International relations student holds books
Mode of Study
Full-time, Part-time, Full-time by distance learning, Part-time by distance learning
1 year full time, 2 years part time
Start Date
January 2022, September 2022, January 2023


If you're interested in national and international organisations, conflict and uncertainty, and in how they are shaping contemporary international relations, our MA International Relations will develop your grasp of the central issues. You'll study the contours of contemporary insecurity, such as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism and political violence, and explore the power of social movements, political resistance and rebellion.

You'll challenge conventional explanations, develop your own arguments, and participate in key debates about international relations and global politics. 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 will 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 October/September (campus based and distance learning) or February/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. Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also 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.

Qualifications or experience
  • A good honours degree in a Social Science, Humanities or related subject. Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered.
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.

What you'll experience

On this course you'll:

  • Study pressing topics, such as whether global civil society can promote security, development and rights; how terrorism and political violence shape domestic and political affairs; how nuclear and other security threats have evolved; and the role the EU endeavours to play in global politics.
  • Build up expertise in issues relating to security and risk and global civil society.
  • Develop a high level of specialist knowledge in an area of your choice through your dissertation.
  • Have the opportunity to study abroad with one of our European partners.

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.

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.

We'll also be available to help, advise and support you for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.

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 / Major Project

You'll choose from 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)
  • Resistance and Rebellion
  • Defence and Deterrence
  • Terrorism and Political Violence
  • Facing Up to the Challenges of Transitional Justice (distance learning only)
  • MA Study Abroad Programme (campus based only)

Additionally, you'll enhance your academic and employability skills with the Researching International Relations and Academic Enrichment Programme modules.

Changes to course content

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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

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)

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.

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 and funding

Tuition fees

All fees subject to annual increase.

January 2022 start

UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
  • Full-time (distance learning): £7,450
  • Part-time (distance learning): £3,730 per year
EU students

(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time (distance learning): £7,450
  • Part-time (distance learning): £3,730 per year     
International students
  • Full-time (distance learning): £7,450
  • Part-time (distance learning): £3,730 per year

Funding your studies

Find out how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

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:

January 2022 start (distance learning only)

September 2022 start

January 2023 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 at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.

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