MSc International Relations

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Key facts

  • Start date: September or January
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time
  • Scholarships: EU Engagement Scholarships worth £10,000 available to applicants from EU countries

Study with us

  • gain a firm foundation in the analysis of international relations
  • combine training in different theoretical and methodological approaches
  • examine the theories and research designs for the study of conflict, peace, security and cooperation
  • taught by international scholars
  • January and September start dates available
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Why this course?

This course will equip you with a grounding in the analysis of international politics, in terms of the issues, actors and processes that shape the world today and also the theoretical frameworks and methodological techniques by which we make sense of them.

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.

Watch our video to hear what our students like about studying International Relations at Strathclyde


THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you’ll study

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.

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 from 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. Both January and September starts will complete a dissertation over the summer, under the supervision of one of our International Relations scholars. 

Work placement

You may apply to do a client-based project as part of your dissertation research. Following a career workshop session, and on the advice of the School, you can contact host organisations including local, city, and national governmental organisations to arrange a work-based MSc dissertation.

These projects will normally be unpaid and may need to be developed further to meet the requirements of an MSc dissertation.


The School of Government & Public Policy has a number of research centres that relate to the topics covered in 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 the Fraser of Allander Institute.

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Course content

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.

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:

List A

No fewer than 40 credits chosen from the modules listed:

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. 

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.

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.

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.

International Political Economy

Politics of Non-Democratic Regimes

Advanced Topics in Civil Conflict

The class introduces you to past and current research on civil conflict focusing on the causes and consequences of internal violence and conflict. The class is divided into six topics:

  1. ethnicity and violence
  2. violence and socio-political attitudes
  3. violence against civilians
  4. violence and democracy
  5. violence and gender
  6. the historical legacies of violence

The first section discusses conflict as an outcome. We will investigate what factors make conflict outbreak more or less likely. The second part of the module discusses conflict dynamics and conflict resolution processes. We will address and answer questions such as:

  • Why are some conflicts longer and more severe than others?
  • What does explain variation in negotiations and conflict resolution processes?
  • And, what factors can lead to end the conflict and preserve peace?

In the last part of the class, we will explore civil conflict as a predictor and analyse the effect of violence on civic and political engagement and more broadly the long-term consequences of conflict. The class analyses advanced topics in civil conflict from both a comparative and international relations perspective. Quantitative and case-study empirical works will be examined to understand various theories and empirical approaches to the study of civil conflict and critically evaluate further avenues for future research in this field.

List B

The remaining modules should be selected from List B:

Quantitative Methods 1

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 2

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.

Comparative Political Economy

The European and global orders are at a crossroads, confronting mounting economic and political challenges. This class surveys the political economy agenda after the crisis. The general idea is to critically examine the origins, implications and legacy of the Great Recession. More specifically, the class covers core issues in post-crisis political economy: the austerity debate, the rethinking of growth models, the gender and green revolutions, the inequality and tax puzzles, the power of central banks, the future of the euro, trade dilemmas, Brexit and the rise of economic populism. By engaging these themes, students will develop a better understanding of the diversity, complexity and direction of European and global capitalism.

Comparative Political Institutions

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.

Comparative Public Policy

Policy Analysis

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.

Politics of Non-democratic Regimes

Around 67 percent of the world’s population live in a 'partly free' or 'not free' country, according to Freedom House, and politics in these 'hybrid' and non-democratic regimes seems quite volatile and opaque.

This module introduces you to the field of the politics of semi-democratic or authoritarian countries. It covers the major areas of political science research on non-democratic politics while simultaneously building empirical knowledge about the politics of particular authoritarian regimes. Examples are drawn from countries or regions across the world such as the Middle East, China, Russia, Africa, and Latin America as well as historical cases like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

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.

Diplomacy: Evolution, Theory and Practice

Embassies in Crisis

Any level 5 module offered by the School of Government & Public Policy may also be chosen. Such other Level 5 modules up to a maximum of 40 credits chosen from other programme offered by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences as may be approved by the Head of Department offering the module and the Programme Director of the Programme on which the student is registered.

*Note that not all optional modules on this list will be available in each academic year.



Placement Dissertation

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 small-group work, structured debates, presentations, and background lectures.

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


Methods of assessment 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 the remaining third.

Meet our experts

Guest lectures

Speakers at our weekly seminars 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 networking with visiting speakers afterwards.

Sarah Finlay, MSc International Relations student
The best thing about studying at Strathclyde is the people. Not only are the lecturers greatly knowledgeable and helpful, but the wider staff and the students in general are also very kind and friendly.
Sarah Finlay
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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

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

English language requirements

Please check our English requirements before making your application.

Interested in postgraduate study?

At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be available to provide you with all the information you need to kick-start your postgraduate journey at the University of Strathclyde. Register for upcoming events below:

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-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

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

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

Chat to a student ambassador

If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Humanities & Social Sciences student at the University of Strathclyde, a selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

Chat to a student ambassador

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year (or studying standalone modules) should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full-time: £8,700
Part-time*: £4,350

*Please note: Year 2 fee will be subject to an increase



Additional costs

Poster presentation: £10

Visa and immigration:

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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International students

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

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

  • EU Engagement Scholarships are available to EU applicants who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.
  • EU and International 50% Merit Scholarships available to self-funded, international fee-paying offer-holders (includes those classed as EU fee group). The scholarship entitles the recipient to a discount of 50% on tuition fees.
View all our scholarships
Mark Shephard
University of Strathclyde prides itself in being the place of useful learning and to that end we offer a range of MSc programmes combining methods training with subject-specific knowledge so that our students can equip themselves with skills to make a real-world difference.
Mark Shephard
Course Director
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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
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Start date: Sep 2024

International Relations

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2024

International Relations

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Jan 2025

International Relations (January)

Start date: Jan 2025

Start date: Jan 2025

International Relations (January)

Start date: Jan 2025

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Contact us

Prospective student enquiries

Contact a member of our team on LiveChat between 10am and 4pm (GMT)

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 444 8600