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MSc International Relations

Course summary

The course will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the forces shaping global politics and state and inter-state relations. It will also give you an appreciation of the context of international relations in terms of global inequalities, power and environmental risks. 

Our students come to us from all over the world, so you will be working in an international environment. The course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need for a career working in a global body, government department or organisation dealing with international policy. 

You will also be encouraged to improve your research skills and learn how to take an active part in international and academic conferences and debates.

This course offers a unique combination of critical thinking in relation to international relations and the study of global environmental politics. We were the first university to offer this special focus on the environment, which has become a central issue of global relations.

Return to campus: dual delivery

In a Covid-secure environment, enjoy learning on our state-of-the-art campuses and flex between online delivery

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In UK to focus on global environmental politics

This cutting-edge course was the first of its kind to have a special focus on global environmental politics.

Our academic team are experts in the field of international relations

Our academic team are world-renowned experts in current global debates through their pioneering research.

Join a global community of students and researchers

The course attracts students from around the world who are encouraged to become an active part of our research community.


What we're researching

You will be taught by research-active, well-published academic staff who are experts in their field.

Our academic team are actively researching the key issues of today’s globalised world, such as fair trade and wellbeing, justice and natural resource extraction, comparative perspectives of urban deprivation and gender and development. 

We are engaged in cutting-edge research in the area of post-human approaches to international relations, ‘the post-human way of war’, gender power systems of conflict and violence, psychosocial aspects of forced displacement, digital diasporas, social capital and integration.

Our staff also have regional expertise and excellent contacts in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and Western Balkans.

We have a number of research centres and groups in the area of global studies and run many research seminars and events. All of our postgraduate students are welcome to become part of our vibrant research community.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Katy Savage

MSc International Relations

MSc International Relations at UEL has been an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. The lectures are engaging and stimulating and staff are friendly and approachable.  This course has given me the tools and confidence to move forward in my career.

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.

  • Critical Theories International Relations (core)
  • Global Environmental Politics (core)
  • Research Methods for Social Science (core)
  • Policy and Practice of Humanitarianism and Development - Mental Wealth (core)
  • Independent Applied Research Project (core)
  • International Human Rights (option)
  • Introduction to Conflict, Displacement and Human Security (option)
  • Forced Migration in the Global Era (option)

How you'll be assessed

You’ll be assessed through a wide range of marked coursework, including essays, project work, oral presentations, critical readings, annotated bibliographies, publicity briefings, and independent research reports.  You’ll also undertake a dissertation in which you’ll carry out a piece of research in an area of your choice.

Course specification

How you'll learn

Our students are not only from diverse countries and backgrounds but they also have a wide age range. Some have already worked in international bodies while others are coming to the issues for the first time. 

Whatever your age or background, we encourage you to become part of our research community during your time on the course.  We also give students the confidence to increase their publication profile. One of our current students, for example, has written a book review during the course that was published in an international journal.

In addition to traditional teaching methods of lectures and seminars, we also organise special mini-conferences where students present their work to their fellow students and academics and chair panel discussions. 

The day-long conferences provide opportunities to answer probing questions about your work and to quiz others on their findings. 

This kind of specialist training is designed to enhance your confidence and communication skills when taking part in international conferences and events and in presenting your ideas in a public environment. 

The conferences are also a creative way of broadening your knowledge and providing you with inspiration and ideas for research.

Who will teach on this course

Erika Calvo

The teaching team includes qualified academics, practitioners and industry experts as guest speakers. Full details of the academics will be provided in the student handbook and module guides.

What you'll learn

You will study three core modules leading up to a dissertation of 15,000 words.

The first module focuses on the Critical Theories of International Relations and then you will look in detail at Global Environmental Politics - one of the key issues and potential crises facing the international community in the 21st century.

These modules have been much enjoyed by students on the course and described by external examiners as “cutting edge” in their content.

The third module will give you experience of Qualitative Research Methods, equipping for your research project. For this you can choose a subject linked to your previous professional interest or a completely different area for analysis. 

There are also optional modules to choose from, including Conflict, Displacement and Human Security, International Human Rights, Law and Policy in the Middle East and an Introduction to Forced Migration. 

Our academic team are actively involved in shaping the global debate on many of these issues and will guide you through the modules with creative learning methods, feedback and advice.

Your future career

Some of our students have already worked in an international relations environment while others are looking to start a career in the area.

Many aspire to work for the United Nations or develop a career in international policy or development at a government level. Some have used the skills they have developed on the course to forge careers in local as well as national governments.  

Our course will give you the advanced skills to take your career to a new level. You will also learn how to work in an international environment and how to influence the debate. 

Throughout the course you will have the expertise of our distinguished academic team to guide you. 

Course Leader Dr Stephen Hobden has published on international relations theory, and has contributed to the emerging paradigm of posthumanism. He is currently writing a book related to the International Relations Theory module that is part of the programme. 

Dr Robert Ahearne leads the module on global environmental politics. Dr Ahearne is an expert on resource use in Africa and his research has focused on development processes in Tanzania. 

The depth and breadth of their knowledge and the creative teaching methods on this course may well inspire you to pursue your own career in academic research or teaching.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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