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MA International Relations

UCAS code: L250

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Social and Political Science

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA International Relations

International Relations studies:

  • actions and challenges that transcend national boundaries
  • the resulting conflicts or attempts at cooperation

How do states cope with our highly complex and interconnected world?

How can we tackle problems like climate change, global economic inequality, and interstate war?

Do our very ideas about state power, sovereignty, democracy, justice, legitimacy, and order have to change when we think about the international level?

Guided by leading academics and researchers in the field, you will explore:

  • the origins and evolution of the state system
  • the emergence of global non-state actors
  • the power of international institutions
  • the driving forces behind international cooperation and conflict

Year 1

You will take three compulsory courses:

  • Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates
  • Politics and International Relations 1B: The Global Dimension
  • Political Thinkers, an introductory political theory course

You will take three other optional courses of your choice.

Year 2

You will take two compulsory courses:

  • Theories of International Relations
  • Introduction to Political Data Analysis

You will take four other optional courses of your choice.

Year 3

You will take Research Design in Politics and International Relations, in preparation for your honours dissertation in Year 4.

You will also take a further five courses from the wide range of honours options available, on subjects such as:

  • international political economy
  • global security
  • US foreign policy
  • human rights
  • gender
  • African politics
  • the Middle East

Many more options are available.

Year 4

You will choose four honours courses from a wide range of politics and international relations topics.

You will also complete an honours dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2024/25)

Our facilities

The majority of teaching takes place at facilities located within the University's Central Area. You will also have access to the University's library and computer facilities.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of Social and Political Science and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the School of Social and Political Science

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through international exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most courses will be taught mainly through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

Many honours courses feature innovative learning methods such as simulations or practical exercises.

Most pre-honours courses feature a teaching team of subject experts, while honours courses are normally convened by one staff member whose expertise directly corresponds to the course theme.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a variety of methods, such as:

  • essays
  • exams
  • policy briefs
  • group presentations
  • tutorial participation exercises

In recent years, graduates have entered careers in areas such as:

  • the civil service
  • foreign affairs
  • political and parliamentary research

This programme will also equip you with transferable skills required for employment in areas such as:

  • finance and consultancy
  • the voluntary sector
  • journalism
  • teaching

Some graduates choose to go on to further training in accountancy or law, or take postgraduate programmes with a view to pursuing an academic career.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S5.
  • A Levels: A*AA.
  • IB: 39 points with 666 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S5.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.


For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA International Relations

Additional costs



For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding