Download our brochure to find out more about studying International Relations at Lancaster.
Top reasons to study with us
7th for Politics
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2022)
2nd in the UK for Research Power in the Research Excellence Framework (2021)
Study abroad and placement opportunities
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 through the degree, 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 final 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.
Your placement year
To prepare students for their work placement year, our Careers and Placements Team will provide advice and guidance on: the skills required to create effective CVs, cover letters and applications; tips and techniques on how to make an impact at interviews and assessment centres; how to create a relevant digital profile; and how to research employers and career sectors of interest. In addition, there is great emphasis placed upon developing self-awareness and on how to present yourself in a professional manner to employers. This optional provision will be delivered via a blend of traditional and digital methods including face-to-face workshops, online webinars, e-courses and 1:1 appointments.
The University will use all reasonable effort to support you to find a suitable placement for your studies. While a placement role may not be available in a field or organisation that is directly related to your academic studies or career aspirations, all placement roles offer valuable experience of working at a graduate level and gaining a range of professional skills. If you are unsuccessful in securing a suitable placement for your third year, you will be able to transfer to the equivalent non-placement degree scheme and continue with your studies at Lancaster, finishing your degree after your third year.
As a graduate of International Relations you may be interested in careers such as Teaching, Journalism, Corporate Planning, Civil Service, in International charities and in International business. We will help you determine your direction and aim to support you in getting there. We do this by offering subject-specific support from academic tutors and careers advisers.
We are home to the Richardson Institute, which undertakes peace and conflict research. In recent years, the Institute has offered around 60 internships per year for students to undertake research projects for external organisations. You can also apply for internships as part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Internship Scheme. Past employers have included Carnegie Publishing, The Dukes Theatre, and the Ethical Consumer Research Association, with roles ranging from marketing and PR to specific research projects with heritage or humanitarian organisations.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, but that you also graduate with relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
A Level ABB
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 32 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects.
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme to complement your main specialism. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster please visit our Teaching and Learning section.
The following courses do not offer modules outside of the subject area due to the structured nature of the programmes: Architecture, Law, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Sports and Exercise Science, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and Biomedical Science.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research.
International Relations: Theory and Practice
We will introduce you to some of the central aspects of the discipline of International Relations, providing a firm grounding in the major concepts and debates necessary to understand the modern world of international politics. You will have the opportunity to learn about: the dominant features and power relations of the contemporary global system; the nature of sovereignty and security, their expression and limitations; the real-world problems confronting the international community today.
Areas of study typically include:
+ International Relations Theory: the study of how relations between states can and should be viewed and theorised, Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism and Feminism.
+ Regional Studies: the study of some of the key regions of the world, and the politics of their interactions.
+ International Institutions and Law: the international organisations, customs, and rules that govern inter-state relationships.
+ Global Politics and Belief: the study of how religious and ideological belief can shape international politics and the relation of states.
+ International Crises: the study of pressing issues confronting the international community, such as environmental collapse, technological advance, the rise of non-state actors, and terrorism.
+ International Relations and the Domestic: the study of how the domestic agendas can shape and influence international politics.
Because of the increasing interdependence of the national and global, domestic politics and international relations can no longer be properly understood in isolation from one another. To ensure the best possible foundation for a degree in International Relations, in first year, we strongly recommend you also take Politics in the Modern World.
Politics in the Modern World
You’ll be introduced to some of the key themes in the study of modern politics, and will have the chance to gain critical insight into the nature and use of political power in the contemporary world. You will learn about: the foundations of the modern nation-state, and the ways in which our institutions can reflect or fail to meet the ideals of liberal democracy; the behaviour of individuals and groups in political contexts; the workings of national constitutions and international organisations; the interaction of global events and domestic agendas.
Areas of study typically include:
+ Political Theory: the study of the scope, nature, and justification of state authority, and the history of political thought.
+ British Politics: the study of the theory, and political reality, of British governance in the twenty-first century.
+ Comparative Politics: the study of the various institutions of the nation-state, in a comparative context.
+ Ideologies: the study of political ideologies such as (neo-)liberalism, (neo-)conservatism, socialism, and fascism, their cohesiveness and social/political function.
+ Political Behaviour: the study of the ways in which agents and groups engage with politics in the age of mass and social-media.
+ Politics and Religion: the study of the relevance of religion to politics in contemporary society.
+ Politics in a Global World: the influence of global movements and events on domestic and international politics.
Because of the increasing interdependence of the national and global, domestic politics and international relations can no longer be properly understood in isolation from one another. To ensure the best possible foundation for a degree in Politics, in first year, we strongly recommend you also take International Relations: Theory and Practice.
China's International Relations
This module focuses on the international relations of one of the most influential actors in world politics: China. The module explores the key question of when and how China’s actions conform with – and diverge from – various international relations (IR) theories. In the module, you have the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of how China’s foreign policies are made, its relations with its neighbours in East Asia, with international organizations, and with other global powers including Britain. At the same time, you can gain a deeper, more concrete understanding of the uses and limitations of IR theory in explaining global politics.
International Relations and Politics of the Asia Pacific
The aim of this module is to look at some of the main political and economic trends and security concerns of the Asia Pacific. The term, ‘Asia Pacific’ is a contested term but here it refers primarily to countries from both South Asia and East Asia. The module will introduce you to issues/debates in Asian politics and cover topics like Asian nationalism, Asian democracy, Asian regionalism, Asian bureaucracy and governance, gender and sexuality in Asia, Asian values and Asian security. Typically, the module takes a strong case studies approach and most lectures will be backed by a single case study from the region.
Peace Studies in Action
This module seeks to identify and analyse violent and non-violent conflict behaviour as well as the structural mechanisms that are required to seek peace. In this module we examine various theoretical positions in this regard and their application in managing, preventing and transforming conflicts into situations and outcomes that are more peaceful. We look at both top down and bottom up approaches to peace enforcement and peacebuilding in ongoing conflict locations as well as in many post-conflict settings. In the course of the discussion, we interrogate various intervention strategies such as: the place of nonviolence in peace activism, the concept of just war in imposing a resolution, the role that women play in peacebuilding, global institutions that facilitate peacekeeping, inter-faith debate and dialogue that contribute to addressing religious extremism and radicalism. The overriding question that we examine through the course of this module, is transition from a belligerent world to a more peaceful and harmonious one through cosmopolitan responsibility. The module ends by exploring the ways that seek to reaffirm the ideal of peace in an increasingly volatile and fractured international society.
The Politics of Race
Race has played a central role in shaping the political agendas of many nations around the world – and has acted both as a mechanism of political exclusion and as a form of politicised identity. In this module we critically examine the notion of race, and its connection to the politics of ethnicity, religious identity, and class. We examine the role race has played, and continues to play, in the determination of domestic and international politics. We look at the way in which race is politicised and de-politicised, and consider the nature of various forms of racism that exist in politics.
Work Based Learning Reflection
In your final year you’ll return to Lancaster to complete your degree. Feedback from previous students is that their final year studies were enhanced by the real-world experience they were able to draw on.
Whatever your career path, having the skills to critically evaluate your own learning and development will considerably enhance your effectiveness in the workplace. During your final year, you will be asked to reflect on your experience of work based learning. Did you take part in any formal training during your placement? How did this benefit your work? What kinds of informal learning opportunities arose? What did you learn about your own preferences for professional development? How do your experiences compare to those of other placement students?
You will be asked to consider your future career aims and identify areas for further development.
This is an assessed module that provides 10 credits towards the 30 credits which successful completion of your placement year provides. These 30 credits are on top of the 360 credits of a standard degree, meaning that you will graduate with 390 credits; 30 more than if you took the same degree without a placement year. The additional credits recognise and reward the additional skills and experience that you have developed during your placement year.
Britain in the World
This module presents a detailed analysis of the major developments in British foreign policy since 1945. It explains these developments within a global context, offering rival interpretations of Britain’s changing role and status – issues whose importance has been underlined by the debates surrounding the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum. The major themes include: the consequences of Britain’s participation in the Second World War; the retreat from Empire after 1945; the ‘special relationship’ with the United States; and the prolonged attempt to redefine Britain’s global role in the context of perceived economic and geopolitical decline.
Contemporary Issues in the Middle East
As the Middle East has long been [and still is] one of the most unstable regions in the world, and it is further bedevilled by strong authoritarian states and pervasive ethnic and sectarian violence, what explains this instability and ongoing tensions? By examining some of the key questions surrounding the study of Middle Eastern politics, this module aims to provide you with a critical perspective of the region’s politics. This module introduces you to an analysis of the history, politics, society, culture and religions of the Middle East with attention to major events in the region.
This module provides you with an opportunity to choose a topic related to some aspect of Politics and International Relations, Philosophy and Religious Studies which particularly interests you, and to pursue it in depth. The topic may be related to work that is being done on a formally taught course, or it may be less directly linked to course work. We encourage you to develop your research skills, and your ability to work at length under your own direction. You submit a 9,000 - 10,000 word dissertation by the end of the Lent term in your third year. To help you prepare for work on the dissertation, typically there is an introductory talk in second year on topics relating to doing one's own research and planning and writing a dissertation
Dissertation with external collaboration
The aim of this module is to allow you to pursue independent in-depth studies of a topic of your choice, within the scope of your scheme of study. The topic will be formulated in dialogue with one or more external collaborator(s) and may be related to work that is being done on a formally taught course, or it may be less directly linked to course work. You will have the opportunity to develop your employability and research skills, and your ability to work independently at length under your own direction with input from external and an academic supervisor. The external collaboration will give you the chance to enhance your ability to reflect on the impact of academic work. One option is to incorporate work done through the Richardson Institute Internship Programme, but you may also discuss other forms of collaboration with their supervisor. The completed dissertation is usually submitted at the start of Summer Term in the third year. To help you prepare for work on the dissertation, typically there is an introductory talk in second year on topics relating to doing one’s own research and planning and writing a dissertation.
Politics of Global Danger
This module examines the changing character of war and security in a time of rapid and disruptive technological and geopolitical change. The module combines analysis of contemporary policy documents with the interdisciplinary insights of intellectuals that have examined how war has changed in the modern age. In this module you are introduced to a range of concepts that are currently significant in the policy debates about the future of war – concepts such as ambiguous war, the gray zone, the third offset strategy and the three block war. While the module is grounded in broader debates from social and political thought about war and modernity, it explores a range of evolving and inter-related case studies that are central to understanding how war is changing: cybersecurity/artificial intelligence; cities and urban war; drones and the future of robotics; climate change and ecological insecurity. Each year we try to bring a guest lecturer from the Ministry of Defence or the FCO to discuss questions relevant to the course – and to discuss how the course can be relevant to a broad range of careers.
Understanding External Intervention in Violent Conflicts
The module aims to provide you with an in-depth knowledge of the different facets of contemporary Asian conflicts and how international organisations such as the UN, and how Western and Asian governments have attempted to deal with these challenges in recent times. Conceptually, the module will examine the principles of state failure; terrorism, ‘New Wars’, the New Security Agenda, Islamism, nationalism and sub nationalism, international conflict prevention; peace keeping and global governance. Empirically, the module will focus on conflict zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indian Kashmir, the Indian northeast, Chinese Xinjiang and Tibet. Thus, the aim of this module is to provide you with an overview of the security of a region which is now of tremendous global importance.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2023/24 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2022/23 were:
Scholarships and bursaries
At Lancaster, we believe that funding concerns should not stop any student with the talent to thrive.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover the cost of tuition fees and/or living expenses.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2022, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2023 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Study abroad courses
In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.
Placement and industry year courses
In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.
Fees in subsequent years
Fees are set by the UK Government annually, and subsequent years' fees may be subject to increases. For international applicants starting in 2022, any annual increase will be capped at 4% of the previous year's fee.
Politics and International Relations
- Chinese Studies and Politics BA Hons : T1L2
- Economics, Politics and International Relations BA Hons : LL22
- French Studies and Politics BA Hons : RL12
- German Studies and Politics BA Hons : RL22
- History and International Relations BA Hons : VL12
- History and International Relations (Placement Year) BA Hons : VL13
- History and International Relations (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VL14
- History and Politics BA Hons : LV21
- History and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : LV22
- History and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LV23
- History, Philosophy and Politics BA Hons : V0L0
- History, Philosophy and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : V0L1
- History, Philosophy and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : V0L2
- International Relations BA Hons : 6T99
- International Relations (Study Abroad) BA Hons : 6T92
- Law with Politics LLB Hons : M1L2
- Management, Politics and International Relations (Industry) BSc Hons : N230
- Peace Studies and International Relations BA Hons : LL92
- Peace Studies and International Relations (Placement Year) BA Hons : LL93
- Peace Studies and International Relations (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LL94
- Philosophy and Politics BA Hons : VL52
- Philosophy and Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : VL53
- Philosophy and Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : VL54
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics BA Hons : L0V0
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Placement Year) BA Hons : L0V1
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : L0V2
- Politics BA Hons : L200
- Politics (Placement Year) BA Hons : L202
- Politics (Study Abroad) BA Hons : L203
- Politics and International Relations BA Hons : L250
- Politics and International Relations (Placement Year) BA Hons : L251
- Politics and International Relations (Study Abroad) BA Hons : L252
- Politics and Sociology BA Hons : LL23
- Politics and Sociology (Placement Year) BA Hons : LL24
- Politics and Sociology (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LL25
- Politics, International Relations and Management BSc Hons : LN30
- Politics, Religion and Values BA Hons : LV28
- Politics, Religion and Values (Placement Year) BA Hons : LV29
- Politics, Religion and Values (Study Abroad) BA Hons : LV30
- Spanish Studies and Politics BA Hons : RL42
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.