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MScInternational Relations

Why this course?

What role do powerful states, international organisations and social movements play in international and regional politics? How should we respond to global crises and conflicts? How does power operate in, across and between states? In what ways do international political and economic processes shape the everyday lives of people across the globe? And how can we explain and evaluate such processes?

This MSc in International Relations will help you answer these questions. It will equip you with a systematic grounding in the analysis of international politics, in terms both of the issues, actors and processes that shape the world today and the theoretical frameworks and methodological techniques by which we make sense of them.

The course is distinctive in combining American and British, positivist and critical, approaches to this field of study, as well as in its range of specialist classes on topics as diverse as international law, the EU, security and gender.

In addition, the MSc in International Relations offers rigorous methodological training, drawing on long-established expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods. You'll be encouraged to evaluate these methods and to apply them to international political actors and processes. The course will significantly enhance your employability skills in terms of research management, data analysis and critical thinking.

You’ll study

The course is organised into core and optional classes. The core classes provide an introduction to:

  • theoretical frameworks in the field
  • key issues of interstate cooperation and conflict
  • the role of international organisations
  • principles of research design

There will also be a range of optional classes open to you, on specialised topics in international relations and on research methods. These will vary year to year.

You'll take two core classes and one optional class per semester. Classes average 20 contact hours with additional computer laboratory sessions for some methods classes. You'll also complete a dissertation over the summer, under the supervision of one of our International Relations scholars.

Work placement

The School of Government & Public Policy allows students to complete a client-based project as an alternative to the standard dissertation.  Students, on the advice of the school, contact host organisations including local, city, and national governmental organisations for project-based MSc dissertations.

These projects will normally be unpaid, however, all costs such as travel and accommodation will be covered by the host organisation if out of town.


The School of Government & Public Policy have a number of research centres that relate to the topics covered and the content of the course. For example, the European Policies Research Centre is a leading hub for the study of regional development policy and collection of such data in Europe, a centre that is of increasing importance in the wake of Brexit. 

Specialised policy centres focused on health and energy – such as the Centre for Energy Policy – also add to the applied policy environment at Strathclyde.  The Institute for Future Cities' City Observatory, located in Strathclyde’s award-winning Technology & Innovation Centre, uses data to understand and address urban problems. The University also has many centres and institutes with projects that incorporate European governance and political issues, such as Fraser of Allender Institute.

Guest lectures

During term time, we hold seminars late on a Wednesday afternoon. Speakers include guest lecturers who come to Strathclyde as part of the Erasmus programme. They're also available for individual consultations with you as an MSc student here. Strathclyde’s organised research centres such as the European Policies Research Centre, routinely host their own 'Speaker’s Series' where talks relevant to the content of the course are common. You'll have time for socialising with visiting speakers afterwards.

Course content

Compulsory classes

Contemporary International Relations

This class introduces students to the literature and research agendas related to conflict and cooperation in international relations studies.

We will cover a wide array of approaches that relate to interstate and intrastate (civil) conflict, cooperation and other contemporary security topics such as post-conflict peace, peacekeeping operations, terrorism, and human rights violations.

Debating International Relations Theory

This class surveys contemporary theories of international relations, showcasing both positivist, rationalist approaches and post-positivist, critical alternatives. Intended to explore the points of convergence as well as disagreement between these different views, the class will also encourage students to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the rival frameworks and on their application and purpose.

International Institutions & Regimes

The purpose of this class is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the concepts and theoretical approaches central to understanding and analysing the role of international institutions and regimes in the contemporary world.

This class will survey a variety of international institutions and regimes, exploring how they shape global interactions in a number of cross-cutting issue areas such as security, trade, human rights and the environment. The overall analysis will contribute to the understanding of the theories, practices and processes through which global politics are organised and to an assessment of the future of international institutions and regimes in global governance. 

Principles of Research Design

This class covers key research design issues and enables you to evaluate alternative research designs and create appropriate research proposals. The class is designed to help you decide a research topic and a design that you will use for your dissertation. Topics covered include formulating research questions, developing concepts, and how to select cases to study.

Elective classes

You'll choose one optional class per semester. These options are subject to change year on year, but are likely to include most of the following:

Feminism & International Relations

This class will begin by learning about context, in terms of the expansion and institutionalisation of the feminist movement on a global scale and the emergence of a feminist voice in the International Relations discipline.

We'll then discuss conceptual, theoretical and methodological convergences and differences in feminist International Relations. A final seminar will reflect on the impact of feminism on both world politics and International Relations, and focus particularly on engagements and critique from the mainstream of the discipline.

European Governance

The evolution and the future of EU integration is of particular contemporary relevance. This class examines processes of decision making and policies at the European Union level. It also evaluates the quality of governance through the lenses of democratic principles such as representation, legitimacy and efficiency.

European Political Economy

Europe is currently at crossroads, economically, politically and socially. This class uses a political economy approach (ie the interaction between economics and politics) to engage core European debates, including the dilemmas of EU integration, the tension between economic efficiency and social cohesion, the future of the Euro, and the implications of Brexit. It also examines the challenges faced by European nations in an increasingly complex global environment.

Contemporary Security Challenges & Responses

The concept of national security has expanded to incorporate not only ‘traditional’ threats from hostile actors, but also a host of issues ranging from the impact of climate change, natural disasters and resource security to recession.

Security has become increasingly globalised and interconnected in threat and response while also increasingly recruiting the populace to be ‘secure citizens’. This class will examine the relevant theories underpinning these developing trends, alongside the key institutions and actors.

Law of the World Trade Organisation (Law School)

The spectre of globalisation brings sustainable development and international trade together and this class explores the legal and policy elements of such linkage. In particular, students will critically analyse the interaction between World Trade Organisation (WTO) law and policy and non-trade concerns, such as environmental protection (climate change and water in particular), human rights, labour standards and development.

International Environmental Law (Law School)

Students taking this class will discuss the international legal frameworks applicable to transboundary and international environmental problems. They will also look at the effectiveness of international litigation in dealing with global environmental challenges. Climate change will be used a key case study throughout the class.

Global Health, Rights & Development (Law School)

This class introduces students to the 'real world' shifts which have led to a growing interest in global health. Particular attention will be paid to the recognition of health as a development issue. The class will also address current issues of global concern with respect to health, such as the threat posed by avian flu (H5N1) and the recent recurrence of Ebola in West Africa.

Quantitative Methods I

This class introduces participants to the use of quantitative methods in social research; in particular, the logic and language of empirical analysis, the principal types of quantitative data (official statistics and surveys), and the use of software packages for statistical analysis.

Quantitative Methods II

This class trains participants in the design, application, presentation, and critical evaluation of quantitative political research using relevant software packages for statistical analysis.

Qualitative Methods

This class provides an overview of the ever-expanding field of qualitative methods in Political Science, International Relations and Policy Studies. A variety of data collection/generation and analytical methods will be examined, and situated within different traditions/paradigms of social research.

Throughout this class, we'll examine how these methods can be applied in students’ own research projects.

Learning & teaching

All classes are taught in seminars, which combine theoretical discussion and a strong empirical or policy focus, as appropriate.  Seminars consist of a variety of teaching techniques; including from small-group work, structured debates, presentations, and background lectures.

Classes average 20 contact hours with additional computer laboratory sessions for some methods classes.


Government & Public Policy modules will have their own methods of assessment appropriate to the nature of the material. These include written assignments, blogs, podcasts, practical team projects, presentations, individual projects, and exams. Most modules involve more than one method of assessment to help you realise your potential.

These account for two thirds of the total assessment. Your dissertation, produced over the summer, accounts for one third of the total assessment.

Entry requirements

First or upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in social science.

English language requirements

You're required to have a suitable minimum level of competency in the English language if your first language is not English or if you have not been educated wholly or mainly in the medium of English.

For postgraduate studies, the University of Strathclyde requires a minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5) or equivalent. Tests are valid for two years.

Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

If you’re a national of an English speaking country recognised by UK Visa and Immigrations (please check most up-to-date list on the Home Office website) or you have successfully completed an academic qualification (at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree) in any of these countries, then you do not need to present any additional evidence.

If you are from a country not recognised as an English speaking country by the United Kingdom Vis and Immigration (UKVI), please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • £7,050 full-time

Rest of UK

  • £7,050 full-time


  • £15,700 full-time

How can I fund my course?

To recognise academic achievement, the Dean's International Excellence Award offers international students a merit-based scholarship of up to £4,000 towards the first year of tuition fees of a full-time Masters programme in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Strathclyde Prestige Award

To recognise academic excellence, the Strathclyde Prestige Award for Excellence in International Relations offers international students a merit-based scholarship of £5,000 for entry onto the full time MSc in International Relations.

Check our Scholarship Search for more help with fees and funding.

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

International students

We have a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Strathclyde Alumni

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni Discount

10% tuition fee discount is offered to all Strathclyde alumni completing a full-time postgraduate taught course in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Where are they now?

Examples of organisations our graduates work for:

  • Audit Scotland
  • Centre for African Family Studies
  • Centre for Scottish Public Policy
  • Confederation of Passenger Transport
  • German Red Cross
  • Hall Aitken Associates
  • Health and Social Care Alliance
  • HMRC
  • Invicta Public Affairs
  • Ministry of Finance Iceland
  • Morgan Stanley
  • National Centre for Social Research
  • NHS 
  • Ofgem
  • Santander Bank UK
  • Scottish Council for Development and Industry
  • Scottish Refugee Council
  • Serco Group
  • The Improvement Service
  • The Scottish Parliament
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • West and Central Voluntary Network

Contact us


International Relations

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2020, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

International Relations

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2020, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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