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Undergraduate course

International Relations BA (Hons)

Engage with ideas and debates at the cutting edge of international politics.

Female student standing in front of a bookcase reading a book.

International Relations is a growing academic subject which is relevant to the modern world and builds valuable transferable skills. On this degree you will explore and respond to complex ideas concerning states and state power, international security, human rights and global justice.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – L210
  • Duration – 3 years full time | 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language

The York St John Experience

Course overview

International Relations is the study of the relationships between states in a complex and evolving international system. When you study this subject you will explore pressing issues such as:

  • Issues of international security and conflict
  • Our responsibilities as global citizens
  • The global economy, and the organisations which govern it
  • Peacekeeping and the responsibility to protect
  • The politics of global health
  • Asylum and the politics of borders

Through these topics you will develop your understanding of the historical and contemporary events and processes behind world politics. You will also learn to analyse these processes using various theoretical approaches.

By the end of your degree, you will be able to explain the historical factors behind developments in international relations, analyse the current international political and economic landscape, and identify the challenges that will shape our shared future.

There are many ways you can explore this subject beyond the classroom. You have the opportunity to: 

  • Take part in local, national and international field trips
  • Undertake a work experience project
  • Study abroad in your second year
  • Hear from visiting speakers with many different specialist areas of expertise
  • Attend conferences, seminars, workshops and events within the School.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. How many modules you take each semester will depend on whether you are st­udying full time or part time. You must study at least 1 module from each subject every semester.

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 1
  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module introduces you to the academic study of Politics. You will become familiar with basic terms, concepts, methodologies and issues in the study of politics, preparing you for the rest of your degree. We will explore the diverse definitions and the scope of politics, and discuss what politics means to you. The module will also introduce you to some of the essential skills you will need to succeed a degree level, including academic writing, researching and referencing.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will gain a comprehensive historical overview of world politics, as well as the most important themes and concepts needed to study it. This will provide you with a strong foundation from which you can build your knowledge as your progress through your degree. You will also develop the essential skills for engaging with academic literature, constructing effective arguments and working within conceptual frameworks, which will be essential to your success in studying International Relations.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will engage with debates surrounding the nature and extent of ‘globalisation’ and its impact on the role and power of contemporary states. You will learn how states are situated in the international political and economic system, and interrogate the relative power of states and international organisations in the context of globalisation.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will engage with debates surrounding the nature and extent of ‘globalisation’ and its impact on the role and power of contemporary states. You will learn how states are situated in the international political and economic system, and interrogate the relative power of states and international organisations in the context of globalisation.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Security Studies has emerged as an essential strand of International Relations, and studying it involves a growing range of approaches, traditions and debates. On this module we will introduce you to the study of security. You will develop the skills needed to critically analyse and reflect on the historical development of security threats and challenges. This will involve focusing on specific case studies, debating and discussing the policy decision making which they prompted.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will engage with the most important debates surrounding global inequality and the politics of foreign aid. We will discuss these issues in relation to both historic developments and contemporary concerns. You will investigate the issues of inequality and development through various theoretical perspectives, as well as debating the prospects for a more inclusive and equitable plan for global development. The topics you  will engage with may include:

  • Poverty
  • Economic growth
  • Interstate and non-state development
  • Aid and international trade regimes
  • The politics of wealth accumulation.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 1
  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

International Relations addresses the fundamental nature of power in the international system, and the approaches used in this module are essential for understanding regional, international and global events. The module introduces you to some of the major theories of international relations, such as:

  • realism
  • liberalism
  • neoliberalism
  • Marxism
  • critical theory
  • constructivism
  • feminism
  • postcolonialism.

Using case studies and coverage of historical and contemporary events, you will consider how these theories can be applied to developments in state relations, taking into account the growing institutions and processes of globalisation.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The European Union (EU) is one of the most significant intergovernmental organisations to have developed in the post-war period. This module examines the historical origins of European integration, using various theoretical and conceptual approaches. The institutions and policies of the EU will be explored, as well as contemporary debates and issues surrounding the EU, such as the democratic deficit, enlargement and withdrawal, and the Euro.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will focus on the relationship between international politics and economics. You will learn about power structures within the contemporary global economy and consider who the winners and losers are within these interactions. You will also reflect on how your own everyday financial decisions feed into the broader dynamics of the global economy, considering how your choices affect others and reinforce existing power structures.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore contemporary questions around the meaning of security, and how we address the new security issues which are emerging in the 21st century. We will consider the causes of these threats, how they are identified, the ways states respond to them, and the changing nature of international security. We will do this using both theoretical approaches and relevant policy case studies. Some of the issues we will look at include:

  • Environmental security
  • Cyber security
  • Terrorism
  • Drones and drone warfare
  • Health security
  • Intelligence and surveillance
  • Sexual violence in armed conflict.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Our politics degree teaches you to understand not just political concepts, but also how politics is studied and researched. This module will provide you an overview of the different theoretical and methodological approaches used to study the political world. You will engage with schools of political analysis including:

  • behavioural analysis
  • rational choice
  • institutionalism
  • Marxism
  • constructivism
  • feminist approaches
  • political psychology.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will have the chance to take part in work related learning and explore the possibilities your degree will offer for your career. It will help you to see how the skills and knowledge you acquire over the course of your degree can be transferred to the workplace. You can choose to either undertake a minimum of 10 days work experience, or focus on a work related project. It is your responsibility to find your placement, with advice on how to do this included within the module.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus your studies on a particular geographical region, for example East Asia, South America, Africa or the Middle East. You will explore the key relaements, dynamics and political figures within this region using primary and secondary sources to assess historical developments and contemporary issues. This will allow you to develop a more nuanced understanding of regional politics within a global context. You will also consider the impact of recent global developments on the region, such as climate change, technology and changing identities.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • A dissertation module studied across semesters 1 and 2
  • 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 2 optional module in semester 2.

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Optional modules will run if they receive enough interest. It is not guaranteed that all modules will run every year.

 

Modules

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will explore in detail the institutions, structures and processes of global governance. In particular we focus on the institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We also cover regional organisations such as the European Union, and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. Global issues will be examined to analyse the work of these institutions, which may include:

  • human rights
  • international terrorism
  • global inequality
  • the environment
  • conflict and peace.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Global health concerns are becoming increasingly central to ongoing debates about the social impact of worldwide economic and environmental change. On this module you will learn about contemporary health issues from the point of view of both international relations and ethics, and explore the connections between these approaches.

You will study:

  • Infectious and non infectious diseases
  • The relationship between war and disease
  • The role of the World Health Organisation
  • Health in foreign policy
  • Responses to global health emergencies.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine complex issues and debates concerning the challenge of international peacekeeping. We will focus on the Responsibility to Protect approach, which was developed by the United Nations (UN) in response to atrocities in the 1990. This new approach laid out the responsibilities of its member states to protect people across the globe from genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. You will engage with important questions about when and how the UN should intervene in conflict and the moral and legal authority with which they do so.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Borders are an increasingly contentious focus of political discourse, with debates raging around citizenship, security, economics and human rights. On this module you will investigate these complex arguments and discuss how they relate to broader issues of identity, power and vulnerability. You will learn about the long history of borders and migration and go on to discuss current issues such as the proposed “border wall” between the USA and Mexico and the rescue of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Issues of security and conflict affect different lives in different ways, and gender is one of the biggest factors determining how someone may experience violent conflict. On this module you will engage with the latest theoretical innovations in feminist and gender scholarship and relate it to discussions about international conflict, peacebuilding and reconstruction. You will challenge preconceptions and reflect on wider ethical questions surrounding gender, power and violence from various feminist perspectives. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, taking in theories from sociology, gender studies and anthropology alongside international relations.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will focus on two of the most cutting edge areas of international relations research: the rise of visual analysis of global politics and the impact of technological change. By examining the interaction between these two topics we can consider how changes in information technology, and a shift to a more image focused world, shapes our perceptions of international events. You will reflect on how these developments impact on our day to day lives, drawing on discussions from sociology, history and media studies.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will consider what it means to be a global citizen, and how far we should think of our ethical obligations and responsibilities to others in global terms. You will reflect on your own experiences of citizenship in an increasingly interconnected world, considering the role of the state in ethical decision making, alongside the global ethical implications of your own decisions and actions. You will discuss topics including:

  • Global poverty
  • Environmental degradation
  • The responsibilities of multinational corporations
  • Refugee protection
  • Humanitarian intervention.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This year long module will involve working independently to research a topic of your choice within the field of International Relations. It is the culmination of your degree studies, and your chance to explore in depth a topic that you are passionate about. You will plan, research, and write a substantial piece of work that demonstrates your ability to structure a sustained argument, research effectively and think independently. You will be supported by an academic tutor throughout this process.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and Learning

We use a range of teaching styles and settings to support your learning. This will include:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Events
  • Field trips

Alongside your timetabled contact time, you will be expected to study independently. You will need to read around your subject and engaging with various academic resources. This will ensure that you get the most out of your degree, as well as building valuable time management skills.

Assessment

You will be assessed entirely through coursework, with no exams. We are committed to authentic, relevant assessment. Authentic assessments mean your work is kept relevant and reflects workplace tasks or further study.

  • Essays
  • Portfolios
  • Individual and group presentations
  • Video presentations
  • Posters
  • Group reports
  • Book/article reviews
  • Study reports.

Feedback is essential in identifying what you have done well and how you can improve. You will receive detailed feedback on your final assessments for each module, as well as on formative assessments which help you to improve as you learn.

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language

Qualifications

The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

104 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Foundation Year

This course is available with a foundation year. This option is ideal if you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto a degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education. A foundation year prepares you for degree level study, giving you the confidence and skills needed to make the most of your course. Passing it guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Foundation courses

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our .

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK & EU 2020 entry

The tuition fee for 2020 entry onto this course is £9,250 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International (non-EU) 2020 entry

The tuition fee for 2020 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Tier 4 visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

Course highlights

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