International relations is a diverse field that allows you to investigate the complexities of relationships between different countries and apply this understanding to the world of work

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

Work experience

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.

Typical employers

International relations graduates can work in a range of career areas in the commercial, public and charity sectors. Typical employers include:

  • banks
  • charities
  • IGOs, such as the UN, UNICEF and The World Bank
  • international businesses
  • law firms
  • local and national government
  • media companies
  • NGOs, such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

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.

Find information on employers in public services and administration, charity and voluntary work, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

By studying for a degree in international relations you'll learn about the relationship between nations and how they connect in the world. You'll examine how the individual culture of a nation and its politics, economics, governance, law and security impacts these relationships.

You'll also gain skills in:

  • effective verbal and written communication - 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.

Further study

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 can 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, 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 can do a conversion course.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in international relations.

What do international relations graduates do?

Four of the top five jobs held by international relations graduates include PR professional, marketing associate professional, business, research and administrative professional, and business and related research professional. The most popular job is public relation professional.

Further study13.1
Working and studying12
Graduate destinations for international relations
Type of workPercentage
Business, HR and finance23.5
Marketing, PR and sales15.6
Retail, catering and customoer service14.1
Clerical, secretarial and administrative12.6
Types of work entered in the UK

For a breakdown of what international relations graduates are doing after graduation, see What do graduates do?

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

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