Introduction

The MSc in International Relations offers you the opportunity to study international order/disorder in relation to the interaction among states; transnational institutions; non-governmental organisations; multinational corporations; popular culture and everyday life.

Study Information

Study Options

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January

The disciplinary landscape of International Relations (IR) has expanded considerably in the early twenty-first century, with a number of new challenges confronting a now outmoded global architecture of power. IR's traditional concern with war, security and diplomacy have been called into question by the end of the Cold War and the War On Terror and have been further complicated by far-reaching epistemological and methodological shifts in social theory.

Debates about the nature of globalisation, international institutions, development/post-development, global political economy, culture and identity, citizenship and rights bear prominently on efforts to understand the ebb and flow of contemporary IR. In theory and practice, understanding the modalities of power in constituting the ‘international,’ as well as challenges to hegemonic stabilizations of it, has gained a particular urgency, making the study of IR central to apprehending the complexity of global social life.

The MSc in International Relations provides you with a sustained engagement with key issues in contemporary International Relations including development & political economy, critical & human security, globalisation, gender, identity, human rights and governance. It builds a foundation on the conceptual/ theoretical underpinnings of IR, the programme offers a range of courses that enable individualized programmes of specialized study on a particular theme or region.

Available Programmes of Study

International Relations

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January View

Programme Information

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Two courses from the following electives: PI5502, PI5520, SL5513, SO5512, SO5515, SO5519 or SO5529

Global Security Issues (PI5502)

30 Credit Points

'Global Security Issues' is an elective, second semester module for the MSc Strategic Studies, Strategic Studies & International Law and Strategic Studies & Management degree programmes.

View detailed information about this course
Terrorism and Counter - Terrorism (PI5520)

30 Credit Points

Salient, specific facets of historical and contemporary national, international and transnational terrorism and the problems and challenges these different kinds of terrorism pose for national and international counter-terrorism strategies will be scrutinised. The debates on the different causes for terrorism (for instance religion, ethnicity, and ideology) and the different theoretical approaches to explain and understand the roots of terrorism will be examined. Specific facets of terrorism like (female) suicide bombers, ‘lone wolfs’ and ‘home-grown terrorists’, as well as the national and international strategies to counter terrorism, will be critically reviewed.

View detailed information about this course
Dimensions of Globalization (SO5512)

30 Credit Points

This interdisciplinary course focuses on substantive dimensions of globalization by considering recent changes occurring in the economic, political, social, and cultural realms of society. These themes are analysed by considering recent empirical studies, which seek to clarify our theoretical understanding of globalization through advanced social scientific research. The substantive themes covered include global capitalism, the global division of labour, global governance, the changing role of the nation state, transnational social change, and cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Interconnections between these aspects of globalization are highlighted.

View detailed information about this course
The Comparative Study of European Societies (SO5515)

30 Credit Points

The core course will look at Europe as a society as well as by comparing different nations and regions within it. It will look not just at the European Union, but also countries that are also in the broadest sense “European” stretching to the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. It will address key contemporary issues such as citizenship and belonging, identities in a European context, work, family and the demographic challenge as well as work-life balance.

View detailed information about this course
Sex, Gender, Violence: Critical Approaches (SO5519)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the ways people think about, understand, and respond to violence. How do we know what counts as violence or a violence act? Why does legislation against violence often seem inadequate, perhaps especially in the case of gendered and sexual violence?

View detailed information about this course
Advanced Quantitative Analysis in Social Science (SL5513)

30 Credit Points

This course familiarises students with quantitative research techniques commonly used in the social sciences. It begins by covering the basic concepts underlying quantitative methods and the fundamental statistical techniques used for analysing relationships between two variables. The main part of the course focuses on multiple regression analysis, perhaps the most widely used technique in quantitative social science research. Students gain practical knowledge by undertaking two research reports to assess a substantive topic of their choosing.

View detailed information about this course
Peace and Conflict Studies (SO5529)

30 Credit Points

This course provides students with a review of some of the central concepts and processes central to conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding. As such, the course is designed both to introduce the theoretical foundations of particular approaches to conflict resolution (or “peacemaking”) and peacebuilding, and to describe how those theoretical underpinnings give rise to specific mechanisms or processes within given contexts. In the area of peacemaking the course will cover topics such as negotiation, mediation, and intergroup dialogue processes, while in the area of peacebuilding the course will discuss more recent innovations such as Truth-Telling mechanisms, Criminal Tribunals, and both individual and collection reparations programmes. The course is particularly designed to inspire students to consider the complicated nature of both peacemaking and peacebuilding through a number of different case studies and perspectives.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Only candidates who complete the requirements of the above programme at a CGS ≥ D3 will be allowed to progress to the dissertation stage. Candidates who fail to achieve the standard for progression to, or elect not to proceed to, Stage 3, shall be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma if they have achieved the appropriate number of credits for that award. Those who achieve the required standard in only half of the taught component (60 credit points) may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in International Relations.

Dissertation in International Relations (IR5901)

60 Credit Points

This is a compulsory element on the MSc International Relations programme.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
Theories and Concepts in International Relations (IR5001)

30 Credit Points

This course lays the foundations for, explores, and critically analyses the main theoretical paradigms and debates in International Relations, and engages with the complexity of debates on concepts in IR. The theoretical topics to be covered include debates on the international system, cooperation, world order, conflict, development, representation and identity. Students will also be introduced to some of the main debates in epistemology and methodology that apply to the discipline.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Select one of the following electives:

International Political Economy: Theories and Themes (IR5007)

30 Credit Points

Introduces students to the key theories and themes in the disciplinary study of International Political Economy. Topics covered include global inequality and wealth distribution; financialization and crisis; precarization of work; global regulation of trade, labour, and money; gender, and the environment in the international political economy.

View detailed information about this course
Advanced Qualitative Methods in Social Science (SL5011)

30 Credit Points

Qualitative Sociology: Philosophy and Methods: This course introduces students to a range of methods used in qualitative social science research (such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, diaries, photography and film, and archived data sources). The emphasis will be on the research process, from project design to analysis and presentation, with methodological issues raised in the context of researchable questions. Issues of reliability, representativeness and validity, and the potential for combining methods will be addressed. Students use the course work to develop their research interests and reflect on their research practices.

View detailed information about this course
Religion, Conflict and Security (PI5027)

30 Credit Points

Since the end of the Cold War the world has seen a resurgence of religious movements in the public sphere and, particularly since 9/11, religion has increasingly been viewed in policy debates as an issue of domestic and international security. In the ever increasingly globalized era, religious identifications criss-cross national boundaries and identities posing a dilemma for the established norms of the secular nation-state, political theory and actors. This course will examine some of the emerging theories associated with the rise of political religion, and the potential for conflict and peace that emerge. Utilizing diverse case studies ranging from religious Zionism, to political Islam to national Hindu movements the course will critique and employ contemporary theoretical frameworks to gain understanding of the current phenomena of religion in the international political domain.

View detailed information about this course

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £19,400
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home / RUK £9,200
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September View

Programme Information

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses
Theories and Concepts in International Relations (IR5001)

30 Credit Points

This course lays the foundations for, explores, and critically analyses the main theoretical paradigms and debates in International Relations, and engages with the complexity of debates on concepts in IR. The theoretical topics to be covered include debates on the international system, cooperation, world order, conflict, development, representation and identity. Students will also be introduced to some of the main debates in epistemology and methodology that apply to the discipline.

View detailed information about this course
Optional Courses

Students may choose between:

Religion, Conflict and Security (PI5027)

30 Credit Points

Since the end of the Cold War the world has seen a resurgence of religious movements in the public sphere and, particularly since 9/11, religion has increasingly been viewed in policy debates as an issue of domestic and international security. In the ever increasingly globalized era, religious identifications criss-cross national boundaries and identities posing a dilemma for the established norms of the secular nation-state, political theory and actors. This course will examine some of the emerging theories associated with the rise of political religion, and the potential for conflict and peace that emerge. Utilizing diverse case studies ranging from religious Zionism, to political Islam to national Hindu movements the course will critique and employ contemporary theoretical frameworks to gain understanding of the current phenomena of religion in the international political domain.

View detailed information about this course
International Political Economy: Theory and Themes (IR5007)

30 Credit Points

Introduces students to the key theories and themes in the disciplinary study of International Political Economy. Topics covered include global inequality and wealth distribution; financialization and crisis; precarization of work; global regulation of trade, labour, and money; gender, and the environment in the international political economy.

View detailed information about this course
Advanced Qualitative Methods in Social Science (SL5011)

30 Credit Points

Qualitative Sociology: Philosophy and Methods: This course introduces students to a range of methods used in qualitative sociological research (such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, focus groups, diaries, photography and film, and archived data sources). The emphasis will be on the research process, from project design to analysis and presentation, with methodological issues raised in the context of researchable questions. Issues of reliability, representativeness and validity, and the potential for combining methods will be addressed. Students use the course work to develop their research interests and reflect on their research practices.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 2

Semester 2

Optional Courses

Two courses from the following electives: PI5502, PI5520, SL5513, SO5512, SO5515, SO5519 or SO5529

Global Security Issues (PI5502)

30 Credit Points

'Global Security Issues' is an elective, second semester module for the MSc Strategic Studies, Strategic Studies & International Law and Strategic Studies & Management degree programmes.

View detailed information about this course
Terrorism and Counter Terrorism (PI5520)

30 Credit Points

Salient, specific facets of historical and contemporary national, international and transnational terrorism and the problems and challenges these different kinds of terrorism pose for national and international counter-terrorism strategies will be scrutinised. The debates on the different causes for terrorism (for instance religion, ethnicity, and ideology) and the different theoretical approaches to explain and understand the roots of terrorism will be examined. Specific facets of terrorism like (female) suicide bombers, ‘lone wolfs’ and ‘home-grown terrorists’, as well as the national and international strategies to counter terrorism, will be critically reviewed.

View detailed information about this course
Dimensions of Globalization (SO5512)

30 Credit Points

This interdisciplinary course focuses on substantive dimensions of globalization by considering recent changes occurring in the economic, political, social, and cultural realms of society. These themes are analysed by considering recent empirical studies, which seek to clarify our theoretical understanding of globalization through advanced social scientific research. The substantive themes covered include global capitalism, the global division of labour, global governance, the changing role of the nation‐state, transnational social change, and cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Interconnections between these aspects of globalization are highlighted.

View detailed information about this course
The Comparative Study of European Societies (SO5515)

30 Credit Points

The core course will look at Europe as a society as well as by comparing different nations and regions within it. It will look not just at the European Union, but also countries that are also in the broadest sense “European” stretching to the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. It will address key contemporary issues such as citizenship and belonging, identities in a European context, work, family and the demographic challenge as well as work‐life balance.

View detailed information about this course
Sex, Gender, Violence: Critical Approaches (SO5519)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the ways people think about, understand, and respond to violence. How do we know what counts as violence or a violence act? Why does legislation against violence often seem inadequate, perhaps especially in the case of gendered and sexual violence?

View detailed information about this course
Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses
Dissertation in International Relations (IR5901)

60 Credit Points

This is a compulsory element on the MSc International Relations programme.

View detailed information about this course

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £19,400
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home / RUK £9,200
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Teaching includes a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning in order to enhance students’ critical thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills.

The aim of the programme is to provide a nuanced understanding of key concepts and paradigms that structure the disciplinary study of International Relations and the theoretical and analytical tools to engage debates about them.

Several areas of thematic and regional specialisation that reflect their research and professional interests. For each area, students develop the relevant empirical and theoretical knowledge and understanding to produce in-depth analysis of complex problems. Taken together, these area choices provide students with an understanding of the multifaceted nature of contemporary International Relations.

Postgraduate-level skills of intellectual and professional relevance including: research skills, organisation and structure, critical evaluation of sources and arguments, logic of argumentation, independent study and judgement, and written and oral communication.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

By coursework, written examination, or a combination thereof, as prescribed for each course and by submission of a dissertation. The degree of MSc shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CGS grade of D3 mark of 9 or above in IR5901, irrespective of their performance in other courses.

Why Study International Relations?

  • The MSc International Relations at Aberdeen offers you the opportunity to develop in depth analysis and research skills to enable consultancy on behalf of a range of international organisations.
  • You are taught by published researchers and international relations consultants at University of Aberdeen, providing the latest research and innovation in the subject.
  • An MSc International Relations provides you with a wide range of options in a wide range of professions, and research areas.
  • Aberdeen is part of a major collaborative project, Preventing and Responding to Conflict: Developing Civilian Capabilities for a Sustainable Peace that will provide a comprehensive, comparative and multidisciplinary analysis of the EU's current conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities.
  • You are studying one of the newest academic areas with innovative thinking and research to understand new challenges in International Relations.
  • The MSc International Relations is taught by The School of Social Sciences where teaching quality was judged as 'Excellent.'
  • PIR had 60% of its research assessed as world class or internationally excellent in the 2014 Research Evaluation Framework.
  • Politics and International Relations is ranked 5th in research grant income (per fte) in the UK.
  • PIR has an 85% student satisfaction rate (National Student Survey).
  • All of our degrees offer thorough training in the basic principles of social science and specialised training in preparation for a wide variety of careers.
  • We are a medium sized department that bring together experts in a variety of areas of research.
  • The department recently celebrated five decades as a centre of academic excellence for political research with an international reputation.
  • It provides you with a core curriculum along with unique options that represent the research interests among staff. These interests include international political economy and globalisation, democracy and democratization, public policy and public opinion, power and security, interest groups, political parties, social movements, institutions and many more.
  • The department offers expertise in the Middle-East, Latin America, North and South Asia, the Nordic Countries, Central and Eastern Europe as well as Scotland, the UK and the EU.
  • Arab-Trans, a major international research project links Aberdeen to 7 Arab countries which include Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students requiring a visa to study in the UK are advised to apply as early as possible to secure a place.

Applications received after 29 July (September intake) or 2 November (January intake) from students who need to apply for a visa will not be processed in time for entry, but will be considered for entry into the next intake as appropriate.

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results, an applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Scholarships

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Aberdeen Global Scholarship (EU)

The Aberdeen Global Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is a £2,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Postgraduate Masters students who are classed as International fee status and are domiciled in the EU, plus another £3,000 discount for eligible Postgraduate Masters students who would have previously been eligible for Home fees (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Careers

Careers relating to International Relations involve public sector research and policy-making in foreign affairs, defence, development and human rights. Many graduates now choose to do public advocacy, research, and project management work for non-governmental organisations (NGOS), and regional and global institutions such as the European Union or the United Nations. Graduates also forge careers in the international media, the armed forces, international risk management, and international corporations involved in trade and finance.

An MSc qualification in International Relations will be an important asset to you if you already hold an undergraduate degree in IR, given the increasing demands for postgraduate qualifications in the job market. In addition, graduates from cognate disciplines can use this route to change their career path, or improve their qualifications within the framework of an existing career.

Career Opportunities

  • Civil Servant
  • Diplomat
  • Government Official
  • Journalist
  • Junior Lecturer
  • NGO Worker (Charity Worker)
  • Police Officer

What our Alumni Say

Vojtech Chmelicek

Vojtech Chmelicek

Vojtech Chmelicek

Graduated 2018

The professors did a wonderful job of paying close attention to each student and providing them with all the care and attention they needed.

Beste Sabri

Beste Sabri

Beste Sabri

Job Details
Editor
Graduated 2019

The campus is welcoming and relaxing place to be. It is not only good for motivation to study but it has nature feeling and places to rest. Students are from all parts of the world which makes it the perfect place to develop relations with variety of professionals. The city of Aberdeen is compact and offers good range of part-time job opportunities while studying.

Amy Mackenzie

Amy Mackenzie

Amy Mackenzie

Job Details
Researcher in Politics
Graduated 2017

anyone interested in strategic issues, addressing nature of strategy, and increasing of work ethic, please join Strategic Studies at School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Ritu Vij

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Facilities

In addition to currently hosting the Arab-Trans International Research Project, the University of Aberdeen is the home of several research centres and institutes.

Centre for Global Security and Governance

The Centre for Global Security and Governance brings together academic experts, policy makers, and students to define, analyse, and propose remedies to the most pressing security and governance challenges the world faces in the 21st century.

The Institute for Conflict, Transition and Peace Research

ICTPR at the University of Aberdeen brings together a diverse and interdisciplinary group of scholars and students to develop in-depth theoretical understandings of the concepts and practices of transitions in terms of conflict and peace.

Find out more

New Europe Centre

The New Europe Centre represents a group of researchers at the University of Aberdeen with projects from a number of different funding sources. We are committed to doing quality research in order to better understand the world around us.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX