International Relations

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: MA: 12 months; PGDip: 9 months; PGCert: 9 months

Part time: MA: 24 months; PGDip: 18 months; PGCert: 18 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Law and Social Sciences

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Explore pressing issues and power struggles in today’s globalised world. You’ll examine how states and societies cooperate on our international relations postgraduate course, and question world politics and the global political economy.

You’ll get to know the key players, organisations, and policies that underpin world economies. You’ll challenge their aims. And discuss the obstacles they face. You’ll explore how systems impact individuals like refugees and protesters, as well as global problems like the climate emergency.

You’ll have the freedom to pursue what interests you. This might involve scrutinising the Paris Agreement or analysing Fair Trade. Or examining social movements like the Yellow Vests, Flygskam, or pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong.

This course is also available through distance learning.

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • A political epicentre

    In Oxford, you’ll be at the heart of modern political discourse – there are active discussions on racism and colonialism, and refugee action.

  • Focus on you

    You’ll be taught in small classes, always getting the attention and support you need. Your tutors are active researchers in their fields of study, and they’ll share their expertise with you.

  • An accessible programme

    You can join this course without having studied our international relations undergraduate degree.

  • Study trips

    Students have previously visited The Hague and the European Parliament in Brussels to enhance their learning.

  • More than essays

    Assessment methods also include presentations, projects, reports and a dissertation, and you’ll receive feedback throughout the year.

Course details

Course structure

In your first semester, you’ll study modules to build your core knowledge of international relations. By examining key theories and how they connect to global issues, and analysing the global political economy in several different ways, you’ll develop advanced research skills.

In Semester 2, you’ll take elective modules that focus on the areas of international relations you find the most fascinating. This might include Sustainability, Social Justice and Global Politics, Critical Approaches to Terrorism, and Dilemmas in International Ethics.

You could debate how to handle debt in the Global South. Examine peacebuilding in conflict zones. Or analyse the ecological limits to development.

You’ll also complete a dissertation on a topic of your choice. It’s a great opportunity to study something that matches your professional, voluntary, or research interests at a deeper level. And you’ll have the opportunity to present your research proposal to fellow students and staff at a postgraduate day in May or June. This gives you the chance to receive critical feedback from a wider audience.

Male student reading document

Learning and teaching

You’ll join a close-knit department, where you’ll learn directly from leading researchers in international relations. You’ll be able to nurture your interests and develop your expertise.

You’ll also get to know your coursemates well - you won’t be a face in the crowd. And you’ll have access to the world renowned Bodleian Library, and the Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society.

You’ll learn via:

  • lectures
  • tutor/group-led seminars
  • case study analysis
  • group work presentations
  • individual presentations
  • individual and small group tutorials


Assessment is conducted through a variety of assignments linked to the expected learning outcomes. You will be assessed with the following methods:

  • essays
  • presentations
  • projects
  • reports
  • written dissertation.

You will receive constant feedback over the course of the year.

Field Trips

In your second semester, you’ll have a unique opportunity to travel to Brussels and The Hague. On this trip, you’ll get rare direct insight into leading international organisations - like:

  • The European Commission
  • NATO
  • The International Criminal Court
  • The European Parliament
  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

You’ll connect directly with leading professionals working in international relations. You’ll learn how major international organisations operate. And you’ll get insight on how to start your career in a global organisation.

The cost of travel and accommodation is included in your course fees.


Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Semester 1

Compulsory modules

  • International Relations in Theory and Practice (20 credits)

    In this module you’ll explore advanced investigation into a diverse range theoretical approaches in International Relations and link them to contemporary issues. Through the module you’ll cover topics like;

    • the role of the state
    • security and insecurity
    • international order and disorder
    • democracy and global governance
    • global development, justice and sustainability
    • the legacies of colonialism
    • race, class and gender.

    You will establish a clear understanding of the role and purpose of theory, and its relation to substantive issues in international relations.

  • Global Political Economy (20 credits)

    You’ll examine competing theoretical perspectives on the emerging global political economy. You’ll look at how these perspectives have evolved, both through theoretical debates and real-world developments.

  • Advanced Research in International Relations (20 credits)

    You’ll examine the main approaches to the study of International Relations. You’ll consider a variety of relevant research methods so that you can understand how evidence is produced and critically appraise the research you use. You’ll discuss documentary research, interviews and focus groups, discourse analysis, surveys and questionnaires, and quantitative methods.

Semester 2

Optional modules

International Development (20 credits)

Since the end of the Cold War one of the key dynamics in world politics – the gap between rich and poor – has come into sharper focus. In this module, you’ll examine both the theory and practice of the international politics of development. 

You’ll start by looking at key theoretical debates and how these have related to practice. You’ll go on to explore contemporary issues in development that illustrate the theoretical debates, such as fair trade and sustainable development.


International Migration and Borders (20 credits)

Why do people move? Why is their movement restricted? And how are forms of migration control changing through the shifting use of borders?

In an age in which movement across international borders – of capital, goods, information and technology – is increasingly central to life across the globe, the movement of people is subject to more restriction than ever.

This module will introduce you to the current critical debates in International Relations and Security Studies around migration and borders. This will include a focus on unequal relationships of race, class and gender and how these are reproduced through categories of ‘forced’ and ‘unforced migration’, the continuing effects of colonialism, and the diffusion of bordering practices into local spaces of everyday life.

Sustainability, Social Justice and Global Politics (20 credits)

Humans dominate Earth, over-exploiting resources and causing global ecological crises such as biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. This age has also seen a widening gap between the extremes of global poverty and wealth, sparking social injustice and ecological breakdown. How do we make sense of these interlinked crises?

In this module, explore the global quest for sustainability and social justice. Take a critical, interdisciplinary investigation into the global ecological crisis and its global social impacts, reflect on the global ecological crisis through political theory and aspects like race, class and gender, and examine the ways sustainability and social justice have been addressed.

You’ll investigate questions of security, the global political economy of sustainability and sustainable development, and dynamics of global environmental governance and resistance to understand the causes of interlinked social and ecological crises and how we might resolve these.

Ukraine: Revolution, War and Global Politics (20 credits)

In this module you’ll focus on the politics of Ukraine; its context in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the complex politics of the post-Soviet order and its relations with Russia and global geopolitics. You’ll take a historical approach to the topics covered to understand how the Ukrainian state and Ukrainian politics have evolved over time. Explore the political, social and economical factors of the Ukrainian state and through critical analysis of its history you’ll develop an advanced understanding of international relations and the nature of war in the 21st Century.

Violence and Peacebuilding (20 credits)

In transitions from civil war to peace, why does violence often continue, even when ceasefires are in place? How does violence affect peace processes, and how can continuing insecurity be managed? 

In this module, you’ll explore concepts of violence, peace and peacebuilding, as well as studying examples from peace processes and post-war societies, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Rwanda, South Africa and Northern Ireland. You’ll be assisted to critically analyse the causes of violence in the context of peacebuilding and to make recommendations for its management.


Dilemmas of International Ethics (20 credits)

You’ll survey the main traditions of international ethics and apply them to important ethical dilemmas in contemporary world politics – including humanitarian intervention, global economic inequality, environmental justice, nuclear proliferation and disarmament.

Critical Approaches to Terrorism (20 credits)

You’ll critically consider debates about how we define and understand terrorism, as well as thinking about the nature of the threat that terrorism poses. You’ll also explore causes of terrorism and the gender politics of terrorism. We’ll encourage you to take a critical approach and try to think beyond mainstream and conventional answers to some of these issues.

Independent Study (20 credits)

This is your chance to undertake a programme of study that you choose yourself, in consultation with a member of staff. Previous examples of independent study have focussed on:

  • International Energy Security
  • Oil and the Global Economy
  • Human Rights and Foreign Direct Investment.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

    The dissertation is an extended, supervised piece of work on a topic that you choose yourself, ideally related to your professional, voluntary, political or research interests. Examples of dissertation areas would include:

    • a case study of a particular policy initiative
    • an analysis of alternative approaches to a particular policy problem
    • a systematic review and analysis of published evidence on a particular topic
    • an empirical study using methods such as a survey, interviews or observation.

    You’ll present your dissertation topic and proposal to your peers and staff members at a Postgraduate Day in June. This is a valuable chance to receive feedback from a wider audience.


Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


Our vibrant research culture is driven by a thriving and collaborative community of academic staff and doctoral students. from across the globe.

83% of International Relations and Politics research was recognised internationally, and rated as either excellent or world leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Our research is organised within the Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society.

Within the Centre we run four dedicated research groups:

  • Critical Security Studies
  • International Political Theory
  • Cultures and Identities
  • State and Society.

As well as meeting to discuss and analyse central texts in the field each group undertakes a number of activities including:

  • organising work-in-progress seminars
  • offering support and feedback for external grant applications
  • hosting visiting fellows
  • sponsoring seminars and symposia.

Find out more by visiting our web pages and browsing our staff profiles.

Male student working


After completing the course, you’ll have picked up sought-after transferable skills including project management, critical analysis, problem-solving, and communication. You’ll have developed a good intercultural awareness and be ready for a career in a field like international development, corporate social responsibility, or with NGOs.

Our graduates now have roles including:

  • Research Analyst at Africa Risk Consulting
  • Senior Consultant at the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency
  • Communications Officer at Save the Children
  • Parliamentary Assistant to a Westminster MP
  • Commercial Manager in the net zero energy sector.

You could also progress further in academia and research.

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Stephen Hurt

Stephen lectures on international development and South African politics.

Read more about Stephen

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,350; Diploma £8,350; Certificate £4,675

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,950; Diploma £8,950; Certificate £4,975

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,350; Diploma £8,350; Certificate £4,675

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time
Masters £9,950; Diploma £8,950; Certificate £4,975

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences believes strongly in the importance of making a difference to the world of our students, and in the ability and potential of our students to make a difference in the world. The Dean's Scholarship is one small way in which we make that belief tangible.

International students can apply for our International Students Scholarship.


All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.