BA (Hons)

International Relations

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  • UCAS code(s): L258
  • Level(s) of study: Undergraduate
  • Study mode(s): Full-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: September 2018
  • Course duration: Three years full-time

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.

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.

  • Year One

    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.

  • Year Two

    Core modules

    Politics and International Relations: Theory and Practice

    This module is designed to develop your understanding of the role of research in the study of politics and international relations. You’ll learn the methods of research design and practice, and you'll analyse and evaluate quantitative and qualitative methodologies and to select appropriate research techniques. You’ll also study contrasting approaches and paradigms for the study of politics and international relations. A key aim of this module is to help you develop the necessary skills to produce a viable research project. This will be excellent preparation for your final year dissertation.

    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.

    Politics of the Turkic and Post-Soviet Region

    Examine the key developments that have taken place in the former Soviet republic since its collapse in 1991. This will include studying the political, economic and social changes that have taken place.

    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.

  • Final year

    Core modules

    Dissertation 

    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 to help you develop the necessary skills to successfully complete this assessment.

    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’?

    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.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

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.

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.

Assessment methods

  • Year 1 coursework (67%), written exams (33%)
  • Year 2 coursework (83%), written exams (17%)
  • Year 3 coursework (67%), written exams (33%)

Contact hours

A full-time student on average can expect to spend 1200 hours a year learning which will typically be broken down as follows:

  • 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%)

You may have the chance to spend half of your second year studying abroad with the Erasmus+ foreign exchange scheme.

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

*Latest DLHE survey undergraduate results, 2015-16 and 2016-17.

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.

Entry requirements

For September 2018 entry you will 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.

We also consider equivalent qualifications and combinations. Please see our website or UCAS Course Search for more details.

All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. We are happy to accept applications from mature students, and from students with access qualifications or many other types of standard and non-standard qualifications for which we can calculate UCAS points. Non-standard applicants may be interviewed.

The UCAS Tariff

We’ve created this calculator to help you work out how many UCAS points your qualifications relate to.

Getting in touch

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

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our undergraduate degrees. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

For September 2018 entry you will 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.

We also consider equivalent qualifications and combinations. Please see our website or UCAS Course Search for more details.

Foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation course to meet our course requirements, please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification, please visit our foundation courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

For a list of our language requirements, please visit our English language page.

If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements, please visit our pre-sessional English course page.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University, please contact our international team for advice.

University preparation courses

If you do not meet the entry requirements, you may be interested in our pre-Masters or Foundation course at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC), which lead onto this postgraduate or undergraduate degree if successfully completed. NTIC students are based on the City Campus and have access to all the University facilities.

Find out more about university preparation courses at NTIC.

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!

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

You can apply directly to NTU for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year. If you are applying to more than one UK university, you must apply through UCAS.


Apply as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here, you need to plan this into your application.

Apply now

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.

Good luck with your application!

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Further information on how to apply

Need help with your application?
For admissions related enquiries please contact us:
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 4200

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.

Getting in touch

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

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

International fees and scholarships

For international and EU fees for all courses, together with advice on how to pay, please visit our international fees information.

We offer prestigious scholarships to our international students holding offers to study here. For details and an application form, please visit our international scholarships information.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

Still need help?

School of Social Sciences Enquiries
+44 (0)115 848 4460