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International Relations

PGDip or PGCert or MA

Key facts

Start dates

September 2019 / September 2020



Course length

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

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


Department of Social Sciences


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.

You will have access to a dynamic, supportive community of scholars who undertake internationally recognised research. And you can attend a rich programme of research seminars with presentations from high-profile, external guest speakers. 

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.

You can also study this course through distance learning.

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 full time
£7,500 (Masters) £6,500 (Diploma) £3,750 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

Home/EU full time
£7,500 (Masters) £6,500 (Diploma) £3,750 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time

International full time

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.

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.

Financial support and scholarships

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

Learning and assessment

MA and PGDip students will take three compulsory modules in Semester 1. And take three elective modules in Semester 2.

In addition, 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 the Annual Postgraduate Day which is held every summer.

Students taking the Postgraduate Certificate are required to complete 'International Relations in Theory and Practice', 'Global Political Economy' and one optional module from the list below.

Male student reading document

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

Optional 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 Politics and the Environment (20 credits)

This module offers a critical, interdisciplinary investigation into the way in which the tensions brought about by the ecological crisis have been addressed globally, looking at institutional, conceptual, ideological, socio-cultural and political economic facets.

Capitalism: Crisis and World Order (20 credits)

This module looks at the changing nature of the global political economy. It explores the nature of state power, changing labour relations, the role of finance and the evolution of the global trading system.

Global Civil Society (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.

Violence and Peacebuilding (20 credits)

This module investigates how continued physical insecurity often dominates the transitions from civil war to peace. The first part achieves a conceptualisation of violence, peace and peacebuilding, while the second part examines the sources and manifestations of violence after civil war.

Dilemmas of International Ethics (20 credits)

This module surveys the main traditions of international ethics and applies them to important ethical dilemmas in contemporary world politics, which include humanitarian intervention, global economic inequality, global environmental justice, nuclear proliferation and disarmament.

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.

Postcolonial Perspectives: Security, Violence and Resistance (20 credits)

This module sheds light on questions of security, violence and resistance. It explores how phenomena such as terrorism, migration, violent conflict and racism, as well as political responses to these phenomena, can only be understood in relation to past colonial contexts.

Refugees: Forced Migration, Protection and Humanitarianism (20 credits)

This module considers how migration is both a central part of the human experience in the twenty-first century and a key challenge to humanitarian practitioners.

Independent Study (20 credits)

Your independent study allows you to undertake a programme of study of your own choosing that is agreed with a member of staff.

Final project

Compulsory 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 the Annual Postgraduate Day which is held every summer.

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 optional modules in our areas of expertise and supervise dissertations in our specialist subjects

Our teaching methods include:

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

Field trips

This course includes a four-day study trip to Brussels and The Hague, just before the start of Semester 2 (in late January).

You'll start your trip with visits to key institutions of the European Union. You will then move on to The Hague and visit a range of international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The trip gives you first-hand experience of how these important international institutions work.

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


Assessment methods used on this course

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.


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 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).

Student profiles

Our Staff

Dr Lucy Ford

Lucy helped set up the Green think tank Green House and is on their advisory board. She is also a research fellow at Schumacher Institute, an interdisciplinary systems think tank on environmental, social and economic issues.

Read more about Lucy

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.