MSc International Relations and International Law offers you an interdisciplinary perspective on global governance.
- Learning Mode
- On Campus Learning
- Degree Qualification
- 12 months or 24 months
- Study Mode
- Full Time or Part Time
- Start Month
- September or January
- Location of Study
Greek historian Thucydides (460-395BC) became the first academic to understand international relations. It is a highly interdisciplinary area to include areas such as technology, economics, history, geography, sociology, criminology, diplomacy, international security, finance, human rights and more. The oldest known peace treaty within international law dates from 3100BC between two Sumerian city states and a number of treaties in the Middle East.
There is an increasing need for governments to respond to complex international legal frameworks to manage inter-state relationships between countries. The International Relations and International Relations postgraduate programme conducted jointly by the School of Social Science and the School of Law provides you with an advanced understanding of International Relations and International Law and how their interaction impacts upon international politics.
Drawing on the expertise of staff from the two Schools, this innovative programme combines courses in the theory and practice of International Law and International Relations, offering you a unique interdisciplinary perspective on a range of contemporary issues related to the transformed nature of global governance.
You will develop key skills regarding critical legal and political analysis of current international issues through coursework and the completion of a Master’s thesis in International Law.
You have the opportunity to attend the research seminars of the Law School, the research seminars of the School of Social Science, events organised by the Centre for Sustainable International Development, as well as by the Centre for Global Security and Governance. You can also take part in a language course at the Language Centre.
Available Programmes of Study
International Relations and International LawQualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month LocationMSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September MoreMSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January Aberdeen More
Duration: 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time.
Duration (MSc); 9 months full-time or 18 months part-time (PgDip); 4 months full-time or 8 months part-time (PgCert).
Information for part-time students: This route runs over two years. Students can take up to 120 credit points in a single year. The route would run as follows:
- January to August: PD5506, LS553X, and LS551T. Students will also choose one elective from the PI and LS courses (see options in the Stage 1 optional courses).
- September to August: IR5001 or LS510U, one course from the PI/LS electives, and IR5901 (dissertation)
- September to December: IR5001 or LS510U
- Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship (LS551T)
This course provides students from diverse legal and educational backgrounds with a common understanding of the core research, analytical, and writing skills which will be required for LLM-Taught courses. It begins with a series of lectures and progresses to working in a workshop environment and finally to the submission of an individual assignment. It also incorporates a library workshop to provide students with hands-on experience with the resources available for course and dissertation work.
- Foundations of International Law (LS553X)
The course introduces students to the basics of International Law. It will describe the international legal system, the sources of International Law and the law of treaties.
- Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5506)
This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.
Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.
Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.
Plus courses to the value of 60 credit points. At least one course from the PI electives and one from the LS courses must be taken.
LS551G International Humanitarian Law (30 credit points)
- International Energy Security (PI5518)
30 Credit Points
Oil and Security – how oil crises have occurred since 1973, with a focus on the energy demand and supply pressures and the political factors triggering the 1973 and 1979 oil crises. OPEC and IEA. The factors underpinning the oil crisis of 2008 and its relationships to world economic crisis. The role of China in oil politics.
Natural Gas, the EU and Russia. How conceptions of (natural gas) energy security are constructed and implemented in the EU and Russia –Nuclear Power and energy security;– eg Iran .
- Terrorism and Counter - Terrorism (PI5520)
30 Credit Points
International terrorism and counterterrorism dominate both contemporary scholarly debates in International Relations (IR) and policy discussions. This course examines these debates by focusing, on the one hand, on the (individual and/or structural) causes and different manifestations of terrorism and, on the other hand, on debates on how to respond to terrorism not only effectively but also without violating humanitarian principles and international law. Overall, the course aims to provide students with an overview of current research on international terrorism and counterterrorism in IR and its neighbouring disciplines and to enable them to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of core aspects of the issue.
- Chinese Security Issues (PI5521)
30 Credit Points
The focus of this module is the key approaches, institutions, and contemporary issues in global security relating to the rise of China. Set in the context of broader global security issues, this module offers students an introduction to Chinese security policy and approaches to international relations. It lifts the vale on a very misunderstood, controversial, and increasingly critical feature of global security and world affairs. It will explore debates on China's rise, China's growing involvement in international politics, and global security.
- International Human Rights Law (LS5590)
30 Credit Points
The course was designed to help students build competence in dealing with the doctrinal issues about international human rights. It involves understanding the place of human rights in public international law, finding one’s way around the foundational human rights documents and the jurisprudence of human rights bodies. The course delivery puts heavy emphasis on classroom discussion on the controversial issues on contemporary human rights law that shape doctrinal development in this field: the justifiability of torture, the limits of freedom of religion, the justiciability of social rights, etc.
- The use of Force in International Law (LS5549)
30 Credit Points
The course analyses how international law regulates the use of armed forces between States. It is of interest to students who want to understand the legal considerations which frame contemporary conflicts. The course will study the fundamental principle of the prohibition on the use of inter-State force. It will examine the current exceptions to this principle, and how States try to justify the use of force. Consequently, the course will study the most recent recourses to force on the international plane, in particular in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Teaching will be delivered mainly through discussion based seminars.
- Dissertation in International Relations (IR5901)
60 Credit Points
This is a compulsory element on the MSc International Relations programme.
Candidates must take:
- 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.
- International Law: A Time of Challenges (LS501U)
30 Credit Points
The course analyses recent developments in public international law. It first considers the sources of public international law. The question is then asked whether traditional public international law can regulate pressing issues on the international plane. Examples of these problems are: international terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, protection of human rights, ethnic conflicts, climate change. The course encourages the participant-student to think creatively as an international lawyer to resolve contemporary international dilemmas.
Fee information Fee category Cost EU / International students £23,800 Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year Home / RUK £11,077 Tuition Fees for 2023/24 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.
Further Information about tuition fees and the cost of living in Aberdeen
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.
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.
How You'll Study
- Group Projects
- Individual Projects
Assessment is based on a combination of coursework submitted during the semester and a written examination at the end of the relevant semester. In addition, students must complete a course in research skills and a dissertation on a topic within the specialism. The dissertation is submitted at the beginning of September. Guidance on the writing of a dissertation is given.
Why Study International Relations and International Law?
- This MSc will provide wide ranging knowledge from two Schools to equip you with a wider perspective.
- You can attend research seminars organised by the Centre for Sustainable International Development and Centre for Global Security and Governance to hear the latest research in the field.
- You will be taught by published research experts with consultancy experience internationally at Aberdeen.
- The Schools of Social Science and Law offer you a wide community of international staff and students and the city is located in a major international energy industry hub providing a cosmopolitan and compact stimulating Scottish city close to the sea and National Parks.
The Department of Politics & International Relations provides a core curriculum along with unique options that represent the research interests among staff, including international political economy and globalisation, democracy and democratization, public policy and public opinion, power and security, interest groups, political parties and social movements.
Research centres relevant to European Politics include: New Europe Centre and the Centre for Global Security and Governance. More recently, 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. Finally, Arab-Trans, a major international research project links Aberdeen to 7 Arab countries.
- The School of Law is ranked 81st in the world for Law (The Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2021).
- PIR had 60% of its research assessed as world class or internationally excellent in the 2014 Research Evaluation Framework. It is ranked 5th in research grant income (per fte) in the UK, has an 85% student satisfaction rate and is ranked 12th in the UK in student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2014.
- You are encouraged to provide live consultancy work within one of The School of Laws' public facing projects, including: Lawyers Without Borders, Casus Omissus (Aberdeen Law Project), Law Mooting Society, Aberdeen Student Law Review, Legal Research Society, and European Law Students Association.
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:
OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0
OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21
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.
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
There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.
- More information on employability at the University of Aberdeen
- More information on the Careers and Employability Service
- Foreign Office Diplomat
- Government Official
- International Consultant
- International Non-Governmental Officer
- Postgraduate Researcher
You will be taught by and have access to a number of experts, many of whom are internationally renowned within their respective fields. These will include members of the Centre for Constitutional and Public International Law alongside experts from the School of Social Sciences
- Other Experts
- Dr Ritu Vij
- Prof Irène Couzigou
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.
The School of Law offers an extensive range of high quality, engaging and academically challenging programmes. The learning environment is one of support and personal development, leading to well-rounded and highly employable graduates.
Get in Touch
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen