BA International Relations

UCAS codeL252
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB–ABB; IB: 34–32; BTEC: DDD–DDM
DisciplinePolitics and International Relations
Location Cornwall (Penryn Campus)


This exciting and distinctive programme combines a solid grounding in international relations, with the opportunity to specialise in an issue or region.

The content of our programme is influenced by our research interests that are nationally and internationally recognised and positioned at the forefront of academic debate. Staff at the Penryn Campus have particular expertise in the following international relations specialisms:

  • International security
  • Foreign policy
  • Intelligence studies
  • The politics of the European Union
  • The Middle East and North Africa
  • Gender and international relations
  • Critical military studies
  • Comparative electoral politics
  • Media
  • Political psychology
  • Political theory
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Environmental politics

Our academics bring the latest political thinking into your degree through research-led teaching. You will experience a range of innovative teaching, ranging from traditional lectures and small-group seminars to participating in real research experiments and political simulations.

Our programmes produce graduates who can engage imaginatively in the process of understanding and analysing complex and sophisticated problems by using critical approaches that blend detailed and broad levels of analysis. Field work overseas and a focus on career-related experience and skills, ensure learning is both research-led and relevant to your future career aspirations. The study of International Relations in Cornwall is characterised by its focus on some of the biggest political challenges facing the world today such as terrorism, the global financial crisis, conflict in the Middle East, and the changing balance in world power. We believe a degree shouldn’t just be an intellectual exercise; it’s the means by which people change the world.

When I visited the Cornwall campus for the offer-holder open day I fell in love with the campus, the course, and the people. The academics cared so much about their subjects, but also about sharing their expertise with the students and I was quickly sure I had made the right decision about Politics and Cornwall.

The Cornwall Campus was perfect for me. The people were like-minded (even if our politics didn’t line up!) and the atmosphere made me feel at home. Within the first week the academics knew the names of everyone in my cohort which, combined with the availability of the academics, meant that my University experience was different to many of my friends from school. I was supported with decisions about my course and I could even take modules outside of Politics, broadening my experience. 

My degree enabled me to study a Masters (MA Critical Global Politics) which led me into my volunteer role as a trustee for Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services (DRCSAS). Both my Masters and undergraduate degrees developed my critical thinking skills and my ability to analyse complex information effectively, essential skills for a trustee. DRCSAS is a feminist organisation and my degree helped me to become clearer on my own feminism, so I certainly wouldn’t have this role without it!


Rachel Sloan, Curriculum & Work-Related Learning Co-ordinator at the University of Exeter.

I would say to a student that there is no better learning environment than being surrounded by the Cornish countryside and seaside - you find it hard to believe that you could be at university in such a beautiful place.

The student-to-lecture ratio is one of the smallest in the country, allowing great contact with the lecturers and with classmates. The Politics department brings in local MPs and political science speakers as well as hosting political debates every week. The lecturers give brilliant classes as well as seminars of intense discussion over hot political topics.

The campus has so much to offer: societies, sport and general activities - it has everything you need and when you get involved your university experience is so much greater. There is so much to do - swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, rugby, great nights out, coastal walks, barbeques on the beach. I have almost completed the Exeter Award which has been a lot of fun. I also took part in Grand Challenges, which was close to one of the best weeks at University I've had.

Joel Horne, BA Politics and International Studies (Penryn Campus; 2nd year 2013/14 - 2015/16).

Programme structure

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.

Full-time undergraduates need to take 120 credits each year and choose from modules worth 15 or 30 credits, with students having more choice and more opportunity to study in-depth the topics that interest them most in Years 2 and 3. Core modules are mainly designed to develop applied research skills and include a third year dissertation on a subject of your choice. You will also have the option to take up to 30 credits from another department within the University subject to approval.

Year 1

Year 2

At the end of your second year (usually taken in September before your third year), you’ll have the chance to travel to the United States to get a better understanding of this global superpower. You will also continue to tailor your degree through a range of research-led modules. You will also learn and apply cutting-edge research techniques that will equip with essential graduate skills.

Year 3

Entry requirements 2020

Typical offer


Additional selection criteria

We are looking for well-qualified students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subject.

In addition to the specific requirements listed above, we look for excellent A level* results/predictions and we may also take into account results up to and including GCSEs* and AS Levels* as part of our holistic assessment of an application.

*Equivalent qualifications will be considered. For more information about our equivalencies for specific qualifications please contact our Admissions Office.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements

If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.

International Foundation programmes

Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Your teaching will include lectures, tutorials and seminars, with a growing emphasis at each successive level on student-led learning.

We place considerable emphasis on teaching in small groups, which gives you ample opportunity to participate, as well as providing close contact between you and members of staff. In the third year much of your learning occurs in seminar groups led by a member of faculty on a specialised area of their research.

You'll have a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies.

Research-inspired teaching

Teaching that is inspired by research ensures lectures are up-to-date and relevant and you will benefit from access to the latest thinking, equipment and resources. All staff teach final year options which are linked to their own interests.


You will be assessed through a variety of tasks, including essays, individual and small group presentations, projects and exams. You may also complete a dissertation and/or project work, including a work placement project. You must pass your first year modules in order to proceed but your performance at this level does not count towards your final degree classification.

I looked at other universities which are well known for international studies and I’d have been in lecture groups of 200 plus. The smaller class sizes at Cornwall enable an amazing teaching programme. You collaborate with your lecturers rather than just being talked at, and lectures themselves are almost like seminars; you’re encouraged to ask questions, raise points, and start the thinking process in the lecture rather than afterwards. It’s not just lecturers but other students doing different readings who are contributing to your learning.

Janika Hauser, Politics and International Studies, Penryn Campus, Cornwall.


Studying politics involves not only desk-based research but often undertaking field work within a given context, in order to witness the evolution of political processes and their impact on society first hand. Such field work can take a variety of different forms, ranging from interviews with important stakeholders, to focus group discussions with community members, and the analysis of politicised spaces and public forums.

As part of your studies you can go on our optional, departmentally-subsidised* field trip to the United States where you’ll gain insight into the latest global issues and a first-hand perspective on the American political system. Taken before the start of your third year, the six-day field trip to New York will provide you with the basic training required to carry out ethical field work under a controlled, supervised setting. This is a unique opportunity which is only available to students studying Politics at our Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Sample programme^

(each day begins at 09:00 with a briefing)


  • Statue of Liberty
  • Ellis Island
  • Debrief in study groups
  • Portfolio development


  • World Trade Center
  • Global capitalism, American wealth, power, and inequality – a walking tour which includes The Bowery and Chinatown to Wall Street and South Seaport
  • Portfolio development


  • America in the News - collection of newspaper clippings discussing current affairs in the USA and New York
  • Group discussion about what these newspaper reports say about contemporary USA
  • NYU - seminar and discussions with NYU students about life and politics in the USA
  • Portfolio development


  • City Hall
  • United Nations
  • Close of scheduled activities, portfolio development


  • ABC News: How are editorial decisions about the news made? What kind of operational considerations are taken into account?
  • A behind the scenes look at 'The View' (current affairs), and the US Presidential race
  • Walking tour - the High Line and the west River Park from W 67 St. Private vs public spaces
  • Whole Group Conference

You will keep an ethnographic notebook of your travels, collect photos of meaningful sites, conduct interviews with key individuals and critically assess the politics of commemoration and the negotiation of space in New York, so as to produce a report on the city's politics.

* Flights, hostel accommodation, breakfast, metro pass, entrance fees, and transfers to and from JFK Airport are included. Other meals will need to be paid for, although the hostel has excellent kitchen facilities. You will also need to have a valid passport and the necessary visas. Guidance on how to prepare for the visit will be provided by the module tutor.

^Please note field course destinations and the exact itinerary may be subject to change.

Photo gallery


Your brilliant career

Find out how we can help you build your brilliant career.

Politics and international relations graduates from the University of Exeter are highly successful in obtaining graduate employment or moving on to further study. Whilst studying for your degree, you will develop a number of skills that are useful in professional and managerial careers. The ability to research and analyse information from a variety of sources, together with the written and verbal skills needed to present and discuss your opinions and conclusions, are attributes that many employers look for in graduates. Your understanding of complex political and cultural issues, often in continually changing environments, can also be relevant to both business and public sector appointments.

Many students from the department take part in the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award. These schemes encourage you to participate in employability related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.

Graduate destinations

The University has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Many employers target the University when recruiting new graduates. Below are a few examples* of initial jobs undertaken by Politics and International Relations graduates. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job title Organisation
Management Consultant
Parliamentary Caseworker and Researcher
Civil Servant
Film Production Coordinator
Officer Cadet
Trainee Insurance Broker
Investment Assistant
Estate Agent
Communications Officer
National Health Service
Barclays Bank PLC
Ogilvy and Mather
Treehouse PR Ltd
Easton Aerospace
Orchards of London
Arcadia Group

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation. Below are a few examples* of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes. Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Subject area Institution
MA Crisis Management
MSc Public Policy
MA EU Politics
MA Globalisation and Communications
MA International Relations in the Middle East
MA Public Policy and Administration
University of Leicester
University of Exeter
King's College, London
University of Bristol

Find out more

Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise our graduates' employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website. Our Penryn Campus in Cornwall also has a dedicated Careers Advisory Service (CAS) which provides high quality careers information and guidance to students of all disciplines.

* This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey

Contact us

College of Social Sciences and International Studies

Current students

Phone: 01392 723301 

Applicants and offer holders

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Web: Enquire online
Phone: +44 (0)1392 723192

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Web: Enquire online
Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Website: Visit the Politics and International Relations website

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Studying Politics and IR at the Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Watch our video to learn more about our exciting research-driven programmes.

Field Trip

Optional field trip, which is currently to the USA, where our students gain insight into the latest global issues and a first-hand perspective on the American political system.