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Course content

Why take this course?

We live in an increasingly turbulent world, wracked by conflict, instability and insecurity. The roots of these problems are highly complex; the challenges involved in delivering greater peace and prosperity cannot be under-estimated. This course is designed for those who recognise the importance of acquiring advanced intellectual skills to be able to understand and analyse current trends in global politics. It studies a broad sweep of issues in international relations, including the rise of fundamentalist terrorism, the resurgence of Russia, the spread of globalisation and the emergence of new regional powers on the world stage.

We are the only university in the UK that offers an internship with the BBC Afrique World Service in Senegal. This opportunity is available to students with French language skills on MA International Relations or MA European Politics.

What will I experience?

On this course, you will:

Deepen your knowledge of some of the most urgent political and security issues facing the world today, informed by cutting-edge research.
Make yourself stand out in an increasingly competitive job market by acquiring subject expertise and advanced research skills.
Have the opportunity to develop expertise in issues relating to Europe, ideal for students who intend to pursue careers in European institutions or with political lobbyists and thinktanks.
Benefit from expert advice from our Employability team on placements, internships, and careers. You can also choose to gain academic credit for experience in the workplace with the Work-Based Learning unit, which can be a useful way to combine postgraduate study with practical experience to create an impressive CV.

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is particularly suited for students who intend to work for:

National, European or international governance institutions
Civil service
Political parties
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
Security and risk analyst
Foreign affairs analyst
Political lobbyists
Thinktanks and research bodies

It also provides excellent preparation for PhD study.

Module Details

All students take the following core units:

Contemporary Security in International Relations: Providers and Challenges: The analysis of security is a fascinating field of study that tackles issues of enormous significance. This unit evaluates a number of the most pressing security issues in International Relations, focusing on challenges such as cyber war, the security implications of the ‘Arab Spring’, jihadism, insurgency, information war, humanitarian intervention, piracy and the Ukraine Crisis.

Global Governance: Today’s policy-makers struggle to grapple with challenges of unprecedented scale and complexity. The ramifications of such issues as climate change and the global financial crisis underline the need for collective action across state borders. However, policy responses at the international level are often criticised for being ineffectual and undemocratic.

Research Management: A postgraduate degree signals to an employer that you are equipped with superior analytical and communication skills and are trained in a variety of research methods.

Dissertation in International Relations: This is an extended research project on a topic of your own choice, which you produce under the guidance of a specialist supervisor.

Students also take TWO of the following options:

Protest, Dissent and Solidarity across State Borders

Nation and Identity

Europe and the World

Challenges to EU Politics and Governance

Negotiation and Lobbying in the EU

Europe: Integration and Democratisation

Independent Project

Work-Based Learning

Units (30 credits per unit, 60 credits for the dissertation) are offered individually as credit-bearing short courses, or as part of the Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), or MSc International Development Studies (180 credits).

Programme Assessment

The course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the afternoons and evenings. Part-time students who may be in employment are usually able to structure their course over two years such that tuition is concentrated on no more than two afternoons and evenings per week.

Assessment for most units on the course is in the form of an extended essay or project plus a 15,000-word dissertation at the end.

Student Destinations

Changes such as the enlargement of the EU to the East, the further integration of the EU and the emergence of the EU as an international actor have meant that more than ever there is a demand for people with an advanced knowledge of European affairs and the workings of the EU. This course therefore provides an excellent basis for those seeking careers in such areas where interdisciplinary knowledge is required.

In addition, the course provides advanced training in a range of transferable skills which can be applied in different areas of employment. Students could go on to work in various areas including local government, the UK civil service, foreign government and European and international institutions, NGOs, teaching and further research as well as applying their expertise in the commercial sector.

Visit the MA International Relations page on the University of Portsmouth website for more details!





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