International Relations MA (Honours) 2023 entry

The MA (Hons) in International Relations will teach you to explore issues such as the origins of war and peace, the making of foreign policy, trade regimes, international terrorism, human rights, international law, and the interaction of political and economic development. 

Students will develop the skills to: 

  • assess developments in the international system and specific geographical regions 
  • analyse the ways in which states relate to other international actors 
  • develop normative theories that relate the world as it is to the world as it might be. 

UCAS code
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2027
Four years full time
School of International Relations
“I chose to study International Relations because I find it genuinely fascinating. Moreover, international relations will always remain important because politics is ever-changing and keeps moving forward. The topics covered, especially as you specialise, are very interesting and are all taught by experts in the field.”
- Kuching, Malaysia

Entry requirements

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

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • 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.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Study abroad

International relations students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

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. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MA (Hons) in International Relations is a four-year course run by the School of International Relations.

In the first two years, you will: 

  • study key theoretical approaches and concepts in international relations 
  • explore foreign policymaking and its relationship to international security 
  • examine how theoretical approaches to international relations relate to issues in global politics. 

Alongside international relations, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

First and second year will equip you with the range of experience and critical skills necessary for more in-depth study of specialist subject areas at Honours level. 

Specialist subject areas include: 

  • comparative politics of states in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America 
  • peace and conflict resolution 
  • gender and international politics 
  • human rights 
  • international law and institutions 
  • international political economy 
  • international security 
  • international theory 
  • globalisation 
  • terrorism. 

Final-year students must also complete a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff at the School of International Relations.

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.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in international relations alongside modules in at least one other subject. 

Typically, you will take three modules per semester during your first two years, and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). 

Sub-honours students take one module each semester which introduces them to the concepts, theories and history of international relations. In addition, students will be introduced to study skills and research methods to enable them to undertake research during their Honours years. 

First-year students take both: 

  • 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. 

Sub-honours students take one module each semester which introduces them to the concepts, theories and history of international relations. In addition, students will be introduced to study skills and research methods to enable them to undertake research during their Honours years. 

Second-year students take both: 

  • 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. 

If you decide to take international relations in your third and fourth years, you 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 in previous years: 

  • Activism and Resistance 
  • Armed Conflict in Africa 
  • Asian Security 
  • Gender and Terrorism 
  • Geopolitics of Energy in the Caspian Region 
  • Human Rights in Theory and Practice 
  • Ideologies and Social Movements in the Middle East 
  • Indian Foreign Policy 
  • International Political Economy 
  • International Security 
  • Music, Politics and International Relations 
  • Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Intervention 
  • Political Islam and International Relations 
  • Refugees and International Relations 
  • The Arab - Israeli Conflict 
  • US Foreign Policy: The Dilemma of Power. 

In 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 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). At Honours level (third and fourth year), you will have one lecture per module per week (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 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 assessments and coursework 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. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

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.


Tuition fees have yet to be set.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

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

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take International Relations as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and International RelationsVL21
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and International RelationsLT26
Master of Arts (Honours) Art History and International RelationsLV23
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and International RelationsVL62
Master of Arts (Honours) Chinese Studies and International RelationsCH08
Master of Arts (Honours) Classical Studies and International RelationsLQ28
Master of Arts (Honours) Comparative Literature and International RelationsQL22
Master of Arts (Honours) Economics and International RelationsLL12
Master of Arts (Honours) English and International RelationsLQ23
Master of Arts (Honours) Film Studies and International RelationsLP23
Master of Arts (Honours) French and International RelationsLR21
Master of Arts (Honours) Geography and International RelationsLL72
Master of Arts (Honours) German and International RelationsLR22
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and ItalianLR23
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and ManagementLN22
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and MathematicsLG21
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Medieval HistoryLV21
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Middle East StudiesTL62
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Modern HistoryVL12
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and PersianL2T6
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and PhilosophyLV25
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and PsychologyCL82
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and RussianLR27
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Scottish HistoryLVF2
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Social AnthropologyLL62
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and SpanishLR24
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Sustainable DevelopmentF895
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and Theological StudiesLV26

It is also possible to combine a degree in International Relations with two modern languages. Any combination of Arabic, French, German, Italian, Persian, or Spanish is available. 

"With" degrees

You can take International Relations as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first name subject. St Andrews offers the following "with" degrees in International Relations:

  • Master of Arts (Honours) Internation Relations with Persian - UCAS code 82L9


International relations graduates are dynamic, globally aware, and self-motivated. They can transfer their critical reading, writing and communication skills, as well as advanced analytical abilities, to a variety of professional and internationally orientated environments.  

They possess invaluable reasoning and questioning skills attained by completing a highly competitive degree. International relations graduates go on to a very diverse range of companies. In recent years, these have included: 

  • United Nations 
  • Red Cross 
  • International Atomic Energy Agency 
  • UNHCR 
  • Carter Center 
  • Stratfor 
  • BBC 
  • The Scotsman newspaper 
  • armed forces 
  • civil services 
  • JP Morgan 
  • Shell 
  • KPMG 
  • Cisco 
  • Nomura 
  • Deloitte. 

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

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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.

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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

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