International Business

International Relations - PDip, MA

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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.

Overview

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

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.

Entry requirements

Smiling female postgraduate student
You are more than your grades

For 2022, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Entry requirements

A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) or equivalent in a relevant subject.

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. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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.

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Course structure

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.

Extended programme

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.

Modules

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.

Compulsory modules currently include

Whenever we make a statement about international affairs, and world politics 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 encyclopaedic 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.

Find out more about POLI8240

This module introduces the research design and methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations. The aim of the module is twofold: (1) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand, compare and evaluate the design of, and methods used in, research in the field of politics and IR, and (2) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to design your own research project and to make informed choices with regards to the methods of research.

The module focuses on the logic behind various types of research design and the key features of different methods used in research in the field of politics and IR. It gives you the necessary tools, methods and approaches in order to succeed in your essays and your dissertation. It covers the key steps you need in order to write successful postgraduate essays and a successful MA dissertation. The lectures and workshops provide you with the tools to do so, and you will, in the parallel seminars, address a series of topics which are necessary to help you write your first term papers.

The topics which are covered include description and explanation, concept analysis and typologies, the role of theories and theoretical frameworks, delineating a topic and formulating a research question, formulating an argument, the comparative method, case studies and case selection, and historical and ethnographic research.

Find out more about POLI9640

To provide students with an understanding of academic research and an ability to identify and utilise appropriate strategies and techniques for the purpose of individual investigation, research and practice within a subject specific area of their course route. This module will prepare students to undertake the dissertation module in Stage 2 of their course.

Find out more about POLI9990

Optional modules may include

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).

Find out more about POLI8100

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.

Find out more about POLI8109

This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

Find out more about POLI8114

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 beset by violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of political accommodation.

Find out more about POLI8280

This module focuses on the position of Europe and the EU in particular - what it does and how it does it - in the world, through the perceptions of the other. The first challenge of this broad approach is to tackle the question 'what is Europe?', by way of situating Europe between the regional and global change, and understanding its multifaceted, multi-actor and multi-level environment and associated with it challenges, in the increasingly inter-dependent and inter-polar world. As part of the exercise we will focus more specifically on EU actorness reiterated through the changing modes of governance – from disciplinary and hierarchical, to more adaptable and from a distance – and democracy promotion policies, to understand how it behaves vis-à-vis the outside world. Premised on this, we will examine EU actorness in practical terms by referring to EU interactions with ‘the other’ – from the neighbourhood, BRICS, to US, and Russia. The objective is to cross-compare ‘what the EU is’ and ‘what it does’ to enable wider generalisations of ‘what kind of transformative power the EU is?’ today, in this increasingly globalising world.

Find out more about POLI8310

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.

Find out more about POLI8320

Canterbury:

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.

Brussels:

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.

Find out more about POLI8480

This module focuses on the evolution of security studies as a discipline and its implications for practice. We examine a variety of theoretical and empirical materials that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to issues of war, security and peace in the world today. This module thus provides a good grounding for understanding contemporary security challenges (such as the environmental degradation, conflict, gender-based insecurity, terrorism, mass surveillance and arms proliferation among others) and our responses to them. It will engage with debates around the 'broadening' and ‘deepening’ agenda of security studies, which has extended the scope of security studies beyond the nation-state, and the role of new security actors.

Find out more about POLI9160

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.

Find out more about POLI9170

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 leads 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 and their likely trajectory in the foreseeable future.

Find out more about POLI9510

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, notably through surveys. 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.

Find out more about POLI9560

This module explores topics and themes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African politics, with a particular focus on conflict and peacebuilding. We will look at colonial legacies, processes of state formation, and the nature and dynamics of political development at the national and local levels. We will also critically reflect on theories and concepts developed in the fields of comparative politics, peace and conflict research, and international relations and apply them to the study of Africa. In this module, we aim at offering solid foundations to the understanding of politics and conflict in Africa, which include colonial legacies, societal characteristics and economic challenges that shape the politics of sub-Saharan African states until today.

Find out more about POLI9610

Compulsory modules currently include

Whenever we make a statement about international affairs, and world politics 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 encyclopaedic 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.

Find out more about POLI8240

This module introduces the research design and methods used in the study of Politics and International Relations. The aim of the module is twofold: (1) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand, compare and evaluate the design of, and methods used in, research in the field of politics and IR, and (2) to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to design your own research project and to make informed choices with regards to the methods of research.

The module focuses on the logic behind various types of research design and the key features of different methods used in research in the field of politics and IR. It gives you the necessary tools, methods and approaches in order to succeed in your essays and your dissertation. It covers the key steps you need in order to write successful postgraduate essays and a successful MA dissertation. The lectures and workshops provide you with the tools to do so, and you will, in the parallel seminars, address a series of topics which are necessary to help you write your first term papers.

The topics which are covered include description and explanation, concept analysis and typologies, the role of theories and theoretical frameworks, delineating a topic and formulating a research question, formulating an argument, the comparative method, case studies and case selection, and historical and ethnographic research.

Find out more about POLI9640

Optional modules may include

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).

Find out more about POLI8100

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.

Find out more about POLI8109

This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

Find out more about POLI8114

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 beset by violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of political accommodation.

Find out more about POLI8280

This module focuses on the position of Europe and the EU in particular - what it does and how it does it - in the world, through the perceptions of the other. The first challenge of this broad approach is to tackle the question 'what is Europe?', by way of situating Europe between the regional and global change, and understanding its multifaceted, multi-actor and multi-level environment and associated with it challenges, in the increasingly inter-dependent and inter-polar world. As part of the exercise we will focus more specifically on EU actorness reiterated through the changing modes of governance – from disciplinary and hierarchical, to more adaptable and from a distance – and democracy promotion policies, to understand how it behaves vis-à-vis the outside world. Premised on this, we will examine EU actorness in practical terms by referring to EU interactions with ‘the other’ – from the neighbourhood, BRICS, to US, and Russia. The objective is to cross-compare ‘what the EU is’ and ‘what it does’ to enable wider generalisations of ‘what kind of transformative power the EU is?’ today, in this increasingly globalising world.

Find out more about POLI8310

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.

Find out more about POLI8320

Canterbury:

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.

Brussels:

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.

Find out more about POLI8480

This module focuses on the evolution of security studies as a discipline and its implications for practice. We examine a variety of theoretical and empirical materials that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to issues of war, security and peace in the world today. This module thus provides a good grounding for understanding contemporary security challenges (such as the environmental degradation, conflict, gender-based insecurity, terrorism, mass surveillance and arms proliferation among others) and our responses to them. It will engage with debates around the 'broadening' and ‘deepening’ agenda of security studies, which has extended the scope of security studies beyond the nation-state, and the role of new security actors.

Find out more about POLI9160

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.

Find out more about POLI9170

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 leads 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 and their likely trajectory in the foreseeable future.

Find out more about POLI9510

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, notably through surveys. 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.

Find out more about POLI9560

This module explores topics and themes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African politics, with a particular focus on conflict and peacebuilding. We will look at colonial legacies, processes of state formation, and the nature and dynamics of political development at the national and local levels. We will also critically reflect on theories and concepts developed in the fields of comparative politics, peace and conflict research, and international relations and apply them to the study of Africa. In this module, we aim at offering solid foundations to the understanding of politics and conflict in Africa, which include colonial legacies, societal characteristics and economic challenges that shape the politics of sub-Saharan African states until today.

Find out more about POLI9610

Optional modules may include

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).

Find out more about POLI8100

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.

Find out more about POLI8109

This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

Find out more about POLI8114

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 beset by violent ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at the achievement of political accommodation.

Find out more about POLI8280

This module focuses on the position of Europe and the EU in particular - what it does and how it does it - in the world, through the perceptions of the other. The first challenge of this broad approach is to tackle the question 'what is Europe?', by way of situating Europe between the regional and global change, and understanding its multifaceted, multi-actor and multi-level environment and associated with it challenges, in the increasingly inter-dependent and inter-polar world. As part of the exercise we will focus more specifically on EU actorness reiterated through the changing modes of governance – from disciplinary and hierarchical, to more adaptable and from a distance – and democracy promotion policies, to understand how it behaves vis-à-vis the outside world. Premised on this, we will examine EU actorness in practical terms by referring to EU interactions with ‘the other’ – from the neighbourhood, BRICS, to US, and Russia. The objective is to cross-compare ‘what the EU is’ and ‘what it does’ to enable wider generalisations of ‘what kind of transformative power the EU is?’ today, in this increasingly globalising world.

Find out more about POLI8310

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.

Find out more about POLI8320

Canterbury:

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.

Brussels:

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.

Find out more about POLI8480

This module focuses on the evolution of security studies as a discipline and its implications for practice. We examine a variety of theoretical and empirical materials that provide students with the basis for analysing pressing questions related to issues of war, security and peace in the world today. This module thus provides a good grounding for understanding contemporary security challenges (such as the environmental degradation, conflict, gender-based insecurity, terrorism, mass surveillance and arms proliferation among others) and our responses to them. It will engage with debates around the 'broadening' and ‘deepening’ agenda of security studies, which has extended the scope of security studies beyond the nation-state, and the role of new security actors.

Find out more about POLI9160

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.

Find out more about POLI9170

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 leads 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 and their likely trajectory in the foreseeable future.

Find out more about POLI9510

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, notably through surveys. 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.

Find out more about POLI9560

This module explores topics and themes in post-colonial sub-Saharan African politics, with a particular focus on conflict and peacebuilding. We will look at colonial legacies, processes of state formation, and the nature and dynamics of political development at the national and local levels. We will also critically reflect on theories and concepts developed in the fields of comparative politics, peace and conflict research, and international relations and apply them to the study of Africa. In this module, we aim at offering solid foundations to the understanding of politics and conflict in Africa, which include colonial legacies, societal characteristics and economic challenges that shape the politics of sub-Saharan African states until today.

Find out more about POLI9610

Compulsory modules currently include

This module builds on and applies the skills and learning outcomes attained in Stage 1 of all PGT courses, and in particular Research Methods 1 & 2. It does so through the assessment of individual MA thesis projects, including via oral presentation and a final thesis document. This dissertation forms a major assessed element of the Masters course and is on a topic that falls within the scope of your MA. The overall goal is to help you move through the components of the dissertation, including the actual research as well as presenting and writing up your findings.

Find out more about POLI9650

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is by coursework plus the dissertation.

Programme aims

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.

Learning outcomes

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.

Intellectual skills

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.

Subject-specific skills

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.

Transferable skills

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.

Fees

Fees for this and other Kent Postgraduate Politics programmes can be found on the Student Finance page.

Additional costs

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

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Independent rankings

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.

Research

Research areas

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.

Careers

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.

Alumni profile

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.

Read Misha's full profile.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

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.  

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