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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate taught>Courses 2019/20>International Relations (MA)

MA International Relations

Get to the root of world politics through the events that define our international environment.

Year of entry: 2019


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

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There has never been a more exciting and important time to study world politics. 

The refugee crisis, epidemics like Ebola and Zika, terrorism, international conflict and nuclear tensions are just some of the issues that highlight how the complexity of international politics affects the lives of billions. 

This course will enable you to understand contemporary international events, their causes and repercussions in great depth, through theoretical debates – and how those debates resonate in distinct issue areas and contexts.

I'm fascinated by international relations theories, security issues, and foreign policies. My core modules are very thought-provoking because they allow me to understand global developments from different perspectives.
Ran Hu, MA International Relations

Leading research

We're ranked eighth in the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework results

Spanning the discipline

From early modern political thought to contemporary international security, from post-conflict development to global financial governance, from the politics of gender to the politics of the environment, you can benefit from expertise on a huge range of topics

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 core modules (20 credits each)
  • four option modules (20 credits each)
  • independent research dissertation (60 credits)

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.


Core modules

Option modules

Our choice of modules lets you develop expertise in the areas that you feel most passionate about:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


During the summer term and vacation you will consolidate your interests in a 12,000 word dissertation (60 credits) 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.

Previous dissertation titles include:

  • 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.
  • apply theories, concepts and methods to issues in world politics such as terrorism, forced migration, ethnic conflict 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. 
  • develop inter-cultural awareness by engaging in a reflective manner with differing points of view in light of the values of tolerance and inclusivity.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year) £7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

You may incur some additional expenses for books. These costs are optional - our university library is well stocked. If the resources you need aren't available, you can borrow via inter-library loans and order new books to our library for free.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

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

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

Home/EU students

International students

Departmental scholarships

We have a number of scholarships and funding opportunities available. Find out about postgraduate funding.

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.

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.

You'll be taught by academics at the forefront of research across a number of political areas such as conflict, security and development, political economy, international politics, political theory and public policy. As international experts in their field, our staff advise governments and organisations globally and regularly contribute to news and current affairs programmes. Our expertise and experience feed directly into our teaching. 

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Politics in Derwent College on Campus West. Over half 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 are submitted at the end of the Autumn term and three at the end of the Spring term (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 (not credit bearing), 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

Recent graduates work for leading universities and as policy advisers in various countries around the world. Popular employers also include:

  • Local councils
  • Civil Service / Home Office/ House of Commons
  • UN
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • NHS
  • Professional services / Accountancy firms - notably PwC, EY, KPMG
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • Oxfam
  • Barclays
  • Universities
  • IBM
  • Development charities including the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Transferable skills

A range of important transferable skills are embedded in our curriculum - including: 

  • Reflective independent learning
  • Communication of complex ideas
  • Interdisciplinary awareness
  • Project and time management
  • Flexibility and ability to manage complexity
  • Networking skills.


Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer

We typically ask for a degree at 2:1 or above. You must also include a written work sample with your application.

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.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, or want to enquire informally about whether this course would be suitable for you, please contact us.

If you earned your Bachelors degree outside of the UK, you should check that it is equivalent to a 2:1. Our country-specific pages can help you to find out.

English language

Applicants whose first language is not English may need to satisfy language requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in each component
  • PTE Academic: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 169 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all requirements

If you've not 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 IELTS 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 electronically through our online system. 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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