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Course content

This programme provides you with the systematic knowledge and intellectual tools to critically review developments in the theory and practice of international relations. It enables you to evaluate in a sophisticated and critical fashion concepts, theories and paradigms within the broad field of international relations, drawing lessons from empirical studies involving both quantitative and qualitative investigations.

Students are able to develop their ability to deploy research strategies and methods in an appropriately advanced fashion to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship. Each study route aims to provide advanced knowledge and understanding of the dynamics, including cultural and local political and ideological factors, which shape the contemporary international relations of the area.

The course also provides an opportunity for studying international relations and in comparative and historical perspective taking account of regional specific political and economic factors.

Student Profiles

“Students in the International Relations (East Asia) programme are exposed to an internationally diverse atmosphere in the class which leads us to be open-minded and objective. The wide range of modules allows students to not only discover a specialized area (East Asia) but to also explore other areas and foster global viewpoints. Therefore, students can further pursue interdisciplinary research at Durham University. Most importantly, lectures and seminars which are provided by professionally specialized professors enable students to nurture the ability to logically organize their thoughts and to propose solutions to difficult problems which may have no right answer. I am confident that graduates from this course will take an active role in interdisciplinary work across the globe because they learned how to be innovative and effective collaborators throughout this well-structured programme. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone interested in international relations and engaging in critical dialogue.” Kyoko Kato, 2015/16

“When making the step up from undergraduate studies to a Masters degree, you want to move up both in terms of university quality and in terms of the academic rigour. The MA International Relations program at SGIA provided me with that. The department boasts some of the top academics in the country and immediately you realise that you must step your game up to thrive on a postgraduate program at one of the top few universities in the country. The course offers an excellent balance of compulsory modules; which improve study and research techniques, and selective modules; which allow you to specialise in areas of interest. I made two really fascinating observations about the department: one was how much of a diverse international presence SGIA contains, and the second was that the seminars are a complete open forum, which allow for a wide spectrum of ideas. If you can justify your intellectual position; then all viewpoints are accepted. I’m delighted I chose this course and I feel this degree puts me on a path to progress in my future career. Simply put: Durham and SGIA are the place to be!” Edward Spann, 2015/16

“My favourite aspect of the Master course is the unique learning experience at the university. Over here in Durham, students are encouraged to actively participate and even lead discussions and debates regarding the module content. Independent research outside the classrooms therefore becomes essential and inevitable in students' learning experience. Additionally, the School of Government and International Affairs has also been regularly inviting prominent and influential speakers in the field of politics and international affairs to give a seminar so as to enhance the students' learning curve.” Chanatip Padungdetpasuton

Course Content

Students will take five core modules to the value of 150 credits and optional modules to the value of 30 credits, 15 of which must be from the regional module list.

Core Modules:
-International Relations Theory
-Model United Nations
-Research Methods and Dissertation Production

East Asia Route Core Module:
-Strategic Asia: Policy and Analysis
-Regional Modules:
-Region, Nation and Citizen in SE Asia
-Political Economy and Development in Chinese Business
-Nationalism, Revolution and Reform in Contemporary China.

Non-regional Modules - In previous years these have included:
-European Institutions and the Policy Process
-The European Union as a Global Actor
-German Foreign Policy
-Collective Identities and Political Thought in Britain
-Collective Memory and Identity in Post-War Europe
-Contemporary Socio-Political Issues in Muslim Religious Thought
-European Security
-International Relations and Security in the Middle East
-The Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
-The Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
-America and the World: The Making of US Foreign Policy
-Human Rights
-Political Ideology
-Issues in the Politics of Military Occupation
-Just War in Political Theory and Practice
-Political Ideology
-A module offered by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Learning and Teaching

At the beginning of the academic year, students go through five-day induction events in which they are informed about University, the School, the MA/MSc programmes and the facilities available for their learning.

The 180 credits one-year MA degree programme is divided into four core and two optional modules of 15 credits each. Furthermore, students have to submit a dissertation of 75 credits of not more than 15,000 words. Most of the modules are delivered during the first two terms and students spend the remaining time to write the dissertation.

Usually a module has 18 contact hours spread over 9 weeks and 132 hours of self-directed learning. The modules are mainly delivered through weekly 2 hours sessions which can either take the form of seminars or one hour of lecture and one hour of tutorial. The form in which seminars are conducted can differ from one module to another. Typically modules would have elements of lectures, discussions, and presentations from students—the extent of each of these components would differ from one module to another.

All modules have written exercise for formative assessments. Upon getting feedback on these assignments, students can meet their lecturers to discuss their marks before then eventually completing a summative assessment. Typically summative assessments are 3000 word essays but some modules may be assessed by examination. Students can also meet their module coordinators during their weekly contact hours or by making an appointment. When students are working on their dissertations during the later half of the year, they meet their assigned supervisors for a minimum of 6 hours. Students also have access to the academic advisors whenever there is a need.

SGIA has a wide variety of resources available to students such as: computer room/work room with networked PC’s, printing facilities including scanner and photocopier, audio system, Wi-Fi and a relaxation area with satellite television system.

SGIA conducts weekly seminars and organises lectures and conferences which all postgraduate students can attend. These events provide students the opportunity to engage with, and debate, the most important issues in current political and international studies.

Towards the end of the programme students can contact the Careers Office of the University to get advice on available job prospects and get assistance on applying for these.

Visit the International Relations (East Asia) - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!





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