International Relations and Global Issues MSci


Fact file - 2017 entry

UCAS code:L25A
Qualification:MSci Hons
Type and duration:4 yr UG (year 2 out counting)
Qualification name:International Relations and Global Issues
UCAS code
UCAS code
International Relations and Global Issues | MSci Hons
4 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
No specific subjects, but critical thinking and general studies not accepted
IB score
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places


Helping students develop a broad understanding of the subject, this course includes a year abroad at one of 25 overseas institutions in locations such as Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.
Read full overview

This innovative four-year degree leads to a masters level qualification. Years one, three and four will be spent at Nottingham; the second year will be spent at one of our partner institutions overseas, for example; Hong Kong, British Columbia, Auckland, Paris, Vienna or Prague (the choice will be governed by your academic progress).

Years one and three will follow the programme outlined in our BA Politics and International Relations degree with year four allowing you to take modules from the school's portfolio of masters programmes, and to research and write a dissertation.

Year one

In year one you will take modules in international relations, as well as comparative politics, British political history and political theory. This will give you a broad knowledge across the discipline. You will also take some subsidiary modules from another school of your choice. Many students choose to study a language module and continue this throughout the course of their degree but you can choose any subject you wish.

Year two

Year two is spent focusing on global issues in one of 25 partner institutions around the world, drawn from the Universitas 21 (U21) network, the school's European Erasmus exchange partners and The University of Nottingham's campuses in China and Malaysia. 

Year three

Year three is spent back at Nottingham, where you will take modules chosen from the wide range offered on international relations and global issues. You will be required to choose at least three modules from the international relations stream in your third year and can either choose to specialise further by adding more of the same, or broaden your knowledge base by taking modules from comparative politics and political theory. Once again you are permitted to take subsidiary modules in your third year.

Year four

During your fourth year you can choose from a selection of modules offered by the school. Additionally, if you have started a language earlier in your studies you are able to continue with this. Modules at postgraduate level cover a number of themes and issues and all deal critically with current events in the world of politics and international relations. You will be able to deepen your knowledge of the subjects which interest you the most and the dissertation element will allow you to strengthen your research and analytical skills as well as thoroughly explore a question you find intriguing.

Your fourth year at Nottingham will develop the academic qualities you have been building since you arrived. There are plenty of opportunities, in addition to your academic studies, to build a skills base which will enrich your life after university.


Entry requirements

A levels: AAA not including general studies or critical thinking

English language requirements 

If English is not your first language, you must fulfil, as a minimum, the following condition:

IELTS: 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any element

Students who require extra support to meet the English language requirements for their academic course can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) to prepare for their future studies. Students who pass at the required level can progress directly to their academic programme without needing to retake IELTS. Please visit the CELE webpages for more information.

Alternative qualifications 

View the alternative qualifications page for details.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses, and who will make a valued contribution to the department and the University. Candidates for full-time admission are considered on the basis of their Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form.

Applications are considered solely on merit and academic potential. The selection process is normally based entirely on the UCAS application form - so it is important that this is completed correctly and fully. We do not normally interview applicants.



Typical year one modules

Core modules

British Political History Since 1945

This module will introduce and interrogate British political history since 1945. The module will take students through key issues and controversies in post-war British politics and as they relate to leaders and governments (in lectures) and key debates over controversies (in seminars). 

The module will explore a range of issues relating to:

  • economic policy
  • social policy and the welfare state
  • industrial relations
  • foreign and defence policy
  • Europe
  • local government and nuclear deterrence

Seminars will employ a range of activity-based scenarios to develop student understanding of key crises experienced by leaders and governments since 1945.  

This module aims to:

  • give students a broad general knowledge and understanding of specific crises and controversies in post-war and contemporary British politics
  • provide knowledge of the specific historical context(s) within which political actors and institutions in British politics have operated over the period since 1945  
Culture and Values in a Changing World

This module explores the shift from modern to postmodern values, looking at questions like levels of trust in democracies, religion and secularisation, and nationalism. While exploring these themes, students will learn the principles of research design and data analysis using Microsoft Excel. Using the World Values Survey and a questionnaire designed by students themselves, students will learn how to compare countries and assess the role of culture in politics.

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to the study of postmaterialist beliefs and values, assessing their relevance to politics and political systems
  • carry out supported independent research on a relevant topic, using both primary and secondary data
  • assess the extent of cultural differences and their level of impact on political development
Introduction to Comparative Politics

This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include: 

  • politics
  • government and the state
  • the comparative approach
  • constitutions and the legal framework
  • democratic and authoritarian rule
  • political culture
  • the political executive
  • legislatures
  • political parties and party systems
  • electoral systems and voting behaviour
  • the crisis of democracy

This module aims to:

  • study the structure and politics of modern democratic states 

The lectures and readings will include a number of contemporary examples, and the module will help the students to understand similarities and differences between politics as practiced in a wide range of countries. Moreover, the module will introduce students to the methods of comparative politics, and explore hypothesis construction and theory testing. 

Modern Political Theory

This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The course will be text based.  

This module aims to provide knowledge of:

  • the history of western political thought
  • some central issues and debates of political philosophy
  • the contexts in which the various thinkers wrote
  • the principal arguments of their canonical texts 
  • their analysis of key ideas such as property, liberty, the role of the state etc 
Political Theory from Ancient to Modern

This module introduces students to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The course will be text based.  

This module aims to provide knowledge of:

  • the history of western political thought
  • some central issues and debates of political philosophy
  • the contexts in which the various thinkers wrote 
  • the principal arguments of their canonical texts
  • their analysis of key ideas such as property, liberty, the role of the state etc 
Problems in Global Politics

This module explores some of the major problems that exist in contemporary global politics. It introduces students to a wide range of challenges faced by states and non-state actors in the international system and engages with topics ranging from security concerns to economic issues. The module draws on a wide range of ideas and examples from around the world to help students to better understand global politics.   

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to specific problems and questions that have arisen in the "global" arena
  • provide a firm foundation for further study on theoretical, comparative, or institutional studies
  • encourage students to engage critically with key questions such as what constitutes a "state"  
Understanding Global Politics

This module introduces global politics through the major theoretical, historical and empirical ways of seeing international relations. We consider how different approaches understand global politics, the role of different actors in global politics and different approaches to organising international relations. In particular, the module highlights the major issues of war and peace, and global poverty.  

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major theoretical, historical, and empirical ways of seeing international relations
  • provide detailed instruction on the study of global politics through encouraging students to engage with key concepts and theoretical interpretations
  • deepen students' appreciation of these issues through studying six key thinkers in the field  

Typical year two modules

Year two is spent focusing on global issues in one of 25 partner institutions around the world. 


Typical year three modules

Typical international relations stream modules

Airpower and Modern Warfare

Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks. 

In recent years, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted. 

This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns. 

Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of air power in the post-Cold War security environment, for example, in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency campaigns. 

This module aims to:

  • develop a comprehensive understanding of developments in airpower strategy and its role in warfare from the First World War until today
  • demonstrate the ability to relate the role and uses of airpower to relevant theoretical debates in contemporary strategic and security studies 
  • critically engage with the literature on airpower   
International Politics of Race

This module is designed to provide an introduction to the international politics of race for final-year students. 

The module begins discussing changing historical meaning of race and the changing historical critiques of race focusing on the shift from universalist to relativist approaches. The module goes on to discuss the historical meaning of race in international politics; the colonial experience, Second World War, after the Second World War, and the discrediting of racial theories. The module then considers the evolving international policy approaches toward race and culture, in particular looking at UNESCO's approaches. Finally the module analyses the changing international debates over the politics of race in light of the election of US President Obama.  

This module aims to:

  • give a sense of the evolving historical international politics of race in their international political and historical context
  • offer an understanding of the international theories of race and culture
  • offer an understanding of universalist versus relativist approaches and debates
  • provide an understanding of the evolving international policy approaches toward race and culture 
Re-thinking the Cold War

Questions relating to nationalism and ethnic conflict have become more prominent in political debate since the end of the Cold War, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the continuing importance of constitutional crafting as a means to manage ethnic diversity within states. This module evaluates differing definitions of the 'nation' and 'ethnic group', examines different state strategies to manage diversity such as multiculturalism, assimilation and integration, and considers different explanations of conflict between different ethnic groups. 

It then examines in more detail strategies adopted by particular states to manage their diversity. The countries of India, America, France, Afghanistan, the UK, and Germany are focused upon, but students are encouraged to use material relating to other countries if they have particular knowledge of these cases.  

This module aims to:

  • offer a critical overview of a range of approaches to understanding concepts of nationalism and ethnicity
  • introduce students to the different strategies of ethnic conflict regulation
  • offer students the opportunity to assess critically how these strategies are applied in various states
  • encourage students to consider the comparative implications of the strategies discussed 
The Rights and Wrongs of Climate Change

What should the world do about climate change? How should we proceed in the face of persistent claims that it won't do serious harm, or isn't occurring at all? 

Should poor countries as well as rich ones be obliged to cut their carbon emissions? Is it wrong for individuals to fly? What if you offset your flight? How much weight should we accord harm that may come many years in the future? 

Arguments about climate change raise many of the most controversial issues in contemporary ethics and political theory. This module will examine these debates and the broader questions they hinge on. This module aims to:

  • familiarise students with some of the key debates surrounding climate change
  • expand students' knowledge of moral philosophy, political theory and environmental ethics 

Optional modules

American Politics

This course will offer an overview of the main political institutions and the behaviour of political actors in the United States, applying a variety of analytic concepts and empirical tools to the study of American politics. It will in particular focus on rational choice theories of voters and politicians' behaviours addressing the incentives and constraints faced by politicians when choosing public policies. By employing theoretical and empirical tools to study public decision making at the federal and state level, the course will highlight the impact of different institutional arrangements on electoral accountability and policies in the United States.

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major features of US political institutions
  • introduce students to themes, debates and issues in the study of American Politics
  • develop students' understanding of theoretical and empirical tools applying them to the study of American Politics
Comparative Electoral Systems

This module offers a comparative analysis of electoral rules. The module will focus on the way electoral institutions work, as well as their effects on political outcomes and behaviour. It will emphasise the rules used to elect presidents and assemblies, and it will examine electoral rules in countries throughout the world, including the U.S., South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and Asia.   

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of what types of electoral systems might be more or less appropriate for different contexts
  • help students to be able to make predictions about different countries' politics, even if armed with no other information about the countries outside of the rules used to elect politicians 
European Union Politics

EU member states by assigning powers to the EU institutions have voluntarily participated in a process that increasingly binds them together. Yet, after all these years of European integration an effective system of political representation is said to be missing. This course analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect political representation at both the national and European levels. We look at how the EU affects the role of political institutions in the traditional chain of representation in the member states and the wider challenges it poses to democracy.

The main themes include: the current problems of political representation, the impact of the EU on the traditional role of parties as representatives of civil society interests, the preferences of public opinion with respect to the EU, the impact of the EU in national and European elections, the sources and expression of Euroscepticism, the democratic deficit in the EU, referendums and EU democracy, and the future of the European Union.

The module aims are to:

  • understand the current challenges confronting political representation and democratic practices in the EU and its member states
  • be able to critically assess the political system of the EU in terms of political representation and its impact on the state of democracy
  • be able to examine real-world problems through theoretical concepts and empirical applications
  • engage in debates surrounding the problems of representation and potential solutions relating to the future of European integration
Gender and Development

This module examines major themes, debates and issues in the field of Gender and Development. We will focus on the relationship between ideas and concerns of gender (in)equality and processes, policies, and practices of economic, social and political development. We will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. We will cover theoretical and conceptual frameworks as well as key contemporary issues explored through thematic and sector/policy case studies. We will explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major themes, debates and issues in the field of Gender and Development
  • develop an integrated understanding of the links between academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates in the field of Gender and Development
  • develop students' understanding and critical awareness of how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South
Global Insurgencies: Radical Politics Today

The processes of globalisation and information technology have revolutionised our society and have changed the nature, scope and effects of resistances. This module surveys some of the key developments in radical political thought and practice. Students will study exemplary texts and contemporary events and political forms, such as:

  • the Zapatistas
  • Seattle 1999
  • Via Campesina
  • the Chavez
  • phenomena
  • the Brazilian landless workers' movement
  • the World Social Forum
  • the Arab Spring
  • Occupy Wall St

The main aim is to understand how we can comprehend the local, national, and global contemporary resistance movements with recourse to re-workings of traditional Marxist, Anarchist, and Socialist theory. This module aims to:

  • give students a deeper understanding of contemporary politics
  • compare new and traditional forms of radical thought and action
  • understand contemporary political processes and resistance from the point of view of subaltern groups and movements
Ideas and Politics in Contemporary Britain

The aim of this module is to explain and assess the nature and role of ideas and ideologies in British politics. It examines how and why the policies of the 'mainstream' British parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) have been affected by ideas and ideologies, on the one hand, and by political pragmatism, on the other. 

It also explores the ideas, ideologies and policies of minor parties and 'new social movements' (ecologism; fascism, Nazism and racism; feminism; multiculturalism, and nationalism) and their significance for the study and practice of politics in Britain today.

This module aims to:

  • provide an understanding of a range of political ideologies and the role of ideas in British politics
  • introduce the ideological (re-)positioning of British political parties and new social movements
  • give students an ability to explain and assess the role and significance of political ideas and ideologies in contemporary Britain 
Identity, Territory and Political Conflict

Contemporary events in Scotland and Ukraine have revealed the extent to which the territorial integrity of the state is under challenge. And these developments have parallels across the world, from Quebec to Catalonia and Kosovo. So, this module examines and is structured around the important questions surrounding the relationship between identity, territory and political conflict: Why do countries experience the pressure to break-up? What explains the rise of regional nationalism? What can central governments do about this? Why do some nationalist movements become violent while others remain peaceful? How does citizens' identity and feelings of belonging influence the way they vote? Where devolved and federal arrangements are put into place, how do they affect citizens' lives?

The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on ethnic conflicts and fiscal arrangements in federations.  

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to a variety of theoretical perspectives on identity, territory and political conflict
  • introduce students to debates surrounding the cultural, economic and political bases of territory
  • introduce students to the different ways in which identity and territory are represented and articulated in the political system
  • introduce students to the influence of devolution and federalism on conflict regulation, wealth redistribution and public policy making
  • encourage students to think broadly and critically about why countries experience the pressure to break up and what possibility federalism affords for managing these tensions
  • invite students to reflect on the role of structures and actors in the emergence of identity-based and territorial conflicts
  • invite students to consider the merits of different methodological tools -qualitative and quantitative
Immigration and Citizenship

This module will introduce students to the current issues around migration. They will learn to differentiate between different types of immigration such as asylum, labour, family, and irregular as well as different aspects, such as integration and citizenship. The module will identify and analyse political responses to immigration at both national and supranational levels.  

The module aims to :

  • introduce students to current issues of immigration
  • enable students to develop differentiated analysis of such concepts as asylum, integration and citizenship
  • identify and analyse the political responses to immigration at both national and supranational levels
Intervention in Africa

This module analyses political, economic, cultural and especially military intervention in Africa. It focuses on the role of external actors such as International Organisations, regional organisations, and NGOs, with a special emphasis on the role of France, the UK and the European Union. We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary intervention.

This module aims to:

  • promote a critical engagement with material in the International Relations and European Foreign Policy field
  • provide an insight into the link between theory and practice of intervention
  • provide an understanding of why and how European governments respond to Africa issues
  • provide a basis for further study or careers in government, international organisations, media and the military
Parliamentary Studies

The module identifies and evaluates the role that Parliament plays in the political system. The module is both descriptive and analytical, comprising an introduction to Parliament (such as its place in the political process, the impact of party) and an investigation into the effectiveness or otherwise of its scrutiny and influence of selected sectors of government responsibility. 

It covers the process of legislation, scrutiny, and links with the public. The module also considers the role of the House of Lords. This module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the UK Parliament and its role in the British political system  
Politics and Drugs

This module studies the implications of the growing abuse of narcotics for the political system from both a national and international perspective. It will examine the production, consumption and trade in drugs as an international problem. 

The development of and issues associated with contemporary British drug policy will be explored and the theoretical questions raised by drug control policy will be examined.  

This module aims to:

  • consider the extent of the contemporary drug problem and its implications for national and international politics
  • examine the nature of national and international policies to combat illicit drug use 
  • explore the political issues surrounding prohibition
  • undertake a critical evaluation of UK and international drug policy
The Politics of East and Central Europe

This module provides a critical assessment of the development of democracy in the post-communist states of East-Central Europe. It analyses:

  • the historical legacy of communism including the imposition of communist rule
  • the failure of reform and the collapse of the communist system
  • the political transition
  • the new constitutional framework
  • party systems
  • the development of civil society and non-state mediating institutions
  • the economic transition from a state-planned to a market economy 
  • the challenges that the social problems of systemic change pose in the area of social policy
  • The module concludes by examining the impact of regional co-operation and the integration of post-communist states with the European political, economic and security structures 

This module aims to:

  • equip students with a thorough understanding of the political development during communism and especially during and since the transition to democracy in East-Central Europe
  • develop an understanding of the problems and opportunities created by the eastward enlargement of the EU and NATO
  • equip students with a sound grasp of the specialised literature on East-Central Europe and the comparative politics literature relevant to East-Central European countries 
Property and its Critics

Our world is dominated by institutions of private property. Why? What justifies the existence of private property? Why should (these) owners own (this) property? What could justify vast disparities in the ownership of the world's finite resources? Why does (almost) nobody ask these questions? These are the issues that are explored in this module drawing on a wide range of texts and arguments, ancient and modern.  

This module aims to:

  • develop students' skills in the investigation of key texts
  • develop students' skills of diagnosis and argument in relation to a formative idea of political life
  • stimulate an appreciation of the centrality of property to key problems (and solutions) in contemporary political life 
The War in Iraq

This module will comprehensively deconstruct the causes, conduct and consequences of one of the most controversial wars of the modern era: the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It will assess how the road to war was paved at the United Nations and through the formulation of a 'coalition of the willing'. It will then critically evaluate how the swiftly concluded invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein gave way to a vicious insurgency. The adaptation of the US military to the demands of counter-insurgency warfare will be analysed, as will British military performance in southern Iraq. The module will end by critically assessing the effectiveness of the 'surge' strategy under the implementation of Gen. David Petraeus, and evaluating the utility of 'analogical reasoning' through comparisons with the Vietnam War.  

This module aims to give students:

  • a broad understanding of the history of the war in Iraq
  • a conceptual and empirical appreciation of how the American and British militaries adapted to the nuances of counter-insurgency warfare
  • an understanding of how the influence and importance of competing identities created rival forms of civil violence inside Iraq
  • an understanding of the utility of analogical reasoning as a methodological tool in international relations

Typical year four modules

Core modules


This module enables students to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politics.


Optional modules

Comparative Democratic Development

At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals. To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy. What is democracy? Why are some countries democratic and others not? How did democracy emerge in different countries? What difference does democracy make for people's lives? The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to a variety of theoretical perspectives on democratic and authoritarian regimes and their empirical manifestation
  • introduce students to debates surrounding the economic and cultural pre-requisites of democracy
  • introduce students to the different models of democratization (liberalisation, transition, consolidation) and their empirical manifestation
  • introduce students to the influence of democracy on different facets of development, like public sector size, conflict regulation and wealth redistribution
  • encourage students to think broadly and critically about the possibility of democracy in different parts of the world, the difficulties of crafting democratic regimes
  • invite students to reflect on the role of structures and actors in the emergence, stability and consolidation of democratic regimes
  • invite students to consider the merits of different methodological tools (qualitative and quantitative) for studying different facets of democratic development
Designing Political Enquiry

This module will help students to understand some of the key methods used by professional researchers who work in the areas of politics and international relations. We give you hands-on experience in research skills relevant to undertaking projects in politics and international relations, many of which will be useful to you in your future careers.  

This module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of select methodological issues involved in the design and conduct of political science research
  • critically assess different types of research methods that are used in political science
  • critically evaluate the political science literature from a methodological point of view
  • provide a solid starting point for the design and conduct for individual research projects in the future  
Europe and the Developing World

This module analyses the decision-making process and current policy issues in both economic (first pillar) and political and security (CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policies, and ESDP: European Security and Defence Policies) policies within the European Union. We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary EU policies towards Africa, the Middle East and Asia. 

The module aims to:

  • promote a critical engagement with material in the International Relations and European Foreign Policy field
  • provide an insight into the link between theory and practice of security policies
  • provide an understanding of how the European Union reacts to international crises
  • provide a basis for further study or careers in government, international organisations, media and the military
Global Asia

This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia. It forms the core component for the cohort of the new MA Asian and International Studies degree programme. It aims to provide a broad introduction to Asian politics and will be complemented by optional modules across the school's taught postgraduate programme on specific countries and sub-regions of Asia. It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics. 

The module aims to:

  • introduce students to the major perspectives, themes, debates and issues in the field of Asian politics
  • develop a broad knowledge of the politics of the region alongside country-specific and issue-specific examples, in both historical and contemporary contexts
  • develop students' understanding and critical awareness of key perspectives in the literature on Asian politics, in particular on Asian political systems, on regional identity and intra-regional relationships, as well as the political positioning of Asia in the world system and global politics   
Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy examines how nations have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. The module analyses a variety of national strategies in order to understand how geography, history, culture, and finance influence decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace. Grand Strategy draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of great power politics.

This module aims to:

  • provide students with the necessary historical, strategic and theoretical background to achieving an understanding of Grand Strategy as a component of the study of International Politics
  •  compare different Grand Strategies across time and space
  • develop an understanding of how governments integrate their political, economic, and military goals in order to preserve long-term interests
International Political Economy

The module will introduce students to the main approaches to International Political Economy, providing a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. 

The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (e.g. Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.

This module aims to:

  • develop an understanding of the international political economy as an academic discipline as well as a concrete area of empirical research
  • offer an understanding of concepts such as globalisation, regionalisation, regionalism, dependence and inequality
  • develop an understanding of how key concepts are conceived and applied in international political economy
  • introduce students to the latest empirical developments in international political economy
Justice Beyond Borders: Theories of International and Intergenerational Justice

Standard accounts of distributive justice typically operate upon the assumption that the relevant principles are framed by, and apply within the borders of the nation-state.

This module examines how justice has traditionally been conceptualised, and challenges the idea of the nation-state as providing limits to the proper operation of principles of justice. 

Justice between nations, and between generations, as well as between humans and non-humans, forms the focus of this module. 

The programme for dealing with these themes includes: 

  • international theories of justice, with particular reference to famine relief and humanitarian intervention
  • intergenerational justice and personal identity
  • 'bio centric' theories of justice
  • animal rights
  • direct political action

This module aims to

  • give an understanding of the philosophical foundations to arguments about distributive justice, particularly as these apply to international and intergenerational concerns
  • appreciate the operation of principles of justice with respect to specific issues, such as global redistribution and intergenerational issues
  • be aware of key conceptual and methodological issues in the study of contemporary political theory
Politics of South Asia

This module introduces students to the politics of modern South Asia; focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The region is growing in international importance; strategically, economically and politically. The module evaluates alternative explanations for the different democratic trajectories of these states, despite their shared colonial past, and the interaction between 'tradition' and 'modernity' in developing political institutions. In so doing it examines the different strategies of nation building adopted by the elites of these very diverse states, and how and why the considerable ethnic and religious diversity of the region has impacted on the 'quality' of democracy. It concludes with an examination of the international politics of South Asia, and considers future scenarios for the region.

This module aims to:

  •  introduce students to the political history of South Asia, in order that they may develop an understanding of the multiple challenges the different states faced.
  • compare the political institutions of the states of South Asia, and to provide an understanding of the relationship of 'traditional' societies with 'modern' democratic institutions
  • develop a critical and comparative understanding of contemporary South Asian politics, both internally and externally
Quantitative Political Analysis

This module introduces students to the estimation, quantification, and coding of political data as well as the descriptive and inferential analysis of data using probabilistic and statistical techniques. 

The module will also provide students with hands-on skills of data analysis and will enable them to write professional academic reports on these analyses.

This module aims to:

  • give an understanding of conceptualisation, measurement and hypothesis testing, as conceived in political science studies that include quantitative analysis

In addition, students will acquire knowledge of the basic statistical techniques available in the discipline of political science and will be able to determine which techniques are appropriate for different types of data. 

The Road to Guantanamo: the treatment and experience of prisoners, civilian internees and detainees since 1860

This module explores the way in which state authorities have treated prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees from circa 1860 - the dawn of the modern era of international humanitarian law - to the present day. It examines developments in state practice and international law relating to the detention of 'enemy' individuals, and explores different national, ideological and cultural approaches to the issue of captivity. The module is explicitly historical in character and methodology but will draw on international and political theory where appropriate to explain state and individual behaviour.  

The module aims to:

  • develop students' understanding of current issues relating to the detention of prisoners and enemy combatants through a study of different historical periods and experiences
Secret Intelligence and International Security

An introduction to the concepts and practices of secret intelligence and its place within international security. The module is split into three sections. The first examines conceptual issues and models; the second explores some of the roles of intelligence in the 21st century; and the third examines how intelligence actors can actively shape international relations. These are highly relevant issues, which are regularly in the media and in which students are interested.  

This module aims to:

  • understand the nature and role of intelligence in its relationship to wider issues in international security
  • appreciate the processes, practices, and institutions that have characterised intelligence in the modern era
  • separate fact from fiction in the murky and mythologised world of secret intelligence
  • appreciate the particular dilemmas generated by intelligence related phenomena   
Terrorism and Insurgencies

This module is designed to acquaint students with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies. 

Students will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. They will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments. 

Students will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. They will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. 

By the end of the module, students will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today’s world.

This module aims to:

  • give an understanding of the development of the 4 main waves of modern terrorism and of contemporary efforts in the realm of counter-terrorism
  • gain an awareness of the debates surrounding the changes in nature terrorism and the problematic nature of the response of the liberal state
The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy

This module focuses on the changing nature of diplomatic practice, together with the range of conceptual tools that seek to explain this international activity. Its focus is contemporary. It provides a political analysis of new developments such as the public diplomacy, the decline of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the role of regional/multinational organisations and summitry. It also encourages students to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.

The module is linked to the research interests of the three members of staff who will deliver this module. It offers an advanced study of ther theory and practice of current diplomacy. It will deal with core issues of diplomatic technique in part 1 and contemporary issues of diplomacy in part 2.

War, Peace and Terror

This module explores the blurring boundaries between war and peace, and the implications for understanding security. The first section assesses the changing nature of warfare, including theories of asymmetric warfare and terrorism; the second section examines the ‘dark arts’ of international relations, from assassination to psychological warfare, operating in the grey area between war and peace. With large scale conventional warfare increasingly unlikely, the third section considers ‘new’ security issues in peacetime such as poverty and disease.

This module aims to:

  • give students critical understanding of the blurring boundaries between war and peace in the modern world
  • introduce students to a range of issues, from terrorism to covert action, which are increasingly challenging conventional distinctions between war and peace
  • introduce students to theories of war, peace, and security and impart an awareness of how the ‘security’ agenda of states and societies is changing


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.


Year abroad

The University of Nottingham has one of the biggest and most diverse study abroad programmes in the UK, and those who have studied abroad often say that it was the highlight of their time as a student.

This course has been specially designed to include the opportunity to spend either your second or third year abroad. You can choose to study at the University's campuses in China or Malaysia or at one of our international partner institutions in locations such as Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Mexico and the USA (the choice will be governed by your academic progress). You'll get the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your employability by experiencing another culture and will study similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham (teaching is in English).

I learnt so much in my year away at Monash University in Australia and really matured as an individual. It offered me a life experience I don't feel I could have gained had I studied my whole degree at Nottingham. I would encourage anybody with the opportunity to go on exchange to take advantage of it!

Benjamin Beck, MSci International Relations and Global Issues

Find out more.



At Nottingham you will acquire a strong academic foundation and a range of excellent transferable skills, such as the ability to study independently and communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. You will leave us with specialist knowledge of international issues and political systems that will enhance your global career prospects.

Our graduates develop careers across the private, public and charitable sectors. Private sector destinations include print and television journalism, broadcasting, television and film production, advertising, marketing and personnel as well as the commercial and financial sectors. Some go into party politics as parliamentary assistants, councillors in local government and even MPs; others work for the civil service and in research and data analysis.

Third-sector careers include working for non-governmental organisations, charities and development agencies. Some graduates opt for further study or take vocational qualifications in postgraduate law or teaching.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2014, 94 % of first-degree graduates in the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £23,047 with the highest being £48,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU first-degree graduates, 2013/14.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. For the last three years Nottingham has been one of the two most targeted universities in the country by employers.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help.

Home students*

There are several types of bursary and scholarship on offer. Download our funding guide or visit our financial support pages to find out more about tuition fees, loans, budgeting and sources of funding.

To be eligible to apply for most of these funds you must be liable for the £9,000 tuition fee and not be in receipt of a bursary from outside the University.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

The University of Nottingham provides information and advice on financing your degree and managing your finances as an international student. The International Office offers a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees.  

Key Information Sets (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

Time in lectures, seminars and similar

Although this figure may appear low, you will undertake a module during your studies which involves over 90% of independent learning. This module is usually a dissertation, thesis or research project and will provide the opportunity to gain research and analytical skills as well as the ability to work independently. You will have a higher percentage of contact hours for other modules. 

How to use the data


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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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