International relations is a diverse degree which allows you to investigate the complexities of relationships between different countries and apply this understanding to the world of work
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Civil Service fast streamer
- Diplomatic service officer
- Government social research officer
- Intelligence analyst
- International aid/development worker
- Public affairs consultant
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Armed Forces operational officer
- Broadcast journalist
- Higher education lecturer
- Information security specialist
- Risk manager
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
It's important to get relevant work experience to complement your degree. Volunteering can be a useful way of developing experience either in the UK or overseas.
Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the United Nations and the European Union, offer volunteering opportunities, internships and traineeships. The UN also offers a Young Professionals Programme for graduates wanting to start a career as an international civil servant.
Languages are key for a number of roles, so gaining work experience abroad, or other experience that allows you to develop language skills, can be of great benefit.
Working for a charity or non-governmental organisation (NGO) is another popular area of work and these can be good areas for volunteering or paid work experience.
If you’re interested in using your degree to work in the media, try writing for your university newspaper, blogging or writing for an online publication. For careers in other areas, such as teaching, business or law, you'll also need relevant experience.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
International relations graduates can work in a wide range of career areas in the commercial, public and charity sectors. Typical employers include:
- IGOs, such as the UN, UNICEF and The World Bank
- NGOs, such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
- local and national government
- media companies
- law firms
- international businesses.
If you want to use your degree directly, consider roles with government departments such as the Department for International Trade and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Skills for your CV
A degree in international relations enables you to develop an awareness of states and organsiations and how they connect in the world.
You also gain skills in:
- communicating effectively and fluently, both verbally and in writing, including an ability to translate complex ideas to a wide audience
- gathering, organising and presenting information and data from a variety of sources
- critically analysing information in order to form an argument and find possible solutions to problems or issues
- developing intercultural and global awareness, which is of value in a global job market
- working with others to achieve common goals through group work, group projects and group presentations
- time management and independent study skills, as well as an ability to reflect on your learning, and ethical considerations when using and presenting information
- using technology to research and present information and data.
Some graduates choose to study for further qualifications such as a Masters degree, PhD or vocational postgraduate course. A Masters course in international relations is an option, but you could also specialise in areas such as security studies, diplomacy or global governance. Alternatively you can focus on a specific geographical area, such as Europe, the Middle East or Asia.
Having developed a global outlook in your undergraduate studies, you can consider a Masters in international development, law or business. Cyber security is another option if you're interested in technology, as this area is becoming more important in international relations.
It's also possible to take more vocational routes into industries such as teaching, journalism or human resources, or you could do a conversion course such as the Graduate Diploma in Law.
What do international relations graduates do?
Three fifths of international relations graduates are in employment six months after graduation. A fifth become business, HR and finance professionals. Popular jobs include marketing professionals, researchers (national security and police) and business and related associate professionals.
|Working and studying||5.7|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Business, HR and financial||20.5|
|Marketing, PR and sales||17.4|
|Retail, catering and bar work||11.1|
|Secretarial and numerical clerks||10.9|
For a detailed breakdown of what international relations graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Find out more
- EU Careers
- United Nations careers
- Working for the Department for International Development
- Working for the Department for International Trade
- Working for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office