International Relations MSc

Why choose this course?

This course explores the development of international relations and the key ideas that have shaped our understanding of the modern system. You will examine institutions, such as the United Nations and the European Union, and study debates concerning security, globalisation and underdevelopment. 

With an emphasis on the application of theoretical understanding, such as global conflict management and human rights promotion, this course will suit you if you are seeking to add an international aspect to your specialism.

You will be equipped with enhanced research skills which will be widely applicable in a range of careers. This course also nurtures your critical thinking by encouraging you to engage with your own investigation.

Lively discussion is encouraged, and you'll be able to attend lectures with visiting speakers, leading academics and figures from human rights and international organisations. You will also take part in organisation visits and coordinating the annual Human Rights Festival.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2024
Part time 2 years September 2024
Main location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Lively discussion is encouraged, with visiting speakers, leading academics and figures from human rights and international organisations. Recent speakers include the Palestinian and EU ambassadors to the UK.
  • You will be taught by highly-acclaimed academics and experts in international relations, politics, human rights and international conflict.
  • Teaching for the course employs innovative and inclusive methods, including games and simulations, case studies, workshops, role playing and group work.

Specialist careers support

You will take part in an Assessment Centre Experience, providing the opportunity to experience the pathway to employment with tailored feedback to help develop your employability skills for the world of graduate employment.

  • Develop your understanding of the jobs market, including current trends and opportunities, different recruitment processes and how to identify relevant roles
  • Receive personalised feedback reports to help you to improve and progress
  • Access additional webinars on top tips, employer expectations and best practice
Specialist careers support

Kingston's Department of Criminology, Politics and Sociology

What you will study

You will explore the development of international relations and the key ideas that have shaped our understanding of the modern system. You will learn about actors and institutions such as the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, and you will study theoretical and policy debates concerning globalisation and underdevelopment.

You will have the opportunity to take an in-depth look at issues of human rights and international conflict. Your dissertation will enable you to study an area of interest in depth.

Core modules

Core modules


60 credits

The masters programme culminates in the dissertation, an extended project that allows you to engage in independent research, applying and developing the content of the taught modules to a topic of your choice.

You will complete your dissertation in the summer months, and you will be supported by your supervisor with an emphasis on independent research.

Examples of past dissertations include: ‘Gendering Mary Kaldor's New War Thesis', ‘Foreign Policy of States with Limited Recognition Case Study of Abkhazia', ‘Economic Partnership Agreements in Africa' and ‘Japan's National Security Strategy 2022: A neorealist analysis'.

Research Skills and Dissertation Proposal

30 credits

This module will develop your independent research skills in the field of International Relations. You will explore key approaches to research and experiment with them, enhancing your data literacy in preparation for your dissertation.

Gaining greater data literacy will improve your awareness of how people in research and practical politics use and abuse data. In an era of fake news and conspiracy theories it is more important than ever to look behind the claims made; evaluate the quality of the evidence provided and how it has been used (good data can be used badly, deliberately or otherwise); and separate facts from fiction.

The module culminates with a detailed dissertation proposal, and you will be supported to produce a clearly articulated and fully justified research plan.

The Theory and Practice of International Relations

30 credits

This is the core module for the MSc in International Relations.

The module explores a number of the leading theories that have been put forward to explain how the international system operates, and you will apply these theories to a series of case studies. This combination facilitates the exploration of international relations through the practical application of theoretical standpoints.

In the first part of the module we will explore the key thinkers, ideas and philosophies underpinning the study of international relations from both traditional and critical schools.

In the second part we apply the theories explored in Part 1 in a series of practical workshops, including simulation and role play as well as student-led international relations case studies, both historical and contemporary.

Conflict Analysis and Management

30 credits

The module introduces different approaches to the question of conflict analysis and management in the contemporary world from two angles.

Firstly, drawing from a range of theories of and approaches to conflict analysis and conflict management, the module equips you with the tools to understand and analyse a variety of conflicts.

Secondly, you will explore the connection of theory and practice through a series of case studies from real-world events. Case studies covered include: tension in the South China Sea, independence referenda in Scotland and Catalonia, climate change and conflict, Northern Ireland Peace Process and nuclear deterrence.

Human Rights in Context

30 credits

From the origins of human rights discourse there has been a struggle for women to be seen as equal. Patriarchal societies and laws made by men to benefit men left women fighting for recognition to equal rights and protection under the law, from voting rights, the ability to own property and the right to work.

The concept of universalism in international law and prevailing concepts of non-discrimination have gone far in ensuring formal equality between the sexed under the law. However, there are still many areas in which the struggle is ongoing; from human rights law to family law, medical law to criminal law and employment law there are a multitude of scenarios in which women's rights fall short.

This module examines some of these core areas where the law has a significant and profound impact on women, examining the rationale behind these areas of legislation/regulation and analysing the impact that they have on women.

The overarching concept in this module is addressing whether women are, in the eyes of the law and society, equal by taking a critical approach to the areas examined while also addressing the underlying socio-economic factors that contribute.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

Kingston School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences

The School offers courses in economics, sociology, law, psychology and criminology. Our degrees are underpinned by a vibrant research culture and delivered by a blend of practitioners and academics who are dedicated to equipping you with the employability skills to thrive in your career.

You will have a wealth of opportunities outside the classroom to further your learning and gain hands-on experience in your chosen field.

Life on the course

Group of seven students on an experiential visit to the Imperial War Museum

Experiential visits

Making the most of the University's proximity to central London, we organise visits to institutions that are relevant to the study of International Relations. Recent trips include the Imperial War Museum, The Wiener Holocaust Library and Amnesty International Headquarters.

Human Rights Festival

Students organise and coordinate Kingston's annual Human Rights Festival which celebrates and promotes human rights through a series of interactive sessions with human rights practitioners, academics and advocates.

Election panel debate

Staff and students debate the future of UK politics

After you graduate

This course can help you start or develop a career in research, advocacy and policy, for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), diplomatic services, inter-governmental organisations think tanks or in journalism.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A 2:2 or above honours degree or equivalent in any discipline.

Candidates with non-standard qualifications but with relevant experience, are welcome to apply.

Prior learning – AP(E)L

Applicants with prior qualifications and learning may be exempt from appropriate parts of a course in accordance with the University's policy for the assessment of prior learning and prior experiential learning. Contact the faculty office for further information.

Pre-Masters programme

If you don't meet these entry requirements, our Pre-Masters programme can prepare you for the course.


Please note: most students from countries outside the European Union/European Economic Area and classified as overseas fee paying, are not eligible to apply for part-time courses due to UK student visa regulations. For information on exceptions please visit the UKCISA website or email our CAS and Visa Compliance team.

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with no element below 6.0. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from recognised majority-English-speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country-specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

9% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 135 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1647 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (e.g. test or exam), practical (e.g. presentations, performance) and coursework (e.g. essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 94%
  • Practical: 6%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Your timetables

Each student receives a personalised timetable. This is usually available after you have completed your online enrolment, which is typically accessible one month before the start of your course.

Class sizes

You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which supports dedicated academic guidance and advice and gives you the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes therefore you will be taught alongside students who are on these courses within the School.

Who teaches this course?

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on this course. The team includes senior academics and professional practitioners with industry experience. The following group of staff members are currently involved in the delivery of different elements of this course. This pool is subject to change at any time within the academic year.

Fees for this course

2025/26 fees for this course

Home 2025/26

  • MSc full time £11,400
  • MSc part time £6,270

International 2025/26

  • MSc full time £17,600
  • MSc part time £9,680

2024/25 fees for this course

Home 2024/25

  • MSc full time £10,900
  • MSc part time £5,995

International 2024/25

  • MSc full time £16,900
  • MSc part time £9,295

Tuition fee information for future course years

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Postgraduate loans

If you are a UK student, resident in England and are aged under the age of 60, you will be able to apply for a loan to study for a postgraduate degree. For more information, read the postgraduate loan information on the government's website.

Scholarships and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.


Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residence. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost from £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.


Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.