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MA International Relations and Global Ethics

Learn which ethical norms shape today’s global politics and which might shape the future

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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The world today appears in a state of moral flux.

The inequalities and injustices of the current global system are increasingly being contested around the world, but it is not yet clear which direction global politics might head this century. Learn the ethical norms governing today’s global politics of trade, migration, health, sustainable development, conflict, and global security challenges and the alternatives being proposed. By familiarizing you with diverse theoretical perspectives on the issues, this course will enable you better understand how today’s global politics was ethically conceived and what its future governing norms might resemble.

UK top 10

for the quality of our research outputs and environment in politics, according to the Times Higher Education's ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

13th in the UK

for Politics, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

16th in the UK

for Politics, according to Complete University Guide (CUG) 2024.

Course content

This course will give you a firm grounding in the fundamental principles of international relations. You'll learn to analyse and address specific global questions and you'll engage with the latest research via debate and discussion.

You'll study 180 credits in total. The course consists of:

  • Two 20-credit core modules
  • Four 20-credit option modules
  • A 60-credit independent research dissertation

Our option modules will allow you to tailor the course to your interests, from themes and theories in international relations to new security challenges and more.


During the summer term and vacation you will consolidate your interests in a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice. You'll have a dissertation supervisor who will provide regular guidance and will be able to comment on your dissertation.

Dissertations could cover topics such as:

  • Closing the gap: Discourses of Aboriginal Integration in Australia
  • Is the United Nations Security Council still relevant?
  • New directions in China’s Foreign Policy and their impacts on the International Order
  • Drone strikes: The future of modern warfare? A study on the legalities of targeted killings and the rise of drone strikes
  • Is the UK Government's response to post-9/11 radicalisation adequate to addressing the challenge of returning Syrian jihadists?
  • Native Human Security: The Importance of Indigenous Rights in the context of Latin American Development
  • Migration and Security in the European space: Processes of securitisation and the investigation of security-based preventive detention centres in Greece
  • Sex trafficking in Europe: A case study of Ukraine and the Netherlands
  • Why is Nigeria still a developing country regardless of its abundant natural resources?
  • To what extent does political psychology explain US foreign policy decisions? Case study of George W Bush and his war cabinet
  • Dreaming the impossible dream' The dialectic of reality and utopia in classical realism and critical theory.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand the origins and evolution of the discipline of international relations in order to achieve an in-depth knowledge of contemporary dynamics in the relations between state, non-state, and international actors and debates on global ethics.
  • Apply theories, concepts and methods to ethical issues in world politics such forced migration, terrorism, or poverty, using advanced critical reasoning and empirical testing (where appropriate) to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Research independently by: conceiving research questions; explaining the use of theories and concepts; using appropriate tools to gather and interpret data; reviewing relevant literatures so as to achieve a systematic and nuanced appreciation of a particular field of studies; and justifying conclusions.
  • Achieve goals by demonstrating initiative, self-organization and time management in individual work.
  • Communicate effectively and fluently, demonstrating a sophisticated awareness of the topic and constructing and conveying complex ideas through appropriate media including detailed written arguments of varying length.
  • Engage in a reflective manner with differing points of view in light of the values of tolerance and inclusivity and to consider their implications for global ethics.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years) £5,295£11,950

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

You may incur some additional expenses for books, but these costs are optional as most of the texts you'll need are available in the University library. If the resources you need aren't available, you can borrow via inter-library loans and order new books to our library for free.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

The University of York offered the ideal place to study; giving me the option to specialise within my research interest of International Security through optional modules, while also providing me with a solid understanding of the key foundational pillars of International Relations theory.
Elizabeth, MA International Relations

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and one-to-one supervision. We offer a personal approach to learning with much of our teaching conducted in small groups.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Politics in Derwent College on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in Derwent College. The rest of your contact hours will be nearby on Campus West. 

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You submit six essays; three after Semester 1 and three after Semester 2. Essays are usually around 4,000 words long. Your final dissertation of between 10,000 - 12,000 words is submitted at the beginning of September.

You will have the opportunity to present your dissertation project in our Dissertation Workshop. These are not formally assessed, but they give you the chance to hone your presentation skills and to get verbal feedback from your tutors and peers.

Careers and skills

Our students go on to careers in international organisations, the media, law, the civil service, politics, journalism and business.

This MA course is an excellent pathway to careers in a wide range of private and public sector organisations, and for further academic study in international relations and political science.

Career opportunities

  • Government
  • Civil Service
  • Research and policy-making
  • International organisations and NGOs
  • Business and financial sector

Transferable skills

  • Reflective independent learning
  • Communication of complex ideas
  • Interdisciplinary awareness
  • Project and time management
  • Analysis and critical thinking

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. We are willing to consider applicants with lower qualifications, particularly if you have high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate professional experience. Additional information may be requested.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with 169 in each component
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 6 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 65 in each component
KITE 459-494, with 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Pass with Merit in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Department of Politics and International Relations

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