International Relations with International Law - PDip, MA

Open Event - 23 February

Join our next Postgraduate Open Event on 23 February to find out why you belong at Kent. You can choose to visit us in-person, or attend virtually.

The actions of individuals and states in international relations raise crucial questions of legality. This has been seen in recent years in relation to wars and state interventions, migration of peoples, and justice and retribution. This programme is designed to provide you with an advanced understanding of key issues in the place and role of law in international affairs.

Overview

The programme is a joint offering of the Schools of Politics and International Relations and Law. It provides a rare opportunity to study the nature of international law and its application within the field of global politics. You gain a detailed understanding of the theory and practice of public international law and of how those principles and practices apply to relations between states.

Postgraduate study in Politics and International Relations at Kent


About the School of Politics and International Relations

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.

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.

We pride ourselves on our global outlook, which is reflected in the wide range of international partnerships . We are the only politics and international relations school in the country with a postgraduate centre in Brussels, which allows students on some of our programmes to follow part, or their entire, programme in Brussels.

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 first or second class honours degree 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). Students who start in January, finish at the end of the Spring Term in the following academic year.

Full-time students who start in September complete the MA in International Relations with International Law over 12 months. Full-time students must follow six modules during the first two terms, divided into three complementary components. There are two required modules on International Relations and two optional modules, one required module on public international law and one further law option. Supervised dissertation work, on a relevant agreed subject, is then undertaken during the remainder of the academic year.

Full-time students who start their programmes in January take their modules in the Spring Term and Autumn Term of the subsequent academic year consecutively, and write their dissertation over their second Spring Term.

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 students choose three modules in each academic year, and write a supervised dissertation thereafter.

The programme is also offered in a two year 120 ECTS credits format – comprising nine taught modules plus a dissertation – and as a Postgraduate Diploma – comprising six taught modules only – worth 120 Kent credits (60 ECTS). Both the 120 ECTS credits version and the Diploma can also be taken on a part-time basis.

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

This module provides a detailed study of the history, rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. It offers a critical analysis of the international legal order and a firm basis upon which to found arguments concerning the political importance of international law. The module pays special attention to the way in which the evolution and operation of the international legal order influence not only international relations, but also daily domestic life.

At the end of the course students will be able to assess, both internally and in context, the main the rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. Students will also develop the necessary tools to reflect critically on some of the most important problems and tensions that define the contemporary global order: from calamities resulting from war, international interventions and surveillance strategies in countries like Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan, to the everyday effects of increasing socio-economic disparities and environmental decay in both the Global South and the Global North.

The teaching, discussions and readings in the module will equip students both with a doctrinal understanding of public international law, and with an approach to the field that is grounded in a Critical, Socio-Legal and Law and Humanities perspective.

Find out more about LAWS8140

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 module is designed to enable postgraduate students to obtain both essential knowledge of and critical insight into, issues relating to international human rights law. Human rights occupy an extremely important place in contemporary discussions about law, justice and politics at both the domestic and the international level. Across all spheres of government, bodies of law and, pretty much, in every single social mobilization, human rights are invoked and debated.

This module approaches the key place occupied by human rights in the contemporary world from an international perspective. In placing a focus at the international level, the module aims to link the international origins of human rights and the main human rights systems, with the actual practice of human rights. Particular attention is paid in the module to the value, as well as the limits of human rights when they approach, or try to address the problems and the aspirations of five important 'subjects': the Citizen, the Army, the Migrant, the Worker, and the Woman.

Find out more about LAWS8430

This module provides a critical examination of the principles and institutions and theory and practice of international criminal law. The module introduces the aims and objectives of international criminal law and examines the establishment and operation of international criminal justice institutions, and the substantive law of international crimes. It explores key theoretical and doctrinal debates in international criminal law. In particular, it seeks to locate the work of international criminal courts and tribunals in their broader political and contextual contexts. Case studies and special topics in international criminal law, form an important part of the module.

Find out more about LAWS8460

Cultural heritage law has developed as a distinctive legal topic in the last thirty years to regulate the widening concept of heritage which started with the protection of historical monuments in the 19th century and now includes intangible values.

This area of law considers a developing jurisprudence that involves international treaties, laws, ethics, and policy consideration relating to the heritage. Academic research now aims to identify values and principles that contribute to a fair and equitable cultural heritage policy. It addresses the essential question of the need to change the law to accommodate the specific needs of protection of cultural heritage/cultural property. It aims to give coherence to practices shaped by art dealers, collectors, museums, communities and States, as well as a complex body of rules at the intersection of civil law, property law, criminal law, public law, private international law and public international law. Those different interactions have developed a less than coherent legal framework that will be comparatively analyzed by reference to French, English and American Law

Find out more about LAWS9250

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

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 provides a detailed study of the history, rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. It offers a critical analysis of the international legal order and a firm basis upon which to found arguments concerning the political importance of international law. The module pays special attention to the way in which the evolution and operation of the international legal order influence not only international relations, but also daily domestic life.

At the end of the course students will be able to assess, both internally and in context, the main the rules, doctrines and institutions of public international law. Students will also develop the necessary tools to reflect critically on some of the most important problems and tensions that define the contemporary global order: from calamities resulting from war, international interventions and surveillance strategies in countries like Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan, to the everyday effects of increasing socio-economic disparities and environmental decay in both the Global South and the Global North.

The teaching, discussions and readings in the module will equip students both with a doctrinal understanding of public international law, and with an approach to the field that is grounded in a Critical, Socio-Legal and Law and Humanities perspective.

Find out more about LAWS8140

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

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

Optional modules may include

This module is designed to enable postgraduate students to obtain both essential knowledge of and critical insight into, issues relating to international human rights law. Human rights occupy an extremely important place in contemporary discussions about law, justice and politics at both the domestic and the international level. Across all spheres of government, bodies of law and, pretty much, in every single social mobilization, human rights are invoked and debated.

This module approaches the key place occupied by human rights in the contemporary world from an international perspective. In placing a focus at the international level, the module aims to link the international origins of human rights and the main human rights systems, with the actual practice of human rights. Particular attention is paid in the module to the value, as well as the limits of human rights when they approach, or try to address the problems and the aspirations of five important 'subjects': the Citizen, the Army, the Migrant, the Worker, and the Woman.

Find out more about LAWS8430

There are a number of ways to study the field of international law. It can be treated doctrinally as a system of rules from various sources – such as treaties, state practices that are seen to have the binding force of law, and general principles shared across domestic jurisdictions – built up over time to regulate interactions between states and other entities. It can be studied as a historical phenomenon, emerging out of a colonial history with contemporary implications. It can also be studied as an (imperfect) approach to addressing international 'problems', placing international law in broader social, political, and historical contexts as one possible source of ‘solutions’. This course starts from international law as an approach, highlighting the field’s limits and possibilities in relation to a set of contemporary inter- and trans-national concerns, which may include the use of armed force, responses to emerging security threats, and unresolved territorial disputes. The course focuses on a changing set of key themes in international law, such as sovereignty, statehood, self-determination, and the regulation of armed conflict. It explores these overlapping themes as they emerge across several issues and case studies, bringing international law into a relationship with contemporary geopolitics and the field’s historical inheritance.

Find out more about LAWS8440

This module provides a critical examination of the principles and institutions and theory and practice of international criminal law. The module introduces the aims and objectives of international criminal law and examines the establishment and operation of international criminal justice institutions, and the substantive law of international crimes. It explores key theoretical and doctrinal debates in international criminal law. In particular, it seeks to locate the work of international criminal courts and tribunals in their broader political and contextual contexts. Case studies and special topics in international criminal law, form an important part of the module.

Find out more about LAWS8460

This module covers various methods of collecting, analysing and interpreting qualitative data used in politics and international relations research. The aim of the module is for students to gain familiarity with a range of qualitative research techniques and to grasp the challenges of gathering and understanding data and producing new knowledge through qualitative research. Students will be taught about a number of methods including document analysis, interviewing, ethnography, discourse and narrative analysis. Students will have the opportunity to gain practical research experience in interviewing and document analysis and learn how to approach the analysis of data collected in these ways in the context of politics/IR projects.

Find out more about POLI7020

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 purpose of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the foundations and practices of research and research design in politics and international relations at an advanced level. It will enable students to understand the connections between research questions and the theory and methods used to explore them; and to understand the rationales and contexts that shape different choices about research questions, research designs and research methods, including epistemological, ontological and practical issues. Upon finishing the module students will be able to make and defend their own choices on research design and understand the menu of choices available to them as they develop their research careers. In pursuit of these goals the module will in its core section introduce students to debates about the main approaches to investigation in politics and international relations as well as an understanding of the main elements of different research designs, including the intellectual and practical issues that need to be addressed when making choices about these elements. Following this core section, students will have a choice to develop their understanding of different forms of research design along specialist pathways including causal analysis, interpretative analysis and normative and critical political theory. These elements have been chosen because they represent the three research traditions which are most broadly represented in political science, international relations and political theory. Students will be encouraged to attend sessions beyond their own specialisation to gain a wider perspective on their own work and to facilitate their understanding of other research approaches within the profession.

Find out more about POLI8108

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

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 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 is used for the School's MA year abroad marks, where applicable.

Find out more about POLI9140

This module is used for the School's MA year abroad marks, where applicable.

Find out more about POLI9150

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 disciplines of international relations and law
  • provide you with a research-active teaching 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
  • provide a sound knowledge and systematic understanding of the institutional structures, key legal principles and particular contexts of international law and international relations
  • encourage you to develop a critical awareness of the operation of public international law, particularly in contexts which are perceived to be controversial or in a state of evolution
  • ensure that you acquire an advanced understanding of the relationship between theoretical, methodological, and empirical content of the issue-areas studied.

MA only:

  • develop your general research skills and personal skills (transferable skills), in particular through a substantial dissertation.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • historical and theoretical issues at the forefront of the disciplines of international relations and law, together with familiarity with appropriate bibliographical sources
  • the epistemological and methodological principles in their application to the study of international relations and law
  • key ontological, theoretical, and methodological problems of international relations and law
  • 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
  • the institutions and structures of public international law, and the inter-relationships between these
  • the theoretical perspectives and academic debates that underlie the substantive areas of public international law
  • the relationship and inter-relationship between public international law theory and practice, and international relations theory and practice.

MA only:

  • how to carry out an independent research project and write in a scholarly manner, demonstrate familiarity with academic conventions, deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate your conclusions clearly.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • general research skills, especially bibliographic and computing skills
  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources
  • identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
  • develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • reflect on, and manage, your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your performance and personal skills
  • manage your own learning self-critically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • effectively applying the knowledge of public international law and international relations theory to a wide range of situations where relevant practical or theoretical issues are under consideration and 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 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, demonstrating 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

The 2022/23 UK fees for this course are:

International Relations with International Law 120 ECTS - MA at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £6200
  • EU full-time £8700
  • International full-time £11600
  • Home part-time £3100
  • EU part-time £4350
  • International part-time £5800

International Relations with International Law - MA at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £9300
  • EU full-time £13000
  • International full-time £17400
  • Home part-time £4650
  • EU part-time £6500
  • International part-time £8700

International Relations with International Law - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £6200
  • EU full-time £8700
  • International full-time £11600
  • Home part-time £3100
  • EU part-time £4350
  • International part-time £5800

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

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.

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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.

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. Recent contributions include: 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.  

Apply now

January 2022 start

Please note that for applicants requiring a student visa to study in the UK, all applications for January start programmes must be received no later than Friday 17 December 2021. Any applications received after this date will only be considered for May or September entry (whichever is the earliest available start date for the programme applied for).

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.

Apply for entry to:

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Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827307
F: +44 (0)1227 827033
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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk