MA International Relations


The School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies offers a wide range of MA degrees.

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Key facts

(Research Excellence Framework 2014)

"International politics has always fascinated me and postgraduate study enables you to understand current affairs and to broaden your knowledge on key debates"

In their words

Oliver Steward, MA International Relations

It is ever more important to understand how the world works. Few problems today can be easily confined to the domestic arena. A better knowledge of global politics and international relations can help explain why problems – from terrorism to financial crises – occur and how best to resolve them.

We pride ourselves on providing top quality-teaching. You will be taught by leading authorities in the field who will encourage you to conduct independent research throughout your course. Independent monitors have given us top marks for our teaching and we consistently score highly in student surveys. According to the Research Excellence Framework, a major government analysis of university research quality, 70% of our research in Politics and International Relations was rated 4* (world leading) or 3* (internationally excellent) (REF2014).


War and peace remain central concerns in international relations to this day, but the discipline has broadened to embrace other important transnational issues, including global economics, the environment, human rights, religion and migration. Perhaps you have a degree in international relations, politics, economics, law or business studies, and are looking to specialise, or have studied geography, environmental studies or economics, and are interested in the wider applications of your subject knowledge. Or, perhaps you simply have a keen interest in global politics, but no formal experience in any of these subjects. Whatever your background, this flexible and cross-disciplinary MA will have much to offer you.

Political, Social and International Studies at UEA has world-leading expertise in the research and teaching of international politics, public policy, media and society, and social and political theory. All of our teaching is research-led, in that we ask the same questions of our students as we do in our research. This means your teaching is always at the cutting edge of the discipline and you will be taught by experts in international relations, security studies, political philosophy, political communications and media studies. 

As part of this course we are able to offer a number of opportunities to take part in trips abroad, visiting locations such as Brussels and Geneva and speaking to officials in institutions such as the EU and NATO. You will also benefit from our programme of guest lectures by world-renowned speakers and visiting academics from other universities in the UK and abroad. 

Course structure

On this degree you will take the core module International Relations Theory, and choose from a number of options depending on your interests. For example, you may wish to specialise in European politics, in which case you could take European Union: Power, Politics and Policy, and the module Europe and the World. On the other hand, you may want a more global perspective, and then you might take American Foreign Policy; The Foreign Relations of China and Japan in the Modern World; and BRICS: Emerging Powers in Global Politics. 

Other options include International Security; International Organisations: Conflict and Development; and War Games: Diplomacy and Strategy in International Relations.

The MA lasts twelve months for full-time students. You will have lectures, seminars and workshops during the first two semesters and then over the summer you will work on your dissertation, which is submitted at the beginning of September.

The dissertation is an important part of your MA and an excellent opportunity to conduct independent research into a subject area that stimulates you. You choose your own topic and will be allocated an individual supervisor to advise you on all aspects of writing and researching a dissertation. We also organise a dedicated Postgraduate Day in the spring when you will have the opportunity to discuss your dissertation with staff and fellow students. 

Skills and experience 

Over the course of this MA you will develop a variety of transferable skills, including debating, giving clear and well-constructed presentations, teamwork, project work and essay writing. You will be able to carry these abilities with you into your future career, as well as into any further postgraduate studies or research.

We organise a trip to Brussels every year for our MA students. We visit the EU and NATO and there are opportunities to speak to officials and military personnel about their work. We also meet graduates from UEA who are now working in or near Brussels. Other visits within our International Studies Programme include trips to Paris, Kortrijk in Flanders, and Geneva. The programme includes study and discussion with academics, politicians and officials as well as visits to international organisations and non-governmental bodies and think tanks, such as the European Institute for Asian Studies, ICRC, WHO and UNESCO. Upon successfully completing this programme you will be awarded a certificate.  

We have an office in Brussels in association with the East of England European Partnership. The office provides a base for our teaching and employability activities, and as a Political, Social and International Studies postgraduate student you can use the facilities to carry out research and write your dissertation. 
As part of our postgraduate community you will have the opportunity to attend numerous events and talks during your time here. We regularly attract distinguished guest lecturers, and recent speakers have included Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party; Caroline Lucas, MP for the Green Party; Gary Gibbon, Political Editor for Channel 4 News; Owen Jones, author and columnist for The Guardian; Shami Chakrabarti, former director of Liberty; Professor Anthony Giddens of the London School of Economics; Sir Stephen Wall, retired diplomat; and Lord Richard Dannatt, formerly Chief of the General Staff. Find out more and listen to some of these lectures at:


You will be assessed via essays, project work, presentations and the dissertation.

Course tutors and research interests

We have more than 30 members of staff, all of whom actively engage with research in the field. We take an interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary approach in our work, linking theory to practice, to create a distinctive programme of research. This has given us a strong international reputation for research in a wide variety of areas, including international relations; international relations theory; international security; terrorism; human rights; religion; migration; foreign policy; international law; global political economy; the US; Britain; the EU; Japan; Africa; the mass media; the new media; political communications; popular culture; identity politics; public administration and public policy; political theory; and political rhetoric.

Where next? 

An MA is an excellent way to set yourself apart from others when it comes to getting a good job after graduation. An understanding of international affairs is increasingly important in all kinds of career, while our International Studies Programme, alongside a number of other initiatives, will provide you with vital employability skills and many social networking opportunities. The School collaborates closely with the UEA Careers Service, which can give you advice on all aspects of graduate employment as well as help you arrange internships and work placements.

Recent graduates from Political, Social and International Studies at UEA have taken up jobs in business, teaching, research, journalism, and many international organisations, including the UN, EU and NATO.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 80 credits:

Name Code Credits


The main objective of this course is to introduce you to the academic study of International Relations theory. You'll investigate leading theoretical approaches and become familiar with important concepts and debates in International Relations theory. You'll be introduced to the nature of knowledge claims (epistemology) and fundamental assumptions about social/international reality (ontology) in International Relations.




For all MA students registered on programmes in PSI except those undertaking a Dissertation by Practice. Students are required to write a dissertation of 10,000 words on a topic approved by the Course Director or other authorised person. The dissertation is to be submitted the first working day of September in the relevant year.



Students will select 40 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This MA module examines in depth the works of selected thinkers who are seminal to the Western tradition of political thought, including Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Machiavelli. Their work will also be compared thematically, with a focus on themes such as the natural law and social contract traditions, and other schools of thought which have been influenced by these traditions. The module will be based on the study and interpretation of key texts and will enable students to develop skills of textual analysis and critique.




This module introduces to students the basic concepts of integration/disintegration, globalisation, regionalism and the purpose of the existence of and inter-relationship between international regional Organisations. It then goes on to examine the structure and functions of several major international organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, the EU, NAFTA, ASEAN, MERCOSUR, the AU, etc, and their role in international conflict and economic development with specific case studies. A brief coverage of international financial institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, the WTO and the G8 will complement the main areas of study above. The style of the module consists of a series of lectures/seminars, class presentations, video showings and workshops. Although this is a mostly empirically based module, students will be expected to apply International Relations and Development theories which they will be studying alongside, in their other modules, as appropriate.




How do I start doing my own, independent research? How do I collect my own data? How do I analyse it? You'll be exposed to a variety of theoretical and methodological tools, providing you with the toolkit required to perform you own, independent research. You'll be offered a basic training in social research methods, providing flexibility to meet different needs and interests. There are opportunities to learn skills in R (the fastest growing software for data analysis) for statistical analysis of large datasets, as well interviewing, document analysis, research uses of electronic media, devising a research proposal, writing a research report and oral presentations. You'll learn to evaluate research methods from the perspectives of ethics, methodology, and practicality. The overall goal of the module is to provide you with the tools to undertake your own research. However, the analytical and methodological skills you will acquire would be helpful both in your academic and non-academic employment opportunities.




Is there a crisis in public services? Is the efficient and accountable organisation of the machinery of governments under threat? We hear much about entering a 'post-bureaucratic age' for the governance of countries. What might this mean? Is it possible? In this module, you'll examine the organisation and operation of public sectors in the shadow of democracy, putting current debates in the UK in a historical and international comparative context. On completing the module, you'll have analysed and evaluated the most influential models and theories of public management and organisational behaviour. You'll be able to describe and critically reflect on the framework for public management in practice, focussed especially on recent developments in the UK, understand the reasons for public management reform, and be able to engage in debates about the future direction of the public sector.




How and why is public policy made the way it is? Our aim is to enable students to develop a rich and wide appreciation of the many ways that policy is made and the factors that influence these. You will gain advanced critical understanding some of the main theories, models and concepts used in the study of public policy and how they are applied. You will also develop substantive knowledge of specific policies and policy areas, which may include environment, health, immigration and welfare policy. In addition, students successfully completing the module will be able to demonstrate an empirical understanding of the public policy process in the UK, ability to make comparisons with other OECD democracies, and an understanding of the changing role of nation-states in policy development.




Why are wars fought, and how are they are won (or lost)? War Games introduces you to key issues around diplomacy and strategy within global politics. Topics you will cover include the causes and costs of war, military strategy, nuclear warfare, and statecraft. But you won't only be reading about these issues. Through a combination of seminars and simulation exercises you will help resolve an international crisis. These simulations will allow you to engage with the theoretical and practical challenges of inter-state relations, developing a more nuanced understanding of war and peace in global politics. This, in turn, will provide you with an excellent insight into the ways in which decisions are made in the international system.



Students will select 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


This module will use case studies of Southeast Asia, Central America and the Middle East to explore the reasons for American interventions and to assess their success or failure. It will offer an historical understanding of the assumptions and practices which lie behind contemporary US foreign policy-making. The module will introduce students to the institutions and processes involved in the making of American foreign policy.




The transatlantic axis that used to run the world can see its power slipping away. Can Asia lead the world? What would world under Pax Sinica look like and can it coexist with Pax Americana? You will examine how dynamic emerging powers - and not only the BRICS - are spurring global change. World history is not linear, there are ups and downs as well as twists and turns. China is re-emerging, the Indian Ocean Rim is again at the centre of world action as old trade routes are being renewed by emerging powers, and the US appears to return policies of isolationism. Former US Secretary of State Kissinger argues that the world is in a perilous condition, verging on international anarchy. The global economy's centre of gravity is shifting from West to East, the Global South increasingly challenges the balance of power of North Atlantic hegemony, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank points to alternative systems of global governance. Will international governance be transformed through stronger regional blocs, new South-South alliances, and the progress of international institutions such as the BRICS Development Bank?




The news media across the world love violence and blood. From bank robberies, serial killers and school violence to earthquakes, riots and war the newsworthiness of stories associated with some form of human suffering, individual or collective acts of destruction, dominate news coverage. This module aimed at MA media and politics students examines the representation of these stories, the potential influence/effect on audiences, and their role in shaping consumer desires, public anxieties and broader perceptions of reality . It draws on existing empirical research in order to enable students to design their own research on media representations, as part of the module and in preparation of their final dissertation.




You will examine the position of Europe in International Relations. Weekly lectures and seminars centre upon contemporary debates on Globalisation and Regionalism, Europe's trade relations with the US, China, Russia and the European neighbourhood, security strategies and responses to topical international conflicts like Palestine, Syria, and African civil wars, inter-regional co-operation among trading blocs in politics and commerce, relations with emerging powers and the Developing World, and environmental/energy issues.




You will examine the origins, development and recent history of the European Union, the dynamics of EU decision making, and the working of EU policies in key areas, such as the single market, economic and monetary union, trade, and security and defence. You will explore the role and internal operation of the EU institutions, as well as the interaction between the EU and the member states, including what the obligations of membership imply for member countries. You will critically assess the key theories, models and concepts used in the study of the EU.




Providing a conceptual overview of feminist research approaches, this module examines contemporary gender and power relations. You will examine both the formal and informal power structures that shape the experience of gender. Bringing together the fields of media and sociology, politics and cultural studies, you will explore the relationship between feminist theory and activism.




States and individuals seek 'security' from various threats and dangers but what, exactly, does it mean to be secure? Is security even possible? Who should have security, and from what should they be - or do they need to be - secured? Is security even desirable, or does the search for it sometimes have negative consequences? This module introduces you to these 'big questions' of security studies. You will examine the study of security in the international system, from its roots in classical political theory and Cold War strategic studies through to the development of a more broadly focused field today. You will consider the responses of different theoretical perspectives on these 'big questions' and apply these to a range of contemporary security issues, for example, conflict resolution, human security, the arms industry, migration, crime, poverty, and terrorism.




The module looks at the history of China and Japan from the mid-19th century to the present day. You'll cover the attempts at modernisation, conflict between the two nations, their relationships with the Asian region and the United States. You'll also investigate their contrasting attempts to develop in the postwar period. In addition, you'll assess their current policies and the issues of importance to China and Japan in the 21st century, and explore whether they can move beyond the legacy of this difficult history.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Humanities or Social Sciences
  • Degree Classification UK BA (Hons) 2.1 or equivalent

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO University of East Anglia

If you do not meet the academic requirements for this course, you may be able to study one of the International Graduate Diploma programmes offered by our partner INTO UEA. These programmes guarantee progression to selected masters degrees if students achieve the appropriate grade. For more details please click here:

International Graduate Diploma in Political, Social and International Studies

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


This course's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

If you have alternative qualifications that have not been mentioned above then please contact university directly for further information.


All applications for postgraduate study are processed through the Faculty Admissions Office and then forwarded to the relevant School of Study for consideration. If you are currently completing your first degree or have not yet taken a required English language test, any offer of a place will be conditional upon you achieving this before you arrive.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships and Awards:

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities has a number of Scholarships and Awards on offer. For further information relevant to Political, Social and International Studies, please click here.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515