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International Relations MA (Hons) 2021 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. 

How to apply Register your interest

UCAS code

L250

Course type

Master of Arts (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2025

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

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 entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

International applicants

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.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of this subject is required.

General entry requirements

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

Other qualifications

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.

Course information

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 relation 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

Find out more about studying international relations at St Andrews.

Modules

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).

Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

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.

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 Postcolonial 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.

Teaching

Teaching format

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 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. 

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

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 web page

Assessment

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.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.

Undergraduates

Upcoming online visiting days:

  • Wednesday 30 September 2020
  • Wednesday 7 October 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020
  • Wednesday 28 October 2020
  • Wednesday 4 November 2020

Fees

Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Scotland Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2021 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

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 take International Relations as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

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

In taking a joint degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

"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-named subject. 

  • International Relations with Persian

In taking a "with" degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

Your future

Careers

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
  • UNESCO
  • 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. 

Study abroad

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.

Student life

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.

International relations students 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.

The School of 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, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact

School of International Relations
University of St Andrews
Arts Faculty Building
St Andrews
KY16 9BA

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2938
Email: intrel@st-andrews.ac.uk

Schoo of International Relations

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

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).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).