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; and develop normative theories that relate the world as it is to the world as it might be.
If you started this programme in 2019, you can find information about 2019 entry on the 2019 International Relations page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.
Standard entry grades: AAAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAA
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 38 (HL 6,6,6)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
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 entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.
No previous knowledge of this subject is required.
Faculty entry requirements
You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.
SQA National 5 (B) or equivalent in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (B or 5) in English, English Language or English Literature, and one GCSE (B or 5) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. 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.
The University publishes its expected timetables before the advising process, and aims to provide each student with a personalised timetable once module choices have been made and confirmed during matriculation.
The School of International Relations has been placed among the very best in the UK for the quality of its research.
The School was ranked second in Scotland for research by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, with 72% of its research rated world-leading and internationally excellent.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2019 as 95% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
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 policy making and its relation to international security; and 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
international law and institutions
international political economy
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 webpage.
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.
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 Postcolonial Africa
Gender and Terrorism
Geopolitics of Energy in the Caspian Region
Global Public Policy
Human Rights in Theory and Practice
Ideologies and Social Movements in the Middle East
Indian Foreign Policy
International Political Economy
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 available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.
Research-led teaching brings cutting-edge research directly to the classroom.
In your first and second years, you will have three lectures a week per module (approximately 365 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 15 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.
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.
In addition to your studies in the School, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.
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 webpage.
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 visit the common reporting scale webpage.
Visit St Andrews
If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.
You can take International Relations as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first named subject. St Andrews offers the following "with" degree in International Relations:
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:
the United Nations
the Red Cross
the International Atomic Energy Agency
the Carter Center
The Scotsman newspaper
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.
International Relations students may 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.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of International Relations may be interested in joining the following student societies:
Model United Nations runs a programme of events throughout the year, culminating in a conference with nearly 700 international delegates.
The Foreign Affairs Society is a diverse and dynamic society that encourages the St Andrews community to explore global politics and current affairs.
International Relations is housed in the Arts Building, which is centrally located right next to the University library. Students will primarily attend lectures here, but may go to other buildings around St Andrews for larger lectures.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
“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.”
Michaela (Kuching, Malaysia)
School of International Relations University of St Andrews Arts Faculty Building St Andrews KY16 9BA
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).