International Relations MSc

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Why Surrey?

Our programme gives you the opportunity to delve into one of three specialist areas of International Relations.

You will master key skills in political science that enable you to explore the links between local, national and international structures, and critically evaluate key contemporary debates in the field of international relations.

Programme overview

The MSc International Relations programme is offered via three pathways. The International Relations pathway examines key issues in the contemporary international system and processes of global governance.

The Terrorism and Security pathway focuses on the key domestic and international security threats facing states in the 21st century.

Finally, the innovative International Intervention pathway deepens your understanding of this complex area and includes a placement option, allowing you to spend three months working in international politics.

There are a set of common compulsory modules for all pathways, in addition to two compulsory modules for your chosen pathway, and three optional modules from a range of international or European politics topics.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time students must study at least two taught technical modules per academic year, until a total of eight is reached. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation or placement.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Career prospects

Our MSc programme in International Relations is a great stepping stone in your career development, whatever your plans.

Through its assessed, three-month placement, the International Intervention pathway offers an excellent opportunity to enhance a wide range of transferable skills and build personal networks which will significantly enhance your employment opportunities upon graduation.

Students from the School have gone on to a wide range of employment choices. These include working for international organisations, national and local government, lobby groups and non-governmental organisations, as well as private businesses and media organisations.

We also offer doctoral supervision in a wide range of political subjects for talented students who wish to continue their studies.

Educational aims of the programme

The programme aims to:

  • Enable students to understand and evaluate contemporary debates in the study of international relations, concerning global governance and/or terrorism and security and international intervention
  • Deepen students’ knowledge of theoretical aspects of international relations, including theoretical developments in the sub-fields of terrorism and security and international intervention
  • Enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding in at least three sub-fields of international politics: students take three programme compulsory modules, two pathway compulsory modules specific to their pathway (International Relations, International Intervention, Terrorism and Security), and two further modules from a list of optional modules particular to their pathway
  • Provide students, with the opportunity, through the International Intervention pathway, to spend three months working in a field related to their degree (this will not only provide students with new insights into International Intervention but will also develop a broad array of transferable skills – such skills include self-management and development; managing tasks; communicating effectively and clearly; working with and relating to others; the application of specialist knowledge; the application of initiative and reflecting on one’s own learning outcomes)

Programme learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Upon completion of the programme, students will have:

  • Critical knowledge of contemporary debates in the study of international politics, particularly in relation to the international system and global governance, differing forms of intervention in response to poverty, humanitarian crisis, abuses of human rights, state failure and armed conflict
  • In-depth understanding of international structures of governance and their impact on regional, national and local structures; and of theories of international relations
  • Detailed knowledge and understanding within at least two sub-fields of international politics, for example development and humanitarian assistance; peace-making; peace-keeping and peace- building; use of international legal institutions and processes; and coercive military intervention to secure regime change
  • Understanding of processes of knowledge creation and contestation within international politics
  • Understanding of techniques of research and enquiry and their application to the study of politics

Intellectual / cognitive skills

Students will be able to:

  • Gather, organise and deploy evidence and information from a range of different sources
  • Analyse and synthesise a wide range of material in verbal and numerical formats
  • Deal with complex issues systematically and creatively
  • Make sound judgements on the basis of incomplete evidence
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in solving problems and analysing evidence
  • Construct reasoned argument
  • Apply theoretical frameworks to empirical analysis

Professional practical skills

Students will gain the ability to:

  • Make appropriate use of information and communications technology
  • Carry out an advanced literature search
  • Form effective arguments
  • Organise own workload to meet deadlines
  • Formulate research questions
  • Design and conduct a research project, selecting appropriate methods of data collection and analysis
  • Design and pilot questionnaires
  • Design and conduct interviews
  • Use software packages to analyse qualitative and quantitative data
  • Present research findings orally and in writing

Key / transferable skills

Students will have the skills to:

  • Communicate and present ideas effectively
  • Reason critically
  • Use information and communication technology for the retrieval and presentation of material
  • Organise and plan their own work
  • Adopt a proactive approach to problem-solving
  • Collaborate with others to achieve common goals
  • Deploy a range of relevant research skills
  • Make decisions in complex situations
  • Take responsibility for their own learning

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Theofanis Exadaktylos

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Sep 2017

Entry Requirements

A first or 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant social science or humanities discipline (or an equivalent qualification).

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2017 £7,500 £17,500
Part-time Sep 2017 £3,800 £8,800

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


The Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence

For all (with the exception of MBA) postgraduate taught courses starting in September 2017 within the Surrey Business School and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management we are offering all applicants who hold a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent the opportunity to be awarded between £2,000 and £4,000 through the Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence Scheme. Download a flyer or read more for eligibility and to apply.

For more details

Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

Find out more


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.