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International Relations BA (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): L258
  • Start Date(s): September 2023
  • Duration: Three years full-time
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information


This innovative International Relations degree allows you to explore international issues and events, including relationships between states, peoples, social movements, and cultural and religious communities. You'll learn about the topics and processes currently shaping our world and gain a sense of how to make informed choices that have an impact at the local, national and global levels.

If you have a keen interest in global affairs and the changing world in which we live, this International Relations course is ideal for you.

Why choose this course?

  • You may have the opportunity to gain experience with a work placement, and you may have the chance to study abroad for one term in your second year as part of the Erasmus+ foreign exchange scheme.
  • Teaching is informed by regionally aligned research strengths in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Europe. This research feeds directly into the course, which means you will be learning about the latest issues from world-renowned experts.
  • This course will help you to develop a greater awareness of the complexity and connectedness of the processes that shape our world.
  • Studying International Relations opens up careers in a wide range of fields in the public and private sectors, with our graduates going on to work in UK government departments, international aid agencies, and a wide range of non-governmental organisations.
  • 93% of BA (Hons) International Relations students would recommend NTU.

Joint Honours courses are offered by the School of Art and Humanities and are available at our Clifton Campus.

What you’ll study

During this course you'll look at complex situations which are exciting and challenging to analyse. You'll take roles in simulation exercises, and try to understand how crises are managed and problems are handled by getting into the minds of different participants. This will build your confidence, and will give you presentation and advocacy skills and an understanding across cultural barriers.

You'll be given the opportunity to develop specialist knowledge in geographical areas by choosing optional modules in Year Two and Year Three.

Throughout this course, you won't just get to study, you'll have the opportunity to put what you learn into practice. You'll be encouraged to undertake work placements and voluntary work.

Core modules

Foundations and Challenges to International Relations

You’ll study the conceptual and historical areas necessary for understanding the dynamic nature of contemporary international relations; the historical roots and 20th-century manifestations of Realist and Liberal traditions; the core assumptions of Realist and Liberal thought concerning human nature, conflict, cooperation, the role of the state, war and economics; the difference between traditional and critical approaches; and the development of critical and alternative approaches that emphasise the importance of societal, cultural and aesthetic factors, as well as processes of knowledge production, rather than focusing on the state. These include structuralism, post-structuralism and post-modernism, feminism, green theory, and critical theory. You’ll also gain an understanding of the actual practices of resistances to orthodoxy embodied in social movements, popular direct action, and aesthetic-cultural forms of representation.

International Relations and Global History

You’ll be introduced to the argument that contemporary world politics can be understood in historical contexts. The module focuses on long-term trends and transformations, drawing attention to mechanisms of change and continuity. In doing so, it also (re-)introduces the main events and landmarks of the 19th and 20th Centuries, which have durably marked and shaped the contemporary international system.

Who's Who in International Relations?

This module introduces you to the various actors that participate in international relations, as well as the different levels where international relations take place (global, regional, state and sub-state), and introduces you to a range of case studies to show how different actors behave, and why.

Political Ideologies in Conflict

Explore the main political ideologies that have emerged over the past three centuries.  You’ll learn the historical and contextual emergence of each ideology, alongside their continuing relevance for shaping today’s global society. The works associated with key political theorists will be studied closely, and you’ll explore not only the unity within each ideology, but also their internal complexity. Of particular importance will be appreciating the significance of human nature, and more specifically the way this feeds into each ideologies’ view on how society should function.

Media, Power and Politics

You'll be introduced to the key concepts, theories and approaches to understanding the nature and impact of mass media in contemporary politics (and society). You will also consider the political ramifications of the developing structure, ownership and technologies of contemporary media in Britain, and the range of key "players" involved in political communication, and assess both competing and common interests and behaviour.

Politics and International Relations in Practice

This module will allow you to take part in real-world politics, such as participating in our Student Parliament, the Politics and International Relations society, or other relevant activity within or outside of the University.

Core modules

Politics and International Relations: Theory and Methods

This module is designed to develop your knowledge of theory and methods in the study international relations.

Working With Politics and International Relations

This module is designed to develop your understanding of what it is like to work in the Politics or International Relations sector. You'll have the opportunity to undertake a 30 hour work-based learning experience with a relevant organisation of your choice.

Understanding Foreign Policy

You’ll gain an understanding of the development and principal strengths and criticisms of a foreign policy approach utilising material from both theory and practice. By the end of the module, you’ll be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of foreign policy analysis, have the knowledge of the foreign policies of various countries covered by this module, understand foreign policy decision-making processes and the different models, and demonstrate how an implementation perspective contributes to our understanding of foreign policy failures.

Optional modules

International Security

Explore issues relating to the use of force by states, through to violence by non-state actors such as terrorist groups, and on to the concepts of critical security where issues such as disease and environmental impact are important.

People, Policy and Power: Comparing Political Systems

During this module, you'll analyse the key concepts and processes relevant to comparative politics.

Post Soviet Geopolitics

In understanding and analysing the historical, political and economic changes which have happened in the post-Soviet region, you will be challenged to evaluate the current geopolitical situation and identify potential problems for the future.

Global Political Economy

You’ll explore the development of the global political economy (GPE) as an area of study in International Relations and apply its theories and methods to analyse aspects of the contemporary global system. In order to do this, you’ll look at the historical development of the GPE as a critical response to traditional International Relations, and how critical or unorthodox theory within GPE has emerged. The module then uses these theories and methods to understand and explain contemporary actors, processes and issues in the global political economy.

Change and the World Order

This module draws on the theory of Liberal Pluralism and is based on the assumption that non-state actors are important entities or actors in international relations. The module aims to examine the nature of international order and to consider how international institutions have contributed to its maintenance. It also considers whether 20th and 21st-century changes in international relations and the international system – such as decolonisation; the Cold War and the end of the Cold War; the rise of regional powers and organisations, as well as other non-state actors like terrorist organisations; and the phenomenon of weak, failed or rogue states, authoritarian regimes and ethnic conflict – have produced new issues and dilemmas requiring a new approach to the study and practice of international politics. It focuses on international institutions such as the United Nations and specialised agencies and their role in global governance, but also explores the impact of other non-state actors such as NGOs and INGOs, the management of specific issue areas such as poverty and sustainable development through international co-operation, and the significance of these developments for our understanding of International Relations.

Environmental Politics

In this module, you'll consider a number of theoretical perspectives within ecological political thought; examine in detail national and international actors, processes, treaties and disputes; and consider possible resolutions of complex and apparently intractable global environmental problems.

The Politics of Identity

This module will develop your understanding of classical and contemporary theories of the 'self'. You’ll analyse the continued importance of identity in shaping both individual and collective subjectivity.

Global Political Marketing

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact political marketing has on political behaviour, party organisation and voting patterns at a national and international level.

Foreign Language

A wide variety of foreign languages can be studied at beginner, intermediate or advanced level.

Core modules

Dissertation or Applied Dissertation

You can choose to undertake an independent study of around 10,000 words on an International Relations subject of your own choosing. You’ll be supervised by a member of staff and attend dissertation workshops. Or you can choose to submit an applied dissertation, where you'll continue to develop the ‘in practice’ approach through, for example, engagement with policy processes in a partner organisation.

International Relations in the Post-Cold-War

An opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding of the Cold War in context, as well as understanding the long-term impacts that it has had on international relations.

Optional modules

Political Violence and Terrorism

Expand your knowledge and understanding of terrorism and political violence in a global context. This module analyses the concept of insecurity in a broad sense, through exploring both the theoretical approaches to the study of violence, as well as a range of real-world cases to illustrate the increasingly complex use of violence for political objectives.

International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa

You'll explore the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) against the backdrop of the colonial and post-independence history of the region.

Emerging Powers of Asia

This module explores and analyses international relations within Asia, both in terms of individual member states and regional players, for instance the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  It will also explore the role that external actors have had in facilitating, hindering and modifying the development of specific forms of international relation.

States, Nationalisms and Identity

Explore the increasingly complex question of identity in international relations. This module asks how individuals and social groups develop a sense of who they are, how they relate to others, how this affects their sense of belonging to the state, nation or other collectivity, and the political significance of this sense of identity.

Feminist Theory

Feminist Theory will introduce you to some of the main branches of feminist thought and core themes in contemporary feminism. Topics may include, but are not limited to, historical and contemporary approaches to feminist theory and how they fit together; analysis of key areas of feminist theory, e.g. liberal, socialist, radical, black and post-colonial feminism, feminist international relations, as well as the feminism of today and the so-called "third wave"; and the application of these theories to contemporary feminist issues.

American Politics and Government

Examine the politics and government of the USA with a focus on its policy process. The US is a complex and changing western liberal democracy. During this module, you'll be introduced to the significant actors and institutions in the political and governmental system of the United States. Their de jure and de facto powers along with their roles and functions will be discussed and critically evaluated in a range of policy areas.

British Politics in Uncertain Times

Examine the changing nature of British Politics in the context of global issues. You'll gain an understanding of the origins of contemporary issues of vital importance, such as the resurgence of nationalism in Britain, the leaving of the European Union, the financial crisis and its aftermath and many more. These dynamic, changing and highly volatile issues will be reflected through the lens of key actors in the British state, British interests overseas, and the potential end of the British state as we know it.

The Politics of Everyday Life

Explore the nature of politics beyond the traditional, and seek to analyse the politicisation of issues such as nature, consumption, and the rise of new social movements.

The ‘End of the West’? Challenges to Europe’s Liberal Order

This module examines the institutions, the politics and the policy-making process of a range of European states both within and outside the European Union, alongside the workings of the EU itself. You'll study a range of domestic and foreign policy issues, the key actors involved over time, the ideologies in harmony and tension, and the uncertain fate of the European project.

Foreign Language

A wide variety of foreign languages can be studied at beginner, intermediate or advanced level.

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our students themselves

Student Profiles

Jennifer Brady

International Relations

NTU offers such a wide range of modules which allows everyone to explore their academic interests and find new ones.

Luke Smith

I enjoyed reading deeply into singular theoretical issues and then applying them in group seminar discussions.

Chris Galvin

All students are equipped with a comprehensive theoretical and philosophical understanding, which aids and guides their work.

Rebecca Hooper

The course is fantastic. It is very varied and you are able to tailor it. You also couldn’t wish for better lecturers.

Hear our student stories

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How you’re taught

To provide you with a first-class learning experience and to guarantee you have an opportunity to make the most of your time at university, you will receive contact time through a diverse range of delivery methods. Structured teaching will be delivered through a combination of traditional lectures and seminars. These aim to develop subject specific knowledge and theory and expose you to a wide range of views and perspectives. The smaller group seminars provide opportunities to develop:

  • problem-solving skills
  • group working
  • textual analysis
  • debating skills
  • presentation skills.

Tutorials with staff

As the relationship between students and tutors is an important one, you can expect to have lots of direct contact and support through seminars and one-to-one tutorials. At these sessions, you'll have the opportunity to:

  • discuss and gain feedback about your work
  • ask questions about the projects you're working on
  • raise any difficulties you are experiencing relating to your work, personal circumstances or your university experience.

Independent study

Independent study is an important part of this course. Throughout the three years of your course, the scheduled contact hours you receive will gradually decrease as you develop the skills required to undertake an independent study or dissertation in your final year. You'll still have regular contact with your tutors and, if necessary, ad hoc tutorials can be arranged.

Virtual learning environment

You'll also use our virtual learning environment NOW, which is a flexible web-based system that allows you to have 24-hour access to module learning materials and reading lists. It allows you to discuss work with tutors and other students, and submit coursework electronically from anywhere in the world.

Learning from experts

You'll be taught by enthusiastic, engaged and expert staff. The courses all draw upon their expertise, research interests and experience, and many have also published textbooks in their specialist area of interest.

You'll develop specialist knowledge based on the team staff's expertise in several areas, including foreign policy, international and global institutions, international relations theory, global political economy, South Asia, Africa, North East Asia, and the Middle East.

In addition to the traditional lectures, tutorials and independent study, you'll also hear and learn from renowned experts and professionals in related fields, who are regularly invited to come and talk to our students, and provide you with an insight into their specialist knowledge and experiences.

Study abroad opportunities

You may have the opportunity to spend half of your second year studying abroad with the Erasmus+ foreign exchange scheme. There are many benefits to studying abroad – not only will it help expand your CV and gain a new perspective on your subject, it will also allow you to grow your independence and experience a new culture.

All of our exchange partners offer modules taught in English, including our European partners, so foreign language skills are not essential.

Find out more about this exciting study abroad opportunity.

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn a new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students, and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have.

Learning a new language can:

  • enhance your communication skills
  • enrich your experience when travelling abroad
  • boost your career prospects.

Find out more about the University Language Programme.

How will I be assessed?

The International Relations team use a variety of assessment practices. These include, coursework-based essays, reports, textual analysis, oral presentations, written examinations and a final year research-based dissertation.

In response to student feedback, the University has introduced a policy ensuring marked work is returned to you electronically within three weeks of submission.

Contact hours

Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (23%), independent study (77%)

Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (24%), independent study (76%)

Year 3 lectures/seminars/workshops (19%), independent study (81%)

Staff Profiles

Matt Ashton

Principal Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Matthew Ashton staff profile

Imad El-Anis

Associate Professor

School of Social Sciences

Dr Imad El-Anis is an Associate Professor in International Relations at Nottingham Trent University’s Department of Social and Political Sciences. He is an expert in the International Relations and Political…

Jonathan Gorry

Interim Head of Department

School of Social Sciences

Jonathan Gorry is Deputy Head of Department (Principal Lecturer) for the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Nottingham Trent University.

Liam McCarthy

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Liam McCarthy

Marianna Poberezhskaya

Associate Professor

School of Social Sciences

Marianna Poberezhskaya is an Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations with teaching responsibilities on the BA (Hons) International Relations, BA (Hons) Politics and BA (Hons) Politics and IR courses.

Michael O'Neill

Associate Professor

School of Social Sciences

Michael O'Neill

Eszter Simon

Senior Lecturer

Politics and International Relations

Eszter Simon is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations. Her main research interests are Hungarian foreign and domestic policy, trust in International Relations, the role of the Moscow-Washington hotline in

Oliver Harrison

Senior Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Dr Oliver Harrison is a Senior Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Social and Political Sciences, Nottingham Trent University.

How you’re assessed

  • Year 1 coursework (67%), written (33%)
  • Year 2 coursework (77%), written (23%)
  • Year 3 coursework (49%), written (38%), practical (13%)

Careers and employability

We're building successful graduates

The job titles below give an indication of the careers our recent International Relations graduates are following:*

  • Civil Servant
  • Junior Political Officer
  • Tax Consultant
  • Credit Controller
  • Recruitment Consultant

Excellent work experience opportunities

Throughout this course you will be developing skills for employability. You will undertake a work placement, and you will be actively encouraged to participate in voluntary work.

Your career development

Career development is seen as a major part of this course. Key transferable skills including communication, time management, problem-solving and team working are emphasised. There are opportunities to develop links with relevant organisations and potential employers.

When you graduate, you will be well placed to embark on a successful career in a wide range of fields in the public and private sectors. You may be keen to pursue a career in relevant government departments, international aid agencies, and development agencies. In the private sector, organisations are increasingly looking for graduates with an understanding of international and global events and processes.

Our Employability team

We have a dedicated Employability team located on the City Campus. The team are well placed to give you specialist guidance and practical help that will really make a difference to your prospects once you do graduate.

Campus and facilities

As a Social Sciences student you will have easy access to the fantastic facilities in the Chaucer and Taylor buildings, including:

  • lecture theatres and teaching classrooms
  • open access PCs and secure wireless points
  • study areas and social spaces
  • Chaucer café, serving drinks and light snacks
  • our School of Social Sciences reception, providing you with easy access to our helpful and friendly support staff.

IT resources

Our IT resource rooms and PC clusters are distributed across the City Campus, with PCs providing access to:

  • Microsoft Office
  • email
  • web browsing
  • networked file storage
  • high-speed online printing services

The University’s main resource room in the library is available 24 hours a day.

Book and library resources

In our library you will have access to an extensive and diverse range of books and periodicals that focus on specialist areas within Criminology. The library's OneSearch system provides access to all our:

  • electronic resources
  • journals
  • books.

We have a liaison librarian who is available to give you detailed help in finding and using print and electronic resources. They can also help you with things such as Harvard referencing and research skills.

City location

The location of the City Campus also means that you have easy access to:

  • sports facilities
  • shops
  • student accommodation
  • music venues
  • cafés.

Entry requirements

  • A-levels – BBC; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths or Science grade C / 4.
  • Other qualifications and experience

    We consider equivalent qualifications and combinations, please see UCAS course search for details and use our calculator to help you work out how many UCAS points your qualifications relate to.

    We may also consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or beyond the beginning of a course where applicable, for example, into year 2. Our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy outlines the process and options available for this route.

    Contextual offers

    As well as assessing your application and qualifications, we use contextual data and information to make offers for this course. Depending on your circumstances, we may make you an offer up to two grades below the standard entry criteria. Find out how we assess your application.

    Getting in touch

    If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions and Enquiries Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

For this course, you need one of the following:

  • A-levels – BBC; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths or Science grade C / 4.

International qualifications

We accept qualifications from all over the world – check yours here:

Undergraduate preparation courses (Foundation)

If you don’t yet meet our entry requirements, we offer Foundation courses through our partner Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC), based on our City Campus:

English language entry requirements

You can meet our language requirements by successfully completing our pre-sessional English course for an agreed length of time, or by submitting the required grade in one of our accepted English language tests, such as IELTS:

Advanced standing (starting your undergraduate degree in year 2 or 3)

You may be able to start your undergraduate course in year 2 or 3 based on what you have studied before.  This decision would be made in accordance with our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy.

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Additional Costs

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our library, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.


If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Print and copy costs

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

Tuition fees

Mode of study

International tuition fee



Please note the fees shown are for 2022 entry.

Tuition fees are payable for each year that you are at the University. The level of tuition fees for the second and subsequent years of your undergraduate course may increase in line with inflation and as specified by the UK government.


We offer scholarships of up to 50% of your tuition fee. You can apply for your scholarship when you have an offer to study at NTU.

Living costs

Get advice on the cost of living as an international student in Nottingham and how to budget:

Paying fees

Find out about advanced payments, instalment plan options and how to make payments securely to the University:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember that we can only make a decision based on what you tell us, so include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application – it’s your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place. You’ve got 4,000 characters to impress us. Make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you’re applying for. For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up to date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page. Good luck with your application!

You can apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not applying to any other UK universities, you can apply directly to us on our NTU applicant portal.

Application advice

Apply early so that you have enough time to prepare – processing times for Student visas can vary, for example.  After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Writing your personal statement

Be honest, thorough, and persuasive – we can only make a decision about your application based on what you tell us:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

The University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.