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International Relations (Distance Learning)

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2020 / September 2021

Course length

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

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


Gain a grounding in research methods with our International Relations MA/PGDip/PGCert. Our course covers the central foundations of the contemporary discipline of International Relations. This has grown beyond the traditional concern with inter-state relations.

Distance learning gives you the flexibility to fit your studies around other competing demands.  You will have full access to our e-learning facilities and interact online with a variety of learning activities. These cover a range of materials and guided online discussion and debate.

The course integrates research and teaching. And allows you to focus on your areas of interest through a range of optional modules.

You will benefit from links with international NGOs, many of which are based in Oxford. These include Oxfam and Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID). 

Our graduates have built successful careers in a variety of disciplines including:

  • social work
  • management
  • teaching
  • lecturing
  • publishing
  • journalism.
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/EU distance learning
Masters £7,500 (FT) £3,750 (PT); Diploma £6,500 (FT) £6,565 (PT over 18 months); Certificate £3,750 (FT) & £3,785 (PT over 18 months)

International distance learning
Masters £7,500 (FT) £3,750 (PT); Diploma £6,500 (FT) £6,565 (PT over 18 months); Certificate £3,750 (FT) & £3,785 (PT over 18 months)

Home (UK) distance learning
Masters £7,700 (FT) £3,850 (PT); Diploma £6,700 (FT); Certificate £3,850 (FT)

International / EU distance learning
Masters £7,700 (FT) £3,850 (PT); Diploma £6,700 (FT); Certificate £3,850 (FT)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2020 / 21
Home/EU distance learning
Masters £7,500 (FT) £3,750 (PT); Diploma £6,500 (FT) £6,565 (PT over 18 months); Certificate £3,750 (FT) & £3,785 (PT over 18 months)

International distance learning
Masters £7,500 (FT) £3,750 (PT); Diploma £6,500 (FT) £6,565 (PT over 18 months); Certificate £3,750 (FT) & £3,785 (PT over 18 months)

2021 / 22
Home (UK) distance learning
Masters £7,700 (FT) £3,850 (PT); Diploma £6,700 (FT); Certificate £3,850 (FT)

International / EU distance learning
Masters £7,700 (FT) £3,850 (PT); Diploma £6,700 (FT); Certificate £3,850 (FT)

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.

Learning and assessment

Students studying for the MA/PG Dip in International Relations (Distance Learning) are required to complete three compulsory modules during Semester 1 (20 credits each). And another three modules in Semester 2.

MA students are required to complete a 12,000-word dissertation. This will be on a topic related to any aspect of international relations. The dissertation also involves a presentation at an online dissertation seminar, where you will present your dissertation topic and proposal to your peers and members of staff.

PG Certificate students will take 3 modules: International Relations in Theory and Practice and Global Political Economy. And one other module (excluding  Advanced Research in International Relations).

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)

This module provides an advanced investigation into theoretical approaches in the discipline of International Relations and their relationship to substantive issues in international relations.

Global Political Economy (20 credits)

This module examines the emerging global political economy through the vantage point of competing theoretical perspectives and the evolution of these perspectives, resulting from theoretical debates and the progressive encounter with empirical developments.

Advanced Research in International Relations (20 credits)

This module examines the main approaches to the study of International Relations. It considers a variety of relevant research methods so that students can understand how evidence is produced and critically appraise the research they use. 

Semester 2

Compulsory modules

International Development (20 credits)

This module examines both the theory and practice of the international politics of development. The first half looks at key theoretical debates and how these have related to practice. Various contemporary issues are then explored to illustrate the theoretical debates.

Global Civil Society and Social Movements (20 credits)

This module investigates what kind of a role civil society can play in global politics. Furthermore, as many changes have brought into question the nature of citizenship, the possibility of the emergence of post-national forms of citizenship is raised.

Critical Approaches to Terrorism (20 credits)

In this module you will critically consider debates about how terrorism has assumed the significance it seems to possess, how we define and understand terrorism, as well as thinking about the nature of the threat that terrorism poses.

Final project

Optional modules

Dissertation (60 credits)

MA students are required to complete a 12,000-word dissertation on a topic related to any aspect of international relations. The dissertation also involves a presentation at an online dissertation seminar, where students must present their dissertation topic and proposal to their peers and members of staff.

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

Research is fundamental to the International Relations programme. You will be taught by a team of research-active scholars who are all specialists and publish in their areas of expertise. We include aspects of our research in all our courses, teach specialist modules in our areas of expertise and supervise dissertations in our specialist subjects.

We use a range of online teaching methods to aid the quality of learning opportunities for your' knowledge and understanding of International Relations.You will learn through the following methods:

  • narrated PowerPoints
  • videos
  • online discussion forums
  • online seminars
  • 1-1 essay clinics.


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

The programme will appeal to students who have a broad interest in international affairs, and to those whose future work is likely to involve the public sphere in an international and global context. It is relevant to careers in media and general management, as well as in the civil service, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations. It will also appeal to those wanting to progress to a research degree.

The range of topics is impressive and seems to cover the key problems that confront governments, politicians and international policy-makers: the environment, global governance, the role of global civil society, migration, international finance and terrorism

Tricia Feeney (Executive Director, 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.