International Relations MSc

Why choose this course?

This course will you provide with an understanding of the forces of global politics and develop the skills you need to actively engage in the academic and professional discussions that are shaping the contemporary international agenda. With a particular focus on current events, it strikes a careful balance between theoretical study and practical elements of international relations.

This course draws on both theory and the practical application of academic research to the real world, though case studies and exploration of varying theories related to international relations. There is a strong focus on the transferral of ideas to real life, through workshops, games and simulations.

You can specialise in the subfields of international political economy, conflict or security and human rights: the flexible choice of option modules enables you to tailor the course to your interests.

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.

 

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

2020/21 entry

If you are planning to join this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021), please view the information about changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19.

 

Continuing students

Students who are continuing their studies with Kingston University in 2020/21 should refer to their Course Handbook for information about specific changes that have been, or may be, made to their course or modules being delivered in 2020/21. Course Handbooks are located within the Canvas Course page.

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 ambassador to the UK and the former Belarusian leader.
  • 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

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. Alternatively, you can pursue an applied research project based on your work placement.

You will take 3 core modules and choose 2 option modules from a broad selection.

Core modules

Option modules

Core modules

Politics Dissertation

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.

The dissertation is prepared for in Semester 2, and is then fully engaged in what is effectively a third semester.

Your dissertation research is supported by supervision, with the primary emphasis on independent study.

Research Skills and Dissertation/Project Proposal

30 credits

How is research conducted? What constitutes good research? How do you develop and carry out an independent piece of research?

This module is an integral part of this masters course. You are trained in the use of research sources, such as libraries and archives. The module guides you through a range of research techniques and methods and enables you to analyse how to choose the most suitable for a particular research project.

The module is designed to support other content-led teaching, especially the relevant core modules. In the first semester you are encouraged to apply skills to their course modules and evaluate what constitutes reliable, accurate and verifiable information. In the second semester you design a research proposal drawing on the lessons from the first semester. This will then form the foundation for you researching and writing a dissertation over the summer.

The Theory and Practice of International Relations

30 credits

This module is a core module for the MSc International Relations.  It can be taken as an option module by those studying in related masters fields.

How do we understand the contemporary international system?  The module: 1) explains and critiques a number of the leading theories that have been put forward to explain how the international system operates; and 2) applies those 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 explore the key ideas and philosophies underpinning the study of international relations (IR), including:

-          traditional realist theories of interstate relations and great power politics;

-          Marxist inspired theories of structural inequalities;

-          contemporary pluralist theories focusing on the interaction of state and non-state actors.

In the second part we apply the theories explore in Part 1 to a series of student led international relations case studies of major international issues, both historically and contemporary. The cases will be chosen by you with guidance from the module leader.

As a bridge between Part 1 and Part 2 the students will explore a case study provided by the module leader to give you a framework for what is expected in the student led case studies.

Option modules (choose one)

Freedom, Censorship and Subversion

30 credits

This one semester module is an elective primarily offered to students taking an MA in Media & Communication or an MA in Film but it is also relevant to those taking postgraduate degrees in politics, political communication, human rights and conflict. It deals with some of the most hotly debated issues in different societies about how to balance core freedoms (expression, press and protest) with the state protecting what and who may be potentially harmed by certain forms of expression through censorship.  Even then these remain open debates as new forms of subversion and resistance emerge with new technologies or through the use of the body to express protest. The module explores these at two levels. The first outlines different approaches to and principles governing censorship depending on whether expression is through images; words, ideas and beliefs; information; and action. These are then explored in more depth in sessions that draw on staff specialisms here, for instance, in film, news, information-privacy, protest movements, etc.

Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

30 credits

This module will be examining some deeply troubling events in recent history and politics and the various ethical, legal and political responses that they have generated. It has been argued that the Holocaust was a critical turning point, a catastrophe which required a fundamental ethical, legal and political rethinking of how the rights of human beings could be protected when states in the modern world engage in the systematic attempt to murder large numbers of people, including many of their own citizens. The module begins with reflections on the Nazi attempt to eliminate a whole group of people (the Jews) and to murder and enslave millions of others. It then considers a range of responses, including the Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It examines a number of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have nevertheless occurred subsequently. It evaluates the repeated failure for decades to halt or prevent these crimes and then considers the rethinking caused by the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the setting up of ad hoc tribunals and an International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators and provide justice to victims. It concludes with reflections on how much progress has been made in protecting citizens in a world of sovereign nation states and what forms of justice can work after such crimes have been committed. These are highly contested questions and the module is designed to encourage the critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of arguments that have been put forward from a variety of perspectives.

International Political Economy: Capitalism, Imperialism and the State

30 credits

This module is a core module for those pursuing the MA in International Politics and Economics and the MSc Political Economy, Macro-economics and Finance. The module is a recommended option for the MA in International Relations and an elective for other masters courses.

Globalisation has made the study of the global political economy and its challenges a vital area of research and debate. This module equips you to join in the renaissance of political-economic thought on the international plane. It concentrates on the themes of capitalism, imperialism and the state.

The module outlines the nature of International Political Economy (IPE) as a distinctive field of study. You will encounter a range of approaches to studying broad theoretical and policy issues including the role of the state in society, labour and the labour process, the role of finance in the international system, the nature and origins of profit, inequality, theories of imperialism, capitalist crises, and economic growth and development.

The module develops from classical approaches and debates to more contemporary perspectives on studying the global political economy. You will carry out a case study on such topics as: the impact of foreign investment or the policies of the International Monetary Fund on an underdeveloped country or region; the political economy aspects of a particular financial crisis; the political economy of a nation's economic development from an internal and global perspective.

Conflict Theory and Resolution

30 credits

This module covers two aspects key to understanding and managing conflict within international relations.  First, it looks at theoretical and analytical approaches to conflict.  Drawing on insights from a range of social science disciplines – including history, psychology, anthropology, sociology, politics and international relations – this module critically examines the range of theories that have been put forward to explain how conflict arises and how it escalates.  It also explores the way in which identity (such as religion and ethnicity), structural inequality, frustration and aggression can all play a part in creating the conditions for confrontation and conflict.  Second, the module explores the wide range of ways in which international conflict can be managed and resolved and how a sustainable peace can be built in post-conflict situations. The module therefore explores topics such as

  • The role of international law and international organisations in the management of conflict;
  • The prevention and containment of conflict;
  • Humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping;
  • Mediation and negotiation;
  • The role of NGOs and aid organisations in conflict; and
  • Reconciliation and reconstruction.
Contemporary Issues and Case Studies in Security and Conflict

30 credits

This module approaches questions of security and conflict in the contemporary world by providing opportunities for their in-depth analysis in two contrasting ways: first, by focussing on a range of contemporary issues and dynamics raised by recent conflicts and security questions, each of them discussed with the help of a range of contrasting examples. Then, the second part of the module will provide an opportunity to explore two cases of conflicts and/or security crises, the study of which will allow in-depth discussion several of the issues explored in the first part of the module together.

Both parts of the module provide opportunities to use and challenge various theoretical and conceptual approaches of conflict and security issues at an advanced level. The range of issues analysed and studied in the first half of the module, as well as the choice of case studies selected each year for the second half, will evolve through time, but both will offer rich and contrasting grounds for an in-depth practical and critical understanding of contemporary security and conflict situations and management.

So for instance, issues, themes and dynamics explored and analysed in the first half will include: New forms of conflict in the post-Cold War period; Ethnicity and national citizenship in contemporary conflicts; Terrorism, insurgency and political violence; Issues of gender in conflict; Sovereignty, the Nation-State and international intervention; New forms of international conflict management,  etc… Then, in the second half of the module, examples of case studies which will be developed may include: Recent conflicts in West Africa; Conflicts in Bosnia; the Northern Ireland conflict; etc. In analysing each of these conflicts, several of the issues and themes developed in the first part will be highlighted and explored within the case study itself – for instance the West African conflicts case study will provide ample opportunities to revisit and discuss issues such as ‘New forms of conflicts in the post-war period'; ‘Refugees, mass migration and citizenship', ‘Ethnicity and national citizenship in contemporary conflicts'. Students select two case studies in the second part of the module.

Terrorism, Political Violence and Human Rights

30 credits

This module introduces you to the study of terrorism and political violence, and engages with the primary debates in the field. The first half of the module addresses definitional, epistemological and methodological issues raised by the study of political violence. The module will also outline the history of modern political violence and the evolution of the way it has been defined and studied. In this context, the module will explore the nature and evolution of various forms of contemporary political violence, including: wars; ‘new wars'; insurgency and counterinsurgency; irregular warfare; guerrilla warfare; state and non-state terrorism; and counter-terrorism. Throughout, focus will be given to a range of mainstream and critical approaches to the field, ensuring that you become aware of the rich variety of perspectives which can be adopted in relation to the subject. In the second half of the module, time will be given to examining a range of human rights issues and debates which arise in relation to political violence and terrorism.

From State to Global Politics

30 credits

This module will enable you to acquire a thorough understanding of the multifaceted character of politics by outlining key orthodox and critical paradigms in political theory as well as examining different normative frameworks within an evolving global politics. It combines the examination of theories and ideologies concerning the state with a historical and issue-based exploration of the interplay between different political actors including states, intergovernmental organisations, multinational corporations, NGOs and the civil society in the context of normative frameworks for global governance.

Human Rights: Architectures, Actors, Activism

30 credits

This module is one of two core modules for students on the MA Human Rights, and can be taken as an option by some students in related fields who are interested in learning about the human rights architecture, its actors and their activism. It is aimed at clarifying central themes in the history and evolution of human rights, and looks also at the institutions and mechanisms operating at the international and regional levels to protect, promote and defend human rights. Through case studies, you will learn about the roles, functions and activities of key human rights actors and institutions at the international, regional and domestic levels. The module will include a critical evaluation of the challenges facing human rights actors and institutions in defending, protecting and promoting human rights and end with a critical consideration of the interplay between human rights actors, institutions and activism.

Strategies for Achieving Human Rights

30 credits

This module is one of two core modules for the students on the MA Human Rights, and can be taken as an option by some students in related fields who are interested in learning about practical strategies for campaigning for human rights. The main premise of this module is to critically assess the possibility of achieving human rights in various different contexts. You will explore what is meant by human rights and the protection of human rights. You will consider, in detail, the scope and content of a number of core rights. Through case studies illustrating various campaign methods and strategies, you will gain practical knowledge of how to design and deliver campaigns that have impact. You will simulate practitioners in the field and gain relevant expertise in campaign design. This module blends contemporary debates and contested issues with practical strategies of how to achieve the protection of human rights.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Life on the course

Election panel debate

Election panel debate

Staff and students debate the future of UK politics

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A second class degree or above or equivalent in an area appropriate to the content of the degree.

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.

International

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 5.5. 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 a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

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

10% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 175 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1625 hours

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 90%
  • Practical: 10%

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 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

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £8,190
  • MSc part time £4,504

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £14,500
  • MSc part time £7,975

Funding 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:

Changes to courses for 2020/21 due to Covid-19

Changes detailed here are for students joining this course in the academic year 2020/21 (i.e. between August 2020 and July 2021).

Course information (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Composition of the course

We do not anticipate making any changes to the composition of the course, i.e. the number of modules or credits in a year for part-time postgraduate courses, as a result of the pandemic.

In order to safeguard our students' health and safety and to minimise the risk of disruption to their studies, the University has postponed all Study Abroad programmes for outgoing students in the first teaching block of 2020/21 (from September 2020 to December 2020). The University will review this decision before the second teaching block and will take into account relevant government advice at that time.

Changes can be made to courses as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to the composition of the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Modules

We do not anticipate making any changes to module titles and summaries or to the availability of modules as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to modules as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area and to provide a high quality student experience. Any such changes made to module titles and/or availability of modules will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Length of course

We expect to deliver the course within the planned timescales to enable successful students to progress through and graduate from the course without delay.

In exceptional circumstances the sequence of learning and teaching activities may be changed, e.g. re-sequencing those modules that can be delivered more effectively under the current restrictions with those which would be more difficult to deliver, such as practical modules and placements.

Entry requirements (changes for 2020/21 entry)

We have not changed entry requirements as a result of the pandemic. However, the range of accepted alternatives have increased as has the way in which we select students, which now includes virtual interviews and online portfolios.

Entry requirements for international students

We have not changed entry requirements for international students as a result of the pandemic. However, in response to the pandemic, we now accept a much broader list of English language exams for entry to the course; the level of these exams remain the same.

Teaching (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes to the way the course will be delivered

Live Brief activities with external organisations are planned within modules. These may be run online rather than face-to-face.

Due to the current pandemic the course's teaching and learning activities will be delivered through both online and on-campus methods (blended learning) in 2020/21. In order to provide all students with a comparable on-campus experience, the University has committed to ensuring that all courses provide at least 30% of their teaching and learning activities on-campus.

While physical distancing measures remain in place, you will receive your learning and teaching via a blend of on-campus and on-line activities. Should your circumstances prevent your attendance at on-campus sessions, you will still be able to engage with your course in a way that allows you to progress. Where this is not possible, support will be available to consider what options are open to you.

Changes to teaching in the event of a further lockdown or adjustments in government advice

The University will continue to closely monitor government announcements and advice in relation to the current pandemic and, where required, will take any necessary action in order to comply with such advice.

In the event that a further lockdown is enforced the University will aim to deliver the course fully online. This may require some additional changes being made to planned teaching and learning activities, including assessments. The majority of our courses are prepared to be delivered fully online if the situation requires it. Where the quality of the student experience may be compromised significantly, or the course is unable to be delivered fully online, the University may need to suspend the delivery of that course until a time that it can be delivered appropriately. Students will be supported in these situations to ensure they are able to make the right choices for their particular circumstances.

In the event that the current social distancing restrictions are fully lifted and the University is able to resume normal delivery of teaching and learning activities, courses will assess whether it is in the students' interest to resume normal delivery. In some cases it may be better to continue and complete modules under the planned blended delivery mode.

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for Year 1

Changes to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours will not be made as a result of the pandemic. However, it is possible that some adjustments might be made at module level, e.g. a few more scheduled activities, in order to help ensure student engagement with blended learning.

Any changes made to the overall breakdown of scheduled teaching hours, placements and guided independent study hours for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

'Scheduled teaching' includes teaching that is online either live or recorded / on demand.

Timetable

Your individualised timetable for teaching block 1 (i.e. from September 2020 to December 2020) should be available by the end of August 2020. Timetables for teaching block 2 (i.e. from January 2021) will not be available until the autumn. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9am and 9pm. To accommodate smaller group sizes and social distancing, we will need to maximise the time available for teaching. This means, we may have to use Wednesday afternoons and enrichment week for additional teaching slots. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Assessment (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Changes can be made to modules, including how they are assessed, as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our modules up to date with current developments in that subject area. Due to the current restrictions in place, i.e. social distancing, it is anticipated that many formal on-campus examinations, including practical examinations, will be replaced with alternative assessments which can be completed online. These changes will be considered and approved through the University's processes to ensure that student assessments will be able to demonstrate they have achieved the expected learning outcomes. The approval process will also assess whether the change impacts the status of any professional body accreditation the course benefits from.

Any changes to the overall methods of assessment for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Staff (changes for 2020/21 entry)

No changes are expected to the general level of experience or status of staff involved in delivering the course.

As a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, on-campus teaching activities may need to be split into smaller groups which may require the support of teaching assistants and student mentors, who will be managed by experienced staff.

Fees, funding and additional costs (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Tuition fees

There will be no changes to published tuition fees for 2020/21.

Additional costs (e.g. field trips, materials, equipment, etc.)

As a result of the blended delivery of courses in 2020/21, where a significant proportion of the teaching will be done online, students will need a personal laptop or computer and access to the internet to participate in online teaching and learning activities. Students who are able to travel will have access to computers on campus, however, it should be noted that access to on-campus facilities will be restricted due to social distancing requirements.

The University is considering how best to provide support to students who do not have access to suitable hardware and software requirements and access to the internet. Identifying students who require this type of support is an important milestone for the University in our journey to ensure equity of access while we continue to deliver our blended approach. Information about the support that will be available will be provided to students during the induction period.

Funding

There will be no changes to any existing University funding arrangements for 2020/21. Currently there are no indications from the UK government that there will be any changes to government funding arrangements.

Fees and funding for international students

There will be no changes to published tuition fees or funding arrangements specifically relating to international students for 2020/21.

Work placements and field trips (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Placements (including work and clinical placements) and field trips included as part of the course will go ahead as planned. However, to ensure students are able to gain maximum value from these activities, it may be necessary to reschedule them to later in the year when current restrictions have been lifted. We acknowledge that this year it may be more difficult for students to secure appropriate placements. In those situations, students will be guided and supported through the various options that will be available to them, including switching courses or interrupting their studies until a time when they can complete their placement.

Any proposed changes to placements or field trips would go through University's agreed processes where the impact of the change will be carefully considered. Students will be advised of any changes that may become necessary and appropriate support will be available to students to guide them through the various options that may be available to them.

In the interest of the health and wellbeing of our students, the University will ensure that appropriate risk assessments are made before students are sent on a placement.

Courses which require placements or field trips to be completed in order to pass relevant modules will have contingency plans in place in the event that a placement or field trip cannot be completed due to another lockdown or more stringent social distancing measures.

Voluntary placements or field trips may be rescheduled, or, as a last resort, cancelled if it becomes difficult to deliver them and doing so is in the interest of the health and safety of our staff and students.

Award, qualification and accreditation (changes for 2020/21 entry)

Qualification

No changes will be made to the qualification awarded, e.g. MSc, as a result of the pandemic.

Changes can be made to courses, including the qualification awarded (although very rare), as part of normal enhancement processes in order to keep our courses up to date with current developments in that subject area. Any changes made to the qualification awarded for the course will be highlighted to students during the induction period.

Additional (changes for 2020/21 entry)

International students

International students should maintain awareness of the UK government's and their home country's government advice on possible travel restrictions. The University will closely monitor advice and guidance published by the UK government and assess its impact on our international students. Appropriate advice and guidance will be provided as and when required.

Students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities

The University will ensure students who are unable to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities are able to effectively engage with their studies remotely. For certain courses an inability to attend on-campus learning and teaching activities may not be in the students best interest, as it may impede their chances of succeeding in the course or lead to them receiving a poor learning experience. In such cases students will be advised and guided through the various options available to them, such as deferring their studies until they can engage fully with the course.