the topics they teach.

Both programmes also have their unique strengths, allowing students to design a truly unparalleled programme which builds on the specifics of North American and British approaches to international relations. Studying at William & Mary incorporates strong methodological training, while St Andrews’ strengths in international political theory and critical approaches encourage students to question their own assumptions about the world we live in.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


Students studying the International Relations BA (International Honours) will take the required modules at both institutions in their first and second years.

The following modules are those offered at St Andrews. Find out more about module requirements at William & Mary.

At St Andrews, the compulsory modules in international relations in first year are:

  • Concepts in Global Politics: introduces students to the foundational features of the academic discipline of international relations. 
  • Foreign Policy and Diplomacy in Global Politics: looks at the ways states make foreign policy and engage in diplomacy to implement it. 

You must also take two modules in either economics or history. Students focusing on history in their first year at St Andrews will take economics at William & Mary in their second year; those focusing on economics in their first year will focus on history in their second.

Economics modules

If you focus on economics in your first year at St Andrews, you must take the following two compulsory modules:

  • Macroeconomics: introduces the study of economics at the national and global level. 
  • Microeconomics: explores the basics of the market system and consumer and producer behaviour.

History modules

If you focus on history in your first year at St Andrews, you must take the following two compulsory modules:

  • The Early Modern Western World (c.1450 - c.1770): looks at continental European history in the early modern period, and the expansion of Europe.
  • Themes in Late Modern History (c. 1776-2001): provides thematic coverage of major political and social developments in the Western world during the 19th and 20th centuries.  

At St Andrews, the compulsory modules in international relations in second year are:

  • Theoretical Approaches to International Relations: examines the main current theories in international relations (IR) and provides an overview of their main application to the study of IR.
  • Studying International Relations: addresses the relationship between theory and method in the study of international relations and how to frame the research process.

Students will spend either their third or fourth year in St Andrews. You will be able to choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in conflict and conflict resolution, human rights, international law, international security, globalisation, terrorism, and comparative politics including Africa, Middle East, Latin America, China, Central and East Asia.

Here is a sample of Honours modules which have been offered at St Andrews in previous years:

  • Activism and Resistance
  • Armed Conflict in Africa
  • Case Studies in Conflict Analysis
  • Identities, Belonging and Others
  • International Political Economy
  • International Security
  • Music, Politics and International Relations
  • Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Intervention
  • The Cultural Politics of Human Rights.

If at St Andrews for fourth year, students also undertake a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


Research-led teaching brings cutting-edge research directly to the classroom in St Andrews.

In your first year, you will have three lectures a week per module (approximately 365 students). In your second year, you will have two lectures a week per module (approximately 300 students), which decreases to one lecture per module per week at Honours level (15 to 25 students).

Lectures are supported by weekly small group tutorials (10 to 13 students) to discuss the material covered in lectures.

When not attending lectures and tutorials, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

Modules in international relations at St Andrews are assessed by a mixture of coursework and written exams. Some modules have only written essays rather than final exams.

Coursework takes the form of essays, along with other kinds of assessed work including oral presentations and group projects.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The School aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

At St Andrews, you will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of international relations. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader. 

You can find contact information for all international relations staff on the School of International Relations website.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


Find out about fees, living costs, scholarships and funding.


Graduates have 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. Therefore, they are well equipped for careers in:

  • accountancy
  • armed services
  • banking and insurance
  • foreign services
  • international business
  • law
  • media, radio and television
  • public services (civil service, local governments, public corporations, hospital management)
  • research
  • social services (childcare, youth employment, probation).

Career destinations for recent graduates from St Andrews include:

  • Armed Forces
  • BBC
  • Crown Office and Fiscal Service
  • East-West Institute
  • Fleishman-Hillard
  • Reid-Howe Associates
  • The Scotsman newspaper
  • United Nations.

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

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.

Undergraduate visiting days

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

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2938
School of International Relations
The Arts Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

School of International Relations website