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If you're interested in the issues facing the global community and fascinated by history, this BA (Hons) International Relations with History degree course is for you.
You'll examine international issues such as the causes of conflicts, the challenges of managing migration and the global response to climate change. You'll look at current problems, past responses and government and global policies. You'll also study British and global history and develop your skills in research and analysis.
This course will set you up for a career or postgraduate study in areas such as government, the international charity sector, international organisations (such as the UN), culture and heritage, museums and international business. You'll have sought-after qualities you can transfer easily to the workplace in roles that involve analysis, research, communication and teamwork.
The University of Portsmouth is ranked the number 1 modern university for research quality in Area Studies
Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021
of graduates in work or further study 15 months after this course
(HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19)
To do this degree, you need to apply for the BA (Hons) International Relations course. This is because it's a 'pathway' degree.
You’ll study International Relations in depth and add History as a complementary subject in years 2 and 3. You’ll graduate with a BA (Hons) International Relations with History degree when you finish the course.
These are the entry requirements for the BA (Hons) International Relations course.
BA (Hons) International Relations degree entry requirements
- A levels - BBC-BCC
- UCAS points - 104-112 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- T-levels - Merit
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) - DMM
- International Baccalaureate - 25
You may need to have studied specific subjects – find full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept at UCAS.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
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.
We look at more than just your grades
While we consider your grades when making an offer, we also carefully look at your circumstances and other factors to assess your potential. These include whether you live and work in the region and your personal and family circumstances which we assess using established data.
What you'll experience
On this International Relations with History degree course you'll:
- Develop the skills to analyse the latest topics and issues in international relations by taking part in 'pop-up seminars' with staff and your peers, discussing events as they occur
- Enhance your studies by taking advantage of our close links with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Records Service and the D-Day Museum
- 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 access to primary and secondary historical sources through local organisations and archive subscriptions
- Develop career-enhancing skills alongside your academic study with skills training, opportunities to do work experience and the chance to learn another language
- Explore current debates about how the past is interpreted with expert scholars in the field
- Do 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 studies to your interests, aims and the periods of history that excite you most
- Take up an exchange opportunity at a university outside the UK, such as Nagoya University in Japan, Science Po or Caen-Normandy University in France, The Hague University of Applied Sciences or University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, University of Western Carolina in the USA, Prince Edward Island University or Carleton University in Canada, or Edith Cowan University in Australia
Why study International Relations?
Hear from our students about why they love studying international relations. Learn more about the variety of subjects, your career opportunities and what makes the University of Portsmouth special.
Dr Aishling Mc Morrow: International relations is how states interact in the international system. As you can imagine, it's really broad and we look at many different topics and issues within that. It's not just states that we look at: it's non-governmental organisations, it's terrorist organisations and how they all interplay and interact with each other to make up this thing, that is the international system.
India: I wanted to study this course because I've always had an interest in politics, and I felt that this course would provide me with opportunities to expand that knowledge while also gaining a greater global perspective on political issues.
Samantha: I had my 'aha' moment when I actually came to Portsmouth and my foundation programme was law with international relations because I wasn't sure which one I wanted to do. I actually spoke to a lecturer, and I was like, "Should I do IR or should I change to law?" and it was her passion for me that really sold me and I really found myself identifying with it, and then that's when I knew like, "okay, this is it".
Dr Aishling Mc Morrow: I think what students are attracted to is the variety of the course. So one day you could be studying conflict and security, and then the next day you might be studying development aid. Which are polar opposites, and they're different worlds, but you get to do that within your course.
Samantha: It teaches you to see people from another perspective and I think that's really important, not just in diplomacy, but in everyday life.
Joshua: The modules, they're so broad and vast so people can find their niches within that. So there you can find, "okay, this is what I stand for."
Dr Aishling Mc Morrow: There are a lot of career opportunities. We have students working with the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees, working in the House of Congress in the U.S. and working as researchers with Parliament in the U.K.
Johannes: I don't think I picked Portsmouth, I think Portsmouth picked me. This course really motivates me in this way to just go the extra mile, really do the reading, turn up and just invest my time and energy.
Dr Aishling Mc Morrow: The reason why I think students should study and come to the University of Portsmouth is because what our courses enable our students to do, is look at the events that's happening in the world today and have the ability to process them and critically analyse them and to question the information that's put in front of them.
Aleksandra: Ever since I've started to study International Relations I've completely fallen in love with it. First, when I got to my seminars or lectures, I felt like Alice in Wonderland exploring the world from completely different angles I would never think about before and that's what got me.
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work and support you in identifying postgraduate study opportunities.
What can you do with an International Relations degree?
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
- the heritage sector and museums
What jobs can you do with an International Relations degree?
Job roles former students have gone on to include:
- politician’s researcher
- public affairs consultant
- social researcher
- political analyst
- conference organiser
- local government administrator
- museum curator
- public relations officer
- information analyst
You could also continue your studies at Master's or PhD level.
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.
We'll also be available to help, advise and support you for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.
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.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
What you'll study on this BA (Hons) International Relations with History degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
Modules currently being studied
Core modules in this year include:
- Global Development – 20 credits
- Key Themes in International Relations – 20 credits
- Political Thought – 20 credits
- Professional Practice: Skills for Academic and Professional Success – 40 credits
- The Making of the Global South - 20 credits
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Bending the Truth a Little? Researching Politics and International Relations – 20 credits
- International Thought – 20 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- A History of US Foreign Policy: From the Great War to 9/11 – 20 credits
- Analysing Foreign Policy - 20 credits
- Autocracy and Democracy - 20 credits
- Development and Democracy in Latin America – 20 credits
- East Asian States and Societies – 20 credits
- Empire and its Afterlives in Britain, Europe and Africa - 20 credits
- Envisioning Ourselves: Media and the Making of Modern Britain, 1850-2000 - 20 credits
- Global Environmental Issues and Concerns - 20 credits
- Introduction to Teaching – 20 credits
- Modern Foreign Language (Institution-wide Language Programme) – 20 credits
- Professional Experience L5 - 20 credits
- The Hidden Lives of Things: Material Culture in the Early Modern World - 20 credits
- Underworlds: Crime, Deviance & Punishment in Britain, 1500-1900 – 20 credits
- US Politics – 20 credits
Core modules in this year include:
- Security Challenges in the Twenty-first Century – 20 credits
- Specialist Option: Empires and Identities - 20 credits
- Specialist Option: Societies in Revolution - 20 credits
Optional modules in this year include:
- Dissertation / Major Project – 40 credits
- France in the World: Global Actor or Global Maverick? – 20 credits
- Global Capitalism: Past, Present and Future – 20 credits
- Global Health – 20 credits
- Independent Project (International Relations) - 20 credits
- International Security in the Asia-Pacific - 20 credits
- NGOs and Social Movements – 20 credits
- Professional Development: Recruiters and Candidates – 20 credits
- Professional Experience L6 - 20 credits
- Race, Rights and Development: Global Perspectives on Inequality and Social Justice – 20 credits
- Religion and Politics in Global Perspective - 20 credits
- The European Union: A Global Power in the Making? - 20 credits
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.
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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written exams
- article reviews
- briefing papers
- individual and group presentations
- simulations, podcasts and creative videos
- 10,000 word dissertation
You’ll often 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.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- independent study
- work placement
- guest lectures
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
For more about the teaching activities for specific modules, see the module list above.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We use a blended learning approach to teaching, which means you’ll take part in both face-to-face and online activities during your studies. As well as attending your timetabled classes you'll study independently in your free time, supported by staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars and workshops for about 9 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get 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:
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
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 scheduled meeting.
Learning development tutors
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
Academic skills support
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
- 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.
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.
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 In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Course costs and funding
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,100 per year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
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.
Our accommodation section show your accommodation options and highlight how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
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 take a placement year or study abroad year, tuition fees for that year are as follows:
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £925 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £925 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £1,800 a year (subject to annual increase)
You need to choose BA (Hons) International Relations when you apply for this course, because this is a ‘pathway’ course. This is where you study International Relations in depth and add History as a complementary subject in years 2 and 3. You’ll then graduate with a BA (Hons) International Relations with History degree when you complete the course.
If you change your mind after you apply, you can choose not to study History in years 2 and 3. You’ll then graduate with a BA (Hons) International Relations degree when you complete the course.
How to apply
To start this course in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – L253
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
Applying from outside the UK
As an international student you'll apply using the same process as UK students, but you’ll need to consider a few extra things.
You can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
Find out what additional information you need in 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.