MA International Relations

Duration Full time 1 year
Part time 2 years
  • Politics and International Relations
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


The MA International Relations equips you with the theoretical and empirical research tools to understand the forces that shape global politics. A postgraduate degree in International Relations is a pathway to a range of careers from NGOs to international organisations such as the UN or think tanks. Our teaching methods are innovative and working with a group of world-leading researchers will ensure your degree is cutting edge and highly sought after.

Flexibility to follow your interests with a world-leading cluster of researchers

To understand something as complex as the contemporary world order, theory is invaluable. This foundation will be a benchmark and guide to investigating the complex security and public policy issues of the 21st century. These include:

  • Terrorism
  • Global resistance movements
  • The politics of the Middle East
  • US foreign policy
  • Rising powers
  • Global ethics and human rights
  • International law and governance
  • International political theory

There is considerable scope to study specific topics of interest to you alongside world-leading researchers in their field. Your learning will be led by staff associated with the Centre for Advanced International Studies, who have contributed to contemporary public debates through newspaper articles, television appearances and through social media.

Innovative teaching

Teaching in the department is research-led, ensuring that what you learn will be cutting edge and at the heart of contemporary public debate.  This will be broadly seminar-based, giving you the chance to debate the ideas and policies that are shaping the world around us with high-achieving students and experts in the field. Content is delivered through a range of innovative teaching methods, including:

  • Debates
  • Role-plays and simulations
  • Field trips
  • Graduate-level conferences

You will benefit from a dedicated personal tutor and have the time and freedom to direct your own learning to meet the requirements of the modules.

Extra-curricular events

Extra-curricular events, like stand-alone talks given by policy makers, activists and scholars, are hugely beneficial to giving added perspective of contemporary world politics. Recent contributors have included:

  • Aid workers from conflict and post conflict zones
  • Ex-special forces soldier who served in Afghanistan
  • David Miliband
  • The Head of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan
  • The Head of MI6
  • BBC journalist now turned documentary-maker. 

Our active student societies also regularly organise events, such as trips to Brussels to visit NATO and European Union institutions.

Developing your career

While this is a challenging degree, which attracts students hoping to go on to PhD research, International Relations is also a highly sought after postgraduate degree for a range of professions other than academia. The MA in International Relations gives you a global perspective on contemporary politics, trains you to express yourself clearly and persuasively and will develop you into an independent and critical thinker. These skills are highly sought after, particularly in:

  • Government
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Aid agencies and pressure groups
  • Law and finance
  • Publishing and the media
  • International organisations like the European Union and the United Nations
  • Think tanks
  • Academia

I have greatly enjoyed the challenges of postgraduate study. This course has allowed me to engage in debates in seminars and draw links between IR theory and current international events.

I would definitely recommend this course; it is a big step up from undergraduate study and requires independent study but the lecturers are always willing to help discuss, as well as challenge any ideas you have or arguments you are developing. It will change your perspective on the world.

Charlotte Bowern MA International Relations.

Programme structure

The programme is studied over 12 months (full time) or 24 months (part time). You will complete 180 credits which include at least 60 credits of directed options modules, optional modules and a dissertation.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

Members of staff teaching on the MA International Relations have a wide range of research interests including humanitarianism, peace building, security, democracy, activism, and indigenous movements. They include visiting scholars at Harvard and Brown Universities, and the Australian National University, and provide consultancy to organisations such as the Department for International Development.

The programme is made up of two core modules and a choice of two further optional modules from a broad cross section of the core concerns of the discipline. A 15,000 word dissertation is also a core requirement of the MA.

Teaching takes place over the first two terms leaving the third to concentrate on your dissertation.


Learning is student-led. In practice, this consists of two core activities:

  • Extensive reading and reflection in preparation for the seminar discussions (anywhere up to 30 hours a week)
  • Seminar presentations

On completion of the programme, you will have acquired:

  • a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the key concepts and principal approaches to international relations.
  • a sophisticated understanding of new perspectives in international relations, and their application to contemporary issues and practice in world politics
  • subject-specific, core academic, and personal and key skills.
  • a coherent programme of study that matches your interests and needs.

Our students tell us they particularly enjoy group work in which they lead the debate and exchange ideas. You will usually present in small groups of about three or four, followed by question and answer sessions with other students. This gives you the chance to develop useful skills such as presenting, formulating an argument, and leading and facilitating groups. Students come from around the world and a wide range of backgrounds including new graduates and professionals working in a variety of government bodies, NGOs, aid agencies and pressure groups. The diversity of their perspectives and experience contributes to an exciting and rewarding environment for the study of International Relations.

As a Masters student in International Relations you can attend regular research seminars held across the College of Social Sciences and International Studies and organised by our research centres. These are given by academics from Exeter and other Universities in the UK and overseas, as well as guest speakers from the private, public and charity sectors.


Seminar tutors direct and facilitate class debate and discussions. In class you will fine-tune your critical reading skills, learn to present in front of an audience, to ask and field incisive questions, and work with your peers to develop consensus views and challenge those of others. A range of media will be used in teaching, from video and audio, newspaper articles and academic journal articles. Fictional works and documentaries also provide insight on how societies interpret and portray international politics.

Assessing your work

Assessment varies between modules but will involve essays, workshop contributions, presentations and exams. You will also be expected to write a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject that has captured your imagination, or is of particular political importance to you. We will provide dedicated research training to help you structure both the research and writing of your dissertation. Developing the ability to express complex ideas succinctly and in depth, is a core skill that will stand you in good stead no matter what your chosen career may be.  


The MA International Relations is challenging and intellectually stimulating. It places you in the very heart of the current world events and equips you with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand them better. Most importantly, this course gives you the freedom to study and research topics that you are truly passionate about. Lectures are taught in small seminar groups, where you can participate in heated debates and discussions covering a wide range of political events and controversies, such as 9/11, Syrian crisis, gender inequalities, racism, energy security and climate change. Also, lecturers are always very helpful and supportive. You get a lot of contact hours.

Overall, it is a very interpersonal approach, which I highly value.

Alexandra Mochalova MA International Relations.


While this is a challenging theory-based degree, which attracts high quality students hoping to go on to PhD study, the MA International Relations is also relevant to a wide range of careers.

Many of our students are working professionals in governments around in the world, NGOs and aid agencies and choose to take the MA International Relations to provide them with a broader perspective and develop their careers.

Students go on to work in aid agencies; the media; NGOs in the UK and overseas; government bodies such as the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office; the Diplomatic Service; international organisations including EU institutions and the United Nations; and think tanks. Many of our students also stay on to study for MPhil/PhD and Masters by Research and follow academic careers.

Apart from specialist knowledge and skills relating a range of careers in government, diplomacy, journalism and the third sector, you will also develop transferrable skills that are highly desirable in a range of careers. These include:

  • high-level research and writing skills
  • analysis, evaluation and presentation skills
  • excellent communication skills and experience, both written and oral
  • good IT skills which may include the handling of statistical data
  • independent work skills of time-planning and motivation

Employment and professional development

Our excellent Employability and Graduate Development Service provides invaluable support, advice and access to graduate employers. Visit the employment and professional development pages for more information, including podcasts and profiles, about the range of support available. 


Library services

Our main library is one of only five UK academic libraries open 24/7 throughout the academic year. With a book stock in excess of 1.2 million, we have one of the highest UK academic library ratios of books to students. The main library offers self-service machines, state-of-the-art multimedia facilities, and an extended wifi network. The library provides world-class study facilities to all students. It has extensive holdings of works on political science, international relations and the various sub-disciplines.

Entry requirements

We are looking for graduates with a 2:1 or above in their first degree. While we normally only accept applicants who meet this criteria, if you have a 2:2 or equivalent, are coming from a different academic background which is equivalent to degree level, or have relevant work experience, we would welcome your application.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

  • UK/EU: £9,000 full-time; £4,500 part-time
  • International: £19,000 full-time

University funding

The funding section has information on all available Scholarships, Bursaries and Studentships open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

Please contact us if you would like more information about this programme, or if you would like to arrange to come and see us.

Postal address

University of Exeter
Amory Building
Rennes Drive
United Kingdom

Current students

Phone: 01392 723301 

Postgraduate Taught admissions

For all enquiries relating to this programme, please contact:

SSIS Student Recruitment Office
Tel. +44 (0)1392 723192
WebEnquire online

Where to find us

Politics is located on the University's Streatham Campus. For information on how to find us, please see our directions to Streatham Campus and the Streatham Campus map.

Visit the Politics and International Relations website

Apply online

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Study our MA International Relations

Dr Gregorio Bettiza talks about our MA International Relations, which equips you with the theoretical and empirical research tools to understand the forces that shape global politics.

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