International Relations MSc

International flags from all countries

This programme is designed for those interested in the crucial challenges facing our world today, from terrorism to globalisation, and from conflict to migration . In particular, it will provoke you to think about international challenges and the nature of interactions in the system,

Key facts

Why this programme

  • This programme offers you broad and informed knowledge of the central challenges in international relations and equips you with the analytical techniques and tools to analyse political data.
  • The programme draws on expertise in the fields of international relations theory, normative international theory, international security, international governmental organisations, non-state actors, and human rights and humanitarian intervention.
  • You will benefit from the opportunity to approach the subject from a variety of disciplinary approaches through courses across the School of Social & Political Sciences, the School of Law, History, and other subjects.
  • You will benefit from a number of research and teaching initiatives which touch on important international issues, including: Global Security Roundtable; Global Security Network; Glasgow Centre for International Development; Glasgow Refugee, Asylum & Migration Network; and Glasgow Human Rights Network.
  • You will gain a wide range of more general skills, including how to convey complex ideas and information effectively both orally and in writing.

Programme structure

You will take 3 core and 3 optional courses. You will attend lectures, seminars and tutorials and undertake independent research.

Core courses

  • Challenges in international politics
  • International relations theory
  • Qualitative research methods OR Social science statistics.

Optional courses

  • China's international politics
  • Chinese politics and society
  • Comparative European politics
  • Critical perspectives on human rights
  • Ethics in global politics
  • EU in international politics and development
  • Foreign policy affairs
  • Freedom of expression
  • Globalisation and European integration
  • Human rights and global politics
  • International security and global politics
  • Institutions and policies of the European Union
  • Internet and civil society
  • Media and democracy
  • Political institutions, crisis and communication
  • Political legitimacy: contemporary perspectives
  • Politics of gender in development.

Note: Some courses might not be available every year. You may also be able to choose from courses in the other subjects in the School of Social & Political Sciences.

Background and aims

The MSc in International Relations (including its previous incarnation as International Politics) has been running for almost a decade. Although it is based in Politics, students have the opportunity to approach the subject from a variety of disciplinary approaches through courses across the School of Social and Political Sciences, the School of Law, History, and other subjects.

The programme gives students key knowledge and analytical tools relevant to a career in a variety of settings related to international relations, such as international and domestic non-governmental organisations, international governmental organisations such as the United Nations or European Union, and government agencies, or for further academic research in a PhD programme.

Students also benefit from a number of research and teaching initiatives at the University which all touch on important international issues, including:

We actively promote student-centred teaching and guarantee individual dissertation supervision. Our students benefit from intensive teaching by political scientists with strong publishing profiles and international reputations in their areas of expertise.

The School of Law has a number of individuals interested in international law including international and European human rights law, refugee law, and international humanitarian law among other topics.

You will also benefit from being taught by staff from one of the UK's leading institutions for political studies. No other University in Scotland produces as much world class research as Politics in Glasgow (as indicated in the latest Research Assessment Exercise).

Students on the programme come from diverse backgrounds. Over the last two years, for example, the programme has hosted students from 12 different countries – Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Greece, Japan, Malawi, Nigeria, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States.

Students on the programme also share classes with students on other programmes, which contributes to a lively and cosmopolitan learning environment.

What our students say

These testimonials come from students on the MSc programme, which is closely related to the MRes.

Hugh Vondracek (USA), 2014-15

Hugh Vondracek'The programme  helped build me into a marketable and employable graduate.  Potential employers have been attracted by the values the IR programme builds in students: the ability to see the bigger picture and ambition to tackle global issues, creative solutions, the ability to build an argument and the statistical confidence and know-how to defend that position. By first grounding students in the most current IR scholarship before challenging them to push further by finding new problems or new solutions to old ones, the MSc International Relations at Glasgow produces graduates with both inventiveness and rigour. And with the University's Q-step curriculum to build graduates' statistical backgrounds, the IR program definitely provides added-value when students enter the job market. My research on Chinese investment in sports infrastructure around the world has attracted attention from potential employers in both the for- and not-for-profit sectors and the skills the Masters in IR develops have been key.'

Gabriela García (Ecuador), 2013-14

'I chose the University of Glasgow as it has a well-known reputation; a work colleague and some friends gave me the best references for it. I also checked the world ranking Universities as my scholarship only allowed me to choose from the top positions. Finally, I had the opportunity to visit Glasgow and the campus before enrolling; I was very surprised by the friendliness of the staff and the beauty of the city.

I am a lawyer with a degree in Criminal Law, however, I wasn’t keen about practicing. In one of my undergraduate courses I had the chance, briefly, to review International Law and International Relations and I decided to further my studies in that area. The best aspect of the programme was the opportunity to focus on contemporary issues in International Relations that can be applied to any country. The programme is very diverse in every sense, including the staff and the students.


What I liked about Glasgow was the people, how friendly they are and always happy to help. There is no discrimination whatsoever, which makes me feel very comfortable.I would strongly recommend the University of Glasgow because it opens the door to a diverse and different environment. I would suggest that international students who want to come to this University prepare themselves to be challenged and become better professionals.'

Arthur de Ganay (France), 2013-14

'A number of factors influenced my decision to attend the University of Glasgow but three were essential. First of all, the reputation of the institution - I was convinced that I would be learning from some of the best in my field. Another important factor was the vast and diverse selection of courses. I have had classes that range from the theories that govern international relations all the way to qualitative methods which taught me many things about how to conduct research in the social sciences. Finally, the size of the classes was another essential factor because I believe that learning is more conducive in a small setting.

There are no more than twenty-four students in any of my classes, which permits for a lot of engagement between ourselves as well as with the lecturer. I have had the luxury of getting to know each one of my lecturers personally and they are always open to answering questions during their office hours, something quite rare for such a large university. Essentially, I was looking for a university that had the resources of a large institution whilst small enough that people are on a first name basis. This is what I found at the University of Glasgow, and this has been a life-changing experience.


Before coming to the University of Glasgow, I had been working in a political consultancy in France as the advisor to the president of the firm. Before that, I was awarded a degree in economics from a university in the United States of America. I chose the MSc in International Relations firstly because, always having had a passion for diplomacy and the way the world works, I believed that this was the ideal time in my career to come back to school and learn how to do this. Secondly, I wanted to further my career. Finally, I chose the programme because if I did not want to continue working in politics after the completion of the programme, I was sure that the skills I am acquiring would be interchangeable with other industries as many firms seek employees who are able to analyse the world in-depth.

There are many great things about my programme of study: my peers are amazing and challenged me intellectually as much as the lecturer, which from all I have heard at other universities, is quite rare. Also, having a programme convenor who is there for you when you need him, for me has been one of the best parts of my experience here because when there are tough moments, and there always will be, you know you have someone who you can talk to. Finally, the best part of the programme is that there are numerous activities outside of school which foster friendships, so you need not be afraid of arriving in a new city and being alone. In one of my courses, we all went out for drinks (alcoholic or not depending on your preference) and dinner once our class was over which means that we got to know each other quite well.

My programme at the University of Glasgow is quite distinctive from the same programme that I was contemplated at other universities in the United Kingdom. Firstly, the staff are very nice and supportive. Secondly, as in other universities I looked at, you don’t feel like a number but a person, which in my opinion is quite important. Thirdly, the course selection at the University of Glasgow was broader than in the other universities I was thinking of attending so I am able to delve into more topics than I would have elsewhere.

There are many things to like about Glasgow. Contrary to what some people might think, there is a lot of culture from art to sports. The people are extremely friendly and are always willing to help out, so compared to a city of comparable size I have always felt like I was in a small community. Finally, being an avid golfer, I really enjoyed being so close to so many beautiful golf courses. I would suggest to anyone studying this programme to engage with the world-class acaemics that the university has. Due to the small class sizes, this will only enhance your learning and in the end who knows, maybe you will write a paper for an academic journal with one of your professors? I would also recommend getting out and enjoy the many cultural events that Glasgow has to offer and remember all museums in the city are free.

I would highly recommend the University of Glasgow and this peogramme. This experience has done many great things for me both academically and non-academically. It has sparked my curiosity to delve deeper into subjects and to be better able to analyse them at the same time. I have seen that my thought process in everyday life has been enhanced due to the academic skills that have been instilled in me over the course of the year.'

Colin Atkinson, Scotland

'I enjoyed my time studying at Glasgow immensely. The course was extremely challenging, with a heavy workload required to satisfy the top lecturers at the department. I developed key skills in my time at Glasgow that have been critical in my professional success. Learning to think strategically by studying international politics is perhaps the key transferrable skill I learned. It has been indispensible to my work.'

Silva Ayunita, Indonesia

'Making economic political analysis is part of my job at the moment. It makes me really excited, since I can apply the international politics studies I learn in class into daily practice. Thus, I express an ocean of thanks … for the priceless experiences I had during my studies at University of Glasgow.'

Pol Bargues Pedreny, Spain

'After one year studying in the University of Glasgow, I have the impression that I was in the right place at the right time, with a great community of students and professors. The city of Glasgow captivated me: it is a lively town marked by a collective passion for music, arts, students, restaurants and football. The University of Glasgow encourages students to do academic research in a stimulating atmosphere. Regarding the programme itself, courses were meticulously organized, reinforced with a wide bibliography and the classes provoked vigorous discussions among students. The professors were enthusiastic and always ready to help me with any question I might have. My time at the University of Glasgow was even better than what I had hoped.'

Senia Febrica, Indonesia

'My application for the MSc degree reflected my modest intention of acquiring the analytical tools – the skills and knowledge – that would enable me to analyze the challenging problems in international relations. After studying international politics in the University of Glasgow for one year, I found that the content of the course has certainly met my expectations. The course has provided me with an all-encompassing knowledge of the field, from methodology to keys political issues facing the world today. I also have a good impression of life in Glasgow, very modern, and cosmopolitan. This enables me to enjoy the benefit of both worlds: the high-quality education system, as well as, a vibrant social experience.'

Zafar Khan, Pakistan

'I have successfully completed MSc at the Department of Politics, University of Glasgow. All the teachers were supportive of me throughout my studies, and Glasgow is a city blessed with beautiful surroundings, historical landmarks, and friendly people. I feel that I have learnt a lot while here, and for this reason have opted to stay on to write my PhD.'

Sille Lukowski, Denmark

'I enjoyed my MSc International Politics immensely. I had never studied politics before, but this was no obstacle as the course taught me the basic theories and more. It offered a large choice of subjects where one had the opportunity to engage in areas of international politics that were of personal interest. Moreover, the course was structured to encourage high student participation: the onus was always on students to drive class discussions and debates. This made seminars more enjoyable, and also provided a good way of getting to know your class-mates. Throughout the course I felt the lecturers to be very approachable and helpful. In sum, my years spent in Glasgow studying were without a doubt some of the best years of my life, both academically and socially. Glasgow has so much to offer ranging from concerts, pubs and bars, shopping, dining, museums, lovely parks and generally hosts a very friendly atmosphere. In my case, the MSc International Politics course also helped me to get an internship at the Danish Embassy in Kenya, which had always been a dream of mine.'

Gillian McFadyen, Scotland

'The MSc in International Relations was a very rewarding experience for me. Intense and challenging, it provided me with an ideal environment in which to grow, not only academically, but also personally. Throughout the year, the lecturers created an exceptionally supportive and friendly atmosphere where students were allowed to thrive and not only challenge themselves, but also one-another. The programme was in-depth, providing a solid foundation in International Politics and the optional modules were sufficiently varied to cater for the developing interests of the students as the programme progressed. On a personal note, the MSc in International Politics has been a fabulous spring-board for me. Although initially hesitant about pursuing a career in academia, the support that I received at Glasgow encouraged me to take on a PhD.  Overall, it was both a pleasure to study at the University of Glasgow, and an experience that has opened numerous doors for me. I could not recommend the programme enough.'

Eric B. Robinson, USA 

'I have seen a gradual and constant, and in the end hugely significant, progression in my understandings of the issues and intricacies of international relations. I finished the MSc satisfied and confident. And motivated.'

Academic staff


  • Dr Maurizio Carbone (EU development policy, foreign aid, civil society and NGOs, EU-Africa and EU-Pacific relations, Italian foreign policy)
  • Prof Jane Duckett (Chinese politics)
  • Dr Naomi Head (legitimacy and communicative ethics, humanitarian intervention and the use of force, and conflict transformation)
  • Dr Mo Hume (development, gender and violence in transitional societies, post war conflict and violence, gender based violence, and youth gangs)
  • Dr David Karp (human rights and responsibility, non-state actors – including transnational corporations – ethics and politics of international law)
  • Dr Kelly Kollman (comparative European politics, environmental politics, transnational social movements)
  • Dr Kurt Mills (sovereignty, international organisations, humanitarian intervention, refugees and international criminal justice, sub-Saharan Africa)
  • Dr Cian O’Driscoll (ethics of war and peace, just war theory
  • Dr Myrto Tsakatika (European Union, European leftist parties)
  • Dr Vikki Turbine (processes of claiming rights, gender and rights in transitional contexts, transitional justice, and women’s perceptions and use of rights-based approaches (especially Russia)
  • Dr Brandon Valeriano (Conflict Studies, Cyber Security, Foreign Policy Analysis)
  • Prof Stephen White (post-Soviet politics)

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

The minimum entry requirements are an honours degree at the 2.1/upper second class level or higher or equivalent (e.g. B/3.0 GPA in the undergraduate degree) in politics, law or related social science subject.

We will consider applications from graduates from other fields, but the applicant should submit a statement indicating why they are interested in changing fields or the connection to their previous study. We will also take relevant work experience into account.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

The programme gives students key knowledge and analytical tools relevant to a career in a variety of settings related to international relations. These include international and domestic non-governmental organisations, international governmental organisations such as the United Nations or European Union, as well as government agencies. It will also prepare you for further academic research in a PhD programme.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now