MSc International Politics

University of Southampton
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Master's programs

MSc International Politics

Advance your understanding of the changing nature of international politics , the impact of globalisation, the rise of global governance, the politics of human rights and other significant topics in international politics.

Introducing your course

Developments in global and international politics have significant consequences for how states interact with each other, how they maintain security and avoid conflict, and how they deal with complex issues such as migration and the emergence of new global powers. The MSc in International Politics degree from the University of Southampton enables you to expand your understanding of contemporary global and international politics, while also honing research skills which are highly valued by employers.

Graduates from this MSc are well placed to pursue careers in both national and international political institutions and organizations, think tanks, advocacy organizations, the civil service, and further research.

Programme Overview

The programme is designed both to equip students to undertake independent research in  international politics and to develop skills that are of relevance to a broad range of careers in the public or private sector.The aims of the programme are to provide you with:

  • knowledge and understanding the main approaches to the study of international politics
  • knowledge and understanding of the main issues and events that challenge contemporary understandings of international politics
  • knowledge and understanding of philosophical and methodological debates in the study of politics and international relations
  • the skills necessary to design and complete a dissertation on a specialist topic in the field of international politics

All of our MSc programmes endeavour to develop your subject-specific knowledge and understanding, and provide opportunities for you to shape your own degree trajectory through optional module selection. In addition, all our MSc programmes aim to help you gain:

  • Awareness of the changing nature of the contemporary political world, and the complex challenges presented by phenomena such as globalisation
  • Awareness of the basic theoretical concepts common to advanced study in politics and international relations
  • Key research skills, such as the ability to search for and reference sources, and to manage complex empirical or theoretical information
  • The capacity for critical thinking and independent study
  • The ability to work in groups
  • Presentation skills

In addition to the credit-bearing modules you will take as part of your chosen programme, all MSc students participate in our bespoke training workshops, led by the MSc Coordinator, and specifically designed to help you get the best grades you can on during your masters study with us:

MSc Coursework Workshop (Semester 1)This workshop explains the expectations and demands of coursework in our masters programmes, delineates the critical thinking, research and writing skills required, outlines the processes associated with literature reviews and coursework planning, and the rules about academic integrity. The workshop is designed to give practical support to students as they approach their coursework tasks, help UK/EU students understand the specific expectations we have at masters level, and help overseas students unfamiliar with higher education in this country get a better sense of what is expected.

MSc Dissertation Workshop (Semester 2)This workshop helps students begin the process of thinking about and planning for their MSc dissertation. It provides guidance on topic selection, generation of research questions, aims of the literature review, the role of primary research, dissertation structure, writing advice, and the role of the supervisor. The workshop also offers practical advice from academics about how to produce an original piece of work, the role of depth over breadth, and how to craft convincing arguments.

To Apply

Applications can be submitted at any time, although we would encourage applicants to apply before the end of May. If you are seeking financial support for your postgraduate studies, we recommend that you apply before the end of February so you have time to gather the necessary documentation for your funding body/sponsor.MSc modulesIf applying for one of our MSc programmes, please specify the optional modules you intend to take, if known.ReferencesFor all applications, two academic references are required. Unfortunately, we cannot consider applications until we have received both references.Further information

Programme Structure

Each MSc programme endeavours to develop your subject-specific knowledge and understanding, whether that be of international politics, security, citizenship or democracy. In addition, all of our MSc programmes aim to help you to gain:

  • awareness of the changing nature of the contemporary political world, and the complex challenges presented by phenomena such as globalisation
  • awareness of the basic theoretical concepts common to advanced study in politics and international relations: globalisation, governance, development, human rights, the international system, liberalism, realism and so on
  • key research skills, such as the ability to search for and reference sources, and to manage complex empirical or theoretical information
  • the capacity for critical thinking and independent study
  • the ability to work in groups
  • presentation skills

Key Facts

In the current employment market, postgraduate qualifications are increasingly popular because of the competitive edge they give to a CV. Many of our students have recently completed bachelors degrees and wish to specialise further with a particular career in mind.

The programme is studied over one year full time.In the first semester, students take two compulsory modules and choose one optional module. In the second semester, students choose three optional modules. Students will also be able to access more advanced research methods modules and other relevant social science modules (including economics) where they hold the relevant prerequisites. Not all modules will run each year. Students will receive guidance from the MSc coordinator in making their selection.

MSc International Politics

Watch our MSc International Politics video to find out more about what it's like to study this course

Associate Professor in International Politics, Departmental Examinations Officer/Senior Tutor

Dr Kamil Zwolski is Associate Professor in International Politics and Jean Monnet Chair of European Security Governance. He is also Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

English Language Requirement

For applicants whose first language is not English, the IELTS requirement will be an overall score of 7 with at least 6.5 in each category.

Selection process

We welcome applications from students with a good undergraduate degree in a relevant social science subject (upper second-class or higher) or equivalent.If you have a lower second-class undergraduate degree, you may still be eligible for admission to one of our masters programmes if we are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of upper second-class quality in your work (judged by the range of your marks, the mark awarded for your dissertation and/or the quality of your references).Academic backgroundEntry is not confined to students who have studied politics or international relations before. Each year, we offer places to a number of students from other subject areas in the social sciences and humanities.We also admit some students from science backgrounds, although we may want to interview such applicants before offering a place on the course.

We also welcome applications from those who have relevant work experience and/or who have been away from education for some time, and such applicants are considered on a case by case basis.


Typical course content

The MSc comprises six modules and a dissertation. The core module, International Relations Theories, provides the conceptual underpinnings, critical perspectives and empirical examples in relation to understanding global political relationships.Students pick optional modules from a range which may include the following (although specific options may change from year to year).

Year 1

The programme is studied over one year, full-time. Not all these option modules will necessarily be available in any given year. Students may also be permitted to take an option module from a cognate discipline, for example sociology or social policy.

Two option modules are taken, as listed below, to the value of 20 ECTS (40 CATS). Students will also be able to access more advanced research methods modules and other relevant social science modules (including economics) where they hold the relevant prerequisites. Not all modules will run each year. Students will receive guidance from the MSc coordinator in making their selection.

In choosing option modules, please be aware of the semester in which your core and option modules will run so as to avoid, where, possible, imbalanced semester loads.

The dissertation is undertaken during the summer after Semester 2 ends. You may take one optional module from other disciplines within Social Sciences.

Semester OnePAIR6001 Credit[?]:  20 60 10 10 20 10 10 20 20 10 20 10PAIR6008 Credit[?]:  60 20 10 10 20 20 10 20 20 20

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Course Title


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:


Stationery You will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
Equipment Approved calculators: If needed, candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
Books Where a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and copying In the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found at: [].
Other Visits (e.g. conferences, museums, galleries): You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.
Other Illegible exam scripts: If your examination script is considered illegible, you will be asked to come in to dictate your script so that it can be transcribed. The costs associated with producing the transcript will fall to you and will be charged at ยฃ10.00 per hour. If you refuse to attend, you may be awarded a mark of zero (0). The Illegible Examinations Scripts Policy is available at

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the Universityโ€™s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Learning & Assessment

Teaching methods

Modules are taught using a variety of methods, which may include lectures, seminars, group work or project work.Lectures offer an overview of a topic, an explanation of difficult concepts or a discussion of key issues. Lectures presume a certain amount of additional reading, so it is often a good idea to read references before attending the corresponding lecture.

Seminars provide a forum for a closer examination of particular aspects of each module and are an important part of the learning process. Usually it is only by discussing and questioning aspects of a subject that their full implications can be understood. Students prepare papers and lead discussions or debates, and so develop their written and presentational skills.

The increasing use of web-based, video-based and PowerPoint-based teaching methods demonstrates our commitment to the effective use of available equipment and resources.Assessment methods

Each module will involve one or two sessions each week spread over the semester. For each module, students will be expected to write one or more essays (or equivalent), make presentations or contribute to seminar discussions.Some modules are assessed by essays, others by exams, and some by a mix of these methods. Exams are held at the end of each semester.

Workshops and course related tasks

In addition to the core and optional modules taken as part of our programmes, all our students also receive additional support and training through our bespoke MSc Workshops. In Semester 1, we run an MSc Coursework Workshop to help students prepare for their various coursework assignments, and in Semester 2 we run an MSc Dissertation Workshop designed to help students produce high quality original dissertations.

Our programmes also comprise modules which feature innovative coursework tasks (as well as the traditional essay and exam formats) such as tailored policy briefings and poster presentations, all designed to hone key skills that are prized by employers.

Study locations

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Master's programs

United Kingdom