MA International Relations

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Institution code: S82
UCAS code: N/A
Start date: September 2024
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
Location: Ipswich
Typical Offer: An undergraduate degree with a minimum of 2:2 classification, or sufficient professional experience.
Institution code: S82
UCAS code: N/A
Start date: September 2024
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
Location: Ipswich
Typical Offer: An undergraduate degree with a minimum of 2:2 classification, or sufficient professional experience.


The MA International Relations takes your existing studies and experience to the next level. It will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to kickstart your career in the diverse, exciting field of international relations in a range of employment settings.

Our MA explores the theories, practices and priorities of greatest relevance to the profession of international relations today. It addresses not only the most pressing issues, but those on the cutting edge of contemporary research and policy agendas: the environment, global health, populism and ideology, race and international security.

Your career growth drives our programme. During your studies, you will obtain the skills needed by successful international relations professionals. You will learn how to use the intelligence cycle, how to analyse and disseminate accurate research products, and how to develop and pursue a research agenda that generates subject matter expertise. This latter work is an opportunity to conduct a final project that marks the culmination of your studies and makes a substantial, unique contribution to knowledge in your field.

Another unique chance to develop your career lies in the opportunity to undertake a work placement during your studies. Three pathways will likely be available: (a) school or college placements for those considering teaching careers; (b) University of Suffolk research assistant placements for those considering a PhD; and (c) self-initiated placements in organisations at the broad interface of international relations, policy and government. Existing professionals will be able to conduct placements with their employers.

As a postgraduate on this innovative, career-ready MA, you will join a rapidly growing, modern university that has quickly gained a strong reputation for teaching and encouraging fresh ideas, contributing to international research excellence, and enhancing employability. Your MA International Relations will help you lead tomorrow. 

The University of Suffolk is world-class and committed to our region. We are proudly modern and innovative and we believe in transformative education. We are on the rise with a focus on student satisfaction, graduate prospects, spending on academic services and student facilities.


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Course Modules

Each of these modules include aspects of independent learning that foster student autonomy, allowing students to access materials at a time and pace that best suits them, and more synchronous collaborative learning experiences based on a shared time learning experience with other students and module tutors employing debates and discussion, problem solving activities and case studies and scenarios during the classroom sessions and using discussion boards, blogs and other interactive learning tools. 

Downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Records.

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This mandatory module will provide a firm grounding in the discipline of International Relations. It will explore the key theoretical approaches used to understand conflict, cooperation and change in the contemporary world. The module will not only assess the key concepts and ideas driving International Relations today: it will also examine how they are linked to the professional world that you will aim to enter after graduation. 

You will have the opportunity to situate your international interests and ambitions within current theoretical contexts. You will develop your theoretical and professional vision for the remaining course and beyond. 

The module will develop your understanding of the diversity and dynamism of International Relations in theory and practice; the varying perspectives from which to ‘see’ and influence the world around us; and the array of issues that International Relations professionals tackle in their daily work. 

This module lays the practical foundations upon which contemporary International Relations is founded and conducted. The chief priorities and assumptions of national and international security are addressed, alongside the role played by intelligence in pursuit of security. By understanding these traditions of international relations, the stage is set for other optional modules to critique and diversify the International Relations agenda. 

Intelligence was once termed the ‘missing dimension’ of international relations (Andrew and Dilks 1984). In the near-half century since, intelligence has never failed to capture the popular imagination. Yet intelligence – secret and open source, state and private – is a discipline, a profession and a craft that underpins states’ pursuit of their national interests and the ordering of international security. Intelligence actors play a key role not only in security, but also in policy and the practical functioning of conflict and cooperation.   

The purpose of intelligence studies is to make sense of the complex and diverse role played by intelligence actors in international relations. It is also to understand the causes and consequences of intelligence successes and intelligence failures, so that international security can be achieved in as stable and orderly a manner as possible. 

This module begins by exploring the prevalent understandings of national security, international security and intelligence. It then critically assesses the key intelligence disciplines – including, inter alia, human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), open source and social media intelligence (OSINT/SOCMINT) and covert action – in order to establish the opportunities and risks that they present to an international arena at risk of destabilisation. 

The assessments will seek to identify, develop and test the skills, behaviours and competencies needed by intelligence professionals in the contemporary arena. 

Domestic and international security was upturned by the recent COVID pandemic, which took public and practitioner communities by surprise. Yet COVID was not the first destabilisation of domestic and international order by a health emergency. For some time, health has been regarded by some in the international community as a credible security priority. This yields academic implications, contributing to the diversification of the security agenda and stimulating a ‘human turn’ - or even a ‘planetary turn’ - in international relations. But perhaps most importantly, the assignment of health on the international security agenda yields policy implications, ‘waking’ practitioners ‘up’ to the urgency with which global public health issues must be addressed. 

The module explores the theoretical and practice-oriented rationales for placing health on the domestic and international security agenda. It addresses the most pressing health issues that have required the most urgent and coordinated policy responses. And it will help foster a range of skills required by professionals working in this important field. 

The contemporary globalised world is characterised by flows: of power, capital, culture and people. This latter flow involves migration between and within sovereign states. A holistic and thorough understanding of international relations benefits from a close study of migration, and of race through critical lenses. This module is relatively unique in offering such critical engagement of race and migration on the postgraduate International Relations curriculum.  

The module offers the theoretical pillars upon which to understand the dynamics and opportunities of migration, as well as the scholarly and public critiques of race, racialisation and migration. A diverse array of pertinent case studies will be used to explore this important field, and you will be assessed in such a way that develops and challenges your professional aptitudes.

Rarely a week passes without the environment figuring in the news and the public imagination. It is generally accepted, now, that the world faces a possible future of catastrophic climate change and species extinction. It is in this context that environmental security emerged as a crucial subdiscipline of international relations, during the Anthropocene epoch. 

With this in mind, the module is taught in two halves. The first explores the harmonies and discords between (a) environmental risk and (b) the domestic and international security agenda. Intense debates, as to whether the environment should even be permitted to enter the security agenda, are critically assessed. Both the seminal and latest cutting-edge environmental security literatures are treated. 

The second half aims to develop your practice-relevant subject matter expertise as well as the skills used by environmental security professionals. The most pertinent international environmental agreements, state and nonstate actors, and cases of environmental cooperation and conflict will be investigated: in a way that tests your professional skills in readiness for work.

International Relations is ultimately a study of the distribution of power, between state and nonstate actors, in the world. It is inherently political. Politics – international as well as domestic – is theorised, understood and practically implemented according to actors' ideological positions. This module will, at advanced graduate level, introduce you to the chief ideologies driving domestic and international politics today.  

You will take an exciting and often challenging journey through the political spectrum, from extreme left to extreme right, from authoritarianism and totalitarianism to libertarianism and anarchism. Centrist perspectives, shared across the major party-political traditions, will be explored too. 

But the most unique feature of this module is that it aims to grapple with an element of ideology that has taken the popular media and public imagination by force, whilst remaining only partially understood: populism. 

Populism has, for some duration, been associated with controversial political figures who attempt to mobilise mass constituencies for their own political objectives. Recent years have witnessed a wave of populism – not only from politicians but also from celebrities and social media influencers. This wave has had far-reaching impacts that have disrupted childhood and education, understandings of sexual and gendered (in)justice, and rhetorics of masculinism and militarism.  

Associations between populism and right-wing extremism have been identified, yet they still require urgent attention from scholars and practitioners. Apart from critically engaging with the major ideological traditions, the module will also assume this latter task. 

Principles of Research is an introductory module into the concepts, principles, and methodologies/designs for research within the humanities and social sciences. This module is designed to provide postgraduate students a fundamental grounding in a range of appropriate research methods and research skills, both quantitative and qualitative, plus ethical frameworks and practical applications of research techniques more specific to the students’ areas of study.

Throughout the MA IR, you are encouraged to distinguish between, and critically evaluate, different theoretical, technical, normative, ethical and political approaches to the study of international relations. Having completed your taught modules, you will continue to develop your understanding in more specialised areas.  

Building upon knowledge gained previously, you will conduct in-depth examinations of theories and research, with emphasis being placed upon critical evaluation of both theory, methods and contemporary casework.  

Your dissertation will provide the opportunity to demonstrate your advanced scholarship and academic abilities in an original, creative way, to find effective solutions to real-life problems or issues. The dissertation brings together your work undertaken in previous modules, develops your subject matter expertise, and challenges you to develop a proposal into an actionable, practice-relevant project that can inform future developments in your field.  

The dissertation would be conducted instead of the work placement.

This module provides an opportunity to find, arrange, and conduct a work placement in the broad fields of international relations, policy and government. The placement would be conducted in the third term, after taught modules are complete. You will, however, be responsible for making placement arrangements well in advance. Support will be available from the MA IR faculty as well as the University of Suffolk’s Careers and Enterprise Zone. 

Three pathways are anticipated: (a) school or college placements for those considering teaching careers; (b) University of Suffolk research assistant placements for those considering a PhD; and (c) self-initiated placements in relevant organisations. Existing professionals will be able to conduct placements with their employers if they choose. 

The module is assessed by means of a placement report, requiring scholarly and personal reflection on the placement, as well as a career development portfolio that audits the development of your professional skills, behaviours and competencies, as well as your development needs following your postgraduate study. 

The work placement would be conducted instead of the dissertation. 

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Entry Requirements


Career Opportunities

Our students that qualify in International Relations at postgraduate level hold skills and abilities that are highly sought after in the global workforce. You will be able to progress into a range of public, private and third sector roles. 

In the public sector as an International Relations postgraduate professional, you can seek employment within government, in international organisations, such as the United Nations; and security actors such as the intelligence and security services, the armed forces and law enforcement. 

In the private sector, you may work in private risk analysis and intelligence, but also in business, which now requires a global disposition towards market dynamics, consumer trends, and culture. 

As a third sector professional, you could play a critical role in civil society organisations, social movements, charities, NGOs and diplomacy. Our evidence suggests that the role you play is equally as important as those professionals working for state organisations.

International Relations students may also continue their studies at doctoral level.  

Your Course Team

Dr Duncan Weaver

Duncan is Criminology Course Leader.

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Scott Huntly

Scott is a lecturer in politics and researches political discourse and ideology.

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Dr Christopher Huggins

Christopher is Associate Dean for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience and Associate Professor in Politics.

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Dr Cristian Dogaru

Dr Dogaru is the course leader for MRes Social Sciences and Humanities. He is a paediatrician-turned-social scientist with 20 years of experience in his field.

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Dr Reilly Anne Willis

Law lecturer Dr Reilly Anne Willis specialises in International Human Rights with a focus on women’s rights, gender equality, and reproductive rights.

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Fees and Funding

UK Full-time Tuition Fee


per year
UK Part-time Tuition Fee


per 20 credit module
International Full-time Tuition Fee


per year

*Please contact the Student Centre for further details

Postgraduate Loans are available for this course, we also offer University of Suffolk Alumni a 25% reduction on fees, find out more below.

Postgraduate Funding Alumni Loyalty Scheme International Students

How to apply

Applying for a postgraduate programme is simple, you can apply using the link below. You can also find out more about what to include on your application and how to contact us for support during the process on the Postgraduate Study link.

Apply Now Postgraduate Study
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