QMUL Online

International Relations MA

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International Relations

This programme can be studied part-time as MA, Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) or Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert). The PGDip and PGCert are shorter taught versions of the masters programme. They don’t require a dissertation but provide you with masters-level content. 

Why study International Relations?

  • What are the main characteristics of the international order?
  • How has globalisation changed international relations?
  • To what extent is the international order based on conflict or cooperation?
  • How is the global financial crisis affecting international politics?
  • Do foreign military interventions in civil wars help or hinder peace-making?
  • Why are economic resources so unevenly spread across the world, and what are the prospects for global justice?

If you are interested in these questions and are excited at the prospect of exploring them with like-minded individuals, but your circumstances or commitments make it difficult for you to attend university, then our online International Relations MA is for you. 

The programme offers challenging and thought-provoking modules to help you formulate your answers, and a lively, intelligent group of students and academics with which to debate and exchange ideas.

Get an insight into the topics you will get to debate on the MA by reading the latest blog post from International Relations Tutor Nevena Nancheva:

British Passport

What to expect

Want to know more? Here’s a brief summary of what you can expect if you decide to study with Queen Mary Online:

  • Modules taught by academics at the cutting-edge of their fields, involved in contributing to the international understanding of the subject
  • Opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge to think, talk and write critically about contemporary international challenges
  • Firm foundation for further study
  • Focus on traditional and current challenges in international relations in conjunction with emerging areas of interest in the developing world
  • Discussions on the historical significance of globalisation and how it relates to a number of key issues in international relations.

The diversity of our staff and students makes Queen Mary a great place to study international relations. 

The School of Politics and International Relations

Committed to developing, maintaining and supporting excellent and innovative teaching and research amongst its faculty, the School fosters independent learning and critical thinking among our students. It has particular strengths in: 

  • International security
  • Conflict and war
  • Political economy of North-South relations
  • International political theory
  • Middle East politics
  • Transition from the Cold War to the contemporary post-Cold War world
  • Migration and transnational mobility

For more information about the School please visit politics.qmul.ac.uk.


Our online students enjoy the same status as those who attend the Queen Mary campus. You will have access to our extensive online resources and if you are able, are welcome to attend any of the extra-curricular events run by various research centres to complement your studies. 

In addition, you will benefit from dedicated tutor support, enhanced online material and a range of interactive features. There will be lively online discussions with your peers and webinars led by members of the academic staff, all accessible in a time that suits you. 

A Student Adviser will be appointed to you when you first enrol. They will help you with any non-academic questions and will ensure your experience with Queen Mary Online is positive and stress-free. 


Our online International Relations MA is offered on a part-time basis over the duration of two years. During that time, you will undertake four taught modules and a 12,000 word dissertation.

For each module, you will be awarded 30 credits each and you will receive a further 60 credits for your dissertation. In order to graduate you must have accrued the full 180 credits, which involves completing every aspect of the modules and passing all relevant assignments.

Postgraduate Diploma

The PGDip in International Relations is available for part time study over four semesters (two academic years). During that time, you will undertake four compulsory modules. For each module, you will be awarded 30 credits each. In order to receive your PGDip you must have accrued 120 credits, which involves completing every aspect of the modules and passing all relevant assignments.

Postgraduate Certificate

The PGCert in International Relations is available for part time study over two semesters (one academic year). During that time, you will undertake two compulsory modules. For each module, you will be awarded 30 credits each. In order to receive your PGCert you must have accrued 60 credits, which involves completing every aspect of the modules and passing all relevant assignments.


Contemporary World Politics: Theories, Concepts, Themes

This module is designed to provide you with a command of key concepts and theoretical traditions in international relations and an understanding of their relevance to contemporary themes in world politics.

We will evaluate political developments and statements and analyse critical themes in world politics. Through a close reading of advanced theoretical texts, you will expand your conceptual and theoretical knowledge and begin to think critically about competing interpretations of events, and longer term developments in international relations.

Online discussions will encourage you to compare and critically evaluate theoretical knowledge and to express your arguments effectively.

International Security: War and Peace in a Global Context

Violent conflict and the use of force remain salient issues in contemporary international relations. While some have theorised that the advent of globalisation and spread of liberal democracy would make the use of force and violent conflict less relevant to the world, war and conflict have remained an integral part of the international system, forming an obstacle to providing stability and security for many states.

In this module, we will examine how force is used by states and other actors, and how it is managed in world politics. Together, we will survey a variety of perspectives on the causes of war and peace in order to better examine the roots of violent conflicts and security problems in the present day.

A major theme of the module looks at war in a global context, not only in terms of integrating contemporary concerns with globalisation, but also by looking at interconnections between north and south, and war and society. We will also explore the responses of the international community to violent conflict, looking broadly at the contested notion of ‘Just War’, international law, and the role of the United Nations.

Overall, the module will provide you with a broad perspective on the place of armed force in contemporary international relations.

Themes and Cases in US Foreign Policy

In this module, we will consider the principal forms in which US foreign policy has been practised and interpreted since the foundation of the Republic. Amongst these are American Exceptionalism and Anti-Americanism, ‘spheres of influence’, liberal interventionism and protectionist isolationism, Cold War containment, the ‘War on Terror’ following 9/11, and the strains on uni-polarity in the early 21st century.

Case studies linked to these themes will allow us to consider the role of Native Americans and immigration, the war of 1898, gunboat diplomacy in the Caribbean, the ideas of Woodrow Wilson, the Vietnam War, the consequences of the 9/11 attacks, and the challenges posed by China.

Get an insight into the ideas discussed in this module with International Relations Tutor Sandra Carvalho's latest blog post:




Globalisation and the International Political Economy of Development

This module provides you with a detailed examination and critique of theories of globalisation, an assessment of contemporary globalising processes, and how these particularly influence the developing world.

We will examine the analysis of contemporary manifestations of ‘globalisation’, including neo-liberalism, US hegemony and contemporary imperialism, capital flows, global commodity chains, state-market relations, patterns of global inequality, international institutions, and questions of cultural homogenisation/imperialism.

The module also looks at the ways in which ‘globalisation’ is resisted, focusing on the rise of transnational social movements and NGOs, and the politics of ‘anti-globalisation’, and how this relates to an ostensibly ‘post-development’ era.

In addressing these issues, the module concludes by asking the most important question: how do we think of ‘development’ in an era of ‘globalisation’, US hegemony, neo-liberalism and imperialism?

Dissertation (MA only)

The title and subject of your dissertation will be agreed by your assigned tutor. A dissertation is only required if you study the full masters programme.

Entry requirements

To be eligible for the International Relations programme, you should have: 

  • A minimum of an upper second-class honours degree in politics or a related discipline.*

*  We may consider graduates with a minimum of an upper second class-honours degree in another subject with either additional relevant qualifications or work experience. 

If your first language is not English, you should also have one of the following:

  • IELTS Academic: 7.0 overall including 6.5 in Writing, and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.
  • TOEFL: 100 overall including 24 in Writing, 18 in Reading, 17 in Listening and 20 in Speaking.
  • PTE Academic: 68 overall including 62 in Writing, and 51 in Reading, Listening and Speaking. 

If you would like to apply but are unsure whether you are qualified, please contact our course advisers.

International applicants

At Queen Mary, we are proud of our global community and have a long history of welcoming students from around the world. Over the years, many thousands of our international graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers. 

For any questions about the English language requirements or about entry qualifications specific to your country, please contact our course advisers.

Tuition fees

Masters: £11,900 (2 years, part-time, including dissertation)

As an International Relations MA student at QMUL Online you might be able to receive a postgraduate loan. More information on requirements and how to apply is available here.

Postgraduate Diploma: £8,000 (2 years, part-time, no dissertation required)

Postgraduate Certificate: £4,000 (1 year, part-time, no dissertation required)

We realise this is a considerable financial investment on your part. To help you, we have a number of payment options. Details of these can be found by visiting our fees and funding page


The next intake date for our International Relations programme is:

April 2020

International Relations MA

International Relations PGDip

International Relations PGCert

In all cases, a full online application is required in order for a fair assessment and decision to be made. Each applicant is considered on their merits and on receipt of full application documents, including a detailed CV and evidence of academic and professional qualifications, where relevant.

We aim to process your application within two weeks. To avoid unnecessary delays with the application process, please ensure all the above required documents are uploaded at the time of application.

More information is available on our "How to apply" page.

How you are assessed

As a student at Queen Mary Online, we ask you to play an active role in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. We use a mixture of online tutorials, discussion forums and group webinars designed to generate informed discussion around set topics.

Assessment for the International Relations programme is by coursework only. The module leaders will set assessments appropriate to the content of their module which will usually take the form of a research essay or critical evaluation. They will also be available to advise and support you throughout the course.

The final dissertation (MA only) will involve more in-depth study and independent research on a topic agreed with your supervisor. Past topics of dissertations included:

  • The global financial crisis: a failure of governments or markets?
  • Is the UN fit to prevent genocide?
  • Is China a good trade partner for Latin America?
  • From Actions to Policy: A Theoretical Shift in U.S. Counterinsurgency Security Operations during the War on Terror in Iraq
  • Is China Challenging US Economic Hegemony?
  • Tackling cultures of immunity: how can the United Nations effectively address the practice of sexual abuse and exploitation by military peacekeeping forces?
  • Militarizing Egypt’s Policy making arena: The Army between Socialism and Neoliberalism
  • Postcolonial President? Barack Obama and Humanitarian Intervention
  • Globalisation, Inequality and Underdevelopment: The Myth of Economic Convergence

Independent study

At Queen Mary Online, we take your studies seriously and in return, we hope you will do the same. Each week you will need to invest additional time on individual study. This could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and undertaking research for you dissertation.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. We expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study helps foster the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help you throughout your working life.

Taught by leading academics

The content of the programme is dynamic and flexible with our research-active staff responding to the latest global events in their modules. We have internationally recognised research strengths in the politics of the developing world, globalisation and development, conflict and war, migration and transnational mobility, security and critical and post-colonial theory. Our staff have regional expertise in South America, South East Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Programme Director

Professor Jef Huysmans

Jef Huysmans is Professor of International Politics. After finishing his PhD at the University of Leuven (Belgium), he took up a lectureship in International Relations and European studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Later he moved to the Open University where he taught politics and international relations and was Director of the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance. He joined Queen Mary University of London in January 2016.

He is best known for his work on the politics of insecurity, the securitization of migration, and critical methods in security studies and IR. Currently he is working on security and democracy in times of surveillance, the political life of methods, and the political significance of little nothings.

He was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ISA journal International Political Sociology from 2012 until 2016.

Full staff profile

Module Leaders

Dr Dionysis Markakis

Dionysis Markakis is a lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to taking up this position, he was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar.

Dionysis holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His current book is US Democracy Promotion in the Middle East: The Pursuit of Hegemony (2015).

Dr Rick Saull

After graduating from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1990 with a BA in Politics, Rick completed an MSc in International Relations at the LSE. He then spent two years teaching English as a foreign language in the Czech Republic and Spain. After returning to the UK in 1994 he moved on to doctoral studies in International Relations at the LSE completing his PhD in 1999. Prior to joining the School in September 2006, Rick lectured at the University of Leicester (2002-2006) and before that at SOAS and Richmond, the American International University in London.

Rick's doctorate outlined a new historical materialist theorization of the Cold War and since completing his doctorate he has continued to work within this framework; in the study of the international politics of revolution, the end of the Cold War and the theorization of US global power.

More recently, his work has been concerned with developing an international historical sociology of far-right social and political movements through examining the ways in which the capitalist political economy of the international system has conditioned the historical rise and contemporary development of such movements.

Dr Katharine Hall

Katharine Hall received her PhD in 2015 from the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota, where she wrote her dissertation on the history of drone technology (Lethal Surveillance: Drones and the Geo-History of Modern War). Before joining the School of Politics and International Relations at QMUL, she held a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Society of Fellows and the Department of Geography at Dartmouth College.

Katharine works in the fields of international relations and security studies, political geography, and science and technology studies, and her research focuses on questions related to modern war and security, military and surveillance technologies, and the longer historical and racialized geographies of militarization and practices of state violence.

Dr Patrick Pinkerton

Patrick Pinkerton is a lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to taking up this position, he was a Visiting Lecturer at City, University of London.

Patrick holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Manchester. He has published work on the post-conflict situations in Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations and the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding.


Dr Nevena Nancheva

Nevena Nancheva is a recognised Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has been teaching International Relations at the Master's level since 2010. Her leading research interest is nationalism in the European context. She has written on European integration, EU security and migration governance, national minorities, refugee migration, and recently, on nationalism and the construction of 'national' food.

Nevena's 2016-17 research project EU Migrants in the UK: Political Community, Identity and Security is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. She is the co-founder of an academic research network on EU migration (eu-migrants.net) hosted by the Centre for Research on Communities, Identities and Difference at Kingston University London.

Dr Sandra De Carvalho

Sandra has a professional background in journalism. She worked for nearly two decades as a reporter, deputy editor and international correspondent for Brazilian newspapers. She received her PhD in Politics from Queen Mary University of London with the thesis entitled “Brazil’s Nuclear Ambitions: the Role of Ideas, Identity, and Perceptions in the Country’s Atomic Revival (2003-2010)”. She holds an MSc in Latin American Politics from the University of London, and a BA in Journalism from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil.


Sandra has taught Portuguese at the school of languages Berlitz, London, to professionals from corporations such as Intel, IBM, ESSO and URENCO. She is a teaching associate in International Relations at QMUL.

Dr Alice Martini 

Alice is Associate Researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. She received her PhD from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy, and, jointly, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, with a thesis entitled “On international barbarians and global civilisations. A Critical Discourse Analysis of the evolution of the Security Council’s fight against international terrorism”.

Her research examines and deconstructs global discourses on security, (counter) terrorism and (counter) extremism looking into the resulting practices of power and international hegemonies. She lectures on Critical Security Studies, Critical Terrorism Studies, and, more broadly, International Relations and Global Politics theories. Before her PhD, she collaborated with the Human Rights Office of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. 

Sirous Amerian

Sirous is a PhD Candidate and Tutor/GA at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University in New Zealand where he is researching Asia-Pacific nations response to the military rise of China and helps deliver courses on Middle East and Asia Pacific Security. He received his MA in Indian Studies from the University of Tehran working on Sino-Indian-American trilateral relations.

While in Iran, he worked as a Policy Analyst for the Institute of Iran Eurasian Studies (IRAS) and currently writes about Iran and the Middle East for outlets such as the Atlantic Council, LSE Middle East Centre, The Levant (Beirut Middle East Studies Centre) and the Defense Post.

Where we could lead you

Graduates from our programmes progress to diverse positions of responsibility in government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international organisations and the not-for-profit sector as well as broader roles in the media and finance sector.  They also go on to careers in academia and our programmes help students develop the required research skills.

The combination of theoretical understanding, rigorous debate, independent research, self-reflection and critical evaluation make graduates from the School of Politics and International Relations very attractive to a range of prospective employers. 

To make it more concrete, here are a few examples of where our students have been employed:

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Moody's
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society
  • Volkswagen
  • Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • United Nations – Perú

You’ll also have access to QM Careers, helping you throughout your time as a QMUL student. You’ll be able to access advice on career choices and on how to maximise the career opportunities available to you. The QM Careers office also provides a service for internships, part-time work, and volunteering while you study.


Need more information?

    Contact us

Apply for MA

April 2020

Apply for PGDip

April 2020

Apply for PGCert

April 2020