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 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 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

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

Skills for your CV

Studying for a degree in international relations allows you to understand the relationship between nations and how they connect in the world.

You develop knowledge of how the individual culture of a nation and its politics, economics, governance, law and security impacts these international relations, both in terms of collaboration and competition.

You also gain skills in:

  • effective verbal and written communication - including the 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 the ability to reflect on your learning and consider ethical considerations when using and presenting information
  • using technology to research and present information and data.

Further study

Some graduates choose to develop their knowledge further by taking a postgraduate course, such as a Masters degree, in international relations. 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. It's also possible to undertake a PhD if you're particularly interested in research.

Having developed a global outlook during their undergraduate studies, some graduates go on to take 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.

You can also undertake further training to move into professions such as teaching, journalism and human resources.

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?

The top five jobs held by international relations graduates include sales, marketing and related associate professionals (10%), business, research and administrative professionals (9%), media professionals (7%), HR (3%) and finance professionals (3%).

Further study12.3
Working and studying11.6
Graduate destinations for international relations
Type of workPercentage
Business, HR and finance24.6
Marketing, PR and sales18
Clerical, secretarial and administrative15
Legal, social and welfare9.2
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 Outcomes survey data from HESA.

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