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International Relations (MRes) 2020 entry

The MRes in International Relations provides intensive training in research design and methodology and is intended for students considering PhD studies. Students will be introduced to theoretical and analytical approaches in IR and research design in the social sciences leading to the completion of a comprehensive research proposal.

Programme withdrawn

The International Relations MRes programme has been withdrawn for the 2020-2021 academic year. See which courses are available for the upcoming academic year. 

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Research (MRes)

Course dates

The programme has been withdrawn for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

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

Course duration

One year full time

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.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,450
Overseas: £19,400

Application deadline

The programme has been withdrawn for the year 2020-2021.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé
  • personal statement indicating your knowledge of the programme and how it will benefit you (500 words)
  • a research proposal (no more than 1,000 words). As this degree is normally taken as preparation for a PhD, a description of intended research helps the School assess both your suitability for a research degree and whether they can offer supervision. 
  • sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

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

Course information

The MRes in International Relations is a one-year taught postgraduate programme run by the School of International Relations. 

The course provides a structured programme of research training to equip students with the skills required to undertake doctoral-level research in international politics or a research-related career.

MRes students will develop knowledge of and expertise in quantitative and qualitative methods and apply this research training to a particular subject area linked to one of the School’s existing MLitt programmes.


  • Students will develop core international relations and politics research skills, while also cultivating their own interests within the framework of the School’s MLitt programmes and the dissertation that forms part of the degree.
  • The course benefits from small class sizes and draws on themes across politics and international relations.
  • MRes students may take advantage of the School’s community of world-class researchers, and participate in its flourishing programme of events, seminars, and research groups.

Teaching format

The programme consists of six 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 MRes student is assigned a dissertation supervisor who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. 

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


All MRes students take six compulsory modules over the course of the programme.

MRes students will research and write a 15,000-word dissertation as their final assessment piece.

The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2019–2020 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.

In the first semester, you will take the following compulsory modules:

  • Being a Social Scientist: focuses on how to design and produce a research dissertation and addresses issues of professional development (e.g. ethics, careers, grant writing).
  • Quantitative Research in Social Science: provides a user-friendly introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis, covering underlying principles, terminology, research design, sampling strategies, uncertainty and missing data, computerised data management and univariate and multivariate approaches to data analysis.
  • Research Methods in International Relations: assists students in understanding the purpose and approaches of international relations scholarship, and assists them in developing and carrying out their research.

You will also choose one additional module from the compulsory modules available in the existing MLitt programmes. These include:

  • Analysis and Interpretation in International Political Theory: introduces methods and interpretive approaches that can be taken in the study of international political theory.
  • Central Asia in World Order: analyses the nation and state-building agendas of Central Asia in the post-Soviet era.
  • Core in Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Security Studies: focuses on major themes in the study of international security and applies them to the study of the Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia.
  • Critical Security Studies: examines the challenge to traditional conceptions of security presented by the emergence of critical security studies since the end of the Cold War.
  • International Security: focuses on important issues and significant debates in security studies.
  • Issues in Peace and Conflict: focuses on important issues and significant debates in security studies.
  • Modern War and Strategy: provides students with essential knowledge of strategy and military history as well as the necessary skills and techniques for independent further study of topics and questions in strategic studies.
  • Peace and Conflict Theory: analyses how and why the principal theoretical frameworks and practices employed to comprehend conflict, violence and peacebuilding have evolved over the last decades, situating this analysis within a series of key case studies.
  • Strategic Thought: provides students with essential knowledge of strategic thought and the history of strategic thought as well as an overview of the academic field of strategic studies.
  • Texts in International Political Theory: explores the work of important political theorists with particular attention to the ways in which their thought is relevant for international and global affairs.

In the second semester, you will take the following compulsory modules:

  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces students to the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, covering the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Research: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.

The final element of the MRes is a 15,000-word dissertation. The dissertation should focus on an area of international politics in which you are interested, ideally related to the area of research in which you intend to specialise for the PhD.

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.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2020 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

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After the MRes

Research degrees

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

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

PhD in International Relations


Students who graduate from the MRes in International Relations go on to find employment in various professional fields including:

  • law
  • policy research and consultancy
  • the foreign service
  • non-governmental agencies and charities
  • international organisations
  • civil service

Some students advance to a PhD to pursue an academic career.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.


School of International Relations
University of St Andrews
Arts Building
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 1944

International Relations website


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).

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