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International Relations (BSc Econ)

Entry year

International Relations has developed from a relatively restricted field of study concerned with the relations between states and the causes of war, to a rich and broad disciplinary field which addresses a wide breadth of questions critical to our contemporary global world.

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Course overview

International Relations examines the role of states, international alliances, non-governmental organisations and multinational companies in an increasingly globalised world.

As part of this degree programme, you will have the opportunity to focus on global politics and world affairs as well as having the opportunity to attend a lecture series hosted by the University on International Relations & International Law, which has featured high profile speakers from institutions such as NATO and the UN Security Council.

Our objective is to challenge the preconceptions that you will bring to the subject and to actively encourage a critical attitude to the nature of the political and the international. We aim to prepare you to markets of knowledge and practice that are in constant evolution so that, through this programme, you become an active and critical young citizen and develop a consciousness of the values of internationalization.

International Relations graduates find careers in a wide range of fields. A further option is to go on to postgraduate study.

Distinctive features

  • This programme is taught by a team of experts in their field, in subjects ranging from cyber security and nuclear politics to climate change and feminism.
  • Module options that give you the space to develop and pursue your own interests as your grasp of the field is progressively enriched and broadened over the three years of study.
  • A broad and deep education in global affairs and a rich understanding of what international politics is and ought to be.
UCAS code305Q
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time

Entry requirements

ABB-BBB excluding General Studies and Citizenship Studies.  

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Award of the IB Diploma with 34-32 points OR 665-655 in 3 HL subjects.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the Cardiff School of Law and Politics admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 6.0 in all other sub-scores.


At least 90 with minimum scores of 22 for Writing and 20 in all other components.

PTE Academic

At least 62 with 62 in Writing and no less than 54 in all other components.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: a Distinction in Writing and at least one Distinction and two Merits in other components.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment



We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a three year, full-time programme made up of 120 credits per year.

Year one will provide you with a solid grounding in core international relations theories and perspectives, and the historical development of the international system through the study of designated core modules. This platform will provide the theoretical and historical foundation for more advanced study of a rich range of international relations topics as you progress. 

Study in the second and third years will have a distinctly IR focus and you will be required to study a minimum of 100 credits in the discipline in each year. The volume and range of modules available means that you are able to retain an element of choice within that compulsory element and as such design and pursue a bespoke pathway that reflects their specific study interests.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

You will study 120 credits in your first year from a list of available Politics and International Relations modules.

Study skills support integrated within year one modules will help you cultivate the essential skills of academic study and independent research.

Year two

You will study modules amounting to 120 credits in year two.

You must select a minimum of 100 credits from a designated International Relations module collection. In addition, you may elect to study one additional 20 credit module from either the International Relations or Politics module collections.

A range of modules covering areas such as international security, international governance and international theory will be available. This arrangement means your programme has a distinct international relations focus, but you retain an element of choice and design that enables you to pursue a pathway that reflects your specific study interests.

Year three

You will study modules amounting to 120 credits in year three.

As in year two, you will select a minimum of 100 credits from designated International Relations modules and choose a further 20 credit module from either the International Relations or Politics module collection.

This means that the second and third years of your degree will be weighted towards International Relations modules, allowing you to focus your programme of study on topics such as global environmental politics, international security, digital technologies, war and peace, and postcolonial politics.

You will have the opportunity to write a dissertation which exposes you to the skills needed for research. The International Relations dissertation offers you the opportunity to engage in supervised but self-directed research. You will be able to choose a preferred area of focus and an appropriate supervisor will be appointed.

To maximise opportunity for success, selection of the dissertation module will normally demand achievement of a 2:1 overall in your year two assessment.

Module titleModule codeCredits
International Politics in the Nuclear AgePL932020 credits
Africa in International Thought and Practice: Colonialism, Anticolonialism, PostcolonialismPL932120 credits
Global Environmental PoliticsPL932220 credits
Bombs, Bullets and Ballot-boxes: the Northern Ireland Conflict, 1969 to 1998PL932420 credits
Political Economy: Rationality in an Irrational World?PL932520 credits
Popular Culture and World PoliticsPL932820 credits
China in the WorldPL933020 credits
Cybersecurity: Diplomacy and Digital Rights in Global PoliticsPL933220 credits
A History of British IntelligencePL933320 credits
The Politics of Violence and KillingPL933520 credits
Justice, Legitimacy and International LawPL933620 credits
Latin American PoliticsPL933720 credits
Sex, Drugs and Public PolicyPL933820 credits
Visual Global PoliticsPL933920 credits
Politics in Practice: Work Placement ModulePL934020 credits
The Soul and the City: Plato's Political PhilosophyPL934120 credits
Crisis and Commitment in 20th Century Political ThoughtPL934320 credits
Science, Knowledge, PoliticsPL934420 credits
The Many Faces of Thomas HobbesPL934520 credits
Be the Change: Governing without the StatePL934620 credits
US Government and PoliticsPL937420 credits
Cyfiawnder Byd-eangPL937720 credits
Cenedlaetholdeb, Crefydd a Chyfiawnder: Hanes Athroniaeth yr 20fed Ganrif yng NghymruPL937820 credits
Parliamentary Studies ModulePL938020 credits
International Relations DissertationPL938520 credits
Elections in the UKPL938720 credits
Global International Organisation in World PoliticsPL939120 credits
Personality and PowerPL939220 credits
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?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and seminars.

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.

Seminars provide an opportunity to ask questions and discuss key ideas in a small group environment. Their purpose is to assist you to integrate the information and ideas you receive from lectures and readings and to explore issues critically and in depth. Set questions and readings form the basis for discussion by directing your attention to relevant aspects of the subject matter and to various types of sources of information. Giving presentations develops your capacity to gather, organise and synthesise relevant information and ideas and to communicate these in a logical and concise manner. Tutor-led and student-led discussion hones logical skills and gives you practice in applying different concepts, theories and methods to the subject-matter at hand. It also exposes you to different interpretations of political ideas and events. Group problem-solving helps to develop collaborative skills.

Welsh language provision

This programme provides opportunities for learning and teaching through the medium of Welsh. Seminar teaching in Welsh is available in modules in each year. You may elect to write all or some of your assessed work and examinations in Welsh. If you are in receipt of a Coleg Cymraeg scholarship you are required to take a prescribed number of Welsh medium modules in order to fulfill the terms of your scholarship, the need for which is accommodated within each module collection.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the programme and advise you on study techniques, module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties. Additionally, all teaching staff keep prescribed office hours when you can meet with them and discuss any learning queries arising from the module or from your studies in general.

All modules within the programme make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including multimedia materials, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises, discussion groups, etc. You will also be able to reflect on your progress and on the skills that you will develop through a section on the University’s Central Learning site called Planning Personal Development.

Within modules, the requirements and expectations of learning and assessment will be explained carefully by the module leader within the class and through supporting materials available on Learning Central.

Many modules include early forms of assessment designed to monitor progress and provide feedback before longer pieces of coursework and final exams. You will receive written feedback on all coursework.

A range of staff are available to provide further support, including a specialist librarian. A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

Centrally the University 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 and resource centres.


Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Prior advice and written feedback (for essays) are used to help you understand what is required.

Formative feedback does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions. The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work.
  • Help staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Summative feedback does conribute to progression or degree classification decisions. The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improveAll feedback should directly link to the Module grading / assessment criteria.

Feedback is given in tutorials, discussion classes and problems classes as well as through individual written comments on coursework.

How will I be assessed?

Year one is an introductory year. Results from Years two and three determine degree classification.

The programme structure is intended to progressively develop skills of academic study and independent research. This is delivered via levels based teaching and supported by, for example, study skills support at first year, specific research training at second year and longer research essays, primary research exercises and, if selected, the dissertation at third year.

Forms of teaching and assessment across the three years of the programme will include a wide range of methods and approaches, from essays and exams to group work, blogs, primary document analysis, writing briefings and learning diaries.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On completion of this programme you will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of various international relations theories, the nature of the international system and of global power structures (with main focus in terms of agencies such as States, International Organisations and other non-State actors) together with a command of associated transferable skills, such as:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • Understanding the nature and significance of politics as a global activity.
  • Demonstrating critical knowledge and understanding of historical evolution and contemporary character of world politics.
  • Applying concepts and theories used in the study of international relations to the analysis of political ideas, practices and issues in the global arena.
  • Making use of various categories of evidence to illustrate the applicability and limitations of the aforementioned concepts, theories and methods.
  • Evaluating different interpretations of world political issues and events.
  • Demonstrating knowledge and understanding of key aspects of contemporary international relations, embracing global and also regional studies.
  • Critically engaging with contemporary research materials in the relevant areas of international relations.
  • Effectively managing time, tasks and resources.

Intellectual Skills:

  • Gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of sources.
  • Develop a reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement.
  • Reflect on your own learning and make use of constructive feedback.
  • Manage your own learning self-critically.
  • Communicate ideas effectively and fluently, both orally and in writing.

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management.
  • Collaborate with others and contribute to the achievement of common goals.
  • Use communications and information technologies for the retrieval and presentation of information.


Career prospects

In 2016/17, 95% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

Degrees in Politics and International Relations provide you with a foundation for a wide range of careers such as in non-governmental organisations, global development, international business, diplomacy and intelligence in government, journalism, and policy research, as well as a basis for more specialist subjects taught at postgraduate level.


Next Undergraduate Open Day

Saturday 26 October




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