School of Law, Criminology and Government

BSc (Hons) International Relations

Immerse yourself in the ideologies, political interests and debates that influence 21st century life. Understand how the political world works, how and why governments and global institutions make decisions, and examine the consequences of their actions. With options to work or study abroad in Europe, Canada or the USA through our exchange programme and fieldtrips to the Middle East and Africa, improve your employability and set yourself on the path to an exciting internationally focused career.

You will benefit from a course which received excellent ratings for teaching and student satisfaction. You will engage with contemporary international issues and take part in exclusive events, film screenings and lectures, through the Politics and International Affairs Society. You will differentiate yourself in an international sector with industry experience and modern language skills. You will enhance your employability by participating in the School of Government’s internship scheme.

Entry requirements may differ during Clearing, so please contact us on 0333 241 6929 to discuss an application.


More courses available for 2017 entry

Our 2017 Clearing course vacancies page shows which courses are still available for entry this year.

Clearing hotline 0 0333 241 6929

Clearing with Plymouth University

Call our friendly Clearing team on 0333 241 6929.

We will help you find the right course for you.

  • Clearing officially opens on results day, Thursday 17 August.
  • Clearing closes on Wednesday 20 September.

For opening times and further information, visit our Clearing page.

Careers with this subject

Advice from graduate Kate Jamieson: 

"Make as much of your time at university as you can. Get involved with societies and try to find something that differentiates you from other graduates."
Read more from Kate in her case study.

Key features

  • We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2017 return showing that 100 per cent of our students agree staff are good at explaining things.*
  • Travel the world through our international student exchange programme. From the Czech Republic and Poland, to Canada and the USA, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to gain insights into international relations worldwide. 
  • Look at how politics works in practice by visiting the Middle East and southern Africa on university-subsidised fieldtrips led by the academic staff.
  • Be inspired by teaching rooted in research. Our staff are leading experts in their fields, and through our Politics and International Studies research group, you’ll stay up-to-date with the current issues shaping global politics. Our team’s areas of expertise include popular protest in the Middle East, British and American foreign policy, development in Africa, global environmental politics, security studies and the politics of the European Union.
  • Explore the evolution of politics internationally. Debate contemporary worldwide issues, current affairs and major political events. Ask those difficult questions about war, hunger and poverty in the developing world. 
  • Engage with contemporary international issues and take part in exclusive events, film screenings and lectures, through the Politics and International Affairs Society
  • Differentiate yourself in an international sector with industry experience and modern language skills. As journalists, politicians' assistants and public affairs consultants, our graduates have gone on to work for the European Union, United Nations and UK Civil Service. 
  • Investigate daily headlines: discover the international and political ideas that influence society.
  • Benefit from a course which received excellent ratings for teaching and student satisfaction, in the Guardian University Guide 2015 (within the subject league table for Politics).
  • Enhance your employability by participating in the our internship scheme.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Investigate daily headlines and topical news, discovering the international systems, and the political and economic ideas that shape our contemporary world. We tackle debates on an international scale, so you’ll explore the evolution of politics, contemporary issues, current affairs and major political events in historical and regional context. You’ll also gain vital research techniques, and analyse the relationship between international relations and the social sciences.
    Core modules
    • IRL100 Imagining World Order

      This module introduces the essential terms, concepts and processes of international relations analysis. It describes the main features of the international system since its evolution from the Treaty of Westphalia, continuities and discontinuities with earlier international systems, plus the move from state sovereignty to global governance in the contemporary context. It also introduces the primary theories of international relations analysis, whilst putting their emergence and development into historical context.

    • IRL101 Introduction to Contemporary International Relations

      This course provides an introduction to the study of contemporary international relations. It will examine the history and structure of the contemporary international political and economic system, as well as the fundamental sources of transformation and change within this system. Various theoretical approaches to the analysis of global politics will be investigated. The module focuses on key themes in the study of IR: development, the environment, global ethics, governance and security.

    • IRL102 International Relations Since 1945

      This module provides an introduction to the historical development of the international political system since 1945. It provides a crucial background to the major processes and actors that have shaped the contemporary international system.

    • PIR100 Discovering World Politics

      The team-taught immersive module introduces students to key concepts in the fields of Politics and IR and provides them with the necessary skills and tools to write essays and engage with academic debates. It also provides an opportunity for team-building for both students and staff.

    Optional modules
    • GOV1000PP One Planet? Society and Sustainability

      This module addresses some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century from a variety of ideological and political perspectives. Through real-world case studies and critical reflection of lived experiences, we explore and debate the complex, interdependent processes underpinning sustainability and global inequality and insecurities. You develop an understanding of key drivers and public policy impacts and consider future alternative scenarios. The emphasis is on active, collaborative, learning via field trips and debates.

    • LAW1000PP Ethics and Justice in the Balance

      This short intensive module will provide a basic introduction to ethical considerations in human activity, social life and institutional decision making. It provides a platform to enable students to evaluate concepts of justice, law and ethics as well as themes of morality, duty and responsibility, in relation to everyday individual and collective choices of action.

    • LNG100 International Communication

      This module provides an introduction to a variety of theoretical and practical dimensions of cultural difference and intercultural communication, of relevance to business and professional life. Examples are taken from the social and business culture of a variety of significant countries / regions.

    • SOC1511 Introduction to Social Theory

      This module introduces students to key features of classical and contemporary social theory. These are placed within the context of the impact of the Enlightenment, and its impact on science and social science. One important objective is to encourage students to consider the contribution theoretical approaches can make to thinking about contemporary issues.

  • Year 2
  • Immerse yourself in international political economy and investigate leading theories, using your new-found knowledge and skills to analyse global systems. Discuss difficult truths about conflict and poverty in the developing world. Explore concepts of national and human security. Visit the Czech Republic, Poland, Canada or the USA with our international student exchange programme. You'll also engage with contemporary debates and develop a critical mindset, by evaluating evidence and scrutinising arguments.
    Core modules
    • IRL200 Understanding Global Politics

      This module provides an introduction to the main authors and debates in contemporary IR theory, from mainstream theories to critical approaches. The module pays particular attention to the historical context of each approach, and the relationship between theory and practice in contemporary global politics.

    • IRL201 International Security Studies

      This module considers the issue of security in contemporary international relations. It examines a variety of different security concepts from deterrence and the security dilemma to arms control, peacekeeping, terrorism, regional security complexes and governance. It then seeks to relate these to practical examples from world politics.

    • IRL202 The Third World

      This module embraces both theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding development issues and policies, at national, international and multilateral scale. The approach taken is deliberately inter-disciplinary, incorporating historical, economic, political and social perspectives. The module also uses case studies based in Africa, Latin America and Asia to illustrate and provide context for the discussion of various developmental concerns. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the development policy arena; how it is framed and constituted; the power relations between actors; and the impact on human communities and their environments.

    • PIR200 International Political Economy

      This module analyses how the governance of international economic affairs has developed from the Mercantilist expansion of early modern Europe to the present day. It introduces four alternative approaches to the study of IPE. It presents the leading historical narratives of the evolution of the modern world political economy, and then investigates its development since 1945.

    • SOC2517 The Social Science Research Process

      The aim of this module is to develop students theoretical knowledge, understanding and practical skills of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, research design and analysis. To provide students with an understanding of how these techniques are employed by real world researchers inside and outside academia. To develop a critical understanding of methodological, technical, political and ethical issues facing researchers and to be aware of the links between these. To develop qualitative analysis techniques. To develop quantitative data analysis skills in bivariate analysis and the application of inferential statistical techniques.

    Optional modules
    • POL201 Democracy and Globalization: Citizens and the Modern State

      Students taking this course will discover how social and economic change in the modern era impacts upon traditional political structures. The course demonstrates how structures face increasing challenges from alternative forms of political action, ranging in scope from the local to global. Much of the analysis will be comparative in scope and specific case studies will be undertaken of countries initially examined at level 4.

    • SOC2520 Gender and Society

      This module explores how and why gender matters in shaping key areas of social life. It focuses on a range of substantive issues, such as childhood, family, sexuality, health, bodies, media, sport, work, development, education, politics, to develop an understanding of the similarities, differences and intersections between gender and other social signifiers of difference/diversity. NB - this module can also be studied at level 6 but can only be studied once.

    • SOC2522 Globalisation and International Social Justice

      This module investigates the key debates of globalisation and critically evaluates, in terms of its economic, political, socio-cultural and legal dimensions, the causes and consequences of a globalising world. It furthermore explores a range of international social justice issues to examine the relationships (causative and ameliorative) between policies and (in)justice .

  • Final year
  • In your third year, you’ll undertake a comprehensive piece of research of your choice under expert supervision. You’ll also deepen your knowledge of international relations by studying a range of modules, including foreign policy, global environmental politics, the European Union, and politics of the Middle East and Africa. You may also participate in staff-led field trips to the Middle East and southern Africa to see how politics works in practice.
    Core modules
    • PIR300 Dissertation and PDP Review

      This module provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their attainment of the aims and objectives of the Honours Programme. It requires the design and execution of a dissertation of 12,000 words in the field of political science, together with the submission of a 1,500 word formative Literature Review detailing the aims and objectives of the dissertation together with a consideration of the extant academic literature in the field of the research question.

    Optional modules
    • IRL300 Africa in the International System

      This module provides an introduction to African politics, examining the historical, economic and socio-political developments of over fifty states with a strong regional emphasis, and a focus on political economy, state-society relations, foreign policy and conflict analysis. The module's regional focus allows comparison between different approaches to IR. It also seeks to provide the tools to analyse and understand what is going on in Africa today.

    • IRL301 International Relations in the Middle East

      The module introduces students to international relations in the Middle East. It equips them with the analytical skills to examine the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gulf conflicts, the impact of the Arab Spring on regional relations, and the roles of regional powers.

    • IRL302 NATO after the Cold War and Beyond

      "This module proposes to study the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from a theoretical as well policy point of view. The aim is to investigate the relevance of NATO in the 21st century by looking at how NATO survived and developed in the aftermath of the Cold War as it appeared to have lost its original purpose of containing the Soviet Union. By looking at key developments within NATO in the post-Cold War period, this module also looks at the challenges which NATO has faced and overcome but it also critically reflects on the contemporary relevance of NATO. "

    • PIR301 Contemporary Issues in International Relations

      This module will explore the transformation of political community in the 21st century through the prism of international organisations such as the United Nations. The aim is to consider the key question whether `governance¿ is possible in world politics, and whether and to what extent international organisations can play a constructive role in such governance. The module begins with an introduction to international organisations and global governance, including the various theoretical approaches with their different assumptions about the nature of international politics, and competing predictions about international organisations in global governance.

    • PIR304 US Foreign Policy Since 1945

      This module introduces students to different approaches to studying US foreign policy. As well as providing an empirical survey of America's foreign relations since 1945, it draws on IR theory to examine its changing place in the world. Students will examine historical and contemporary themes in US foreign policy and explore the complex mix of factors that combine to influence it. The module will examine US interests in different parts of the world and evaluate how US foreign policy has affected regional and international orders. The ultimate objective of the course is to explore how US foreign policy shapes the world we live in.

    • PIR305 The Politics of the United States

      This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of politics in the United States. Domestic politics and the foreign influence of the United States is considered, with specific emphasis placed on the role of the Constitution and institutions of governance in promoting (or inhibiting) democracy both domestically and abroad.

    • PIR306 Environmental Political Economy

      This module examines the problem of environmental degradation and its implications for our global political economy. It discusses the major debates in political thought around the causes of environmental degradation. The module outlines the major attempts to build international regimes for global environmental governance, and the difficulties and obstacles that such attempts have encountered. A wide range of ideas, policy proposals, innovations in governance, and templates for political activism within the environmental movement are critically evaluated.

    • PIR310 Work Based Learning in Politics or International Relations

      This module provides students with opportunities to gain practical insights into the workings of organisations whose role and function have clear relevance to the focus and subject matter of their undergraduate degree in Politics or International Relations, and to link such insights to their acquired knowledge and understanding of social science theories and concepts. In addition the module will prepare students for the graduate job market and encourage their autonomous engagement in personal development planning.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc International Relations 16 17 1075

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104

A levels: including a minimum of two A levels.

BTEC: 18 Unit BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM in any subject.  

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access: Pass a named Access to HE Diploma in any subject with at least 33 credits at merit/distinction.  

IB: 26 overall to include 4 at any subject at Higher Level.

14-19 Diplomas: accepted – please enquire. Other combinations and non-A level qualifications also considered.

GCSE: All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) mathematics and English at grade C or above. 

Short of the entry requirements for this course? Don’t worry you may be eligible for a foundation year to prepare you for possible entry onto this course for the following year.

Learn more about foundation years with the Faculty of Business

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code.

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Intercalating students wishing to apply for the final year of this course should complete a direct entry form.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Kate Jamieson – BSc (Hons) International Relations graduate

Make as much of your time at university as you can. Get involved with societies and try to find something that differentiates you from other graduates.

Find out more about Kate

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Be part of it now, find out more about the Faculty of Business.

International study pathways with Plymouth University International College

Plymouth University International College (PUIC) offer university foundation, first year degree and pre-masters pathways to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees within the Faculty of Business. With 96 per cent of all students progressing on to their chosen Plymouth University degree, the PUIC pathways are an excellent alternative entry point for international students.

Find out more about your study opportunities with PUIC

People

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.