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.
A lot of the students at the School of Politics and International Relations go on to do great things because they have a great foundation.
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 relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
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.
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.
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time (90 ECTS credits) or 2 years full-time (120 ECTS credits).
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.
The main purpose of lectures and discussions is to introduce and critically evaluate a range of theoretical approaches to the study of international relations. The module begins with a reflection on the discipline of IR theory and the rise to predominance of the interwar, idealist and Realist schools of thought. The course then goes on to examine the importance of the second and third debates that revolved around which epistemology IR should employ. After Reading Week (Week 5), the course turns its attention to theories that emerged from or in opposition to these central debates. Neorealism and Neoliberalism emerged from the revolutionary efforts of those in the discipline to emulate standards and methods typical of the natural sciences. The English School rejected these efforts and instead proposed a classical approach, incorporating history, sociology and political theory. The third debate also revolves around the question of how best to do IR theory, with Critical Theory and Marxism offering alternatives to Neorealism and Neoliberalism concerned with emancipation and the structural analysis of the International Political Economy (respectively) being key categories for these schools of thought. In weeks 9 and 10, the course turns to post- structuralism/ postmodernism and constructivism, two key theories that also emerge in the wake of the third debate. Post- structuralism rejects the positivist/ rationalist grounds of knowledge sought by the Neoliberals and Neorealists and instead seeks to uncover the power/knowledge nexus that underpins the claim to 'truth making' and reality in IR. In contrast, mainstream social constructivism (represented by Alexander Wendt) while rejecting elements of the positivist theories, seeks to accommodate many of the claims of the previous theories in a new intellectual context. The final weeks encompass a discussion of ethics and IR and a final week that seeks to determine whether or not we have reached the end of IR theory.
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; biopolitics; an introduction to quantitative and qualitative research, and to research design and research ethics. The module is designed to guide and inspire students through their first term as an MA/PhD students by encouraging them to grasp the practical relevance of key philosophical and methodological debates in politics and international relations for identifying new research questions and different ways of approaching them, and to think about the philosophical underpinnings of particular research methods, the relationship between methodology and conceptual analysis and the appropriate ways to incorporate these into research design.
This module will examine how conflict research has evolved within the field of political science and International Relations. It will initially investigate competing theories on conflict and violence highlighting specific case studies and new security concerns. The theoretical reflections will focus on the understanding of modern nationalism in world politics as well as different aspects of conflict ranging from inter-state to intra-state conflict. Moreover, students will be exposed to a detailed and critical analysis of the political and constitutional options in societies facing (the prospect of) violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of reconciliation, power-sharing and human rights.
This module focuses on the position of the EU - what it does and how it does it - in the world, through its relations with other regional/global actors. We will first conceptualise the EU as an 'actor' through the governance lens, to understand its nature as economic, normative and security power. We will then examine EU actorness with reference to its interactions with regional and global actors – e.g. the neighbourhood, US, Russia, China and the developing world. The objective is to compare EU rhetoric and practice, to draw conclusions about the potency of the EU as a global actor.
The module aims to introduce current thinking and practice in the field on conflict resolution, conflict management and conflict transformation, including conflict prevention and peace-building. Can protracted violent conflicts be prevented, and how are they brought to an end? Is it possible to deal with the root causes of conflict? How do the wider conflicts in the international system impact on local and regional conflicts, and under what circumstances are conflicts transformed? We will explore these questions with reference to theories of conflict resolution, comparative studies and case studies. The module will focus mainly on international and intra-state conflict. There will be opportunities to discuss conflicts at other levels, such as the role of diasporas and the media in conflict and its transformation. You are encouraged to draw on your own personal knowledge of conflict situations.
The course provides an overview and a framework for considering the field of international conflict resolution. The students have the opportunity to explore conflict resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, collaborative problem solving, and alternative dispute resolution. The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches in conflict management with the scientific study of conflict and cooperation. Across the term students will be exposed to a range of different theories and approaches to conflict management and be required to practically apply the course content in a number of simulations.
The course provides an overview and framework for considering the evolving field of international conflict resolution with an emphasis on negotiation and mediation. The module will focus primarily on the practical as well as on the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, or more broadly third party intervention in conflicts. Its aims are to give the students an overview of the main problems involved in negotiation and mediation (broadly defined), but also to give them a chance to work individually and in groups on case studies and material related to the resolution of conflicts. The course is designed to introduce the students to theories of negotiation and bargaining, discuss the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem solving real cases of international conflict, and allow them to make use of such techniques in role playing and simulations.
This module focuses on contemporary security issues in the context of the changing global political environment and the evolving discipline of International Relations (IR). We examine a range of theoretical contestations and empirical issues that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to war, security, and order in the world today. The module provides a solid grounding for understanding contemporary and forecasted security challenges and how to 'manage' security within institutions, regimes, and in regional contexts. The module engages with debates thematically and empirically, combining traditional notions of security and insecurity with the 'broadening' and 'deepening' agenda of Security Studies. In this way, the module provides tools for students to address a wide array of security actors and dynamics.
The purpose of the module is to develop an understanding of the complex relationships between terrorism, counter-terrorism efforts, and human rights, both at home and abroad. Central to the module is the role of the state in responding to terrorism, in attempting to prevent terrorism, and in itself using and sponsoring terrorism. In this regard students are encouraged to re-evaluate assumptions about the state and its place in domestic and international politics, focusing particularly on crimes by the state. Students will be introduced to competing approaches to the study of terrorism, many of which are grounded in wider theories and approaches common to International Relations and Security Studies. One of the challenges of the module is to think critically about the implications and consequences of those various approaches. The module will begin by looking at the various methodological, theoretical, and definitional challenges associated with the study of terrorism. Building on this grounding, students will then begin analysing terrorism, counter-terrorism and the role of the state through a number of case studies drawn from the 20th and early 21st Centuries. They will be encouraged to relate each of the case studies to the broader methodological and theoretical debates explored in the first few weeks of the module.
In this module we will be looking at the theme of resistance from the perspective of practice and action, with a particular focus on artistic practice and activist-art. We will begin by discussing the changing relationship between art and politics in contemporary forms of protest. This investigation will then be theoretically framed by consideration of the legacy of the philosophers of suspicion (Nietzsche, Marx, Freud), thereby enabling an exploration of the relationship between psychological, social and political theory and activist practices. We will also address various examples of artistic practices of resistance (including how they have been theorised) in order to explore how ideas of creativity and resistance have been translated into political action. Key questions include: What is the relationship between art and politics, especially from the perspective of practices of resistance? What makes certain practices of resistance effective, or not? Do practices of resistance need to be creative if they are to avoid being subsumed within that which they are seeking to challenge? Is there an art to resisting authority? Does art intrinsically resist power or is it irremediably conservative by nature? How has contemporary arts practice changed in response to the commodification of the art market and the dominant role of art institutions? Do popular uprisings necessarily have an artistic dimension to them?
The module draws from comparative politics, international relations, and political thought to analyse the past, present, and future of the democratic national state, the dominant form of political system in today's world. It addresses questions such as: Why are some states federal and others unitary? What explains the resilience of nationalism? Does economic integration lead to political disintegration? Why has regional integration gone much further in Europe than elsewhere? Is multi-national democracy possible? The module first charts the emergence of the modern state and its transformation into a national and democratic form of political system. Subsequently, it explores some key aspects of the formation, structuring, restructuring, and termination of states such as the unitary/federal dichotomy, processes of devolution, the challenge of secession, the question of the connections between the economic environment and the number and size of states, the phenomenon of supra-state regional integration, and the connections between nationality and democracy. It concludes by assessing the challenges facing the democratic national state in the 21st century.
This module complements the core programme module ('Political Psychology') by providing students with a detailed introduction to the nature and study of public opinion. Opinion and attitudes are central to the choices that citizens make and to the way they behave, which in turn are core outcomes in politics. Yet the nature and formation of those attitudes are complex, and shaped by a range of individual and contextual factors, which are central subjects within psychology. This module therefore brings together perspectives from both political science and psychology, in helping students to understand how citizens form attitudes and opinions, the processes and considerations that underpin attitude formation, the factors and actors that influence these formative processes and the effect that citizens’ attitudes have on their behaviour. The module will also consider the principal ways in which we identify and measure public opinion. Underpinning the module will be the central question of whether the nature of citizens’ opinions are consistent with the assumptions and demands of modern democratic states.
This course is designed for graduate students in Political Science and will serve as an introduction to quantitative methods for social science research. Given that a great deal of the research in Political Science is conducted in the language of quantitative methodology, students will learn the use of quantitative research methods as a tool to further their research and participation in social scientific debates. Students can further expect to be introduced to not only the means for conducting rigorous, empirical, and quantitative research in social science fields but also how this methodology adheres to the scientific accumulation of knowledge about these phenomena. The course is intended to develop core competencies in quantitative research. These competencies include methodological literacy (the ability to read, understand, and critically assess quantitative research); statistical abilities (the ability to determine, apply, and use the appropriate statistical techniques to inform and/or support an argument as well as understand the limitations of statistical techniques); and research skills (the ability to use and present quantitative methodology to address a research question).
The module is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of politics in the Middle East. The module covers various social (e.g. identities), economic (e.g. role of natural resources) and religious (e.g. role of Islam) themes, and thus provides students with a wide-ranging perspective from which to analyse the political life of the region. Particular emphasis is placed on the nature and causes of conflict and political violence, and on the role of the state. The module also focuses on the historical development of the region as a way of helping students to understand the nature and causes of its contemporary political situation.
This module offers an introduction to writing a postgraduate dissertation, which forms a major assessed element of the Masters programme. The dissertation is on a topic that falls within the scope of each student's MA programme. The purpose of the dissertation is to give students the leeway and time to follow and develop their own particular research interests, while receiving guidance from members of staff. Supervision of work on the dissertation is concentrated in the second half of the academic year (spring-summer). The lecture elements of the module offer a general overview of the components of the dissertation, along with identifying methods and techniques for writing a successful dissertation.
Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
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.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
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In The Complete University Guide 2020, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Political traditions and democratisation; globalisation and political identities; European integration.View Profile
EU as an international actor; EU-Russian relations; Russian foreign policy.View Profile
IR theory; sovereignty; peacekeeping; liberal interventionism; Marxism and critical theory; political theory; social theory.View Profile
Federalism, devolution, secession; nationalism; democracy; state formation and dissolution; European politics.View Profile
Human rights and ethics; international political theory; continental political philosophy; feminism.View Profile
Political theory; history of political thought; international relations theory.View Profile
Power, interests and institutions; regime and rational actor theory; international environmental politics; hegemonic leadership.View Profile
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
Chinese politics; non-traditional security threats in China (especially energy security and public health security); China’s engagement with global governance.View Profile
Federalism; ethnic conflict; international politics; conflict analysis; negotiation and mediation; referendums.View Profile
Critical political theory and philosophy.View Profile
International relations theory, social theory; security and political violence.View Profile
Realism; international ethics; democratic peace theory; cosmopolitanism.View Profile
Parliamentary and semi-presidential regimes; Cabinet composition and termination; West and East European Politics.View Profile
European integration; EU policymaking; Europeanisation; Irish politics.View Profile
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
Russian government and politics; communism and postcommunism; democratisation.View Profile
Political institutions; electoral systems; public attitudes to the state and trust; British politics.View Profile
Conflict resolution, conflict transformation, terrorism studies.View Profile
European studies; international relations; international role of the European Union.View Profile
Direct democracy; trust in politics; immigration; race/ethnicity; American politics and government.View Profile
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
International order; European security and transatlantic relations; constructivist theoryView Profile
Political parties; electoral behaviour; Euroscepticism and immigration.View Profile
The dynamics of insurgency formation; rebel governance and state responses in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger since 2004.View Profile
Game theory; qualitative and quantitative research strategies in relation to conflict and development.View Profile
Effects of new media on electoral behaviour; electoral campaigns; election forecasting and processes of politicisation.View Profile
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
Post-conflict transformation and institutional reform, Security sector reform, Regional dynamics of conflict and violence and Conflict analysis.View Profile
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
The geopolitics of the Middle East, the foreign policies of Middle Eastern states, ideology and practices in shaping international politicsView Profile
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.
Misha Upadhyaya graduated from Kent with an MA in International Relations. She is now Stakeholder and Engagement Officer at the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime at City Hall, London.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.
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