International Relations BA (Hons)
BA Hons International Relations
Do you ever look at the issues the global community faces and wonder why they haven't been dealt with yet? On this BA (Hons) International Relations degree course, you'll learn skills and knowledge you need to help solve these problems.
You'll examine international issues such as the causes of conflict, the challenges of managing migration and the global rise of populism. You'll look at current problems, and the response of government agents.
This will set you up for a career in government, security and intelligence. You could work with international institutions, such as the UN or international charities. You'll be equally suited to take your studies to postgraduate level.
92% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2018)
What you'll experience
On this International Relations course you'll:
- Analyse the latest topics and issues in international relations by taking part in 'pop-up seminars' with staff and your peers
- Learn from staff who are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind
- Have the opportunity to publish your work in our student journal
- Develop career-enhancing skills alongside your academic study with skills training, opportunities to do work experience and the chance to learn another language
- Do a detailed academic analysis of major recent international events, such as the Ukraine Crisis, the 'Occupy' movement, the rise of ISIS and the effects of the Arab Spring
- Tailor your degree by choosing optional units that match your interests and career ambitions
- Have the chance to study abroad at one of our partner institutions – for example, Science Po Strasbourg (France), Maastricht University (Netherlands), Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Nebraska Omaha (US), and University of Szeged (Hungary)
On this course, you can study history or international development alongside your international relations degree. This will lead to one of these awards at the end of the course:
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can support you in identifying postgraduate study opportunities or help you find a job that puts your skills to work.
Graduates from this degree have gone on to careers in areas such as:
- the security services
- international organisations like the UN
- international charities such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross
- policy research
- media and international business consultancy
- political risk analysis
- public relations
Job roles former students have go on to include:
- parliamentary researcher
- political advisor
- public affairs consultant
- social researcher
- political risk analyst
- conference organiser
- local government administrator
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
The staff were just amazing, they are super friendly and really have a passion for their individual interests as well as what the students are interested in. The best thing I did at University of Portsmouth was my dissertation. It was so open and so free that I could really choose what I wanted.
What you'll study on this BA (Hons) International Relations degree course
Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 40 credits.
Core units in this year include:
- Political Thought
- Analysing Politics: Britain and Beyond
- Global Development
- Key Themes in International Relations
- How to Study Political Science
- Performing like a Pro: Effective Professional Practice
There are no optional units in this year.
Core units in this year include:
- Analysing Foreign and Security Policy
- International Thought
Optional units in this year currently include:
- Bending the Truth a little? Researching Politics and IR
- British Political Leadership
- Democratisation in Latin America
- Erasmus Study Abroad Programme
- Ethnicity and Conflict Resolution
- From Revolution to Dictatorship: Russia and the Soviet Union 1917-1941
- Germany in European and Global Context - 1871 to the Present
- Guns, Gloryhunters and Greed: French and British Colonisation in Africa
- Home and Away: USA Foreign and Domestic Policy
- International Politics of the Middle East
- Languages (University Wide Option)
- Learning from Experience (University Wide Option)
- Politics and Policy in Action
- Russian and Eurasian Politics
- State and Society in East Asia
- The End of the European Order? Challenges & Threats to European States and Nations
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Core units in this year include:
- A choice between a Dissertation or a Major International Relations Project
- Global Capitalism: Past, Present and Future
- Security Challenges in the 21st Century
Optional units in this year currently include:
- Africa Revisited: Nation Building and 'State Fragility'
- Autocracy and Democracy
- Chinese and East Asian Economies
- Comparative Public Policy and Public Administration
- France and Africa: Decolonisation and Post Colonialism
- France in the World: Global Actor or Global Maverick
- Global Journalism and Human Rights
- Learning from Experience (Faculty Wide Option)
- Looking for Utopia, Finding Dystopia? Ideas and Ideologies in the New Millenium
- Migration in East Asia
- Money, Government and Power
- Negotiation and Lobbying in the EU: A Simulation Game
- NGO's and Social Movements
- Rethinking Aid and Development
- Strategic Management and Leadership
- Strategic Studies
- Transitional Justice and Human Rights
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.
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.
We can help you identify placements, internships and voluntary roles that will complement your studies.
This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option. This means you can earn credits towards your degree for work, volunteer and research placements that you do alongside your study.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience.
Previous students have been on placements to organisations such as:
- The Ministry of Defence
- The House of Commons
- National Museum of the Royal Navy
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a mental or physical disability, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) can give you help, support and advice so you can reach your potential.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free English for Academic Purposes programme to improve your English further.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- independent study
- work placement
- guest lectures
Dr Angela Crack, Senior Lecturer
Angela's research interests include NGO accountability, NGO self-regulation, NGO-donor relations, global civil society and transnational advocacy networks. She has also produced policy papers with EADI (European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes) and INTRAC (International NGO Training and Research Centre) on cross-regional threats to civil society space.
Angela is part of the Global Advisory Board for Transparency International's ECHO-funded research project, CREATE (Collective Resolution to Enhance Accountability and Transparency in Emergencies), and has been on the Expert Advisory Group on accountability for World Vision. She has also served for several years as a Trustee of Amnesty International UK, and as a member of the International Issues Sub-Committee to the Board.
Professor Karen Heard-Laureote, Professor of Education and Society
Karen is a Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration and Director of the University's Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Study of Transnational Europe (CESTE2). Her main expertise lies in transnational networks and their role in and impact on European integration.
A Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA) and a Fellow of the Leadership Foundation (FLF), Karen is co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary European Research (JCER) Teaching and Learning section.
Dr Paul Flenley, Senior Lecturer
Paul's main research interests are in the areas of Russian Foreign Policy - particularly Russia-EU relations; Russian nationalism and national identity; the Russian Revolution, and early development of the Soviet state.
He's recently carried out funded research projects on comparative revolutions contracted by the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Paul also regularly contributes reviews to a wide range of journals on the above topics and is an editor of the Journal of Contemporary European Studies.
Dr Melita Lazell, Interim Principal Lecturer
Melita's research interests include the securitisation of development aid and its impact on recipients. She has published in various academic journals on this subject and is currently engaged in 2 major research projects. She teaches principally on the themes of Political Economy, Security and International Development, and coordinates Global Development (level 4) and Global Capitalism: Past, Present and Future (level 6).
Professor Wolfram Kaiser, Professor of European Studies
Wolfram's main research interests are in contemporary European history and politics, especially European integration and the European Union, and Europe's international relations past and present. He has authored and edited many books and articles for journals including Comparativ, Contemporary British History, Contemporary European History, Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, Historical Journal, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of European Integration History, Journal of European Public Policy, Journal of Modern History, National Identities, and Revue d'histoire diplomatique.
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- September to December – teaching block 1
- January – assessment period 1
- January to May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
- May to June – assessment period 2
Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.
I enjoyed being able to explore different aspects of international relations, especially topics such as ethnic conflict and strategic studies. By taking different units I was able to find a rich area of research in conflict and strategic studies, which I hope to pursue for years to come.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written exams
- article reviews
- briefing papers
- individual and group presentations
- 10,000 word dissertation
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
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:
Qualifications or experience
- 96-112 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
Tuition fees (2019 start)
- UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £13,900 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
If you do any placements outside of the EU/EEA, you’ll need to cover the travel costs. These costs are usually around £1000. You’ll also need to cover the living costs, which will vary depending on the duration and location of the placement.
You’ll also need to meet any additional tuition costs for units of study you take outside of your agreed study abroad programme. This normally costs around £200.
To start in 2019 you need to apply through UCAS. You’ll need:
- the UCAS course code – L253
- our institution code – P80
You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.
Not quite ready to apply?
Come to an Open Day to explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.
If you’re new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
- Subject area
- History, Politics and International Relations