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International Relations (MA)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

Gain a thorough understanding of international relations, taught by research-active experts in several specialisms.


Advanced research skills

A focus on developing research skills, methods and confidence within a supportive environment.



Close links to the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the United Nations Association (Wales).


Engaging speakers

A vibrant interdisciplinary research environment hosting regular research seminars and visiting speakers.


Specialist modules

Modules built on the distinctive and cross-disciplinary opportunities afforded by our expertise in law, politics and international relations.

The International Relations MA provides a structure for the advanced study of an exciting disciplinary field. You’ll develop a full understanding of the development of the discipline of international relations and will be able to pursue specialist interests within a general framework.

The programme bridges the sub-fields of international security, international relations theory, international law, foreign policy analysis, political philosophy, and political science. While specialist optional modules address a range of contemporary global concerns such as environmental politics, feminism, digital technologies, and conflict management.

During your studies, you’ll be introduced to the main issues in international relations and how they have a bearing on a range of specialist areas of study.

The programme is structured to provide you with the methodological tools necessary to conduct critical research in this broad and demanding field, with a focus on research methods and skills. This will prepare you to undertake self-directed research during the dissertation stage of the programme.

Where you'll study

School of Law and Politics

Our vibrant student body combined with highly qualified academic staff provides the perfect environment to explore the dynamic and fast-paced fields of law, politics and international relations.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 6102
  • MarkerMuseum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in economics, English, geography, history, international relations, law, modern languages, philosophy, politics, psychology, religious studies, sociology, social policy, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references and evidence of professional registration with a relevant regulatory or professional body.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled. 

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The programme takes a 2 stage approach.

During Stage 1 (the taught stage) of the programme, you’ll study a maximum of 120 taught credits, comprising six 20 credit modules. You must study 60 credits each semester via a combination of core and optional modules.  

On successful completion of Stage 1, you’ll progress to Stage 2 (the master’s degree stage) and undertake a 60 credit, level 7 dissertation module.

Subject to successful completion of the requisite number of taught modules, those who don’t proceed to the master’s degree stage may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

During the taught stage, you’ll take six, 20 credit taught modules, providing a fundamental understanding of the issues in international relations and research methodology. You must study 3 modules (60 credits) each semester, totalling 120 credits across the autumn and spring semesters. 60 credits are core, and the remaining 60 credits are selected from a range of optional modules tailored to your personal and professional interests.

On successful completion of 120 credits of taught modules, you’ll progress to Stage 2 and will complete the 60-credit dissertation. The dissertation component will be submitted at the end of the programme.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Study for a master’s degree is intensive and challenging and it is important that you take full advantage of the teaching that is provided in order to succeed. Attendance at classes and dissertation supervisions is compulsory and we will expect you to be well prepared. 

Our teaching will be delivered through seminars or a combination of lectures and seminars.  Other teaching methods include the online use of discussion boards, self-access study packs and formative quizzes and activities.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information.

In seminars you will have the opportunity to discuss themes or topics, to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation. Communication skills are developed in seminars, where you will make individual contributions to group study. Participation in diverse learning activities, such as small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments will develop your intellectual and presentation skills.

Modules are typically led by experienced staff actively engaged in research relevant to their subject area.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment will be made up of formative and summative assessment.

Formative tasks do not contribute towards your final degree classification but are designed to give you an opportunity to develop your skills and practice for your summative assessments.  They enable you and your tutors to evaluate the development of your skills and your progress in each module. Formative tasks will normally involve written coursework, class tests, may comprise individual student presentations or form part of group discussions and sharing of ideas with the module leaders where formative spoken feedback occurs. 

Summative assessments contribute towards your final degree classification. Your results in these assessments:

  • determine your formal progression from Stage 1 to Stage 2 (dissertation); and 
  • determine your final award.

The nature of the summative assessments in Stage 1 will vary by module but will typically involve written coursework, unseen examinations or pre-release examinations, presentations and can also include an assessment of your general engagement and participation in seminars. Summative assessment in Stage 2 (dissertation) comprises the dissertation (up to 15,000 words).

How will I be supported?

We’ll support you in developing your research and study skills across your modules and also via your dissertation supervisor.

Your learning will be supported through e-learning; all modules are supported by Learning Central, a virtual learning environment that is available on and off campus through which you will access a wide range of materials for your modules.

You’ll receive general academic and pastoral support through a personal tutor and where appropriate your personal tutor will be able to signpost you to other areas of student support. We’ll run a programme of guest lectures and talks which you are welcome to attend.

A designated Disability and Diversity Officer ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities. The University also has a range of services to support you, including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service and excellent libraries with specialist subject librarians and resource centres. 


Feedback is available through oral feedback during seminars, and you will receive written feedback on both your formative and summative assessments. Individual feedback on formative work will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your learning, as well as how you might improve your performance in summative assessments. Written feedback will generally be made available no later than 21 working days from the agreed submission date of your assessment.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of your programme you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • KU 1 Critically evaluate the key theories utilised to help understand international relations, and the principal debates surrounding political, social and theoretical concepts in tasks and assessments. 
  • KU 2 Assess the causes and outcomes of peace, crisis, and globalisation in the twenty-first century in a variety of different contexts in the world, using international relations theories in a written assessment. 
  • KU 3 Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different research methodologies and the debates around how they have been applied in contemporary international relations research.
  • KU 4 Evaluate contemporary themes and debates across a range of subject areas within international relations in spoken and written tasks. 
  • KU 5 Design and develop an independently researched dissertation focused in the area of international relations, drawing on appropriate analytical skills and research methods. 

Intellectual Skills:

  • IS 1 Gather, organise, and collate evidence, data and information from a variety of sources.
  • IS 2 Develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement in various written and spoken assessments. 
  • IS 3 Critically analyse and evaluate different approaches involved in collecting information on international relations, including recognising their ethical implications.
  • IS 4 Investigate and advocate solutions to problems.
  • IS 5 Evaluate an independent research topic for a dissertation. 

Professional Practical Skills:

  • PS 1 Collaborate with others to achieve set tasks.
  • PS 2 Gather, organise, and deploy evidence, data and information in assignments using information technology.
  • PS 3 Reflect on your own learning and constructively utilise feedback in a variety of assessments. 
  • PS 4 Critically analyse and evaluate a range of evidence to reach a reasoned judgment for a research dissertation. 

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • KS 1 Manage your own learning development through self-critical evaluation. 
  • KS 2 Communicate ideas effectively and fluently, both orally and in writing.
  • KS 3 Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management.
  • KS 4 Collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals.
  • KS 5 Independently gather, critically analyse and evaluate evidence for research tasks including a research dissertation. 

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £10,450 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £22,700 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs


Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Career prospects

Graduates from this programme have found employment in a variety of fields, including government and diplomatic service, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media and international organisations. A number of our graduates have gone on to pursue PhDs and further research. The course is also useful as a general qualification for careers such as teaching, banking, and commerce.

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2023 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.