BA (Hons) International Relations and Languages - University of Portsmouth
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BA (Hons)

International Relations and Languages

UCAS codeLR29

full time4yrs


Examine international political forces and learn a language

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Our international relations degree combines the subject’s original focus on the sources of war and conflict in the international system with a much broader focus, including issues such as: global migration, terrorism, climate change, the rise and fall of major powers, state collapse, global development and the factors that trigger global protest movements. You will learn to make sense of rapidly changing world, while at the same time studying a foreign language* and learning about the countries or regions where that language is spoken. You will experience your language first hand through a year abroad, immersing yourself in the culture of the country where your chosen language is spoken. The combination of International Relations with a Language will open many doors on the national and international job market.

* French, German, Spanish, Italian or Mandarin

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Enjoy cutting edge teaching provision on recent major international events such as the Ukraine Crisis, the ‘Occupy’ movement, the rise of ISIS and the after effects of the ‘Arab Spring’
  • Become fluent in a language, either from beginner's level or post A-level - with an option to learn a second language
  • Access innovative and exciting teaching techniques, and our state-of- the-art ‘Conference Interpreting Suite’ 
  • Study or work abroad for a year, enhancing your employability
  • Gain career enhancing skills alongside your academic study with skills training, work experience and internship opportunities ‘built-in’ to the course

What opportunities might it lead to?

Your transferable skills, knowledge of international relations and area expertise can be used in many careers across the private, public and voluntary sectors, including business, tourism, diplomacy, and finance – not just language teaching. You may enhance your graduate employment opportunities, as we have strong partnerships with organisations across the globe. Our graduates have found employment in such diverse careers as:

  • international research and consultancy
  • marketing
  • translation & interpreting
  • the media
  • NGOs
  • investment banking
  • teaching
  • academia
  • travel and tourism


Jeferson Astori, International Relations student

This course covers a variety of issues, all extremely relevant to today’s societies and systems. You will learn, just as I did, interesting facts and issues from every continent in the world, and you will then be able to apply this knowledge on current issues, be it at home or abroad. The teaching staff is keen on helping students and will most definitely be experts on the subjects they teach. I am thoroughly enjoying this degree and I am sure all prospective students will too.

Jeferson Astori, International Relations student


History, Politics and Social Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The diverse spread of subjects offered and ability to complete your own research
  • The critical thinking, analytical and debating skills you’ll develop
  • The passionate lecturers with a wide range of specialist research expertise

Browse all courses in History, Politics and Social Studies

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Year one provides the essential skills to study international relations and the chosen foreign language.

  • EITHER General Language (Grade 1 & 2 - beginners) OR General Language (Grade 3 – post A Level) & Language Project
  • Introduction to International Relations: States, Conflict & Cooperation
  • Introduction to Political Thought
  • Studying At University (International and European Studies)
  • Global Issues

Year two

Year two develops the core subjects of international relations and the study of your language area. You also start preparation of the dissertation you submit in the final year.

  • EITHER General Language (Grade 3 & 4) OR General Language (Grade 4) & Language for Professional Communication 1
  • International Politics

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • International Politics of the Middle East
  • Conflict and Disaster
  • Russian and Eurasian Politics
  • The EU in Global Context
  • Home and Away: US Foreign and Domestic Policy
  • Intercultural Perspectives on Communication
  • Perspectives on World Politics
  • Ideology and Politics
  • Democratisation in Latin America
  • France: Crisis, Renewal and Reinvention (1936 to the Present)
  • People on the Move: Migration and Borders in Europe
  • Bending the Truth a Little? Researching Politics and International Relations
  • Revolution and Repression in Spain
  • Germany in European and Global Context (1871 to the Present)
  • State and Society in East Asia
  • Guns, Glory Hunters and Greed: French and British Colonisation in Africa
  • Comparing Neo-Nazi, Extremist and Populist Movements in Europe
  • A second language
  • Learning from Experience

Final year*

The final year provides opportunities for specialist study through the dissertation, alongside core units in language and international relations.

  • Dissertation/Major Project
  • General Language Grade 6

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Language for Professional Communication 2
  • Translation Theory and Practice
  • Interpreting
  • Global Political Economy
  • Democracy and Democratisation
  • Strategic Studies
  • Security Challenges in the 21st Century
  • France and Africa: Decolonisation and Post-Colonial Relations
  • France in The World: Global Actor or Global Maverick?
  • Nazi Germany
  • Transitional Justice & Human Rights
  • The Politics and Culture of the Hispanic World in 20th Century Literature and Film
  • China & East Asian Economies
  • Migration in East Asia
  • Germany in The American Century
  • Ethnicity, Class & Culture in the Developing World
  • Africa Revisited: Nation Building and ‘State Fragility’ in Post-Colonial Africa
  • Rethinking Aid and Development
  • Learning from Experience (LiFE) 

*On this programme you will spend your third year in a country where your target language is spoken.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


Our staff are enthusiastic specialists who are active in research, and many language teachers are native speakers. They will enthuse you about their fields of expertise, provide advice and guide you to appropriate learning resources. Our virtual learning environment and Sony Virtuoso multimedia digital classrooms support knowledge and skills developed in traditional lectures and seminars.

Students are encouraged to work in small teams analysing primary documents and debating contemporary issues so that all students learn from a range of opinions and interpretations and increase their academic abilities in a genial environment.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 28% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 72% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 26% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 74% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 0% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 0% studying independently and 100% on work placement
  • Year four students: 15% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 85% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Our assessment methods are varied, with relatively few formal examinations. The emphasis is on continuous assessment, with assessments designed to measure the learning outcomes of your various units. Most assessment is done through submission of essays, reports, case studies, book reviews or other pieces of written work. Some units are assessed by means of projects, which can be particularly useful to build up your career profile. Some language-based tests are oral presentations to measure your progress in oral communication.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 15% by written exams, 26% by practical exams and 59% by coursework
  • Year two students: 15% by written exams, 3% by practical exams and 82% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 100% by coursework
  • Year four students: 7% by written exams, 17% by practical exams and 76% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Janet Bryant
International Relations and Languages

What a combination! Take French, Spanish, German, Italian or Chinese to the highest undergrad level, spend a year in a country where that language is spoken, AND learn about the contemporary international system, and the key issues, conflicts and controversies which make the relations between states so fascinating.

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Facilities & Features

Year Abroad

On this programme you will spend your third year in a country where your target language is spoken. We have well-established links with universities in France, Germany, Spain, West Africa and Latin America if you wish to spend this period studying, or, with University approval, you may arrange a work placement abroad. Students who cannot undertake the Year Abroad because of changes in personal circumstances transfer to a 3 year 'with Languages' variant.

Language Labs and LRC

You will have access to our state-of-the-art Language Laboratories, where you can manipulate video, sound, text and Internet sources in a rich, multimedia language-learning environment, and our recently refurbished Learning Resource Centre, with texts, study rooms, and IT facilities to augment your learning and support your assignment work. 

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

For placements abroad that are taken in countries outside the EU/EEA, you will be required to meet travel costs. These costs will be in the region of £1000.

You will also be required to meet any extra tuition costs for units of study taken outside of your agreed study abroad programme. These costs will be in the region of £200.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

During your course, you will have the opportunity to develop a range of capabilities that are valued by prospective employers. You will be flexible, adaptable, good at setting and meeting targets, and above all, a good communicator. Your study experience abroad will give you a unique worldview and an intercultural awareness, which most other graduates will not possess.

You’ll be able to apply your language and discipline based skills in careers across the private, public and voluntary sectors. You can expect to find work in areas as diverse as NGOs, international organisations, voluntary organisations, local, national or international government, management, banking and financial services, marketing and sales, commerce, export, tourism, teaching or lecturing, research, and the media.

Our graduates have gone on to jobs as:

  • politician’s assistant
  • public affairs consultant
  • bilingual consultant
  • multilingual project coordinator
  • translator
  • social researcher
  • information officer
  • conference producer
  • local government administrator

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Your year abroad may be spent working in a country related to the language you are studying, either as a teacher or (with University agreement) through an arranged work placement. This allows you to develop your transferable workplace skills as an integral part of your studies.

The University has a unique and prestigious partnership in place with the British Senegalese Institute in Dakar (Senegal). The Institute, along with other partners in Dakar, offers opportunities to our graduating students each year. We also have a range of partners that offer work experience opportunities with NGOs and other voluntary organisations to students on their year abroad. In addition, there are opportunities to take up a post as an English language assistant in Dakar during the year abroad.

On this course, you may  also take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies in Portsmouth. This option gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, to reflect on the ways in which you've done so, and to learn to express this to potential employers.  

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Video Description

Portsmouth languages graduate, Orrin Thomas, reflects on his course and on his current role as a Business Development Manager.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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