International Relations BA (Hons)

Study global issues such as the causes of conflict, the challenges of managing migration and the rise of populism on this International Relations degree course.

University of Portsmouth Connected Degree - 3 year course with 4th year placement

Key information

UCAS code:


Typical offer:

104-112 UCAS points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent

See full entry requirements
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Examine the major issues affecting the world. Discover why nation states rise and fall. Take a closer look at the factors behind international conflict, and learn the role state leaders, NGOs, civil society and activists play in solving these problems.

On this BA (Hons) International Relations degree, you'll explore topics like global migration and the rise of populist politics around the world. You’ll learn the skills required to play your part in improving equality and enacting positive change.

And after graduation, you’ll be ready for careers in local and national government, security, tech, intelligence, and with international charities and institutions like the UN.

The University of Portsmouth is ranked the number 1 modern university for research quality in Area Studies

Research Excellence Framework , (REF) 2021

Read more about our excellent research in Area Studies

Course highlights

  • Learn from staff at our Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), whose research directly impacts government policy
  • Create policy briefing papers offering recommendations to practitioners on major recent international issues, such as the Ukraine Crisis, the 'MeToo' movement, the rise of terrorist organisations and the Arab Revolutions
  • Attend events and talks led by people working in NGOs, local, national and international government, and journalism
  • Go on field trips to locations such as the Houses of Parliament
  • Participate in a simulated ‘academic conference’, where you’ll present a paper that will be discussed with your peers
  • Have the opportunity to do a work placement year after your second or third year on this Connected Degree - we're the only UK university to offer flexible sandwich placements for undergraduates
  • 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
  • Choose to learn a foreign language for free as part of your degree, from a selection of Arabic, British Sign Language, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish


of graduates in work or further study

(HESA graduate outcomes survey 2020/21)

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions

Entry requirements​

BA (Hons) International Relations degree entry requirements

Typical offers

  • 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

English language requirements

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications.

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.

Typical offers

  • 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 or GCSEs - see full entry requirements and other qualifications we accept.

English language requirements

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.

See alternative English language qualifications.

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.

Worried about your grades?

If you're not sure you meet the entry requirements, or need some help to get uni-ready, then we offer this course with a foundation year to bring you up to speed. When you successfully finish, you'll get a guaranteed place on this course.

Explore BA (Hons) International Relations with Foundation Year

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I love Portsmouth, I love the university, every tutor and lecturer I had over the three years was really supportive, and my course was brilliant.

Joseph Bridgebrowne, BA (Hons) International Relations

Optional pathways

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:

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

The analytical skills you’ll develop on this course are in demand – your ability to understand complex issues and find solutions to them means that roles across government agencies, NGOs, charities, think tanks and international organisations are all within your reach.

And with technology continuing to develop at a frantic pace, there’s an ever-increasing demand for graduates with the knowledge required to ensure new developments are ethical. 

When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills and cultural experience to work. 

What can you do with an International Relations degree? 

Graduates from this degree have gone on to careers in the following sectors:

  • local and central government 
  • embassies
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • security services 
  • international organisations, like the United Nations (UN) 
  • international charities like War Child, Amnesty International or the Red Cross 
  • policy research and think tanks
  • media and international business consultancy 
  • political risk analysis 
  • public relations 
  • voluntary organisations 
  • management 
  • banking and financial services
  • tourism 

Placement year (optional)

After your second or third year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry.

Taking an optional placement year will give you the experience you need to increase your chances of landing your perfect role. We'll give you all the support you need to find a placement that prepares you for your career, and we'll continue to mentor you throughout your placement.

Previous students have been on placements to organisations such as:

  • The Ministry of Defence
  • The House of Commons
  • National Museum of the Royal Navy
  • Otra Cosa (Peru)
  • SEK International
  • Freedom from Torture
  • Victim Support London
  • Tools for Self Reliance

You could also choose to set up your own business, or take a voluntary placement.

What jobs can you do with an International Relations degree?

Recent graduates have gone on to roles including:

  • director of Language Studies for an international school
  • political researcher, Houses of Parliament
  • assistant to Member of Parliament
  • civil servant, the Cabinet Office
  • senior policy advisor, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • communications officer, House of Commons
  • local government administrator, Government of Jersey
  • public affairs consultant 
  • bilingual consultant 
  • multilingual project coordinator 
  • translator 
  • social researcher 
  • information officer 
  • conference producer

Ongoing career support – up to 5 years after you graduate

Get experience while you study with support to find part-time jobs, volunteering opportunities and work experience. Towards the end of your degree and after graduation, you'll get 1-to-1 support from our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to find your perfect role.
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During my degree, I was lucky enough to be a delegate at Harvard’s National Model United Nations Conference with hundreds of other university students from around the world.

Samantha Chihuri, BA (Hons) International Relations

Read Samantha's story

International Relations and Politics research at the University of Portsmouth

Ed Stoddard, Reader in International Security, explains how cutting-edge research like his (into the changing character of warfare) informs our courses and talks about some of the career opportunities this course can lead to.

Ed Stoddard: So the research I do here at the University is focused on the changing character of warfare.

Over the last few years I've been particularly focusing on questions to do with terrorism and violent extremism in the West African region, especially around the Lake Chad area.

And we use that research and distribute it at conferences and events with policymakers, both here in the UK, but also in West Africa as well. Armed conflicts are so destructive and, you know, I think it's incumbent on us as researchers who work in this area to try and think of ways they can be avoided, of course, in the first instance.

But if, when those armed conflicts do happen, try and think of measures that we can put in place to reduce their impact.

So the research connects with students here in a number of different ways. It supports the work they do in terms of their dissertations, but also directly into the modules that they study.

You know, our research, once we've done it and we've written the papers and we've publish the outputs, that gets then translated into the lectures that we deliver. So they will be directly learning and benefiting from that research that we've done out in the field in their studies and contributing to their degree.

There's a really broad range of different career opportunities that are available to students. The Foreign Office, the Civil Service and more broadly, the Ministry of Defence.

But also we have students who go to international organisations, NGOs, charities that work internationally in conflict zones, and we also have quite a lot of students who go into various research roles and risk analysis roles.

Portsmouth is a really exciting and vibrant city and the university is literally at the heart of the city. I think also the university has a really strong focus on student support and a really strong focus on teaching quality.

And I know that my colleagues spend very considerable amount of that time working to make sure that the experience for Portsmouth students is a really brilliant one. And I think those are some of the key reasons why students who are here really enjoy their degrees.


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.

What you'll study

Foundation year

If you're not sure you meet the entry requirements, or need some help to get uni-ready, then we offer this course with a foundation year to bring you up to speed.

  • You'll study on the University of Portsmouth campus with access to all facilities, support and societies
  • When you finish your foundation year successfully, you get a guaranteed place on BA (Hons) International Relations
  • Get used to how lectures, seminars and tutorials work, so you can move on to your degree ready for success
  • Learn how to meet the demands of taking on a bachelor's degree at university

Explore BA (Hons) International Relations with Foundation Year

Core modules

You'll hone your abilities in writing, analytical thinking, research, public speaking and networking alongside your fellow students and supported by your personal tutor, alumni and experts in your field.

You'll develop an awareness of conceptual frameworks and methodologies, and learn how to find and analyse sources and data to support your ideas.

You'll study the changing relationships between the different organisations involved in international aid and development, including multilateral and bilateral development organisations and nongovernmental actors.

You'll also look at trends in development thinking and place development within the wider context of global capitalism.

You'll begin to explore key themes, such as the making of the modern world, war and peace, security, diplomacy, sovereignty, climate change and development, as well as the various ways to conceptualise and analyse these issues.

By the end of the module, you'll have developed a critical understanding of International Relations, gained insights into the historical foundations of the modern world, and engaged with a range of contemporary global issues.

This comprehensive introduction prepares you for further studies and encourages you to question and analyse the complex dynamics of world politics.

You'll explore ideas of human nature, the relationship between individuals and societies, the authority of the state, duties and rights, liberty and freedom, social justice, ethics, war and political violence.

By looking at the ideas of both historical and contemporary thinkers, you'll develop knowledge and understanding of the social and political contexts within which these ideas were developed as well as how they continue to inform our thinking about central issues in politics and international relations today.

On this module, you'll discover how this 'Global South' came to be, building on different disciplinary approaches.

You'll look issues that affect a range of regions and countries including Africa, South East and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well development related challenges making an impact in the Global North, such as social movements, political violence and terrorism, social cohesion, discrimination and racism.

Core modules

You'll explore International Relations theory, international political thought, as well as critical approaches including post-structuralism and post-colonialism.

You'll compare mainstream ideas with historically marginalised ideas, considering their diverse understandings of the nature of order, as well as how these should be studied.

You'll build skills in evaluating global affairs, learning how to apply wisdom when assessing rights, responsibilities and reforms.

Explore academic, official and journalistic sources and learn how to form your own coherent arguments.

You'll develop your research skills and understanding of research methodologies while sifting through various answers, identifying those that are credible versus those based on unfounded or misleading information.

You'll learn how to assess competing truth claims and information, and gain the practical know-how to ask your own questions, offer your own answers and conduct your own research.

Optional modules

You'll learn diverse perspectives on formulating and presenting policy, taking into account key variables like leadership, security, and global dynamics.

You'll deploy theories to critically analyse major decisions and their outcomes, strengthening your understanding through case studies of milestone events.

You'll also debate and discuss how policy intersects with national interests and global security, and build skills to explain and evaluate policies coherently.

You’ll begin by exploring how countries like Argentina, Chile and Brazil transitioned from military dictatorships to democracies towards the end of the 20th century.

You’ll also learn about the dramatic public protests and negotiations that eventually toppled these dictatorships in the late 20th century as part of the "Third Wave" of democratisation.

However, installing democratic systems has not been easy - you’ll also analyse the political, economic and social challenges that societies across the region are grappling with in the 21st century. To what extent have the region's new democracies been able to challenge deep seated inequalities in class, gender and race/ethnicity? And what do ordinary people think about development and democracy across the region?

You’ll explore ideas around modernisation, colonialism and nationalism and how they shape education, gender roles, ethnicity, class, sexuality and everyday life in this part of the world.

By comparing the experiences of different countries when it comes to industrialisation, democratisation and conflict, you’ll learn how to appreciate complex regional dynamics.

You’ll analyse the powers of key institutions like the Presidency, Congress and Supreme Court, and examine federal-state relations and the influence of lobbies and civil society groups.

You’ll also explore hot-button issues like gun control, abortion and capital punishment to see political divides up close.

You’ll explore the rise of the US across the twentieth century from a regional power to a global superpower and the domestic and international pressures upon the USA that caused it to go through alternating periods of isolationism and global engagement.

You’ll also delve into the two global wars and why the US entered them later than most other nations, the isolationist interwar years, the start of the Cold War, the Vietnam Conflict and the War on Terror.

In this module, you’ll explore European colonisation of Africa, asking questions like - how did they justify colonial rule, and how did African peoples respond to these colonisers?

You’ll learn how, after World War II, colonial rule was increasingly challenged from both within the empire, by growing African demands for political rights, and in the international arena, with the global trend towards trusteeship, development and self-determination.

You’ll also explore European relations with Africa in the post-colonial era, looking at themes which may include ideas about civilisation, universalism and race, modern attempts to 'rehabilitate' empire in the media, and the legacies of colonialism in Britain, Europe and Africa.

You’ll collaborate with students on other courses to explore and address societal and environmental challenges faced by local and global communities. You’ll choose projects from a range of topic areas aligned with the university's Civic Strategy.

With input from local organisations, you’ll think about your topic from multiple perspectives, developing your interdisciplinary thinking and ability to work with others.

You’ll analyse the essence of security, exploring how security needs are addressed around the world and on a national level, down to a community and even an individual basis.

You’ll explore different forms of societal risk and insecurity, and approaches to dealing with security threats, taking into account the nature and impact of economic and political developments.

You'll learn how to think critically about the key concepts that link language, culture and communication, considering the benefits and limitations of these ideas.

You'll explore the different ways in which communication intersects with culture across themes such as identity, education, gender, and the media.

Alongside what you learn, you'll improve your skills in analysis, research and intercultural awareness.

You'll learn about consumer behaviour and brand strategy, and spend time examining real-world marketing campaigns. You'll also think about how social, political and technological forces can affect the way businesses approach marketing their products and services.

Skills you'll develop include carrying out market research and learning how to use what you learn, crafting targeted messaging across different marketing channels, and presenting your ideas verbally and in writing.

You'll learn about major economic, political and cultural changes in Western Europe over the nineteenth century, and how these affected the rest of the world as time went on.

You'll explore the big ideas that have shaped the modern world, and weigh up the benefits and perils of globalisation. Skills you'll develop on this module include independent research, critical thinking and effective communication.

You'll also learn to understand the opportunities and challenges of today's world from an informed, global perspective.

You’ll look critically ideas of nationalism historically and today with a focus on the everyday, intimate and embodied boundaries of nation-states and how these shape our lives, including those of us living in the most privileged parts of the world.

You’ll explore real-world cases to understand the individual and societal impacts on human lives, developing your analytical skills and imagining more compassionate alternatives.

You’ll unpack the language of tabloids, broadsheets and online news, analysing how journalists shape public understanding of current events.

Develop your critical thinking by confronting moral panics and polarised politics in reporting.

Create your own news stories and gain real insight into mass communication in a rapidly changing landscape.

You'll analyse major cases of economic crime and weigh up their wider societal implications.

You'll also learn how to recognise disciplinary perspectives, become familiar with the key investigating organisations, identify investigative techniques, and gather and analyse real case information.

With a minimum 80-hour commitment, you’ll apply what you’ve learned so far on your degree to real-world professional settings within our community of local businesses, social enterprises, and third-sector organisations.

You’ll have support from interactive workshops, tutorials, and guest speaker events, encouraging you to set achievable professional goals and evolve your professional identity.

You’ll analyse American texts against the backdrop of intellectual, social and political change, evaluating how writers grappled with emerging ideas around national identity, race, gender and more.

By honing skills for contextual analysis and independent thought, you’ll form your own interpretations of iconic works that reflect the American experience.

You'll understand how this region is a crucial nexus of competing global powers while assessing the impacts of post-communist transformation.

You'll also delve into the tug-of-war between European democratic and Russian neo-imperial states through analysing current affairs.

Finally, you'll develop the critical thinking skills to forecast future implications of regional events for international relations.

You'll assess the strategic control of space and resources alongside economic competition, and examine Africa's rich potential alongside its enduring struggles, from human security to gender equity and beyond.

You'll develop a nuanced understanding of the continent as a crucial nexus of cooperation and conflict between foreign interests.

You’ll analyse diverse transitional justice approaches balancing community healing and judicial accountability after mass atrocities.

Comparing mechanisms like war crimes tribunals, truth commissions and reparations programmes, you’ll evaluate effectiveness in restoring dignity and preventing recurrence.

With case studies from Europe to Africa, from Latin America to Asia, you'll examine tensions between western models and local cultural perspectives, assessing what ‘justice’ means to vulnerable peoples.

Throughout, you'll trace incremental human rights legislation advances, assessing global institutions’ roles protecting civilians from authoritarian regimes and wartime abuses.

Through interactive lectures with academics, speakers and professionals, you'll discuss, debate and complete practical exercises exploring wildlife crime alongside your classmates.

You'll spend time examining wildlife crimes and the factors behind them, as well as environmental justice and sustainability.

Core modules

You'll get to grips with some of the most pressing security challenges currently facing policy makers, reflecting on new debates in security studies while critically examining the enduring relevance of strategic thought in the face of contemporary challenges.

You'll consider a range of contemporary events and issues, analysing the various modes and causes of contemporary global threats and the options and responses of those security actors tasked to deal with them.

Optional modules

It's up to you what your dissertation or project is about - this will be your chance to showcase your passion for international relations by choosing a subject area or topic that most interests you.

You'll draw on everything you've learned so far to investigate, analyse, craft and refine your dissertation or project, using existing texts, sources and artefacts to support your arguments and give them context. You'll have the support of a dedicated dissertation tutor to guide you throughout this module.

This real-world, project-based module lets you address an identified need or gap by designing an innovative product, service or resource.

With support from university staff and external partners, you'll demonstrate critical thinking, ethical awareness and project management abilities.

Your final project and presentation will showcase your employability and capacity for high-impact solutions.

You'll tackle questions such as, what is capitalism and in whose interests does it work? Do some models of capitalism work better than others? Can we reconcile capitalist modes of production and consumption with protecting our environment?

Examine relevant political economy theory and open up debates about power, multinational capital, gender, identity and climate crisis.

You'll investigate grassroots campaigners alongside major international NGOs - evaluating their tactics, contributions and accountability.

By probing the relationships between volunteer networks, businesses and government, you'll develop new ideas on what can and cannot be achieved by public advocacy. Do civil society organisations challenge or reinforce the prevailing world order?

You'll learn about the job application process from the perspective of both candidates and recruiters, thinking about what employers look for in graduates and how you can optimise your own professional profile.

Through mock interviews and assessments, you'll hone your skills and learn how to communicate your achievements and career goals, ready to take the next step after you graduate.

You'll critically examine the concepts of ethnicity, race and culture historically and theoretically, using regional case studies from Latin America, Africa and those of indigenous peoples.

You'll consider these regional case studies alongside recent developments at the international level regarding cultural and indigenous rights and struggles around racial inequality and violence.

You'll complete the module with a major project on a region of the world of your choice.

It's up to you what your project is about - this will be your chance to showcase your passion for international relations by choosing a subject area or topic that most interests you.

You'll draw on everything you've learned so far to investigate, analyse, craft and refine your project, using existing texts, sources and artefacts to support your arguments and give them context.

You'll have the support of a dedicated tutor to guide you throughout this module.

You'll gain critical insight into the colonial foundations shaping today's world politics, from notions of human rights to capitalism itself.

Explore how legacies of colonisation manifest in different ways, across development to democracy.

Equip yourself to rethink Eurocentric perspectives and address systemic inequities in international relations.

You'll explore France's foreign policies, defence strategies and power dynamics within Europe and beyond.

Spend time thinking critically about its international influence and motivations, and learn how other regions of the world view its actions, from 'special' ties with former colonies to controversial stances on key issues.

This module will help you develop the skills to unpack complex geopolitical questions. You'll gain a deeper understanding of France's bid to remain an influential force in our rapidly changing world.

You'll analyse how history, geography, culture, economics and politics converge to impact wellbeing in specific countries and worldwide.

You'll weigh up interventions on issues from malnutrition to maternal mortality, and consider how ethical, evidence-based recommendations can advance health equity, drawing on statistics and on-the-ground experiences.

You'll get an overview of the power politics in the region, including China's resurgence, Japan's constraints and the United States' rebalancing.

You'll examine both traditional and non-traditional security issues across the region, from tension on the Korean peninsula, to the human costs of illiberal politics in Southeast Asia.

With a minimum 80-hour commitment, you'll apply what you've learned so far on your degree to real-world professional settings within our community of local businesses, social enterprises, and third-sector organisations.

You'll have support from interactive workshops, tutorials, and guest speaker events, encouraging you to set achievable professional goals and evolve your professional identity.

You'll evaluate diverse cases of religion intertwining with critical issues like nationalism, peacebuilding, violence and more.

Discussing the perspectives of policymakers to extremists, you'll tackle intriguing questions head on.

How do religious ideas still drive political agendas worldwide? How does faith unite communities yet fuel divisions? And could rediscovering religion's role in human life hold keys to solving global problems?

You'll rethink European (market) integration from the perspective of state, non-state, and regional actors across the globe, focusing on the question of how and to what extent EU institutions and policies have contributed to shaping international economic governance.

Tackling different interpretations of the EU as a regional and global power, you'll explore though-provoking questions: As the EU negotiates new trade deals and economic partnerships, who really benefits? Does the EU attempt to use its global market power to create a safer world? And to what extent have colonial legacies shaped the EU as an economic superpower?

Optional modules

Work Placement Year or Study Year Abroad

Boost your employability by taking an industry-based work placement year or immerse yourself in another culture by studying for a year at one of our partner universities worldwide.

This is an amazing opportunity to either put everything you’ve learned so far into action in a real workplace in the UK or overseas, or to expand your horizons and set yourself up for your future career by studying abroad.

If you choose a work placement year, we’ll help you find and secure an exciting placement opportunity within an appropriate company or organisation. You’ll have the chance to try out skills and gain experience that’ll help you clarify your next career steps, while building capabilities employers seek. 

If you choose to study abroad, you’ll expand your global perspective and develop additional skills to boost your future career, as well as making memories, new friends and career contacts.

This is a Connected Degree

We're the only university that gives you the flexibility to choose when to take a work placement. Take it after your second year, before returning to finish your studies. Or after your final year, connecting you into the workplace.

If you're not sure if or when to take your placement, don't worry. You'll have plenty of time to settle into your studies and explore your options before making your choice. 

Find out more about Connected Degrees

Want to know more about what you'll study on this course? Over on our blog, senior lecturer Aishling McMorrow explores what an international relations degree involves.

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.

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.

Jemma Humphries, BA Hons International Relations student

What is the Academic Enrichment Programme?

As part of this course, you'll have the chance to take part in our Academic Enrichment Programme (AEP) - an interactive set of workshops, seminars, employability events and other activities, including our Model United Nations. Here's what the AEP is all about.

Melita Lazell: The Academic Enrichment Programme is a programme of events that sits alongside the students' normal academic classes, including the model 'United Nations', an annual student conference, alumni coming in and telling students about their experience in the workplace. Quite often these seminars and also the events are run by the students themselves. 

Alex: The events of what's happening in the future career and they will definitely give me that positive boost that I will be looking for and the different skills that they're able to bring and offer me. 

Melita Lazell: The Academic Enrichment Programme events are really connected to the degree courses that the students are doing. 

Aleksandia: I think that this is a brilliant opportunity to test yourself in discussion, arguments and the statements you're making and to critical thinking. 

Simao: Today, I attended the jobs in the EU after Brexit and I found it really interesting. 

Alex: I learnt what sort of links I could use and what sorts of contacts I could go to in order to find those particular jobs and places and what skills are employers looking for generally on a day to day basis, so I'm really happy with the experience that I've had so far. 

Aleksandia: The University is all about planning. If you've got the schedule and if you give yourself some time for your activities that's going to enrich you beyond the University, beyond the assessments you're doing, beyond the lectures you're going to and seminars you're attending, this is what helps you to develop yourself, your professional skills and knowledge as well. 

Husnain: Many students should definitely consider the Academic Enrichment Programme because not only is it a huge investment in their potential career and their time, but it's a brilliant way for them to really consolidate their learning in a way where they're leading the investigation. 

Melita Lazell: They can actually be involved in organising the events in inviting speakers, they could sit on a panel themselves to debate a particular topic, and we get really great feedback from students about the Academic Enrichment Programme. 

How you're assessed

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:

  • Year 1 students: 15% by exams and 85% by coursework
  • Year 2 students: 100% by coursework
  • Year 3 students: 100% by coursework

Your coursework may include:

  • coursework
  • article reviews
  • essays
  • projects
  • briefing papers
  • simulations, podcasts and creative videos
  • 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.


Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • independent study
  • work placement
  • plenaries
  • simulations
  • roundtables
  • guest lectures

You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a web connection.

Teaching staff profiles

Wolfram Kaiser

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 ComparativContemporary British HistoryContemporary European HistoryGeschichte in Wissenschaft und UnterrichtHistorical JournalJournal of Common Market StudiesJournal of Contemporary European StudiesJournal of Contemporary HistoryJournal of European Integration HistoryJournal of European Public PolicyJournal of Modern HistoryNational Identities, and Revue d'histoire diplomatique.

Melita Lazell

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).

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 BA Hons International Relations degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars and workshops for about 10 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.

Term dates

The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.

See term dates

Supporting you

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:

Types of support

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 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

  • 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 – £17,200 per year (subject to annual increase)

  • 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 – £17,200 per year (subject to annual increase)

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.

Tuition fees terms and conditions

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 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.

You'll need to pay additional costs anywhere between £50–£1,000 to cover travel, accommodation or subsistence if you take a placement abroad.

The amount you'll pay will vary, depending on the location and length of your stay. It will also depend on additional funding the UK Government makes available after Brexit and if the UK remains part of the Erasmus+ student mobility programme or not.

During your placement year or study abroad year, you’ll be eligible for a discounted rate on your tuition fees. Currently, tuition fees for that year are:

  • UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £1,385 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • EU students – £1,385 a year, including Transition Scholarship (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £2,875  a year (subject to annual increase)

The costs associated with your specific destination will be discussed during your second year, as well as possible sources of additional funding.


How to apply

To start this course in 2024, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

  • the UCAS course code – L253
  • our institution code – P80

Apply now through UCAS


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.

Looking for this course with a foundation year?

Take a look at BA (Hons) International Relations with Foundation Year

To start this course in 2025, apply through UCAS. You'll need:

  • the UCAS course code – L253
  • our institution code – P80

Apply now through UCAS


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.

Looking for this course with a foundation year?

Take a look at BA (Hons) International Relations with Foundation Year

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.