International relations student holds books
Mode of Study
Full-time, Part-time, Full-time by distance learning, Part-time by distance learning
13 months full time (campus-based), 1 year full time (distance learning), 2 years part time
Start Date
September 2020, January 2021


Almost all aspects of life – economic, social, cultural and political – are influenced by players beyond the borders of national states.

If you want the skills to understand this dynamic international order and you're interested in the relations between countries, this MA International Relations Master's degree course gives you the platform to address some of the most contentious subjects in international affairs.

You'll study key topics across the spectrum of international relations and examine theories and historical inquiry. This will equip you with the tools to challenge conventional explanations and develop arguments of your own. You'll develop advanced analytic skills and critical assessment abilities, and learn to write engaging reports, policy briefs and essays.

When you graduate, you'll be in a strong position to generate creative solutions that benefit the global economy and international society.

You'll be suited for roles in security, development, social policy, governance, advocacy and communications. Previous graduates have gone on to work in parliaments, political parties, third sector and civil society organisations.

You can start this course in September (campus based and distance learning) or January (distance learning only).

Entry requirements​

MA International Relations Master's degree entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • A good honours degree in a Social Science, Humanities or related subject. 
English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Qualifications or experience
  • A second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. 
English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.5.

If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

What you'll experience

On this course you'll:

  • Study pressing topics, such as: why war and conflict are a permanent feature of global affairs; why powerful states interfere with weak or fragile countries; the role of the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and EU in promoting cooperation; and whether global civil society and the third sector can promote security, development and rights
  • Complete an independent research project in a subject relevant to your future career
  • Get to study with members of CEISR (Centre for European and International Studies Research), the UK's largest centre for European Studies
  • Develop expertise in issues relating to Europe – ideal if you want to pursue a career in European institutions or with political lobbyists and think tanks
  • Be taught by internationally recognised experts, including members of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Study of Transnational Europe
  • Develop transferable skills in qualitative and quantitative research, critical reading, communication, and executing major projects
  • Have the opportunity to undertake a supervised work-based project if you work in a relevant field or do an internship during the course
  • Tap in to our Library’s electronic resources, which you can access from anywhere with a Web connection

You can study the course full-time or part-time.

Careers and opportunities

With a rounded skill set, and knowledge of international issues, you'll be an informed global citizen, with a sense of responsibility and commitment to ethical practice and issues of global social justice.

What can I do with a Master's degree in international relations?

This MA International Relations Master's degree will put you in a strong position to pursue job roles in areas and organisations such as:

  • national, European and international state institutions
  • political parties
  • political lobbyists
  • think tanks
  • security and risk analysis
  • foreign affairs analysis
  • political communication and journalism

You could also continue your studies in postgraduate research, leading to a qualification such as a PhD.

You can get help and support from our Careers and Employability service in finding a role and for 5 years after you you leave the University.

What you'll study on this MA International Relations degree course

Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

You need to study modules worth a total of 180 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 30 credits and 1 module worth 60 credits.


You'll study the following core modules:

  • Exploring International Relations
  • Dissertation in International Relations

You'll choose three of the following optional modules:

  • NGOs and Social Movements
  • European International Relations: Facing New Challenges
  • Contemporary Security in International Relations: Providers and Challenges (campus based only)
  • Facing up to the Challenges of Transitional Justice (distance learning only)
  • Resistance and Rebellion
  • Defence and Deterrence
  • Terrorism and Political Violence

Additionally, you'll enhance your academic and employability skills with two non-credit bearing modules: Researching International Relations and the Academic Enrichment Programme.

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.

I decided to study the MA in International Relations at Portsmouth due to the structure and quality of teaching that I have already experienced during my undergraduate course. I have found it interesting how the seminars have been structured in way that trains us and provide the skills needed for future jobs. Furthermore, the tutors are passionate and have provided all the support needed with both assessments and applications for further studies, jobs and funding.

Sorina Alexandra Toltica, MA International Relations student, BA (Hons) Languages and European Studies (Alumni)

Work experience and career planning

If you're not already in employment, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.

We can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and opportunities that will complement your studies.

Learning support

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
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

In addition to support from the Academic Skills Unit (ASK), you'll have access to the following learning support:

  • Moodle, a distance learning hub and interactive forum for tutors and students
  • participation in Academic Enrichment Programme (AEP) activities to develop skills and knowledge beyond the assessed curriculum
  • access to the Faculty Research Skills Hub to develop research skills
  • access to the School Student Representatives Hub, to promote participation in the Quality Assurance processes
  • support by the Faculty Librarian for accessing learning materials
  • a personal tutor, and scheduled personal tutorial meetings


Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures and seminars
  • independent learning activities
  • set readings
  • discussion in forums.

Teaching expertise

Our teaching staff are internationally recognised and actively researching in the areas they teach.

They're members of international professional associations for Politics and International Relations, such as the Political Studies Association, British International Studies Association, International Studies Association, European Consortium for Political Research and European Union Studies Association.

How you'll spend your time

You'll typically spend around 36 hours a week studying if you're a full-time student, or 18 hours a week if you study part-time. You'll spend around 6 hours a week in scheduled teaching activities if you study full-time, or 3 hours a week if you study part-time.

The full-time course runs from September to September. The part-time course starts and ends in September and runs for 2 years.

How you're assessed 

You’ll be assessed through:

  • academic essays
  • briefing papers and reports
  • blog posts
  • narrated presentations
  • a major independent project or dissertation

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark. This includes group discussions, peer review activities, and virtual seminars.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

​Course costs

Tuition fees

All fees subject to annual increase.

Campus-based (2020/2021 start)

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Full-time: £7,300
  • Part-time: £3,650 per year
International students
  • Full-time: £14,300
  • Part-time: £7,150 per year

Distance learning (2020/2021 start)

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Full-time: £7,300
  • Part-time: £3,650 per year
International students
  • Full-time: £7,300
  • Part-time: £3,650 per year

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. 

Additional costs

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.

You'll need to cover the travel costs of any placements you attend. These will normally be between £50–£1,000.


Start your application by following the link below:

September 2020 start

January 2021 start (distance learning only)

International students

If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply directly to us (above) 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.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study with us, 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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