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International Relations (Distance Learning)

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2022 / September 2023

Course length

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

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


Explore the pressing issues, actors and power struggles in today’s globalised world - and get the skills and sector insight to start a career in international relations.

On this course, you’ll examine the major players, organisations and global policies that underpin world politics and the global political economy. You’ll scrutinise their aims and explore their challenges. And you’ll learn how they impact states, societies and citizens - from a migrant crossing the Mediterranean to an official implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

You’ll also have the freedom to follow your interests. You might scrutinise the Paris Agreements. You might analyse the impacts of Fair Trade. Or you might examine social movements - like the Yellow Vests, the Flygskam movement, or the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.

You’ll learn via our interactive online learning platform. And you’ll have the flexibility to balance your learning with other commitments.

You can also study this course on-campus


Two male students studying together

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Students are normally required to have at least a second-class honours degree from a university in the UK or an equivalent qualification from countries outside the UK. The degree should be in an appropriate discipline.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in reading, writing, speaking and listening.


Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) distance learning full time
Masters £7,850; Diploma £6,850; Certificate £3,925

Home (UK) distance learning part time
Masters: £3,925

International distance learning full time
Masters £7,850; Diploma £6,850; Certificate £3,925

International distance learning part time
Masters: £3,925

Home (UK) distance learning full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

Home (UK) distance learning part time
Masters: £4,450

International distance learning full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

International distance learning part time
Masters: £4,450

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) distance learning full time
Masters £7,850; Diploma £6,850; Certificate £3,925

Home (UK) distance learning part time
Masters: £3,925

International distance learning full time
Masters £7,850; Diploma £6,850; Certificate £3,925

International distance learning part time
Masters: £3,925

2023 / 24
Home (UK) distance learning full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

Home (UK) distance learning part time
Masters: £4,450

International distance learning full time
Masters £8,900; Diploma £7,900; Certificate £4,450

International distance learning part time
Masters: £4,450

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

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.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

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, if any, are detailed below.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements

Learning and assessment

You’ll examine how global states and societies cooperate. You’ll question the methods behind world politics and the global political economy. You’ll interrogate how these systems impact individuals - like refugees and protesters. And you’ll determine how they affect global problems - like the climate emergency.

In your first semester, you’ll take three compulsory modules that will help you develop core skills and knowledge in international relations. You’ll examine the key theories, and their connection to live global issues. You’ll analyse various ways of understanding the global political economy, and you’ll develop research skills.

In your second semester, you’ll take three elective modules, focusing on the areas of international relations you care about most, like: 

  • Terrorism
  • Migration
  • Gender
  • International development
  • Conflict
  • International ethics

You might debate approaches to debt in the Global South. 

You might examine peacebuilding in conflict zones like Syria. Or you might analyse the ecological limits to development. You’ll also travel to The Hague and Brussels.


Three students talking on the way to a lecture

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)

You’ll investigate theoretical approaches in the discipline of International Relations at an advanced level. You’ll also examine how they connect with major issues in contemporary real-world 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

Compulsory 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.


Global Civil Society and Social Movements (20 credits)

What kind of role can civil society play in global politics? This module investigates that question, while concentrating on understanding ‘globalisation from below’. You’ll study key conceptual and theoretical debates about global civil society and global citizenship. You’ll explore the possibility of post-national forms of citizenship. Case studies will help you address the question of how global civil society can democratise global politics.

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.

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 also present your dissertation topic at an online dissertation seminar. 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 that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn directly from leading researchers in international relations. You’ll be able to nurture your interests and develop your expertise.

You’ll learn via:

  • online discussion with your tutors and peers
  • online quizzes
  • narrated slides
  • individual presentations
  • case study analysis
  • live consolidation webinars

And you’ll have access to the  Centre for Global Politics, Economy and Society which runs topical events online.



Assessment methods used on this course

Assessment is conducted through a variety of assignments linked to the expected learning outcomes.

Assignments will include:

  • essays
  • presentations
  • projects
  • reports
  • your dissertation.

These will be spread over the year to provide constant feedback and assessment.


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.

Female student working from home

After you graduate

Career prospects

You’ll graduate with sought-after transferable skills - like:

  • Project management
  • Critical analysis
  • Complex problem-solving

You’ll have keen intercultural awareness and communication skills. And you’ll be equipped to start international careers - in politics, NGOs, international development, the civil service, corporate social responsibility and more. You’ll also have the skills and knowledge to progress in academia and research.

‘The range of topics is impressive and seems to cover the key problems that confront governments, politicians and international policy-makers.’

Tricia Feeney, Founder, Rights & Accountability in Development


Our Staff

Dr Molly Cochran

Molly has research and teaching interests in international relations theory, international political thought, American pragmatism, human rights, gender and IR, and democratic global governance.

Read more about Molly

Dr Stephen Hurt

Stephen lectures on international development and South African politics.

Read more about Stephen

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.

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