Taught course

International Relations

Durham University · School of Government and International Affairs

Entry requirements

  • UK 2.1 Bachelor degree, or equivalent.
  • A degree in the field of Social Sciences is preferable, however, in assessing the application we also take into account other facilitating factors such as relevant such as relevant experience in lieu of this requirement.
  • Two satisfactory academic references. In cases of applicants who have significant relevant experience, one work-related reference and one academic reference would be considered appropriate.

Months of entry


Course content

Immerse yourself in debates about international politics, international organisations and how they influence relationships between nations. The MA in International Relations will equip you with the skills to challenge conventional thinking and analyse your own views about some of the most pressing global challenges.

The course covers both theoretical and empirical aspects of international relations, examining the history of the field, as well as in-depth study of the major international organisations that contribute to the global order. As the course progresses you will gain an understanding of how the international community has developed, and the forces that shape its development.

Focusing on contemporary issues such as globalisation, foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, and the role of international organisations, you will develop the knowledge and skills to critically review developments in the theory and practice of international relations. You will learn to evaluate concepts, theories, and paradigms, drawing lessons from real-world studies informed by quantitative and qualitative investigations.

Your learning will be informed by a wealth of ongoing research by experts working at the forefront of their field. Core modules in International Relations Theory and International Organisations form the foundation of the course. The remaining modules can be tailored to suit your interests, with options spanning topics from Designing Political Inquiry to Global Governance. The optional modules also give you an opportunity to focus on the politics of a specific region of the world in greater depth or study a language. These interests can be further developed through the researching and writing of the dissertation.

On completion, graduates are well placed to pursue careers in international organisations, politics, and the civil service. Others move into the wider fields of journalism, teaching, business, and research.

Course structure

Core modules:

International Relations Theory is a graduate-level introduction to international relations theory, exploring both mainstream and critical approaches to the subject. It provides you with an advanced understanding of some of the key concepts and theories in the field of international relations/international politics.

International Organisations familiarises you with the theoretical approaches used to analyse and explain the role of international organisations in global politics. You will learn about the history of organisations, their functions, their development, their internal dynamics, and contemporary debates on their current role in international relations. The module aims to provide an understanding that extends beyond the core institutions of global governance, encompassing less formalised institutions and those that lie beyond the West.

The Dissertation is a substantial piece of independent work in a related aspect of international relations. The 10,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the MA, bringing together elements of learning from across the course.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Core Concepts in Political Science
  • The Politics of Global Europe
  • Designing Political Inquiry
  • Global Governance
  • Global Political Theory
  • Ideologies and Political Thought
  • International Politics of the Middle East
  • The Politics of East Asia

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

School of Government and International Affairs