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Course content

About the course

The global challenges of the twenty first century place important demands on students of international politics. Not only do we need to understand the ongoing changes in the nature of war and conflict, but we are also today faced with important transformations in global power relations, international flows of goods, people and diseases and, indeed, shifts in the nature of political communities on the globe. Whatever your background, whether in international politics or another discipline, this flagship MA programme provides you with the necessary tools to tackle these shifting landscapes.

The scheme will introduce you, first, to the core notions that help shape the analysis of and the practices of international politics but also encourages you to think creatively about the kinds of concepts we need today to capture complex political realities. Taught by a team of world-leading research staff, the core module will challenge you to reflect on the way you think about international politics and the issues facing individuals, societies, states and humanity as a whole. Beyond the core module students pursue their own interests by choosing specialist modules. The options, ranging from the study of war, conflict, strategy and security to the study of global order, international theory and ethics, are designed to stimulate you in pursuing your own path to an advanced study of international relations.

At the heart of the scheme is a desire to expose students to envisioning new, different, better ways forward in our efforts to cope with the challenging political, military, social, economic and environmental contexts we live in today.

MA students taking this course will be integrated into the unique world-leading research culture, including contributing to research groups, participating in a range of events, seminars and round-tables, and attending the weekly departmental research seminar. Whether you are interested in understanding the conceptual underpinnings of international politics or tackling practical policy implications by taking this flagship Masters degree you will be part of a department at the forefront of understanding and tackling the challenges of ‘how we might live’ in the 21st century.

Why study International Politics at Aberystwyth?

Founded in 1919 after the end of World War I, the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth is the world’s first university department of International Politics. The Department is renowned for its pioneering research and is recognised as number one in the UK for the study of international politics. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), the Department of International Politics was placed best in Wales with 76% of publications submitted rated as world leading and internationally excellent. This research excellence is mirrored in our teaching, as evidenced in the recent 2016 National Student Satisfaction survey. The 2016 NSS placed us in the top ten in the UK and best in Wales among Politics and International Relations departments, with 95% overall Student satisfaction, well above the average for the subject nationally. Our staff’s commitment to excellence in both teaching and research, provides you with an outstanding and dynamic learning environment. Finally our Department’s vibrant and cosmopolitan learning environment welcomes students from all over the world, and provides a lively venue for contemporary and international political debate.

This degree will suit you:

• If you want to study international relations at advanced level
• If you wish to develop a critical appreciation of past and contemporary international politics
• If you wish to nurture a career in areas such as international diplomacy, journalism or the NGO-sector or if you wish to work internationally
• If you desire formal recognition of skills highly sought-after by any postgraduate employer

Course structure

The MA in International Politics pursued through the Specialist Pathway is the traditional Masters degree which offers the opportunity to for students to pursue specialised, advanced, subject-specific study in the discipline of international politics. Students following this pathway take the degree scheme core module (compulsory), two modules from a basket of options, and three further modules chosen from the baskets or any Masters options taught by the Department (including a maximum of one module offered by another department). More information on modules available from other departments is available at: Finally students complete a 13-15,000 word dissertation.

Core modules:

International Politics
Principles Of Research Design
Qualitative Data Collection And Analysis
Qualitative Data Collection And Analysis (1120)
Quantitative Data Collection And Analysis
Research In Politics And International Studies

Optional modules:

Cyber Security
Politics, Media, Performance: Transdisciplinary Critical Frameworks
Power And Postwar Reconstruction: A Critical Approach
The State Through The Ages
Thoughts Of War: Strategic Theory & Thinkers (s)
Understanding Wales In An Age Of Global Transformation
Critical Security Studies: Contemporary Theories
Intelligence, Security And International Politics Since 1945
International Communications In Asia-pacific: Power, Peoples And Propaganda
Islam And Modernity
Political Responsibility In A Globalized World
Postcolonial Politics

Contact time

In Semester One you will normally have eight hours per week of specific Research Training Modules and one two-hour seminar per week for the degree scheme core module. In Semester Two you will normally have one two-hour seminar per week for each of the three modules you take (one Research Training specific and two subject specific modules). You will also have contact with academic staff through participation in research groups, attendance in departmental research seminars and masters workshops and through staff office hours (two one hour sessions per week). There will also be additional sessions working towards developing your master’s dissertation. During semester three you will arrange your level of contact time with your assigned supervisor.


Assessment will be through a combination of examinations, project work, short reports, essays and dissertation. It may, depending on the modules chosen, include seminar presentations, review essays and literature searches.


Every course at Aberystwyth University is designed to enhance your vocational and general employability. Your Masters will place you in the jobs market as a highly-trained international politics specialist with a strength in depth of knowledge on vital subjects such as conflict, power, peace, justice and injustice, security, the global distribution of wealth and resources and trust in world politics. You will also graduate with a wealth of postgraduate-level skills which are transferable into any workplace. On the research training pathway you also develop advanced skills in quantitative and qualitative research skills and data analysis. In addition, the prestige of masters from our department of International Relations wills open doors for you into workplaces in every industry.

Study skills

Alongside the wealth of world-class critical expertise, you will master highly desirable skills in academic research, analysis, argument-formation, presentation and debate. The research training pathway provides you with a specific set of study skills focused on interrogating and analysing a range of different types of data from multiple sources. You will also prove your abilities in reflection and self-improvement; you will be able to identify your academic weaknesses and remove them whilst building on your strengths.

Self-Motivation and discipline

Studying at Masters level requires discipline and self-motivation from every candidate. You will have access to the expertise and helpful guidance of departmental staff, but you are ultimately responsible for devising and completing a sustained programme of scholarly research in pursuit of your Masters degree. This process of independent study at an extremely high level will strengthen your skills as an independent and self-sufficient worker, a trait prized by most employers.

Transferable skills

The International relations Masters programme is designed to give you a range of transferable skills that you can apply in a variety of employment contexts. Upon graduation, you will have proven your abilities in structuring and communicating ideas efficiently, writing for and speaking to a range of audiences, evaluating and organizing information, working effectively with others and working within time frames and to specific deadlines. You will also have advanced skills in data analysis that can be applied in a wide variety of work environments from business to the public sector and non-governmental organisations.

Visit the International Politics (Research Training) - MA page on the Aberystwyth University website for more details!




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