Explore our International Relations taught Master's degree.
Warwick's International Relations (IR) MA explores key theoretical approaches from Realism to Post-Colonialism while critically analysing the role of states and other actors in international affairs, both historically and in the contemporary world.
This programme will tackle the ‘big’ issues facing global decision-makers such as: war, terrorism, (in)security, environmental degradation, climate change, pandemics, poverty, and inequality.
Traditionally, the discipline of International Relations (IR) has been concerned with issues of war and peace, focused on explaining and understanding the behaviour of states in their relationships with each other in the international state-system. However, the end of the Cold War and other currents in IR have exposed the limitations of this approach, highlighting a need for the inclusion of non-traditional concerns, i.e., things that would normally be outside the remit of ‘orthodox’ IR.
On this programme, you will learn what theory is and what it means to theorise; the key theoretical approaches in IR from Realism to Postcolonialism; and how to understand and apply these theories to historical and contemporary issues. Ultimately, students are equipped to evaluate theoretical positions in the light of pressing issues in contemporary political life.
Our Double Degree programmes enable you to combine the study of this MA programme in PAIS with a Master’s programme at any one of our partner universities:
- American University, Washington DC, USA
- University of Waterloo, Canada
- Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
- Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
- University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
- Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
- Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
General entry requirements
2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a related subject.
Visit our PAIS web pages for department-specific advice on applying to ensure your application has the best chance for success.
English language requirements
You can find out more about our English language requirementsLink opens in a new window. This course requires the following:
- Band B
- IELTS overall score of 7.0, minimum component scores of two at 6.0/6.5 and the rest at 7.0 or above.
We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.
For more information, please visit the international entry requirements pageLink opens in a new window.
There are no additional entry requirements for this course.
Theories and Issues in International Relations
This module provides an introduction to International Relations (IR) theory; it exposes them to the key ideas and approaches which scholars working in the discipline use to understand and explain issues and practices of international politics. The module aims to familiarise students with the key theoretical approaches in IR and to make theory accessible and understandable. This is done via both an analysis of the key theoretical approaches to IR and by examining their insights and limitations through the study of key issues and themes in international relations, and by considering relevant case studies.
International Relations theorising draws from a wide diversity of intellectual sources and its scope is not limited by the narrow confines of the empirics of interstate behaviour. Firstly, IR theories draw from disciplines other than Politics, including philosophy, sociology and economics. Secondly, some of the theoretical literature is explicitly critical about the adequacy of particular theoretical approaches and seeks to deconstruct the role of theory and the theorist in IR, rather than just elaborate and apply existing theories; the module transcends theory through engaging with metatheoretical and philosophical questions. IR theory is not confined to academia. Policymakers and practitioners of world politics are also informed by and reproduce particular theoretical understandings of the way the world works even if they do not specifically recognise or present them as such. Finally, through welcoming a diversity of (unorthodox) perspectives, it becomes possible to even argue that we are all theorists and that we all theorise.
The Dissertation is an opportunity to study a topic of your choosing, in autonomy and in-depth, under the guidance of an advisor selected among the many experts in the Department. The Dissertation topic should be related to your course. It is an original empirical and/or theoretical investigation, led over terms 2 and 3, that takes further the work done in regular seminars in terms 1 and 2. The Dissertation is the closest you will get to real research during your degree. It is a key experience if you have a PhD in view, or extra-academic research, or any future employment that will require the ability to lead investigations and write reports in autonomy.
Optional modules can vary from year to year. Example optional modules may include:
- Examining Rising World Powers
- International Relations and Security of the Middle East
- The Global Politics of Nuclear Weapons
The optional module lists are updated regularly.
You may select up to 40 CATS (normally two modules) from a list of specialist modules for this course, and a further 40-80 CATS from our extensive range of optional modules for a total of 120 CATS of taught modules.
Modules are taught via one 2-hour seminar per week. Every seminar will be based on extensive guided reading you will do each week, but there is no strict pattern to how sessions are run. This may include mini-lectures followed by discussion, Q&A sessions, organised debates, peer presentations, policy briefs, small group work, and other projects.
You can also choose to study part-time with us. Find out more about part-time study on our PAIS web pages.
Normally a maximum of 18 per seminar group in PAIS delivered modules.
Typical contact hours
6 hours of Seminars per week for 9 weeks in Terms One and Two plus advice and feedback hours when requested and Dissertation supervision in Terms Two and Three.
Assessment methods include research essays and other (written) assignments throughout the year, culminating in a 10,000 word dissertation at the end.
Your personalised timetable will be complete when you are registered for all modules, compulsory and optional, and you have been allocated to your lectures, seminars and other small group classes. Your compulsory modules will be registered for you and you will be able to choose your optional modules in a module pre-registration process about which you will receive information at the beginning of September.
Careers and employability
Graduates from these courses have gone on to work for employers including: Action Aid; World Bank; UN agencies; UK and other universities; Deloitte; Japan Ministry of Defence; Nationwide Building Society; and the UK Cabinet Office. They have pursued roles such as: communications officers for major INGOs, business and financial project management professionals; economists; finance officers; policy analysts and public services associate professionals.
Our Department has a dedicated professionally qualified Senior Careers Consultant offering impartial advice and guidance together with workshops and events throughout the year. Previous examples of workshops and events include:
- Your future awaits - the many things you can do after your degree in the PAIS Department
- Careers in Government and Politics
- Warwick careers fairs throughout the year
- After your PAIS Master’s – What Next?
- Assessment Centres and Interviews: an overview of what to expect for PAIS students
Politics and International Studies at Warwick
Join an innovative, creative and passionate department with a lively and interactive culture. Stretch and challenge yourself with the support of friendly staff and your peers.
Our Postgraduate courses
- International Development (MA)
- International Political Economy (MA)
- International Politics and East Asia (MA)
- International Politics and Europe (MA)
- International Relations (MA)
- International Security (MA)
- Politics and International Studies (PhD)
- Political and Legal Theory (MA)
- Politics, Big Data and Quantitative Methods (MA)
- Politics of Climate Change (MA)
- Public Policy (MA)
- United States Foreign Policy (MA)
Tuition fees are payable for each year of your course at the start of the academic year, or at the start of your course, if later. Academic fees cover the cost of tuition, examinations and registration and some student amenities.
Fee Status Guidance
The University carries out an initial fee status assessment based on information provided in the application and according to the guidance published by UKCISA. Students are classified as either Home or Overseas Fee status and this can determine the tuition fee and eligibility of certain scholarships and financial support.
If you receive an offer, your fee status will be stated with the tuition fee information. If you believe your fee status has been incorrectly classified you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire (follow the instructions in your offer) and provide the required documentation for this to be reassessed.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides guidance to UK universities on fees status criteria, you can find the latest guidance on the impact of Brexit on fees and student support on the UKCISA website.
Additional course costs
Please contact your academic department for information about department specific costs, which should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below, such as:
- Core text books
- Printer credits
- Dissertation binding
- Robe hire for your degree ceremony
Scholarships and bursaries
Find out about the different funding routes available, including; postgraduate loans, scholarships, fee awards and academic department bursaries.
Find out more about the various funding opportunities that are available in our department.
Find out more about the cost of living as a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick.
Find out how to apply to us, ask your questions, and find out more.
How to apply
The application process for courses that start in September and October 2024 will open on 2 October 2023.
Applications will close on 2 August 2024 for students who require a visa to study in the UK, to allow time to receive a CAS and complete the visa application process.