We live in an increasingly globalised world: one in which trade, politics and collaboration takes place across international borders. Studying International Relations at Lancaster will develop your ability to think in global terms – and to understand the nature of the political, economic and environmental challenges that confront us in the twenty-first century.
At Lancaster, a research-led environment will underpin your learning, giving you the chance to explore the complex interactions between key states and non-state actors with experts who are specialists in different regions of the world. We offer an exciting atmosphere to think critically about how conflict and cooperation is influenced by issues of power, law, diplomacy, religion and economics.
By working closely with our academics, you’ll develop the ability to analyse international events, conduct research, and apply that knowledge effectively. Whatever your goals, studying International Relations at Lancaster will equip you to think clearly about the international dimensions of the issues you’ll confront in your future
The degree covers a very wide range of topics and, as you advance into years two and three, you increasingly have the opportunity to tailor the degree to your own interests by choosing from a wide range of modules. You will find that the core topics we offer are typical of most International Relations degrees in the UK. An important difference however is that we also offer modules in many areas of specific and topical staff expertise concerning government and politics in Britain, Europe and the world, as well a range of other relevant optional modules due to the interdisciplinary (Politics, Philosophy and Religion) nature of our department.
The cornerstones of your first year is the core module International Relations: Theory and Practice, which explores the challenges that confront states and international organisations in an increasingly global world and introduces the methods and theoretical approaches that we use in the study of International Relations at university level. You will also take two optional modules. We recommend that you choose Politics in the Modern World, which introduces key themes, concepts and events that are important in the study of modern politics at university level. This includes a balance of political practice and theories, in Britain and across the world. You will be able to choose a third module from a range of subjects that complement your studies.
In the second year and third years you will be able to choose from a broad range of options. These are just some examples of the many modules we offer:
- International Relations, Security and Sustainability (recommended)
- International Relations and Politics of the Asia Pacific
- Politics of Development - Latin America
- Russian International Politics
- China’s International Relations
- Contemporary Issues in the Middle East
- Britain in the World
- Contemporary Issues in Human Rights
- Understanding External Intervention in Violent Conflicts
- Religion and Violence
The options available in any given year vary depending on our latest research, student feedback and topical concerns. You will find further information about modules in the Course Structure section.
In your final year, you have the opportunity to undertake a sustained investigation of a specific subject that interests you via the dissertation option.
“Studying International Relations at Lancaster has been an absolute joy. The atmosphere is so welcoming, the academics always kind and generous with their time, and the department always there to offer any support you might need. It is home to an impressive collective of global experts on a wide array of topics within both politics and international relations, and getting the opportunity to engage with them on a daily basis has truly enriched my educational experience. I have just completed the Richardson Institute internship programme. The skills I have gained through this experience will prove invaluable later on in my career. It was a good chance to network with people from various organisations engaged in the international security, development, and humanitarian fields.”
Bianka Venkataramani, BA (Hons) Peace Studies and International Relations
Placement Year and Study Aboard options
You can also study Politics and International Relations as a placement year degree (four years) or a study abroad degree (three years). The placement year degree provides the opportunity for you to develop your employment experience and skills, while via a study abroad degree you can experience living in another country and studying your subjects from a different perspective. Our current partner universities are located in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the USA. Both options are valuable additions to your CV and you will find further details in the Similar Courses section below.
Short work and study experiences
We are home to the Richardson Institute for Peace Studies, which undertakes research into issues around peace and conflict. In recent years, the Institute has offered around 60 internships per year for students to undertake research projects for external organisations such as NGOs, think tanks, charities and faith based organisations. These internships are a terrific opportunity to undertake fascinating and rewarding projects, develop employability skills, build your professional network and enhance your CV.
You can also apply for placements and internships through the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Past employers have included Carnegie Publishing, The Dukes Theatre, and the Ethical Consumer Research Association, with a range of roles available.
The University usually offers a variety of short overseas trips during vacation periods. In recent years these have included business, academic and cultural excursions during trips to Malaysia, India, Ghana, China and the US (New York and Boston).
We are a lively department and several staff are involved in national and international advisory groups and our students benefit from these connections. We have extra-curricular events such as conferences, talks and seminars taking place throughout the year.
Our students take part in the many clubs and societies that are supported by Lancaster University Student’s Union. There are many international societies representing different countries, as well as the Politics Society (which is independent of any particular political leaning), societies for all main UK political parties, debating society, Intervol and many more. There are regular events, debates, trips and high profile visiting speakers, which provide numerous ways to get involved and meet other students who share your interests.