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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.

Course Structure

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
  • Dissertation.

European Route Core Module:

  • European Security.

Regional Modules:

  • European Institutions and the Policy Process
  • The European Union as a Global Actor
  • Collective Memory & Identity in Post War Europe.

Non-regional Modules:

In previous years these have included:

  • German Foreign Policy
  • Collective Identities and Political Thought in Britain
  • Contemporary Socio-Political Issues in Muslim Religious Thought
  • International Relations and Security in the Middle East
  • The Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
  • America and the World: The Making of the US Foreign Policy
  • Human Rights
  • Political Ideology
  • Issues in the Politics of Military Occupations
  • Just War in Political Theory and Practice
  • Nationalism Revolution and Reform in Contemporary China
  • Political Economy and Development of Chinese Business
  • Political Ideology
  • Region, Nation and Citizen in Southeast Asia
  • Strategic Asia: Policy and Analysis
  • The Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
  • A module offered by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.

Course 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.

Career Opportunities

Our students go on to a wide range of successful careers including civil service and other government agencies, UN/INGOs/CSOs, journalism, media, teaching, law, banking and finance, diplomatic services and risk analysis.


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

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