International Relations

Key Information


1 year


2 years

Start Date

September 2024

Typical Offer

See More


Brayford Pool

Academic Year

Course Overview

This degree is an interdisciplinary programme, drawing upon politics, economics, history, sociology, international law, geography and cultural studies to explore global issues such as conflict, global inequalities, sovereignty, and human rights.

Students are able to examine complex political issues such as conflict, and democratisation. The programme aims to prepare students for future study and research, as well as for potential employment in areas such as the diplomatic service, development agencies, the non-government sector, journalism, consultancy, international and regional organisations, and the public sector.

Students join a thriving community of scholars and may have access to a range of extracurricular activities including external speakers and overseas study trips.

The programme connects students with tutors who have wide-ranging research expertise and can support students on their personal research and career paths. It places considerable emphasis on advanced research methods, enabling students to hone qualitative and quantitative research skills, and supporting them in becoming confident researchers in their own right. Students are invited to attend the School's research seminar series.

- The MA International Relations places considerable emphasis on advanced research methods, enabling students to hone qualitative and quantitative research skills, and supporting them in becoming confident researchers in their own right.

- The programme draws on a range of subject specialisms within the School of Social and Political Sciences and connects students with tutors who are research leaders in their respective fields of study.

- The atmosphere in the School of Social and Political Sciences is collegial and friendly. All students are invited to attend the School's research seminar series. Tutors are approachable and keen to support students on their personal research and career paths.

Why Choose Lincoln

Teaching delivered by subject specialists

Emphasis on research methods

Choose from a range of optional modules

Complete a research project in a specialist area

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How You Study

The learning and teaching strategy adopted within the MA International Relations reflects a commitment to self-directed, student-centred learning, with an emphasis on applied analytical skills.

This degree offers a distinctive range of modules, drawing upon the existing research and teaching expertise in the School of Social and Political Sciences to deliver an academically rigorous and contemporary programme. Please note that the availability of optional modules may vary depending on student numbers and staff availability.

This programme aims to develop specialist subject knowledge and equip students with a set of transferable skills relevant to further academic study and employment. The incorporation of a strong research methods element within the MA is designed to enhance employability and development of transferable skills.

Students are taught using a range of methods including lectures, seminars, workshops, and tutorials. Lectures are designed to introduce students to key themes and perspectives, generate enthusiasm for further enquiry, provide illustrative examples, and to signpost substantive issues.

Seminars and workshops provide students with an environment for more interactive learning and reflection, aimed at deepening critical understanding of the subject matter. These sessions are organised in a variety of ways, including tutor or student-led discussions, presentations, and problem-solving exercises, normally centred on a particular theme.

Tutorials are available to students on an individual or small-group basis as a means of supporting the preparation of individual or group assignments, offering feedback on progress, dealing with any particular learning difficulties, and offering advice on specific choices within the module programme. E-learning will be supported through use of the University's virtual learning environment.

Contact and Independent Study

Full-time students on this programme can expect to receive approximately eight hours of contact time per week. However, this may vary depending on which optional modules are selected.

The research methods modules on this programme are taught in weekly two-hour sessions and the remaining modules are primarily taught through two-hour weekly lecture and seminar sessions.

In addition, students are expected to attend personal tutor groups, dissertation workshops, and meetings with their tutors and dissertation supervisor.

We expect that a full-time student on this course would engage in at least four hours of self-study for every one hour of lecture and seminar time. This equates to 32 hours of self-study per week.


† Some courses may offer optional modules. The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

Critical Reading in the Social and Political Sciences 2024-25SOS9014MLevel 72024-25This social science module explores the ways in which knowledge is created, communicated, consumed and debated in the social and political sciences. It aims to expose students to key issues of methodological choice, issue framing, research ethics and author subject-position through interrogation of contemporary and classical texts of relevance to the social and political sciences and the disciplinary concerns of the MA programmes on which it appears. The module seeks to develop students’ skills in critical reading and in both oral and written academic debate.CoreGlobalisation 2024-25SOP9183Level 72024-25This module aims to examine the background to globalisation and its relationship to the emerging trends towards regional governance and integration. The module seeks to draw out the implications of these trends for the nation state and its various corporate and policy actors. The current globalisation trend has far-reaching consequences. Its origins are economic and lie in the gradual movement towards economic interdependence and integration of markets which has been taking place during the second half of the twentieth century. Globalisation also reflects the decline of US hegemony and the collapse of Soviet power. Globalisation poses a major legitimisation challenge to the nation-state and nation-state based political economies. This has been evident in a tendency in recent years for national governments to seek to ‘depoliticise’ social and economic policy decisions by reference to ‘global forces’. More pro-actively the challenge to the nation-state has given a new impetus to the development of regional political economies notably the EU.CoreMaster's Dissertation in International Relations 2024-25IST9004MLevel 72024-25The independent study module allows students to explore their own interests relevant to International Relations. It provides students with an opportunity to undertake and produce an independent piece of in-depth research. Students will develop their research ideas in collaboration with teaching staff and will be supported to design and implement a coherent, robust research project and to write up their findings/analysis in the form of a dissertation. The format of the study will vary from primarily library-based or theoretical research to the production of empirical research through qualitative or quantitative fieldwork. Students will need to: examine an issue related to international relations; demonstrate the ability to critically review the relevant academic literature; address a clear research question or hypothesis; address ethical issues in conducting social research ; and give a clear explanation and defence of the methods they have chosen as most appropriate to their study.CoreResearching Social and Political Sciences 2024-25SOS9015MLevel 72024-25This module is designed to introduce students to researching in social and political sciences. The aim of the module is to provide a crucial foundation for all students (regardless of disciplinary background) to understand debates around research methods/methodologies in social science; to enable familiarity with a variety of research methods and to equip students to be able to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of applying specific methodologies/methods to different research projects in social and political sciences. Overall, the module will aim to prepare students for independent studies later in their degree and equip them with transferable research skills.CoreTheories and Concepts in International Relations 2024-25IST9006MLevel 72024-25This module aims to provide students with a graduate-level overview of both mainstream and critical approaches to theorising international relations. The emphasis is on evaluating and applying theories, understanding the historical development of international relations as a field, and engaging with contemporary debates and concerns. The module explores how the discipline of international relations is characterised by competing interpretations and applications of key concepts (eg power, the role of the state, agency/structure, and conceptualisations of world order) and differing methodological approaches and views about the practical purpose underpinning theories of world politics. Students will be encouraged to critically explore the ways in which international relations theory influences policy-making and practice. On a broader level, students can gain insights into the contested nature of contemporary global politics. Case studies and contemporary materials will be used extensively throughout the module to illustrate the varying theoretical models and their applicability in the contemporary world.CoreAnalysing Policy Success and Failure 2024-25POL9007MLevel 72024-25The module will focus on the conceptual challenge of defining success and failure, and examine the range of factors which various studies have identified as contributing to policy success or failure - including structural, process, programmatic and behavioural factors. Through a series of case study workshops students will be given the opportunity to apply this conceptual literature to a number of real-world examples.OptionalComparative Legislatures 2024-25POL9006MLevel 72024-25This module provide an in-depth understanding of the role of legislatures in political systems, and how the form, structure, activities and impacts of legislatures varies across a range of states. It will focus on the broad differences in the role and impact of legislatures in parliamentary and presidential systems, and through a series of case studies examine the operation of legislatures in a number of states such as the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, France, China and Russia, as well as the European Parliament and the devolved assemblies within the UK.OptionalGlobal Health: Policy and Practice 2024-25IST9003MLevel 72024-25This module examines the concepts that shape debates in (and are shaped by) global health, including global health governance and global health diplomacy. It then critically assesses programmes and strategies designed to address global health challenges such as pandemics, infectious and non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, biosecurity and inequalities of health.OptionalGlobal Issues in Gender and Sexuality 2024-25SOP9199MLevel 72024-25This module aims to provide the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of some central concepts and theoretical debates on gender and sexuality including feminist theory and masculinities. These can be examined in greater depth in the context of key issues relating to power and economy in contemporary global politics. These theories can then be applied to a range of case studies/issues. These case studies may change to reflect contemporary issues and academic developments but sample topics include decision-making processes in national and international political systems, the construction of gender and sexual identities in a globalised world and militarised masculinities.OptionalGlobal Politics & Religion 2024-25IST9011MLevel 72024-25What has prompted the “global religious resurgence” in recent decades? What is the connection between globalization and religious nationalism? Are we witnessing the emergence of a “clash of civilizations”? These are just some of the big questions that will be explored in this module. This course offers an interdisciplinary investigation of global politics and religion, drawing not only on Politics and International Relations, but also on Sociology, Theology, History, and Anthropology. It seeks to get beyond secular, Western conceptions of religion and to think instead about religion and its relationship to politics from a more “global” perspective. Students will be introduced to a range of issues and debates relating to global politics and religion. and, by the end of the course, students will not only be familiar with those issues and debates, but will also be able to think critically about them and offer well-articulated interventions of their own.OptionalInternational Organisations 2024-25IST9010MLevel 72024-25OptionalMapping Non-State Actors in IR 2024-25IST9012Level 72024-25OptionalMasculinities, Power and Society 2024-25SOS9012MLevel 72024-25This module explores masculinities and the operation of power through masculinities in society. It aims to engage with key theoretical perspectives on gender and masculinity, taking an in-depth look at these concepts, along with related ideas such as ‘hegemonic masculinity,’ ‘heteronormativity’ and ‘intersectionality.’ Important contemporary debates in masculinities scholarship will be addressed, such as around hegemonic masculinity, whether this is a useful concept and how far it can explain (global) gendered power relations. Masculinities and masculinity will also be explored in different empirical settings.OptionalPolitical Analysis 2024-25POL9004MLevel 72024-25This module aims to provide an advanced level of understanding of issues related to the theoretical basis of contemporary political analysis. Politics, like other social sciences, is an essentially contested field, in which there is significant disagreement amongst researchers about how to analyse political institutions, ideas and behaviour. The module deals with the use of theory and meta-theory in politics and international relations. It begins with an examination of the nature of explanation and understanding in the social sciences before examining a series of key theoretical and meta-theoretical debates within the discipline. Amongst the topics to be covered are the relationship between ontology and epistemology, structure, agency and power and the role of ideas in political analysis.OptionalPolitical Leadership 2024-25POL9009MLevel 72024-25This module focuses on the structural parameters and manifestations of political leadership by political ‘chief executives’ (heads of government, party leaders and heads of state). The course is designed to introduce students to some of the many different theoretical and conceptual approaches that have guided empirical investigations into and assessments of political leadership in Britain and beyond. This module equips students with the necessary tools for studying leaders and leadership in different settings. Students will have the opportunity to apply theories and concepts of political leadership to case studies of presidents, prime ministers and party leaders and apply comparative methods to analyse leaders (such as Blair and Cameron, Hawke and Howard in Australia, Merkel and Macron). Based on a thematic approach students will consider a range of approaches to political leadership including: personality and charisma, theory from Machiavelli onwards, executive leadership, court leadership, rhetorical, party leadership and ‘bad’/toxic leadership.OptionalPolitics and Public Policy 2024-25POL9005MLevel 72024-25As the first subject-specific core module on the MA Politics, Politics and Public Policy provides an overview of public policy-making across different institutional arenas and geographical contexts. It aims to familiarise students with the stages of the policy-making process, ranging from the ‘discovery’ of policy problems, to the setting of political agendas and the implementation of policy solutions. It considers cases and examples that illustrate real-world dilemmas of public policy-making and draws attention to different understanding of what public policy can achieve. New ideas about how to obtain governing outcomes—through nudges or ‘meta-governing’, for example—will be explored with an interest in their potentials and limitations.OptionalPostcolonial Studies 2024-25SOP9194Level 72024-25OptionalPublic and Political Leadership in Practice 2024-25POL9010MLevel 72024-25In this module, we explore different ways of understanding a salient but often ill-understood political phenomenon: public and political leadership. Students will engage with those who have held or currently hold leadership positions or have supported those in leadership positions. Topics will include a practical exploration of an aspect of public leadership, followed by a guest speaker to discuss the practical application.OptionalSex, Sexuality and Gender in Asia 2024-25POL9003MLevel 72024-25OptionalState Crime & Atrocity 2024-25IST9005MLevel 72024-25OptionalTerrorism 2024-25SOP9189Level 72024-25The label ‘terrorism’ is applied erratically with little clear precision or exclusivity to its use and failing to clearly differentiate those labelled 'terrorists'. The long and contested histories of diverse political and ideological struggles in respect of securing the legitimacy of this label, and/or the resistance to it, are often made unclear by the cultural significance the label itself. The aim of this module is to provide a critical understanding of these heated debates focusing on past and current management strategies, their relative strengths and weaknesses, the problems with conceptualisation and their various proponents from the worlds of academia/counter insurgency studies, political and criminal justice/military ‘experts’.OptionalTransition From Communism to Post-Communism 2024-25SOP9198Level 72024-25The module aims to develop the analytical skills and provide the opportunity to broaden students' knowledge by exposing them to the wide-ranging debates on the problems of transition from Communism focusing, for example, on the Soviet and post-Soviet systems. Students have the opportunity to develop knowledge of not only of the academic literature on late Soviet and post-Soviet Russian politics but also to read several major works from the comparative literature on transitions in order to assess the relevance of generalisations in that body of scholarship to the Soviet and Russian transition. They are encouraged also to consider what contribution an understanding of the Soviet and Russian case has to make to political science more generally. The module analyses both the significant achievements and the major problems of transition from Communism to post- Communism in Russia. More generally, it aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge to interpret current and future developments in Russia. Given the continuing importance of Russia in international relations, this may be of practical benefit to careers other than academia - among them politics, the civil service, international banking, and journalism.OptionalTransnational and Organised Crime 2024-25SOP9190Level 72024-25OptionalTransnational Security Studies 2024-25IST9008MLevel 72024-25OptionalU.S. Exceptionalism 2024-25IST9009MLevel 72024-25The term ‘American exceptionalism’ – or, more precisely, ‘US exceptionalism’ (since the United States does not represent all of America) – has gone viral in recent years. Previously only used by a small group of American Studies scholars and historians, the term was first propelled into public discourse by the Republican Party during the failed presidential campaigns of John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012). Since then it has become a ‘hegemonic’ concept. This module aims to provide MA students with a highly advanced knowledge and critical understanding of US exceptionalism. The aim is to encourage students to think holistically and critically about the discourse of US exceptionalism so as to understand its roots in contemporary power relations and be able to challenge it.Optional

What You Need to Know

We want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision on where and what you want to study. In addition to the information provided on this course page, our What You Need to Know page offers explanations on key topics including programme validation/revalidation, additional costs, contact hours, and our return to face-to-face teaching.

How you are assessed

The programme is designed to expose students to a range of different forms of assessment and to develop a range of academic, professional, and work-relevant skills such as public speaking.
Students will have the chance to develop written communication skills through essays, report writing, and independent study, all of which are designed to expand students' skills in professional and academic writing.

The development of high-level research skills is a central feature of the programme and students will be expected to develop these through the core research methods module and apply them in their dissertation. Further research skills are also embedded in assessments throughout other core and optional modules.

Critical, analytical, and reflexive thinking are central to all assessments. IT skills are embedded in many modules and include word processing, digital data management and presentation, statistical data handling, the use of electronic search engines, and other resources.

Assessment Feedback

The University of Lincoln's policy on assessment feedback aims to ensure that academics will return in-course assessments to students promptly - usually within 15 working days of the submission date.

Career Development

Postgraduate study is an investment in yourself and your future. It can help you to further or completely change your career, develop your knowledge, enhance your salary, or even prepare you to start your own business. Postgraduate students at the University of Lincoln benefit from inspirational teaching combined with high-quality facilities and learning spaces, great industry links, and unique research opportunities, all of which are designed to help you stand out from the crowd and make the most of your time with us. 

Why Postgraduate Study?

Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

First or second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or an equivalent-level qualification from an overseas university).

Relevant subjects may include Politics, Economics, History, Sociology, International Law, Geography, Cultural Studies, Media and Communications, and Psychology.

Candidates holding other qualifications, or substantial relevant work experience, may be considered on an individual basis.

If you have studied outside of the UK, and are unsure whether your qualification meets the above requirements, please visit our country pages for information on equivalent qualifications.

Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each element. For information regarding other English language qualifications we accept, please visit the English Requirements page

If you do not meet the above IELTS requirements, you may be able to take part in one of our Pre-session English and Academic Study Skills courses. These specialist courses are designed to help students meet the English language requirements for their intended programme of study.

How to Apply

Postgraduate Application Support

Applying for a postgraduate programme at Lincoln is easy. Find out more about the application process and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page. Here, you'll also be able to find out more about the entry requirements we accept and how to contact us for dedicated support during the process.

How to Apply
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Course Fees

You will need to have funding in place for your studies before you arrive at the University. Our fees vary depending on the course, mode of study, and whether you are a UK or international student. You can view the breakdown of fees for this programme below.

Course Fees

The University offers a range of merit-based, subject-specific, and country-focused scholarships for UK and international students. To help support students from outside of the UK, we offer a number of international scholarships which range from £1,000 up to the value of 50 per cent of tuition fees. For full details and information about eligibility, visit our scholarships and bursaries pages.

Course -Specific Additional Costs

There are opportunities to supplement your studies by participating in optional field trips to key international organisations and political institutions. Students are responsible for the costs of their travel, accommodation, and general living expenses.

With regards to textbooks, the University provides students who enrol with a comprehensive reading list and you will find that our extensive library holds either material or virtual versions of the core texts that you are required to read. However, you may prefer to purchase some of these for yourself and you will be responsible for this cost.

Funding Your Study

Postgraduate Funding Options

Find out more about the optional available to support your postgraduate study, from Master's Loans to scholarship opportunities. You can also find out more about how to pay your fees and access support from our helpful advisors.

Explore Funding Options
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Academic Contact

If you have any questions about this course, you can get in touch with the Programme Lead:

Dr David Hughes

Postgraduate Events

To get a real feel for what it is like to study at the University of Lincoln, we hold a number of dedicated postgraduate events and activities throughout the year for you to take part in.

Upcoming Postgraduate Events
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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.