Research course

International Relations

University of St Andrews · School of International Relations

Entry requirements

A strong performance at Masters-level in a relevant subject area.

Months of entry


Course content

The School of International Relations has been placed among the very best in the UK for the quality of its research, in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The REF assesses the significance, reach and impact of research carried out by academic staff, as well as the quality of the research environment supporting institutional research activities and postgraduate research supervision. A total of 56 UK universities were submitted to the panel.

In the latest assessment exercise, the School’s research overall was awarded 72% in the top two categories - either ‘world leading’ (4*) or ‘internationally excellent’ (3*) - and this included 90% of its impact cases and 100% of its research environment. Moreover, the School submitted the vast majority of its eligible staff for assessment - 89% - confirming its standing as a leading research intensive department where teaching excellence is informed by wide-ranging research. On the basis of its overall ‘Research Power’ results, therefore, the School is ranked in the top ten departments of Politics and International Relations in the UK.

Our research is focused around three broad themes:

One central theme, for both the field and the School, has always been how we should understand and think about conflict, peace and security. At St Andrews, this includes research on political violence and terrorism, international security, conflict between (and within) state and non-state actors, institutional responses to conflict, post-war reconstruction, normative theories of war and peace, human rights, regional tensions, the social construction of conflict, and the political economy of peace and violence.

A second central theme has been how we should understand the evolving character of global and supra-national institutions. This encompasses work on formal international institutions (e.g. the UN, regional associations), on regimes (environment, non-proliferation, on ideas about and practices of global order (the rise of great powers, the possibilities of global constitutionalism and global justice), and the interface between international relations and international law.

A third theme is the interpenetration of civil societies and international relations, encompassing work on religion and politics, debates around trauma and memorialisation, work on the ways in which ‘hidden actors’ are represented and understood in international relations (e.g. children), ideas and practices revolving around human rights politics, and the politics of resistance in the global south.

Department specialisms

Peace and Conflict Studies; Sub Saharan Africa; Children in International Relations; UN and Global Governance; European Security; Intelligence & Internal Security; US Foreign and Security Policy; International Political Economy; Terrorism and Political Violence & Middle East & Central Asia Studies, Human Rights, International Political Theory.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) score

REF 2015: 2nd in Scotland, UK ranking: 9, GPA 3.50

Information for international students

A high proportion of our research students are from overseas. Students whose first language is not English are required to sit an appropriate test and achieve IELTS overall 7.0 equivalent

Fees and funding

UK students
Fees confirmed early 2017
International students

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months


full time
24 months
part time
48 months

Course contact details

Postgraduae Secretary
+44 (0) 1334 462945