The headquarters of the United Nations
Mode of Study
Full-time, Part-time
Duration
1 year full time, 2 years part time
Start Date
September 2022, January 2023

Overview

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 issues related to civil society and security, 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.

Prefer to study online?

If you'd rather not attend university in person, you can study MA International Relations online.

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Immerse yourself in 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
  • Learn from passionate and experienced academics involved in leading international relations research
  • Build up expertise in issues relating to security, risk and global civil society, and understand how to apply this to real world problems as they happen
  • Hear expert guest lecturers respond to current global events, the security dimensions and international ramifications, such as the conflict in Ukraine
  • Develop a high level of specialist knowledge in an area of your choice through your dissertation

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

Full-time

Core modules
Optional modules
Core modules

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the dominant theoretical perspectives of International Relations
  • Critically analyse the role and significance of state and/or non-state actors in world politics
  • Communicate research findings in a poster format suitable for presentation at an academic conference

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Develop a proposal for an independent project in a relevant field of contemporary security politics
  • Engage in critical debate about the changing meaning of security and processes of securitisation
  • Critically assess the competences, capabilities and credibility of security providers
  • Critically assess the major challenges to stability and security in contemporary international politics

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate defence challenges arising from responding to advances in military technology and new methods of warfare
  • Critically engage with debates about the changing nature of warfare in the 21st Century
  • Critically evaluate the theory and application of deterrence policy within a 21st Century context
  • Communicate research findings in a clear and effective manner

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss key debates relevant to studying regional power and security in global politics
  • Distinguish between different analytical approaches for studying power and influence the international order
  • Develop specialised knowledge about European international relations and foreign policy in the context of regionally focused study
  • Apply relevant analytical approaches and specialised knowledge to contemporary policy debates
  • Demonstrate self-directed research and originality in problem solving

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the accountability of key civil society actors
  • Critically evaluate the composition, competencies and influence of key civil society actors
  • Critically engage with debates on the potential and challenges of civil society activism
  • Critically evaluate the application of various theoretical approaches to the interpretation of civil society action

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the role of social movements in contemporary global politics
  • Critically evaluate the composition, tactics, resources, and constraints of social movements operating in diverse settings
  • Critically engage in debates about the motivations for and legitimacy of resistance and rebellion
  • Apply and critically evaluate social movement theories in relation to specific contexts

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Engage in critical debate about the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Critically analyse the theoretical underpinnings of the field of terrorism studies
  • Present a clear central argument and display critical thinking skills in relation to terrorism and political violence
  • Critically interrogate the political use of the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Apply theoretical approaches to empirical examples of terrorism and political violence

Explore this module

Part-time

Year 1 - Core
Year 1 - Optional
Year 2 - Core
Year 2 - Optional

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the dominant theoretical perspectives of International Relations
  • Critically analyse the role and significance of state and/or non-state actors in world politics
  • Communicate research findings in a poster format suitable for presentation at an academic conference

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Develop a proposal for an independent project in a relevant field of contemporary security politics
  • Engage in critical debate about the changing meaning of security and processes of securitisation
  • Critically assess the competences, capabilities and credibility of security providers
  • Critically assess the major challenges to stability and security in contemporary international politics

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate defence challenges arising from responding to advances in military technology and new methods of warfare
  • Critically engage with debates about the changing nature of warfare in the 21st Century
  • Critically evaluate the theory and application of deterrence policy within a 21st Century context
  • Communicate research findings in a clear and effective manner

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss key debates relevant to studying regional power and security in global politics
  • Distinguish between different analytical approaches for studying power and influence the international order
  • Develop specialised knowledge about European international relations and foreign policy in the context of regionally focused study
  • Apply relevant analytical approaches and specialised knowledge to contemporary policy debates
  • Demonstrate self-directed research and originality in problem solving

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the accountability of key civil society actors
  • Critically evaluate the composition, competencies and influence of key civil society actors
  • Critically engage with debates on the potential and challenges of civil society activism
  • Critically evaluate the application of various theoretical approaches to the interpretation of civil society action

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the role of social movements in contemporary global politics
  • Critically evaluate the composition, tactics, resources, and constraints of social movements operating in diverse settings
  • Critically engage in debates about the motivations for and legitimacy of resistance and rebellion
  • Apply and critically evaluate social movement theories in relation to specific contexts

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Engage in critical debate about the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Critically analyse the theoretical underpinnings of the field of terrorism studies
  • Present a clear central argument and display critical thinking skills in relation to terrorism and political violence
  • Critically interrogate the political use of the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Apply theoretical approaches to empirical examples of terrorism and political violence

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Develop a proposal for an independent project in a relevant field of contemporary security politics
  • Engage in critical debate about the changing meaning of security and processes of securitisation
  • Critically assess the competences, capabilities and credibility of security providers
  • Critically assess the major challenges to stability and security in contemporary international politics

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate defence challenges arising from responding to advances in military technology and new methods of warfare
  • Critically engage with debates about the changing nature of warfare in the 21st Century
  • Critically evaluate the theory and application of deterrence policy within a 21st Century context
  • Communicate research findings in a clear and effective manner

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically discuss key debates relevant to studying regional power and security in global politics
  • Distinguish between different analytical approaches for studying power and influence the international order
  • Develop specialised knowledge about European international relations and foreign policy in the context of regionally focused study
  • Apply relevant analytical approaches and specialised knowledge to contemporary policy debates
  • Demonstrate self-directed research and originality in problem solving

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the accountability of key civil society actors
  • Critically evaluate the composition, competencies and influence of key civil society actors
  • Critically engage with debates on the potential and challenges of civil society activism
  • Critically evaluate the application of various theoretical approaches to the interpretation of civil society action

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the role of social movements in contemporary global politics
  • Critically evaluate the composition, tactics, resources, and constraints of social movements operating in diverse settings
  • Critically engage in debates about the motivations for and legitimacy of resistance and rebellion
  • Apply and critically evaluate social movement theories in relation to specific contexts

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Engage in critical debate about the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Critically analyse the theoretical underpinnings of the field of terrorism studies
  • Present a clear central argument and display critical thinking skills in relation to terrorism and political violence
  • Critically interrogate the political use of the concepts of terrorism and political violence
  • Apply theoretical approaches to empirical examples of terrorism and political violence

Explore this module

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.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

Once you complete this Master's in International Relations, you'll be an informed global citizen with a sense of responsibility and commitment to ethical practice and issues of global social justice – skills in high demand across a range of professions.

You'll gain a broader understanding of international organisations and the issues facing them, and learn the skills needed to succeed in civil society and policy making environments, such as policy development, strategy and communication.

The course has allowed me to look deeper and expand my understanding in several areas that interest me, such as the challenges facing the EU and global security issues, as well as allowing me to develop my employability skills.

Jack Ashby, MA International Relations student

Graduates of this course have gone on to work in areas such as:

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

Graduates of this course have gone on to work for organisations such as:

  • Civil Service (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
  • Ministry of Defence

9 reasons to do a Master's

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and from our Careers and Employability Centre, which you can access for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

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 a 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)

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 1 year (full-time study)
  • 2 years (part-time study)

You can expect:

  • 2 hours of teaching time every week (lecture, seminar or workshop) for each module you study (pro rata for part-time students).
  • 24-30 hours of independent study each week if you study full-time, or 12-15 hours each week if you study part-time.

In the last 3 months of the course you'll be focusing on your dissertation.

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching methods on this course include:

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

Teaching expertise

The teaching staff on our International Relations Master's degree 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.

Assessment

You’ll be assessed through:

  • academic essays
  • briefing papers and reports
  • blog posts
  • narrated presentations
  • 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.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Mark Youngman, Course Leader

My research examines social movements, insurgency and political violence, leadership, and ideology, with a particular focus on Russia’s North Caucasus. I joined the University of Portsmouth in September 2019, having completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham.

My doctoral research examined questions of ideological variance and change across the North Caucasus insurgency, evaluating ideology’s relationship to internal movement dynamics and political environments. This research drew on my fluent Russian and developing Turkish language skills to examine extensive, unique primary source datasets, and to conduct field research in Russia and Turkey.

Read my full profile

Wolfram Kaiser, Professor of European Studies

Together with Dr Angela Crack, I lead the interdisciplinary Transnational Politics and Society research group within the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR). I also contribute to the activities of the linked European Union funded Centre of Excellence for the Study of Transnational Europe (CESTE).

I am currently working on linked projects on the history, politics, and narratives of (European) regional integration. I have recently published a study on the European Parliament’s role in advocating the institutional reform of the European Communities between 1979 and 1989. 

Read my full profile

Term dates

September start:

The Master’s academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you’ll be writing your project / dissertation. 

See term dates

January / February start:

The academic year for this course runs from January to the following January. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you’ll be writing your project / dissertation. 

See term dates

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning development tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • Understanding and using assignment feedback
  • Managing your time and workload
  • Revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty 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

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.


Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1-2-1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to:

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

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 In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2022 and January 2023 start)

  • Full-time: £9,400 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £4,700 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

  • Full time: £9,400 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £4,700 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

These figures both include the Transition Scholarship for EU students.

  • Full-time: £16,200 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £8,100 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

Additional 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 could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements​

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2022 / January 2023 start

Qualifications or experience
  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree in Politics, International Relations, Sociology or History, or an upper second-class honours degree in another relevant humanities or social sciences subject, such as Sociology, Criminology or Law.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not 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.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start dates in September and January, as long as there are places available. If you wait until your start month to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also 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.

Ready to apply?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2022

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

Start this course in January 2023

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

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.