In the post-Cold War globalising world there is a growing need for more sophisticated ways of understanding the dramatic changes taking place in states and societies. This programme is designed to address this need, providing you with advanced training in the analysis of international relations theory and practice.
Our International Relations MA develops your critical consideration of traditional approaches to the discipline. You gain a deeper understanding of international relations, along with a more critical understanding of the way that international affairs is best studied. The programme provides you with an ideal platform from which to enter employment, or to continue your studies.
You take two compulsory modules, ‘Philosophy and Methodology of Politics and International Relations’ and ‘International Relations Theory’, which provide a solid basis for your studies. You also choose from a comprehensive suite of modules according to your specific interests, including international security, conflict resolution, terrorism and negotiation and mediation.
The University of Kent has long been a centre of excellence for the study of the subject, which has been a core concern of the university since its establishment in 1965. Kent counts among its staff world leading authorities in the fields of area and regional studies, conflict analysis, security studies, international relations theory and international ethics.
The MA in International Relations is one of the largest graduate programmes in the School of Politics and International Relations, and each year attracts a diverse student body from around the world.
Fees for this and other Kent Postgraduate Politics programmes can be found on the Student Finance page.
Why study International Relations at Kent?
About the School
The School of Politics and International Relations is one of the most dynamic places to study Politics and International Relations. We combine high-quality teaching with cutting-edge research in a supportive environment that welcomes students from all over the world.
All lectures and seminars on postgraduate modules are informed by the latest research and scholarship, and are delivered by full-time academic staff who have internationally recognised expertise in their field.
The School has grown significantly in the last few years and now has over 30 academic staff based at two locations, in Canterbury and Brussels. The School is cosmopolitan, with staff originating from eight different countries, and well over half of all postgraduate students come from outside the UK.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Politics and International Relations was ranked 15th for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research impact.
An impressive 96% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
This is a very flexible MA programme that allows you maximum scope to construct a degree that suits your special interests.
Full-time students complete the MA in International Relations over 12 months. Study is divided between taught modules, which last for one term each, and dissertation work. For full-time students, a total of six modules must be taken over the first two terms. Supervised dissertation work, on a relevant agreed subject, is then undertaken during the remainder of the academic year.
The MA can be taken on a part-time basis, typically over two years, but flexible arrangements are also possible. When taking it over two years part-time, you choose three modules in each academic year, and write a supervised dissertation thereafter.
The programme is also offered as a Postgraduate Diploma, which entails the same taught curriculum as the MA but does not require a dissertation. It is worth 120 credits (60 ECTS) and can also be taken on a part-time basis.
You can choose to study an extended version of the programme which is two years in duration and worth 120 ECTS. It comprises nine taught modules plus a dissertation. You can also opt to spend the first year in Canterbury and the second year in Brussels.
The extended programme allows you to study the subject in greater detail, choosing a wider range of modules. It is ideal for students who require extra credits, or would like to have more time to pursue an internship.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.
|Modules may include||Credits|
PO824 - International Relations Theory
Whenever we make a statement about international affairs, we rely on certain (often implicit) theoretical assumptions: about power, interests, identities, norms and how they relate to the behaviour of international actors. Whether we like it or not, we are ‘doomed’ to rely on theories. The starting-point of this course is not that theories are the only possible and all-encompassing approach to the study of international affairs, but that they are helpful to understand, compare and critically evaluate interpretations of international issues: if we all use theoretical assumptions, we better make them explicit and understood, to make sure what exactly we are claiming.
International Relations theories are not approached as strict categories with clear boundaries, but rather as a continuously evolving debate. The course does not attempt to give an encyclopedic overview of all theories of International Relations, but rather to confront different views. The main objective is to understand the core differences between different theoretical approaches.
The course starts by discussing the nature of theorizing in international relations, pointing out how ‘theories do not simply explain or predict, they tell us what possibilities exist for human action and intervention, they define not merely our explanatory possibilities, but also our ethical and practical horizons (Smith, 1996: 113). Some of the core dividing lines underlying theoretical debates (explaining/understanding, positivism/post-positivism, rationalism/constructivism, etc.) are also introduced..
After that, different theories are studied in depth.
The course proceeds through successive phases of IR theory. The first phase, that of liberal internationalism (also referred to as ‘inter-war idealism’ emerged in the aftermath of WW1. We will engage with the leading authors of that tradition and find in their works the foundations of our modern world: international law, economic interdependence and international organization. In the third week we turn to the second phase of IR Theory, ‘classical’ Realism, who responded to the failure of inter-war idealism by reasserting the nature of the political in IR as being predicated on clashing interests. The English School, who focus on the idea of International Society, are the focus of the fourth week. In week 5 and 6 we move to the first epistemological break in IR, with both Neorealism and Neoliberalism breaking decisively away from the ‘classical approach’ championed by Hedley Bull. Running in parallel with ‘mainstream’ IR, Marxist theorists were also developing Methods designed to adapt and apply Marxism to global politics, their work is examined in week 7. In week 8 we encounter another epistemological break: this time between positivism and post-positivism, a debate about the nature and limits of theory that continues to shape the discipline. In week 9, Critical Theory’s focus on human emancipation is brought to the fore. In week 10, the leading challenger to Neorealism and Neoliberalism, social constructivism, will be examined. In week 11, the classes will revolve around two major ethical positions in IR, cosmopolitanism and Realism. The course will conclude in week 12 with a revision session.Read more
PO825 - Philosophy & Methodology of Politics and International Relations
Students of politics ‘have not been, in general, sufficiently reflective about the nature and scope of their discipline. They just do it rather than talk about it'’ (G.Stoker). Given that political scientists study people – individuals, groups, states, nations, cultures – rather than ‘things’, PO825 moves from the assumption that politics students ought to be reflective about their research. The module aims to provide an opportunity for reflection by presenting some of the key theoretical and methodological debates in politics and international relations. These debates deal with issues such as: the concept of ‘the political’ and the concept of power; the relationship between structure and agency; the causal and constitutive role of ideas and discourse; positivism and post-positivism; critical theory, emancipation, and the importance of normative questions; an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research, to research design and research ethics.Read more
PO998 - Dissertation:Politics
This module is for students on Politics and International Relations MA courses. It offers introduction into writing a postgraduate dissertation, which forms a major assessed element of a Master's course. The dissertation, 12,000-words long, must be on a topic approved by a module convenor, and relevant to the MA programme, for which the individual student is registered. It is conceived as that part of the degree programme where students have considerable leeway to follow their own particular interests with guidance from staff. Supervision of work on the dissertation is concentrated in the second half of the academic year. The module offers a general overview of the dissertation components, and techniques of writing a successful workpiece.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- provide a programme that will attract, and meet the needs of, those seeking advanced training in the discipline of international relations
- provide you with a research-active learning environment which gives you a good grounding in the study of international relations, including its political, social, and economic aspects
- examine how state, non-state and supra-national actors behave and interact through a dynamic appreciation of different levels of analysis
- ensure that you acquire advanced knowledge of the theories of international relations, the heritage and development of the discipline, its major debates, its inherent nature as an interdisciplinary study, and a critical appreciation of the essentially contested nature of politics in general and international relations in particular
- ensure that you acquire an advanced understanding of the relationship between the theoretical, methodological, and empirical content of the issue-areas studied
- develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills), in particular through a substantial dissertation.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- historical and theoretical issues at the forefront of the discipline of international relations, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
- the epistemological and methodological principles in their application to the study of international relations
- key ontological, theoretical, and methodological problems of international relations
- current challenges to international order, co-operation, identity, social formations, and global issues, and possible strategies to address them
- the changing role of the state in the context of globalisation and regional integration and the implications for international peace and security
- how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner demonstrating familiarity with academic conventions, deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
- gathering, organising and deploying arguments about human rights and international relations from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
- identifying, investigating, analysing, formulating and advocating solutions to problems
- developing reasoned arguments, synthesising relevant information and exercising critical judgement
- reflecting on, and managing, your own learning and seeking to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
- managing your own learning self-critically
- the ability to perform effectively in another academic environment and a different linguistic and cultural setting.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- applying concepts, theories and methods used in the study of international relations, the analysis of political events, ideas, institutions and practices
- evaluating different interpretations of political issues and events
- describing, evaluating and applying different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting political information
- developing a good understanding of the main epistemological issues relative to research in the social sciences, including some major theoretical and epistemological debates in the social sciences, such as explanation of, and understanding the differences between, positivist, realist and other accounts of social science and the practical implications of the major alternative philosophical positions in the social sciences for research.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing (including, where appropriate, the use of IT), organise information clearly and coherently, use communication and information technology for the retrieval and presentation of information, including, where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
- information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases;
- working with others: define and review the work of others, work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function, collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals
- improving your own learning: explore your strengths and weaknesses, time-management skills, review your working environment (especially the student-staff relationship), develop autonomy in learning, work independently, demonstrate initiative and self-organisation
- important research management skills include the setting of appropriate timescales for different stages of the research, with clear starting and finishing dates (through a dissertation), presentation of a clear statement of the purposes and expected results of the research, and developing appropriate means of estimating and monitoring resources and use of time
- problem-solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
The School of Politics and International Relations has a dedicated Employability Coordinator who organises employability events within the School as well as providing students with assistance in securing graduate opportunities. Centrally, the Careers and Employability Service can help you plan for your future by providing one-to-one advice at any stage of your postgraduate studies.
Politics at Kent was ranked 6th in the UK for graduate prospects in The Guardian University Guide 2017. Our graduates have gone on to careers in academia, local and national government and public relations.
Students have access to an excellent library and extensive computing facilities. You also have access to online resources; inter-library loans; video library; online book renewals and reservations; laptop and netbook loan facilities; more than 1,300 study spaces/seats; more than 27,500 books and 10,500 bound periodicals catalogued under politics and international relations and related class marks plus British Government Publications and 50,000 online journals also available off-campus.
The School’s resources include a European Documentation Centre, with all official publications of the EU institutions, and a specialised collection on international conflict and federal studies as well as the University’s collection of political cartoons. In addition, postgraduate research students have their own designated room with 12 computer terminals.
Dynamic publishing culture
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Contemporary Political Theory; International Political Sociology; Journal of Human Rights; New Political Economy; Political Studies; Telos. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests section.
Global Skills Award
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Our research interests span a broad spectrum of the discipline, with particular strengths in the fields of conflict analysis and resolution, political theory and European politics. The strength of the School’s research culture is reflected in the numerous books and articles published and in the existence of its three University-recognised research centres: the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC), the Global Europe Centre (GEC). and the Centre for Critical Thought (CCT).
In 2011, the University successfully applied for ESRC recognition as a provider of doctoral training in political science and international studies (and other areas of the social sciences) as part of a consortium. As a result, we are now part of the South East ESRC Doctoral Training Centre, making us one of the key training outlets in our subject in the UK. Further details can be found on the South East DTC website.
Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC)
Kent has been at the forefront of conflict negotiation and resolution for almost 50 years. The Conflict Analysis Research Centre brings together academics working on different aspects of conflict and security as well as PhD and Master’s students studying International Conflict Analysis, International Law and International Relations. Current research includes an investigation into how migrant communities can support peacebuilding in their home society and how South Africa and the UK treat refugees and security. The Centre is also at the forefront of trying to resolve actual conflicts – for example, it played a role in the Moldova-Transnistria peace process and has supported reconciliation efforts in Africa.
Global Europe Centre (GEC)
The Global Europe Centre is a pioneering research-led learning centre focusing on the study of Europe and its relations with the outside world. The GEC’s research focus is on contemporary policy challenges to Europe and its nation states, the engagement with policy-makers and policy-shapers is at the core of its activities. The GEC mission is to promote excellence, through innovative research and knowledge exchange and to facilitate research-driven impact through its learning and teaching activities. The GEC’s activities include dissemination of policy-relevant research via publications, research-led knowledge transfer workshops, conferences and public lectures, and keynote addresses by leading public figures. The Centre has a strong commitment to the creation of the next generation of ideas innovators and policymakers and pursues these through its learning, teaching and knowledge exchange activities and via the Global Europe Student Forum. GEC is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming to develop synergies across Politics and International Relations, Economics, Law, Business, History, and European Languages and Culture.
Centre for Critical Thought (CCT)
The Centre for Critical Thought is an exciting multidisciplinary initiative across both the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculties, co-ordinated by staff in Politics and International Relations, Law and Italian Studies. It enables staff and students interested in cutting-edge critical thought to discuss their work together and to explore the insights of interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, it serves as a forum for distinguished lectures, seminars and an annual workshop. The Annual Kent Lecture in Political and Social Thought is the headline lecture series and recent speakers have included Professor Bernard Stiegler, Professor Chantal Mouffe and Professor William Outhwaite. All students interested in contemporary critical thought are encouraged to become members while at Kent.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Dr Albena Azmanova: Reader in International Relations
Political traditions and democratisation; globalisation and political identities; European integration.View Profile
Dr Tom Casier: Senior Lecturer in International Relations
EU as an international actor; EU-Russian relations; Russian foreign policy.View Profile
Professor Feargal Cochrane: Professor of International Conflict Analysis
Conflict studies; Northern Ireland conflict; Irish American diaspora.View Profile
Dr Philip Cunliffe: Senior Lecturer in International Conflict
IR theory; sovereignty; peacekeeping; liberal interventionism; Marxism and critical theory; political theory; social theory.View Profile
Dr Paolo Dardanelli: Senior Lecturer in European and Comparative Politics
Federalism, devolution, secession; nationalism; democracy; state formation and dissolution; European politics.View Profile
Dr Andrea den Boer: Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Human rights and ethics; international political theory; continental political philosophy; feminism.View Profile
Dr Charles Devellennes: Lecturer in Political and Social Thought
Political theory; history of political thought; international relations theory.View Profile
Dr Frank Grundig: Lecturer in International Relations
Power, interests and institutions; regime and rational actor theory; international environmental politics; hegemonic leadership.View Profile
Professor Elena Korosteleva: Professor of International Politics
European politics; EU as a global actor and EU foreign policies studies; Eastern partnership and the new eastern Europe; the concept of democracy and democracy promotion.View Profile
Dr Pak K Lee: Senior Lecturer in Chinese Politics and International Relations
Chinese politics; non-traditional security threats in China (especially energy security and public health security); China’s engagement with global governance.View Profile
Professor Neophytos Loizides: Professor of International Conflict Analysis
Federalism; ethnic conflict; international politics; conflict analysis; negotiation and mediation; referendums.View Profile
Dr Iain MacKenzie: Senior Lecturer in Politics
Critical political theory and philosophy.View Profile
Dr Luca Mavelli: Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations
International relations theory, social theory; security and political violence.View Profile
Dr Sean Molloy: Reader in International Relations
Realism; international ethics; democratic peace theory; cosmopolitanism.View Profile
Dr Edward Morgan-Jones: Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics
Parliamentary and semi-presidential regimes; Cabinet composition and termination; West and East European Politics.View Profile
Dr Jane O'Mahony: Senior Lecturer in European Politics
European integration; EU policymaking; Europeanisation; Irish politics.View Profile
Dr Adrian Pabst: Reader in Politics
Political theory and political economy; political philosophy and history of ideas; European thought; religion, politics and ethics, with a special focus on Christian social teaching.View Profile
Dr Stefan Rossbach: Senior Lecturer in Politics
Political theory and methodology; history of political philosophy; religion and politics.View Profile
Professor Richard Sakwa: Professor of Russian and European Politics
Russian government and politics; communism and postcommunism; democratisation.View Profile
Dr Ben Seyd: Senior Lecturer in British and Comparative Politics
Political institutions; electoral systems; public attitudes to the state and trust; British politics.View Profile
Dr Harmonie Toros: Senior Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis
Conflict resolution, conflict transformation, terrorism studies.View Profile
Professor Richard G Whitman: Professor of Politics
European studies; international relations; international role of the European Union.View Profile
Dr Andrew Wroe: Senior Lecturer in American Politics
Direct democracy; trust in politics; immigration; race/ethnicity; American politics and government.View Profile
Dr Toni Haastrup: Lecturer in International Security
Human security discourses; gender and feminist international relations; regional security; EU external relations and African peace and security architecture. Recent publications include: Charting Transformation through Security: Contemporary EU-Africa Relations (2013).View Profile
Dr Ingvild Bode: Lecturer in International relations
United Nations peacekeeping; thematic mandates at the Security Council; US use-of-force policy; conflict narrativesView Profile
Professor Trine Flockhart: Professor of International Relations
International order; European security and transatlantic relations; constructivist theoryView Profile
Professor Matthew Goodwin: Professor of Politics and International Relations
Political parties; electoral behaviour; Euroscepticism and immigration.View Profile
Dr Yvan Guichaoua: Lecturer in international Conflict Analysis (Brussels)
The dynamics of insurgency formation; rebel governance and state responses in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004.View Profile
Dr Bojan Savic: Lecturer in International Relations (Brussels)
Game theory; qualitative and quantitative research strategies in relation to conflict and development.View Profile
Dr Laura Sudulich: Senior Lecturer in Politics
Effects of new media on electoral behaviour; electoral campaigns; election forecasting and processes of politicisation.View Profile
Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels: Senior Lecturer in Migration and Politics
Dr. Klekowski von Koppenfels' current research interests focus on the concept of diaspora and transnational engagement of migrants, in particular with respect to Global North migrants, although she remains interested in the phenomena more broadly.View Profile
Dr Nadine Ansorg: Lecturer in International Conflict Analysis
Post-conflict transformation and institutional reform, Security sector reform, Regional dynamics of conflict and violence and Conflict analysis.View Profile
Dr M. Malksoo: Senior Lecturer in International Security (Brussles)
Main research interests: The intersection of security, memory and identity politics, and critical IR theory. Previous research has covered social theoretic perspectives of the EU and NATO’s eastern enlargements, liminality in IR, and the conflicts over historical memory between Russia and its former Soviet/East European dependants. Current research focuses on (i) the nexus between transitional justice and foreign policies on the example of post-communist Russia and (ii) NATO’s ‘back to the roots’-policy in re-strengthening its collective defence arm and its eastern flank.View Profile
Dr Yaniv Voller: Lecturer in Politics of the Middle East
The geopolitics of the Middle East, the foreign policies of Middle Eastern states, ideology and practices in shaping international politicsView Profile
There are no compulsory additional costs associated with this course. All textbooks are available from the library, although some students prefer to purchase their own.
General additional costs
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