International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies, MA

International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies, MA


International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies at Aberdeen puts you at the forefront of contemporary debate on world events, with highly-developed skills in a modern European language and culture, adding value to a broad exploration of our complex international world and the developments which are making history today. You will graduate ideally prepared for a wide range of careers in politics, media, local and national government, NGOs and many other fields.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

Spanish & Latin American Studies at Aberdeen has an outstanding reputation, with the highest possible rating of ‘Excellent’ in the last national Teaching Quality Assessment.

Aberdeen is one of the most dynamic place to study the Spanish language and the cultural frameworks in countries where it is spoken. We will equip you with the skills to communicate in a global language, spoken by 350 million native Spanish speakers in 19 Latin American states, the Spanish Peninsula and increasingly in the US.

You will also study historical, anthropological, literary and cultural texts, films and visual culture. In International Relations, you will look closely at how nations and organisations interact, what contributes to global wealth and poverty and persisting inequalities.

You will study regional and international tensions, nationalism, concepts of democracy – and ever-present concerns of conflict and peace. You will be taught by internationally renowned academics with strong track records in publishing international papers and articles, and who appear regularly in the media, analysing and explaining national, European and world developments.

As an integral part of your 4-year programme, you will spend half of year three developing your language skills as a teaching assistant or visiting student in a Spanish-speaking country.

You will gain the perfect foundation for international career possibilities including international business, NGOs and international development, plus local and national government, politics, and journalism, with transferable skills including critical analysis and communication ideally suited to a range of careers.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), 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’.

Academic Writing for Language & Literature (AW1008)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

Politics & International Relations 1: Democracy and Governance (PI1018)

15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

Politics & International Relations 2: Power and Conflict (PI1518)

15 Credit Points

Politics is the study of multiple forms of power than impacts our lives and the world we live in. It shapes how people and groups cooperate or clash with each other. In this course, we will the ideas, institutions, complex histories, global dynamics, and systems that shape politics and international relations. Students will learn key concepts and theories of the discipline, and develop their skills in understanding and analysing global politics.

Optional Courses

Select one of the following options:


  • Spanish Language 2 (SP1028)
  • Spanish Language 3 (SP2525)
  • Plus 30 or 45 credit points from courses of choice.


  • Spanish Language 3 (SP2525)
  • Plus 45 or 60 credit points from courses of choice.

All options will select:

  • Encountering the Other in Iberia and the Americas (SP1538) AND/OR Latin America: A Cultural History (SP1036)
Spanish Language 2 (SP1028)

15 Credit Points

This is a fast-paced language course for students with some previous knowledge of Spanish who have been allocated onto this course by our diagnostic test. It is aimed at students intending to pursue an honours (single or joint) degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies but is also suitable for students on other degree programmes.

Spanish Language 3 (SP2525)

15 Credit Points

This course follows Spanish Language 2 or can be taken by students who have the required level of Spanish as determined by the diagnostic test (see below).

Encountering the Other in Iberia and the Americas (SP1538)

15 Credit Points

The course introduces students to colonial encounters ranging from Muslim Iberia to the pre-conquest Americas and continuing into the period of the Spanish Empire. From the nineteenth century, conquest and colonial encounters continued as newly-independent Spanish American states seized indigenous territories, while colonial mentalities re-surfaced in contexts as diverse as the Spanish Civil War and Southern Cone dirty wars. These examples show how colonial encounters helped shape contemporary Spain and Spanish America.

Latin America: A Cultural History (SP1036)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to Latin American history, culture and society from the pre-Hispanic period to the present through a selection of archaeology, historical and contemporary writings, visual culture and music. All texts studied will be available in English translation.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Second half session to be spent in Spain or Latin America

Ideas and Ideologies in Politics and International Relations (PI2009)

30 Credit Points

Ideas and ideologies are core to teaching, learning and research in Politics and International Relations. Theoretical developments are at the forefront of academic debates within the discipline, demonstrated by the appearance of a number of new approaches as more traditional theories have struggled to account for an ever changing world. This course will introduce students to these with profound questions and struggles over identity, belonging, justice and rights underpinning these theoretical debates.

Spanish Language 4 (SP2026)

15 Credit Points

This course aims to prepare intending Honours students of Spanish and Latin American Studies for their compulsory period abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.

The course will develop further Spanish language skills, both receptive and productive. Classes on grammatical and linguistic analysis will contribute to the development of both sets of skills. In addition students will complete a structured self learning programme of audio-visual study and grammatical reinforcement study.

Latin America: Texts and Contexts (SP2036)

15 Credit Points

This course uses texts, which can include plays, films, novels, music, letters and an etiquette guide, to understand issues, concerns and themes in Latin American history. The course is organised chronologically and each week classes focus on texts from a particular country as a means to discuss bigger questions, such as how to make a new nation after three hundred years of colonial rule and a decade of warfare, how to demonstrate your honourability in an anonymous city and what cultural models are the best source of inspiration. The course also focuses on 'context' shared throughout Latin America.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Spanish Language 6 (SP30A3)

15 Credit Points

This is a core prescribed course open only to Junior Honours Spanish and Latin American Studies students and a selected range of other programmes at the appropriate level. This course aims to enable you to identify and use, accurately, fluently, and with an appropriate level of sophistication, a range of vocabulary and linguistic registers at advanced level.

Researching in the 21st Century (PI3069)

30 Credit Points

Research methods and techniques are fundamental to the study of Politics and International Relations. In addition, they are highly desired by employers. This course will introduce students to a number of different research techniques which they will use throughout their studies at Honours and in particular their Honours dissertation. Moreover, they will also constitute a significant part of their graduate attributes.

Optional Courses

Select ONE second-half session level 3 Politics and International Relations course from the options provided below.

  • PI3579

    Digital Politics: Political Communication in the Internet Age(s)

The Eu: Contemporary Challenges (PI3073)

30 Credit Points

The EU has recently gained heightened academic and policy interest, particularly in the aftermath of the recent debates about the UK’s withdrawal. In addition to introducing the main theoretical approaches and concepts, the course aims to address the policy and practical dimensions regarding current status and future prospects for the EU. This will certainly be valuable for PIR students with an interest in international organisations, government, and policy debates.

US Politics (PI3080)

30 Credit Points

Arguably the world’s only superpower, and a cultural behemoth, what happens in the US influences and interests the world. This course takes an in-depth look at the institutions, the actors and the issues that make American politics a fascinating subject for observers the world over.

This course is co-taught by Professor Richardson Dilworth at Drexel University and contains elements of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), combining live in-person and interactive online lectures and trans-continental group-work.

Chile and the Long Shadow of Dictatorship (PI3081)

30 Credit Points

Beginning within the context of the Inter-American Cold War, this course addresses one of the seminal events of the twentieth century: the coup against Chile’s democratically elected Socialist government, as well as the nature of the counter-revolution and dictatorship which followed, and its continued legacy within the politics and society of Chile.

Employer - Led Interdisciplinary Project (ED3537)

30 Credit Points

This course involves students working together in a small group to undertake a consultancy-style project hosted by a micro-business, organisation, or charity. It exposes students to real-world tasks, enabling them to apply their transferable skills, for example project management, problem-solving, communication and leadership, in different contexts. The combination of on-campus employability workshops with project-based learning offers students an opportunity to engage with authentic, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning to develop key workplace skills.

International Security (IR3518)

30 Credit Points

This course explores salient concepts of security and conflict, focusing on contemporary issues and problems. It examines traditional, state-centred topics ie. interstate and intrastate war, as well as the ‘new security agenda’ involving issues like terrorism, organized crime, environmental security, health security and population trends. Students will gain knowledge of international security and its role in contemporary International Relations through analysis of conceptual factors and case studies. In addition, students will develop critical thinking skills, communication skills and analytical skills, including being able to formulate lucid, concise and rigorous accounts of international security affairs

Political Parties in Britain (PI3562)

30 Credit Points

The course involves a detailed examination of Britain’s party system and the individual political parties. Through this course, students should acquire a knowledge and understanding of a number of inter-related themes, including the role and democratic function of political parties in Britain, the development of party philosophies and how these relate to the realities of party policy, the organisation and distribution of power within Britain’s political parties, and elections and party campaigns. In this way, the course examines the contested and changing nature of political debate in British politics.

Soviet and Post - Soviet Russian Foreign Policy (PI3565)

30 Credit Points

This course examines contemporary Russian Foreign Policy through the historical framework of Soviet foreign relations. International, domestic, cultural and ideological factors will be examined throughout the course. This will provide an understanding of a wide range of issues that have affected Moscow’s foreign policy decision making in both the recent past and their legacy in the contemporary situation.

Human Rights in Global Politics (PI3572)

30 Credit Points

Human Rights have long been at the epicentre of heated debates in contemporary global politics. This course will examine the theoretical and philosophical foundations of human rights within their historical context, along with the key controversies that shape current implementation and enforcement of the human rights regime in global politics. This course is suitable for specialist and non-specialist alike. No prior knowledge is required.

Memory and Politics of the Past (PI3570)

30 Credit Points

This course examines the ways in which societal understandings of the past shape political outcomes in the present. Introducing students to the concept of ‘Collective Memory’, the course engages with key theoretical and empirical debates in this emerging field of Politics and IR. It asks such questions as: How can narratives of the past reproduce or challenge contemporary power relations? To what extent do political actors and institutions engineer particular historical narratives that serve their current interests? To what extent are societal ideas of the past malleable? What is the relationship between ‘remembering’, ‘forgetting’ and political power?

The Global Politics of Secession (PI3582)

30 Credit Points

Scotland’s independence referendum encouraged many people to reflect on the process of state creation, sometimes called secession, for the first time. This course examines the bigger picture of independence and secession processes in a broad sense. We look comparatively at cases such as Kosovo, South Sudan, Chiapas, and Sri Lanka (as well as Scotland). We study the development of secession as a process and political outcome. Students are encouraged to reflect on how secessionist politics challenges or reinforces the role of the state and international organisations.

Democratization (PI3583)

30 Credit Points

This course offers a broad introduction to the changing nature of why countries become and stay democratic and to the problems of putting democracy into practice in today’s world. The module introduces to the process of conducting empirical research by introducing the nature, limitations and possible applications of different analytical tools, and research methods including simple quantitative analysis.

Year 4

Compulsory Courses

Spanish Language 7 (SP40A5)

30 Credit Points

This is the final Spanish language course within the degree that will provide students with advanced comprehension and writing skills in general and specialised registers.

Optional Courses

Select one of the following dissertation course options:


  • Dissertation in Hispanic Studies (SP4039)
  • PLUS one first-half session and one second-half session course at level 4 in Politics and International Relations. See options below
    • Global Politics from the Middle East (AT4032)


  • Dissertation (International Relations) (IR4031)
  • PLUS one second-half session course at level 4 in Politics and International Relations course. See options below.
  • PLUS further credit points from level 4 courses in Spanish and Latin American Studies to gain a total of 60 credits in the discipline.


Dissertation in Hispanic Studies:
This is a year-long course, with timetabled classes in the first half-session

Dissertation in Spanish (SP4039)

30 Credit Points

This year-long course unit combines dissertation research with research methods training. The dissertation is a piece of extended independent research (8,000-10,000 words long), structured as a critical evaluation, analysis or argument, about a topic germane to Spanish and Latin American Studies. The topic is chosen by the student, in conjunction with the dissertation coordinator and an individual Departmental supervisor, both of whom approve the topic. Students are encouraged to design their topic building on their previous studies, especially honours courses. The dissertation offers a chance for students to carry out in-depth independent study in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and to acquire and develop valuable research skills. The course begins, in the first half session, with workshops on diverse research methods and the creation of peer support groups. The second half session includes structured meetings with the dissertation supervisor and meetings with the peer support group, as well as independent research and writing.

Dissertation (IR4031)

30 Credit Points

This course affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge/research skills in the field of Politics & International Relations to an individual piece of research, focusing on a topic selected by the student and approved by the Dissertation supervisor. Over the course of the project, with guidance from a supervising member of staff, the student will conduct a literature review of relevant material, select appropriate research methods, gather data where necessary, analyse data, and write a final analysis in the form of the Dissertation. Particular emphasis will be given to helping students develop their own skills.

Science, Technology & International Relations (IR4034)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the international relations of science and technology, focusing on both the causes and effects of technology in terms of domestic and global governance. It examines issues such as ‘big science’ projects, technology transfer, the regulation of technology, competition in technology, and state policies toward technology using examples such as the nuclear industry, biotechnology, the internet, and others.

Extreme Right in Western Europe (PI4060)

30 Credit Points

This course will provide an in-depth analysis of a European party family which is growing in electoral support as well as political influence. Individual countries and parties will be covered, as well as key concepts such as fascism, racism, xenophobia and populism. Students will also be familiarised with different theoretical approaches explaining the growth of extreme right parties, and responses from the political environment. The course will be beneficial to future study and work in a wide range of areas and contexts, and has relevance to social and political challenges such as integration, internationalisation, globalisation and social cohesion.

International Political Psychology (PI4086)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates issues at the intersection of psychology and international politics, studying both the psychological causes and consequences of international relations. In addition to familiarising students with core concepts and methods of international political psychology, it develops their skills in analysing factors such as personality, beliefs, perception, emotions, trust, empathy, status, reputation, and social identity.

Maritime Security (IR4535)

30 Credit Points

This course introduces maritime security as an essential element of national security. It enables students to understand and analyse contemporary national and international security from the vantage point of the oceans, seas, and rivers. It covers global maritime geography, seapower, maritime strategy, and contemporary national and international security threats in or from the maritime domain.

Political Islam: Islamist Ideologies and Practices (PI4573)

30 Credit Points

Taking a historical approach, the course will trace the key events that have led to current Political Islam (Islamism) concentrating on the ideology and practice of various movements and groups. It will explore contemporary constructs of identity and political arrangements within Islamism and encourage critical analysis and independent thought in relation to the challenges Islamist poses to existing theoretical paradigms. Areas to be explored will include: the political construct of early Islam, the Sunni/Shia divide, key ideologues, and contemporary movements such as the Muslim Brothers, Hamas and Hizbullah.

International Migration and Europe (PI4579)

30 Credit Points

International Migration has recently gained increased academic and policy interest. This course, while introducing the main analytical concepts concerning migration, addresses the policy dimension in the European context. Additionally the course will assist students in becoming active citizens in an ever changing world.

Good Governance & Anti - Corruption Policy (PI4587)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates the politics of good governance and anti-corruption policies inside and beyond the borders of Europe. It focuses on the concepts of corruption and good governance, explores major theoretical approaches regarding fight against corruption and addresses specific cases such as corruption in old patrimonial communist states, state capture in Southeast Europe, oligarchs in Europe’s near abroad and lords of poverty in Africa.

Northern Ireland: Small, Dirty War (PI4588)

30 Credit Points

This course investigates claims that the British state and its security forces, and Republican and Loyalist paramilitary organisations, were engaged in a ‘dirty war’ in Northern Ireland. The theory and practice of dirty war is addressed via strategic and tactical evolution on the part of the British security forces and the IRA during the euphemistically termed ‘Troubles’.

War and Peace in International Politics (IR4528)

30 Credit Points

The course aims to provide students with an understanding of how conflict between ethno-national groups impacts on international politics. It explores the responses of the international community to intra-state conflict. Following an initial exploration of the relevant theories, the course focuses on a number of key conflicts in international politics. What explains violent conflict between ethnic groups? What role do external actors play in peace processes? Should the international community intervene to stop violent conflict? What kind of institutional frameworks do external actors promote in post-conflict states?

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study International Relations and Spanish & Latin American Studies?

Why Spanish & Latin American Studies

  • A subject scoring the highest possible rating of ‘Excellent’ in the last Scottish national Teaching Quality Assessment.
  • The opportunity to study visual culture, literature, history, politics and anthropology in relation to Spain and/or Latin America.
  • Special areas of research expertise include 20th century Spain, contemporary and historical Mexico, visual culture, gender studies, history of science in Latin America, and studies of citizenship and society.
  • Multicultural north-east Scotland, with many Spanish speakers working or studying in this region due to its role as a world centre for oil and gas.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, with top-class study facilities, state-of-the-art learning technology, and extensive Spanish and Latin American works to inspire your studies.
  • A packed campus programme of events, exhibitions, film showings, and the annual May Festival which welcomes international figures, experts, writers and scientists to campus every spring, including authors writing in Spanish.

Why Politics and International Relations

  • A core curriculum with topical themes of conflict and security, representation and democracy, comparative politics and policy.
  • Special focus on 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.
  • Staff with specialist expertise in political parties and elections, democracy, energy politics, European integration and regionalism, human rights and development issues, interest groups, nationalism, conflict resolution and more.
  • Opportunities to take advantage of spending your second year studying abroad, in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong or North America.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, combining a top-class study environment with state-of-the-art technology, and extensive reference collections for your studies.
  • A packed campus programme of events, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May festival, engaging prominent influencers, interest groups and public in debating major political issues such as Scottish independence and EU membership.
  • All the history and legacy of being part of a university developed over 500 years of national and international political turbulence, social change, and emerging democracy.

Entry Requirements


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

General Entry Requirements

2024 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who achieve BB over S4 and S5 and who meet one of the widening access criteria are guaranteed a conditional offer. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.


Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see for more details.

2025 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: BBBB

Applicants who have achieved BBBB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who achieve BB over S4 and S5 and who meet one of the widening access criteria are guaranteed a conditional offer. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

Foundation Apprenticeship: One FA is equivalent to a Higher at A. It cannot replace any required subjects.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.


Standard: BBC

Minimum: BCC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate 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 - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

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

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

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

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
EU / International students £20,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Financial support for your study year abroad

We provide funding to students starting in 2021/22 on degrees with a compulsory period abroad at the same level as the Turing funding. This financial support can be used towards rent in your new city overseas, general living costs, or travelling to see more of your new home country. Students going abroad will continue to pay their normal rate of tuition fees with no increased charges or need to change tuition fee arrangements to the host university. For a full overview of how the tuition fees work, you can check this helpful funding table on our website.

Additional Fees

  • 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 Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


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.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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

Social Media