International Relations MA | Coventry University

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International Relations MA 2018/19 entry

Course code:


Study options:

1 year full-time
2 years part-time

How to Apply

Coventry University


January 2019
May 2019


Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

+44 (0) 24 7765 4321


If you are interested in pursuing an international career in government, public administration, diplomacy, policy formation or research, this master’s degree aims to help you understand and interpret issues and challenges facing our increasingly interconnected world.

Covering themes as varied as globalisation, international law, international trade, diplomacy, war and peace, it builds on the strength and expertise that the School of Humanities has in the field of international politics and security. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on theories and practice from political science, history, sociology, economics and cultural studies, among others.

Why Coventry University?

An award-winning university, we are committed to providing our students with the best possible experience. We continue to invest in both our facilities and our innovative approach to education. Our students benefit from industry-relevant teaching, and resources and support designed to help them succeed. These range from our modern library and computing facilities to dedicated careers advice and our impressive Students’ Union activities.

Global ready

An international outlook, with global opportunities


Career-ready graduates, with the skills to succeed

Student experience

All the support you need, in a top student city

Course information

This fascinating course explores the emerging discipline of international relations, from a theoretical and historical perspective and in the context of issues and events in contemporary politics and society.

You will study three mandatory subject-specific modules covering international relations, diplomacy and human trafficking.

Using case studies and actual events, you can explore the actions of government and non-governmental agencies, private enterprise and international bodies in relation to key challenges, such as terrorism, security, poverty and human trafficking. You’ll have opportunities to gain an insight into the perspective and motivations of policy and decision makers, as well as the impact on individuals, communities or countries they affect. As well as the core modules, you are able to tailor your studies by choosing two optional modules around three themes. The Diplomacy specialism addresses some of the specific skills needed for employment in your national diplomatic service or international governmental and non-governmental organisations. While a focus on international law potentially opens career opportunities in criminal justice, aid and development, environmental protection and human rights. If choosing the African Governance and Security specialism, you have the chance to develop an understanding of one of the world’s fastest growing regions with potential career opportunities in the domestic and international public and private sectors.

To attain the award of Master of Arts, you will be required to complete an extended dissertation examining in depth an area of the course that particularly interests you, possibly aligned with your chosen specialism, and based on research undertaken with the support of a dedicated supervisor. In the last year, students have researched Europe’s refugee crisis; celebrity diplomacy; the implications of drone technology for diplomacy; the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia; cyber diplomacy; and piracy off the coast of Nigeria.

The relevance of course content is reinforced by staff involvement in professional organisations, such as the British International Studies Association (BISA), the Political Studies Association (PSA), the University Association for Contemporary European Studies, the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).

The School of Humanities and Coventry Law School has an outstanding network of professional contacts, which spans diplomats and diplomacy specialists in a range of prestigious external organisations, both private and public, such as Chatham House, the Centre for the Study of Slavery, the Royal African Society and the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy. These links are reflected in talks and events delivered by experts in the field, such as an assistant district attorney from Sicily, assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, deputy high commissioner of Tanzania to the UK; a senior manager from the UK’s National Crime Agency and a forensic accountant from the Italian national police.

Course Specification
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During the first two semesters, you will study three mandatory modules designed to establish the core agenda of the programme and two optional modules, in addition to the Research Methods and Research Design modules. In Semester Three, you will complete a 15,000-word dissertation. All modules are assigned 20 credits, except the Professional Development, Research Methods and Research Design modules (10 credits). The dissertation is assigned 50 credits.

This course includes the Professional Development module. . Each of the participating postgraduate courses have an individually tailored version of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Professional Development module.


  • Semester 1

    • Research Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences 
    • Diplomacy and the International System 
    • Trafficking in Human Beings  
    • Global Professional Development
  • Semester 2

    • Research Design in the Humanities and Social Science 
    • Applied International Relations Theory 
    • Global Professional Development - Consultancy

    Optional modules (2 of the following):

    • Threats to Global Security  
    • Governance for Security in the Developing World 
    • International Law in the Contemporary Global Arena 
    • Post-Colonial African Politics 
    • International Political Economy 
    • International Security Praxis 
  • Semester 3

    • Dissertation in the Humanities and Social Science

In more detail...

  • 86% of graduates were employed or continuing their studies six months after completing the course (DLHE 2014/15).
  • High levels of student satisfaction in the subject of ‘Politics’, 86% overall compared with the sector average of 84% (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2016).
  • Programme of expert speakers, which in 2016 included the Head of the UK’s International Policing Academy, ambassadors and senior diplomats from Guinea, Tanzania and Sudan, and the Managing Director of NHS Protect.
  • Opportunities to participate in field trips in the UK and abroad, which in 2016 included: the EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels; the EU parliament in Strasbourg; the National Model UN in New York; the Houses of Parliament London, Chatham House and the International Coffee Organisation in London and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.

Strong professional links with distinguished scholars at universities around the world, as well as relationships with IR practitioners in government, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and prominent think-tanks.

Your main study themes are:

  • The theory and practice of international relations: Explores the relevance of international relations theory to real world events and the importance of empirical evidence. Each text or school of thought studied will be tested by a case study, such as, for example, the relevance of Allison’s bureaucratic model of decision making in explaining the Cuban missile crisis, or Morgenthau’s Politics Amongst Nations to the Cold War. 

  • Diplomacy: Introduces the role of diplomacy, as both process and institutional mechanism, its historical development, changing role and modes of operation. Specific case studies, including the topics of trade, security and the environment, examine in detail the way in which the diplomatic system operates in the contemporary world.

  • Trafficking in human beings: Aims to provide a critical understanding of the issues surrounding trafficking in human beings or ‘modern slavery’, outlining problems, both within the UK and internationally. We will also consider differences and inter relationship with people smuggling, together with an overview of the response from law, Government, national and international organisations. 

  • Academic skills and techniques: This course aims to provide initial training in the higher cognitive skills of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis and the related scholarly techniques of critical reading, reflection and writing. These transferable skills are prized by employers and are reinforced throughout the course.

The course has been devised primarily as a one-year full-time programme. It may also be taken over two years on a part-time basis with the part-time students participating in the same classes as the full-time students. For part-time students, the taught modules will be split evenly between the two years.

Modules on the course employ a variety of delivery methods incorporating best practice and innovative teaching and learning – interactive workshops, simulations, role playing, peer marking, peer feedback and debates. You can also choose the credit-bearing module International Security Praxis, which is based on talks and workshops by visiting scholars and practitioners combined with a piece of reflective writing that will be undertaken based on a fieldtrip.

We aim to provide a series of specialist workshops, delivered by experienced practitioners including ambassadors, UN weapons inspectors and chief constables. We also organise regular field trips to institutions in the UK, such as the Houses of Parliament and Chatham House.

We also aim to offer valuable international experiences of diplomatic practice through study trips to, for example, Brussels and Strasbourg, which expose you to the realities of formulating foreign policy. You could also take part in online international learning: participating in live online debates in Italy or presenting with fellow Diplomacy students in Argentina.

Assessment employs a range of methods including: Individual coursework (essays, reports and reviews), seminar-based assessment, presentations, projects, written papers, exercises and individual and group presentations. The pass mark for modules is 40%. You must undertake and pass all seven mandatory modules, plus two optional modules to achieve the MA.

Assessment is by a variety of types of written coursework including academic essays, comparative review essays, reports, research designs, reflective diaries and logs, as well as on some modules, reflective writing, group presentations and video podcasts. There are no exams on the course.

An estimated percentage breakdown of your final grade assessment is as follow:

  • Essays: 40%
  • Dissertation: 30%
  • Reviews: 5%
  • Reports: 5%
  • Reflective writing: 5%
  • Practical coursework: 5%
  • Presentations: 5%
  • Management consultancy project: 5%  

Successful completion of all modules and the MA Project is required in order to be awarded a `Master of Arts’ title. Candidates achieving a 70% average may be awarded a ‘Distinction’. Candidates achieving a 60% average may be awarded a ‘Merit’. Students who fail to achieve the 180 for the Masters can be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma if they achieve 120 credits and a Postgraduate Certificate if they achieve 60 credits.

5% assessed by practical coursework

On completion, you should have knowledge of:

  • The nature of the international system and its development over time.
  • How international relations adapt to different political environments.
  • The conduct of international relations, as practised by key institutions and actors.
  • Differing approaches to, and prominent issues of debate within, the study of international relations.
  • How the boundaries of the subject matter are advanced through research by being at the forefront of the discipline. 
  • The principles of consultancy and the theories and practices found in leadership.

On completion, you should be able to:

  • Locate and critically review a range of information sources, to gather and marshal relevant evidence successfully.
  • Apply knowledge of the dynamics of international relations in a wide range of situations and organisations.
  • Show awareness of, and sensitivity to, differing international environments and the impact these have on political, economic and social actors.
  • Apply advanced research skills, identify appropriate sources and methods, take personal responsibility and demonstrate initiative in dealing with complex and unpredictable environments.
  • Demonstrate advanced analytical and evaluative skills to construct fair, coherent and convincing arguments.
  • Exhibit advanced problem-solving skills, tackling complex issues both independently and as part of a team, identifying appropriate solutions in a systematic, creative and constructive manner.

In a typical week you will have up to 15 ‘contact’ hours of teaching. This generally breaks down as follows:

  • Large group teaching: 6 hours of plenary workshops each week.
  • Small/medium group teaching: 9 hours of group workshops each week.

In addition, you will be expected to undertake a further 25 hours of self-directed study each week, eg. working on course assignments and preparing for workshops.

In addition to the international opportunities described above, the School of Humanities has a partnership with Lazarski University in Warsaw, Poland. There is the possibility of individual students exchanging with Lazarski under the Erasmus programme. Students from both institutions have also previously participated in Model European Parliaments supported by EU funding in Coventry and in Lecce, Italy.

We have also previously held Online International Learning (OIL) activities, including webinars and exchange visits, with the University of Costa Rica, the University of Buenos Aires and with the South International Cooperation organisation in Sicily. This is an opportunity to meet, work and collaborate with peers from diverse backgrounds, cultures and nationalities without leaving the UK, for example, taking part in live debates with students in Italy, presenting with peers in Mexico or developing case studies with colleagues in Russia.

Global ready

Did you know we help more students travel internationally than any other UK university according to data from the experts in higher education data and analysis, HESA?

In 2016/17, we were able to provide a total of 3,482 student experiences abroad that lasted at least five.

Much of this travel is made possible through our Global Leaders Programme, which enables students to prepare for the challenges of the global employment market, as well as strengthening and developing their broader personal and professional skills.

Explore our international experiences

1st for

international experiences

Sending more students overseas than any other UK uni (HESA 2016/17)


Student experiences

The number of student trips abroad for at least 5 days in 2016/17


and counting

The number of students we’ve helped travel internationally so far


global programmes

As well as trips, we offer other opportunities like language courses

Entry Requirements

Successful applicants must normally hold a second class honours degree in a relevant discipline.

Applicants who can demonstrate considerable experience at an appropriate professional level but who do not have the formal academic entry qualifications may also be admitted, subject to an application and assessment.

Successful applicants must normally hold a second class honours degree in a relevant discipline.

Applicants who can demonstrate considerable experience at an appropriate professional level but who do not have the formal academic entry qualifications may also be admitted, subject to an application and assessment.

Our International Student Hub offers information on entry requirements for your country, as well as contact details for agents and representatives should you need more advice.

More detail

Successful applicants must normally hold a second class honours degree in a relevant discipline.

Applicants who can demonstrate considerable experience at an appropriate professional level but who do not have the formal academic entry qualifications may also be admitted, subject to an application and assessment.

Our International Student Hub offers information on entry requirements for your country, as well as contact details for agents and representatives should you need more advice.

More detail

Tuition Fees

We pride ourselves on offering competitive tuition fees which we review on an annual basis and offer a wide range of scholarships to support students with their studies. Course fees are calculated on the basis of what it costs to teach each course and we aim for total financial transparency.



January 2019

£6,500 (per year)

May 2019

£6,500 (per year)


If you're a truly outstanding undergraduate candidate we may be able to offer you a Coventry University Scholarship. Coventry University Scholarships are awarded to recognise truly exceptional sports achievement and academic excellence.



January 2019

£6,500 (per year)

May 2019

£6,500 (per year)


For the September 2017 and January 2018 intakes, we're investing £1 million into scholarships for high achieving and enterprising students. Our scholarships are worth up to £10,000 and every student that applies will be considered. Fulfil your potential this academic year with Coventry University!



January 2019

£12,500 (per year)

May 2019

£12,500 (per year)


For the September 2017 and January 2018 intakes, we're investing £1 million into scholarships for high achieving and enterprising students. Our scholarships are worth up to £10,000 and every student that applies will be considered. Fulfil your potential this academic year with Coventry University!

Career prospects

Employers are looking for individuals with the ability to work across different cultures, to manage teams and possess problem-solving and critical analysis skills.

As well as giving you the opportunity to achieve two additional awards, the CMI accredited Global Professional Development module will help set you apart in a competitive job market. It'll aim to provide practical leadership skills to critically evaluate and develop solutions for complex, inter-related, multi-faceted issues that you will experience in your future organisations.

The course will provide both an academically demanding experience and one which will be of practical use in your career. We encourage you to gain first-hand experience through volunteering and placement opportunities. Previously students have, undertaken internships in embassies and high commissions, such as the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, think-tanks, including the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin and the South-South International Cooperation organisation in Palermo, and undertaken research in universities abroad such as the Arab-American University in Jenin.

The course aims to prepare you for roles such as public administration within a Foreign Service or other government department, international civil service (such as the United Nations or European Union), international agencies and non-governmental organisations, as well as multinational corporations, the international media, teaching and research.

Where our graduates work

Our graduates have been successful in securing employment in the foreign services of a range of countries from Ethiopia to the UK, as well as working in government departments in Barbados, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the United Kingdom. Several have gone on to enter the diplomatic service in their home country; others have sought careers in international organisations, nongovernmental organisations, or international commerce and business.


By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the University. The Contract will detail your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and will contain the obligations that the University will owe to you. The 18/19 PG Contract will be published shortly.