What can you do with your international relations degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with an international relations degree and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Your studies will provide a broad range of skills that are valuable to employers:

  • researching, analysing and evaluating evidence through seminar work and independent assignments
  • IT skills ranging from spreadsheets to databases and digital marketing to report writing
  • networking through peer work, discussions with academics and attending events
  • acknowledging global intercultural practices, laws and policies
  • developing critical thinking 
  • written and verbal communication through report writing and presenting (including debating)
  • teamwork and leadership skills through group projects
  • planning and project management through independent research tasks
  • problem-solving and flexibility  
  • time management through juggling different module assessment requirements and work-based learning alongside studies
  • delegation and negotiation skills.
Career options

International relations career options are diverse, extending across the public and private sectors and industries. Public sector opportunities include teaching, health care and law enforcement, and these are all credible career paths for an international relations graduate. Private-sector employers appreciate the attention to detail and research skills of international relations graduates in roles such as journalist, marketer or fundraiser. Charities and non-profit organisations rely on the data analysis and pitching skills that international relations graduates can offer, as do local governments and community projects.

Since specific career paths may not be obvious, you should use your research skills to explore the range of opportunities and consider your personal interests, motivations, values and strengths. The course offers an internship scheme, which means you can explore these things while gaining valuable experience.

Researching your career options

Given the diversity of career options open to international relations graduates, you should research and explore these fully to make informed decisions about your future.

The following websites provide helpful information and inspiration for career research:

Employment opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of the University of Plymouth's international relations graduates told us they were doing 15 months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping-stones’ to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Chief of Staff for a Member of Parliament
  • Graduate Management Trainee
  • RAF Officer Cadet
  • General Manager
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Regional Security Analyst
  • Video Producer
  • Fire And Smoke Ventilation Sales Support
  • Medical Sales Representative
  • Planner

Employers to consider

  • British American Tobacco
  • ConvaTec
  • Ginger Video
  • Metropolitan Police
  • Powrmatic
  • RAF- Royal Air Force
  • Securitas
  • Transdev Blazefield
  • UK Government
  • Webb Enterprises

* Data is from the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18. Graduates were surveyed 15 months after graduating. Data displayed is for 19 UK-domiciled, first degree, full-time graduates who are working, studying or looking for work.

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by international relations graduates will require—or benefit from—further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options that could be of interest:

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation.

It is also worth investigating what further study options the University has to offer as you may find the perfect course for yourself in an institution you already know. There are also sometimes financial benefits of staying on such as a fee discount to Alumni, find out your funding options here.

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier; come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

A wide range of support is available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service; however, they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and the employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool, click on the LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help with setting up or learning how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gaining work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career. 

You have plenty of options open to you. You could work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so definitely approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately write references for your employment or further study applications, so establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.

Clubs and societies

Participating in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and can seek out opportunities. It also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members can develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds and society promotion.

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to your studies or take the opportunity to explore the university’s wide range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.