Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type

MA

Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Location

Durham City

Program code

L2T207

Ready to Apply?
1

Course details

Immerse yourself in debates about international politics, international organisations and how they influence relationships between nations. The MA in International Relations will equip you with the skills to challenge conventional thinking and analyse your own views about some of the most pressing global challenges.

The course covers both theoretical and empirical aspects of international relations, examining the history of the field, as well as in-depth study of the major international organisations that contribute to the global order. As the course progresses you will gain an understanding of how the international community has developed, and the forces that shape its development. 

Focusing on contemporary issues such as globalisation, foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, and the role of international organisations, you will develop the knowledge and skills to critically review developments in the theory and practice of international relations. You will learn to evaluate concepts, theories, and paradigms, drawing lessons from real-world studies informed by quantitative and qualitative investigations.

Your learning will be informed by a wealth of ongoing research by experts working at the forefront of their field. Core modules in International Relations Theory and International Organisations form the foundation of the course. The remaining modules can be tailored to suit your interests, with options spanning topics from Designing Political Inquiry to Global Governance. The optional modules also give you an opportunity to focus on the politics of a specific region of the world in greater depth or study a language. These interests can be further developed through the researching and writing of the dissertation.

On completion, graduates are well placed to pursue careers in international organisations, politics, and the civil service. Others move into the wider fields of journalism, teaching, business, and research.

Course structure

Core modules:

International Relations Theory is a graduate-level introduction to international relations theory, exploring both mainstream and critical approaches to the subject. It provides you with an advanced understanding of some of the key concepts and theories in the field of international relations/international politics. 

International Organisations familiarises you with the theoretical approaches used to analyse and explain the role of international organisations in global politics. You will learn about the history of organisations, their functions, their development, their internal dynamics, and contemporary debates on their current role in international relations. The module aims to provide an understanding that extends beyond the core institutions of global governance, encompassing less formalised institutions and those that lie beyond the West.

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent work in a related aspect of international relations. The 10,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MA, bringing together elements of learning from across the course.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Core Concepts in Political Science
  • The Politics of Global Europe
  • Designing Political Inquiry
  • Global Governance
  • Global Political Theory
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • International Politics of the Middle East
  • The Politics of East Asia

Learning

Teaching is centred around the School of Government and International Affairs, a vibrant learning community which is home to multiple research centres and institutes. 

The MA is largely delivered via lectures and smaller seminar group teaching. Each module is built around 300 hours of learning, a large proportion of which is made up of independent reading, preparation, and written assignments. Each module includes a minimum of 20 hours of class contact, which gives you the opportunity to review course material in group discussions.

The dissertation is an important part of the course. To support you in this, you will be appointed a dissertation supervisor based on a broad match with your dissertation topic. As well as providing dissertation-specific guidance, you can also contact your supervisor for general academic support.

To keep your learning up-to-date and relevant, we place great importance on integrating new and innovative research into the curriculum. In addition, we deliver regular seminars and lectures which are available for all postgraduate students. These events provide opportunities to engage with contemporary issues in political and international studies.

Assessment methods vary depending on the modules studied, including essays, group projects, presentations, and podcasts. As the course progresses, we provide ongoing feedback through formative assessments to help you to recognise your strengths as well as identify any areas that may require improvement. 

The course culminates in a 10,000-word dissertation which is conducted and written up as an independent piece of work with support from your appointed supervisor. The dissertation is worth one-third of your final mark.

Entry requirements

  • UK 2.1 Bachelor degree, or equivalent.
  • A degree in the field of Social Sciences is preferable, however, in assessing the application we also take into account other facilitating factors such as relevant experience in lieu of this requirement.

  • English language requirements band E. 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,900 per year
EU students £25,500 per year
Island students £12,900 per year
International students £25,500 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £7,100 per year
EU students £14,100 per year
Island students £7,100 per year
International students £14,100 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Government and International Affairs

Our courses focus on developing self-aware, thoughtful and ambitious global citizens with the skills and knowledge to secure rewarding and stimulating careers inside and outside of politics.

This is underpinned by additional employability support from the University through its careers programme, through employment-related events and by maintaining the alumni network which stretches across the globe.

Our postgraduates achieve successful careers in a wide range of fields including local and national government, diplomacy, newspaper and broadcast journalism, the charity sector, business and finance, publishing, law, manufacturing, teaching and academia, and the armed forces.

Former postgraduate students have taken up roles with leading employers including the House of Commons, Clifford Chance, Accenture, British Airways, Ernst and Young, British Telecom, Goldman Sachs, PwC, the Royal Navy, House of Fraser, Channel 4, HSBC, Teach First, Durham University, Black Rock and the Audit Commission.

For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information

School of Government and International Affairs

Part of the School of Government and International Affairs, politics and international relations at Durham is centred around the areas of political theory, comparative politics, international relations and political economy. Our academic staff have a genuine passion for politics and are leading experts in the study of these areas, as they exist across Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and the wider Muslim world, Africa and America.

We are a research-led School offering high quality learning in essential quantitative and qualitative research methods alongside in-depth study of key areas of political and international theory. These include Comparative Institutions and Political Behaviour, Environmental Politics, Global Security and Peacebuilding, International Political Economy and International Relations.

The learning and research community is vibrant and active and is one of the biggest groups at the University comprising a postgraduate body of nearly 50 different nationalities. Our institutes and research centres support key research agendas by organising guest lectures, running regular paper presentations and acting as focal points for networking.

We believe that in a democracy, active citizenship requires awareness and participation and the ability to comprehend public debate. Our vision is to offer a study of politics that not only includes but goes beyond career preparation to consider how to be better human beings and good citizens.

For more information see our department pages.

Rankings

  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024

Staff

For a current list of staff, please see the School of Government and International Affairs pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Over 80% of SGIA research outputs were rated 'Internationally Excellent' or 'World Leading' (REF 2021)

Facilities

The School of Government and International Affairs is based in the modern Al Qasimi Building. The modern structure is set in its own grounds not far from the historic centre of Durham, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Facilities include spacious environments for both learning and socialising and the building is also home to the renowned Global Policy Institute, the Institute of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and the Durham Global Security Institute.

Apply

Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding - MSc

Program Code: L2K909
Start: September 2024
Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding

Defence, Development and Diplomacy - MSc

Program Code: L2K609
Start: September 2024
Defence, Development and Diplomacy

Politics and International Relations (Political Theory) - MA

Program Code: L2K407
Start: September 2024
Politics and International Relations (Political Theory)