International Relations MSc

International flags from all countries

This programme is designed for those interested in study of the most challenging problems our world currently faces, such as international conflict and instability, terrorism, climate change, or rapid globalisation. Building on a thorough understanding of international relations theory, it trains you in how to apply and leverage methods and research design to answer the most pressing societal questions of our time.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • This programme offers comprehensive training in what international relations has to say about some of the most challenging problems in international politics and equips you with the appropriate methods and a good understanding of research design to analyse political data.
  • The programme draws on expertise in the fields of international relations theory, normative international theory, international security, international organisations, non-state actors, human rights, humanitarian intervention, and international political economy.
  • You will have the opportunity to approach the subject from a variety of disciplinary approaches through courses across the School of Social & Political Sciences, 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 transferrable skills, including how to convey complex ideas and information effectively both orally and in writing, or how to analyse problems in international politics to inform the public debate.

Programme structure

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

Core courses

  • International relations research
  • International relations theory
  • Research design OR Quantitative data analysis OR Qualitative methods.

Optional courses

  • China’s international politics
  • Chinese politics and society
  • Comparative public opinion
  • Critical perspectives on human rights
  • Environmental policies and problems in China
  • EU in international politics and development
  • Human rights and global politics
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • International organisations
  • International relations and development
  • International security and strategic thought
  • Internet and civil society
  • Media and democracy.

You may also be able to choose from courses in the other subjects in the School of Social & Political Sciences (subject to programme convener's approval).

Background and aims

The MSc in International Relations 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 can also get involved with a number of research and teaching initiatives at the University of Glasgow to experience international relations first hand, 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 staff interested in international law including international and European human rights law, refugee law, and international humanitarian law among other topics, which may be of interest to students working at the intersection of international relation and international law or international organisations.

Students on the programme come from diverse backgrounds, and we are proud to attract highly talented students from around the world. Over the last couple of years, the programme has welcomed students from many different countries, including Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Greece, Iceland, India,  Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States, making it a truly international study programme. Students on the programme also share classes with students on other programmes within politics and the school, which contributes to a lively, interdisciplinary, and cosmopolitan learning environment.

What our students say

Hugh Vondracek, USA, (MSc, 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, (MSc, 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.'

Academic staff

  • Dr Katherine Allison (international relations theory; feminist theory; gender & security; human rights)
  • Dr Patrick Bayer (international cooperation and institutions; international organisations; global environmental politics; international political economy; formal modelling; quantitative political methodology)
  • Prof Maurizio Carbone (European Union; foreign aid; international development; Italian politics)
  • Dr Sophia Dingli (international relations theory; postcolonial theory; Middle Eastern and Mediterranean politics; insurgencies and counter-insurgencies)
  • Prof Jane Duckett (contemporary Chinese politics; comparative social policy and welfare state politics; comparative politics of development)
  • Dr Adrian Florea (intrastate conflict; de facto states; political violence)
  • Dr Naomi Head (international relations theory/critical theory; communicative ethics; humanitarian intervention; conflict transformation, mediation and non-violence; empathy and emotions in IR)
  • Dr Mo Hume (gender and violence in transitional societies; post-war conflict and violence; politics of crime; Latin American politics)
  • Dr Andrew Judge (security studies; EU politics and policymaking; energy security and politics)
  • Dr Georgios Karyotis (securitisation theory; migration; terrorism; Greek politics; protest behaviour)
  • Dr Kelly Kollman (comparative European politics; business and politics; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender politics)
  • Dr Kurt Mills (human rights; humanitarian intervention; refugees and humanitarianism; international organisations; Africa)
  • Dr Cian O’Driscoll (international theory; the just war tradition and the ethics of war; history of political thought; security studies) 

Career prospects

The programme provides you with 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 organisations such as the United Nations or the European Union, government agencies, media, think tanks, or for further academic training and research in a PhD programme. Our programme is supported by the College Employability Office to help students with collaborative dissertation projects, professionalisation of their web presence, job applications and placement. These offerings are supplemented by efforts to build active networks through speaker events, social activities, and alumni events.

Entry requirements

2.1 Honours degree or non-UK equivalent (e.g. a GPA of 3.0 or above) in politics, law or related social science subject. We will consider applications from graduates from other fields, but you should submit a one-page personal statement indicating why you are interested in changing fields or the connection to your 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:

Common equivalent English language qualifications

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

  • ibTOEFL: 90; no sub-test less than:
    • Reading: 20
    • Listening: 19
    • Speaking: 19
    • Writing: 23
  • 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 (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

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 English for Academic Study Unit 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 English for Academic Study Unit 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 2017-18


Home and EU
Full time fee£7250
Part time 20 credits£806
Full time fee£16000

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Additional fees

  • Fee for submission by a research student: £460
  • Fee for re-assessment of a dissertation (PGT programme): £300
  • Submission for a higher degree by published work: £1,000
  • Submission of thesis after deadline lapsed: £200
  • Submission by staff in receipt of staff scholarship: £680
  • Research students registered as non-supervised Thesis Pending students (50% refund will be granted if the student completes thesis within the first six months of the period): £260
  • Registration/exam only fee: £110
  • General Council fee: £50

Alumni discount

A 10% discount is available to University of Glasgow alumni applying to the MSc. This includes graduates and those who have completed a Junior Year Abroad, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow. The discount is applied at registration for students who are not in receipt of another discount or scholarship funded by the University. No additional application is required.

Funding opportunities

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:

Postgraduate Admissions
Marketing, 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): 21 July 2017 
  • UK and EU applications: 25 August 2017

Classes start September 2017 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now