• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Social Sciences
  • Study Mode: Full Time

Explore the new security challenges confronting societies in an era of economic, social and political globalisation.

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

This course offers a comprehensive analysis of international and global political issues. It focuses on some of the most contentious areas of international politics, including transatlantic relations, the future of the European Union and the re-emergence of Russia as a global political force.

It also provides a thorough grounding in the academic study of international politics, focusing on the theoretical approaches and methods of analysis that constitute the bedrock of any serious postgraduate research in this field.

While Politics at Dundee is big enough to have a real international presence, it is still small and intimate enough to offer a friendly and responsive home for students from all backgrounds. This is more than a mere claim - independent surveys consistently rate politics at Dundee as among the best-received programmes in the country.

Who should study this course?

The programme is suitable for students who want a springboard for a career related to international politics or who wish to continue postgraduate study in this subject area.

During your time with us you are invited to contribute to our postgraduate conference and to get involved in our postgraduate community.

We offer a regular postgraduate forum, visiting speakers and an annual postgraduate conference. You will also benefit from a range of Generic Skills classes throughout the year.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

How you will be taught

A variety of teaching methods will be used, including: small group teaching, supervised study, seminars and presentations.

How you will be assessed

By assessed coursework, examination and dissertation.

What you will study

The course is taught via a range of core and optional modules, the typical list is given below. 

Core modules:

Module details

This module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of key concepts and methods of study in the area of International Politics and Security. We alert students to the different kinds of explanations which are offered for various characteristics and events which loom large in international politics.

Topics covered include:

  • the concepts of 'sovereignty' and its significance to the discourse & practice of international politics
  • the idea of 'power' in the international system
  • theories of integration
  • theories of aggression & war, historical explanations
  • explanations in social sciences
  • explanations and security studies
  • the concept of 'globalisation'


This module is assessed by two equally-weighted essays -

  • 2 x 3,000-3,500 words (40 credit module)
  • 2 x 2,000-2,500 words (30 credit module)


Teaching and learning is by two-hour seminars. Seminars will involve both the delivery of information, theory and concepts and student-led presentations. 

Discussion, face-to-face feedback and advice is facilitated by the support of the teaching staff.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of the key concepts of International Politics and Security
  • An appreciation of how different subject materials require different forms of explanation or appreciation
  • An understanding of the basic premises of scientific, social scientific, international relations, and historical modes of explanation
  • Sensitivity to the problems of objectivity, making truth claims, and understanding
  • Awareness of contemporary debates about the problems of explanation, knowledge, and understanding
  • An ability to manipulate concepts and information in this area in an advanced analytical fashion

Optional modules allow students to specialise, a typical choice includes:

Module details

As the title suggests, this module lies close to the central concerns of the MLitt International Politics & Security degree. The module will explore and distinguish between:

  • transnational security which is concerned with intergovernmental action to deal with broad security threats, often of a non-political nature (cross-border crime; illegal drugs etc.), we cover:
    • the nature of contemporary transnational security threats
    • organized transnational crime
    • the 'terrorist' dimension
    • the relationship between international 'crime' and political conflict
    • the special case of drugs
    • forms of governmental responses to transnational security threats
    • cooperation and conflict in multi-state and multi-agency responses
  • multilateralsecurity which involves collective international action (in the form of peacekeeping; humanitarian intervention), usually through an international organization, to confront local threats to the general security of the international system, covering:
    • the dimensions of multilateralism in international security
    • international organizations and “traditional” collective security
    • the defining characteristics of peacekeeping
    • the new agenda of humanitarian intervention
    • peacemaking and peace-building

On completion of the module students will have an understanding of the many facets of international 'security' and the distinguishing characteristics of different categories of security challenge and unilateral and collective responses to them.


This module is assessed by two equally-weighted 3,000-3,500 word essays.


Learning and teaching is conducted through 10 weekly two-hour seminars. Seminars will involve both the delivery of information, theory and concepts and student-led presentations.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module students should:

  • have an awareness of the complexity of contemporary security challenges faced by both the nation state and international organizations
  • inderstand the complex dynamics of unilateral, bilateral and multilateral security cooperation and their political implications
  • be aware of the common complicating factors in relations between national governments and the international organizations of which they are members in the pursuit of security ends.

The following skills will be developed in the course of the module:

  • capacity to location of relevant primary material relating to the concerns of the module
  • facility with textual analysis of primary and secondary material (principally government and international organization documentation)
  • development of capacity for written analysis, assessment and evaluation of relevant material
  • skill in oral presentation and explication of complex concepts and arguments in the area of transnational and multilateral security
  • a capacity to undertake effective cooperative group work

Module details

In the first part of this module we examine the basic features of the Russian political and economic system and the key developments which have taken place since Russia emerged as an independent state in January 1992. We examine the interaction of Putin’s foreign, domestic and security policies and their impact on Russia’s democratic transition. Putin’s key aims are to make Russia a great economic world power and it would appear that he is willing to sacrifice democracy to achieve this aim. We also examine Russia’s search for a new identity. Is Russia a European, an Asian or a Eurasian country?

In the second part we turn to an examination of Russian foreign and security policies with a particular focus on the Putin era 2000-2014. An important area of discussion which runs through the module is the impact of Russia’s geopolitics on its foreign and security policies. In particular we shall focus on Russia’s relations with the EU and the countries of the "near abroad", but we shall also note the important developments that have taken place in Russia’s relations with Central Asia, the USA and China.

We also examine the impact of EU enlargement, NATO expansion and the colour revolutions on Russia’s domestic and security policy. Under Putin we have witnessed continuous efforts to restore Russia’s status as great power in the image of the old Soviet Union and more recently we have seen the adoption of a number of key policies aimed at bringing back key countries of the Near-Abroad into the Russian sphere of influence. Thus, for example we have seen the creation of the Eurasian Union which has been built around the existing free trade group of Russia, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan. More recently we have seen a battle between the EU and Russia over the "soul" of Ukraine which is seen in Russia as being the cradle of the Russian state and its orthodox religion. Does Russia’s annexation of Russia signal a radical turn in its relations with the West? Are we moving into another cold war?

Another key area covered by this module is Russian energy policy which has become a major plank of its foreign policy. Energy is the only major economic field where Russia plays a leading role - in all other areas, Russia cannot match the weight of the United States, China, Japan, or the European Union. By building new pipelines and terminals, using supplies to gain control of key infrastructure, keeping other CIS oil producers’ dependent on Russian pipelines, and opening a new window on Asia, Russia’s state agencies and oil companies have helped to shape the country’s relations with neighbours from west to east.


This module is assessed by two equally-weighted essays -

  • 2 x 3,000-3,500 word (40 credit)
  • 2 x 2,000-2,500 word (30 credit)


Learning and teaching is conducted through 10 weekly two-hour seminars plus student presentations, discussion and supervision.

Introductory Readings

  • Graeme Gill and James Young, Routledge Handbook of Russian Politics and Society (Routledge, 2012)
  • Stephen White, Understanding Russian Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • Richard Sakwa, Putin Redux: Power and Contradiction in Contemporary Russia (Routledge, 2013).
  • Stephen White, Henry E. Hale, Richard Sakwa (eds.), Developments in Russian Politics 7 (Palgrave, 2009)
  • Jeffrey Mankoff, Russian Foreign Policy: The Return of Great Power Politics (Council on Foreign Relations Books, Rowman & Littlefield, 2009)
  • Andrei P. Tsygankov, Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity  (3rd ed.   Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013).
  • Jackie Gower and Graham Timmins, Russia and Europe in the Twenty-First Century : an Uneasy Partnership (Anthem Press, 2009).
  • D. Johnson and P. Robinson (eds.), Perspectives on EU-Russia Relations (Routledge, 2013)
  • Adrian Dellecker and Thomas Gomart (eds.), Russian Energy Security and Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2011)
  • Jeronim Perovic, Robert W. Orttung, and Andreas Wenger, Russian Energy Power and Foreign Relations: Implications for Conflict and Cooperation (Routledge, 2009)

Module aims

  • The ability to differentiate between varying forms of terrorism in relation to the political and societal context from which they originate
  • The differing domestic, regional and international responses they provoke
  • The analytical tools to critically assess contemporary counterterrorism policies of Middle Eastern and extra-regional actors

Module details

Students will gain an understanding of the scope and nature of terrorism as it relates to the Middle East.


This module is assessed by two equally-weighted essays -

  •  2 x 3,500 word (40 credit)
  •  2 x 2,500 word (30 credit)


This module is delivered through regular seminars. 

Intended Learning Outcomes 

Knowledge and Understanding

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. offer a detailed analysis of major manifestations of terrorism in the Middle East;
  2. explain the emergence of “new” forms of terrorism;
  3. identify the challenges regional and international actors face in confronting terrorism;
  4. assess the impact of Western counterterrorism policies on the evolvement of terrorism in the region;
  5. critically evaluate discourses on Middle Eastern terrorism within Western media and academia.

Transferrable Skills

Upon successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Through the essay research process, students will learn to manage time pressure, and make concise explanation of their arguments, and:
    1. Demonstrate the development of research skills
    2. Demonstrate subject specific research techniques
    3. Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems
  2. The essays will develop students’ critical capacities to assess both political and documentary evidence, and to make written arguments in a coherent, structured and persuasive way.
  3. Preparation of the essays will help develop skills of information technology (word processing and the use of the internet for research purposes).
  4. Through their seminar participations, students will be able to:
    1. Perform their cultivated inter-personal skills
    2. Perform their oral and written communication skills
    3. Increase their confidence in making oral arguments and giving short presentations before an audience.
    4. The seminar format will further encourage discussion and debate of differing viewpoints.

Module aims

  • To introduce students to the study of human rights in international relations, particularly to regime theory;
  • To encourage students to examine human rights through the comparative perspective of international law and international relations;
  • To challenge students to analyze complex human rights problems and make informed arguments on these issues;
  • To give students the opportunity to discuss on-going human rights crises and topical issues using normative arguments and empirical literature; and
  • To facilitate the development of argumentative and research skills.

Module details

This module introduces students to regime theory in international relations and uses the international human rights regime as a case study. The creation, implementation, compliance, and enforcement of regimes will be discussed with reference to human rights-related issues. The focus of the module is on examining various explanations for the efficacy of the human rights regime in ensuring the protection of human rights by its member states. Evidence gathered utilising quantitative and qualitative methods will be presented to students for assessment.

We explore the following key areas:

  • regime theory
  • applying regime theory to understand the creation and implementation of the human rights regime
  • the role of polity type, civil war, economic development and civil society in regime compliance
  • the role of sanctions and armed intervention in regime enforcement
  • the role of actors such as transnational corporations and non-state armed groups that are outside the regime


This module is assessed by two equally-weighted essays -

  •  two x 3,000-3,500 word essays (40 credit)
  •  two x 2,500 word essays (30 credit)


This module is delivered through weekly seminars. 

Indicative Reading

  • Haas, Michael (2008) International Human Rights: A Comprehensive Introduction, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Landman, Todd (2005) Protecting Human Rights: A Comparative Study, Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • Landman, Todd (2006) Studying Human Rights, Abingdon:Routledge.
  • Goodhart, Michael (2009) Human Rights: Politics and Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fagan, Andrew (2010) The Atlas of Human Rights: Mapping Violations of Freedom Around the Globe, University of California Press.
  • Simmons, Beth (2010) Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Haggard, S. & Simmons, B. (1987) Theories of International Regimes, International Organization, 41, 491-517
  • Hasenclever, A., Mayer, P. & Rittberger, V. (1996) Interests, Power, Knowledge: The Study of International Regimes, Mershon International Studies Review, 40, 177-228
  • Hasenclever, A., Mayer, P. & Rittberger, V. (2000) Integrating Theories of International Regimes, Review of International Studies, 26, 3-33
  • Krasner, S. (1983) International Regimes. Cornell University Press
  • Oye, K. (1996) Cooperation under Anarchy. Princeton University Press
  • Rittberger, V. (1997) Regime Theory and International Relations. Clarendon Press

Intended Learning Outcomes 

Having successfully completed this module, students should have:

  • Knowledge of the basic literature and normative and empirical debates in human rights and international relations;
  • Knowledge of regime theory and its application to understanding the role of human rights in international relations;
  • Experience in the application of international relations theories and evidence to current issues;
  • Basic skills necessary to evaluate the methods and evidence used in academic, policy, and advocacy research; and
  • Improved essay writing and research skills.

Students will also be able to analyse and research normative and empirical issues concerning regime theory and human rights protection.

This modules aims to:

  • examine the dynamics of human rights abuses in conflict
  • understand the legal and political frameworks for addressing human rights abuses in conflict
  • explore the range of responses available to remedy human rights abuses in conflict
  • understand the potential and limitations of these responses

Topics covered include:

  • Human rights abuses as driver and outcome of conflict
  • Ethics of humanitarian intervention
  • Related responses to mass atrocities: humanitarianism, peacekeeping, prosecutions, other forms of accountability
  • Who should intervene?
  • Case studies, potentially including Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur, Syria

The course comprises a 1500 word critical case study (30% of the assessment weighting for the module) and 3500 word final essay (70% of the assessment weighting for the module).

The aim of this module is to build and develop key practical skills relating to planning, undertaking and communicating research, with specific training in effective project planning at the masters level.  Specific and generic skills acquired during the module will assist you in successfully completing other taught modules and their individual project in semester 3.

International Criminal Justice


The module aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of international criminal law and the problems of the operation of international criminal law.

Examples of content

  • introduction to the history of international criminal law.
  • the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court.
  • the substantive law of international crimes.
  • the roles of different actors in the trial process.

SCQF credits


Transnational Crime and Counter Terrorism


This module will examine the international legal response to transnationalcrime (in particular organised crime) and terrorism.

Examples of content

  • nature and extent of organised crime and the general international legal response
  • judicial co-operation –extradition
  • judicial co-operation –mutual assistance
  • the internationallegal response to terrorism
  • review of national legal responses to terrorism

SCQF credits

20 credits

Global Human Rights


The aim of this module is to examine the concept of human rights as a global phenomenon, to examine and compare theoretical or philosophical insights that support the articulation of human rights in a variety of international, regional and national instruments, and to assess the contributions of a selection of writers from the Global South to global human rights discourse.

Examples of content

This module will consider the human rights debate from the perspective of the Global South. Specific themes to be covered include:

  • the history and concept of human rights
  • universality against relativism
  • human rights in Africa 
  • human rights in the Muslim world
  • human rights in Asia

SCQF credits


UN Human Rights Law


To examine critically the law, institutions and procedures relating to the promotion and protection human rights by the United Nations

Examples of content

  • The development of human rights in the UN
  • Treaties, and non-treaty based UN institutions and procedures
  • Civil and political rights
  • Economic and social rights
  • Specialist areas including Discrimination, Torture

SCQF content


Module Reading List

All students must attempt the Politics dissertation.

You will acquire the skills that enable you to marshal and disseminate evidence for a strongly themed dissertation of 12-15,000 words. You will gain expertise in handling secondary sources and a limited amount of primary sources and be able to make appropriate judgements about such evidence. You will be required to submit a full research plan.

Students whose dissertation fails to satisfy the examiners will be awarded the PG Diploma, provided that the taught elements of the course have been successfully completed.

Graduates from the MSc International Relations have a wide range of career options. The knowledge and research skills gained in this course would be an excellent basis for working in government, political parties, or the civil service.

The focus of the course on global issues and affairs provide a strong basis for pursuing a career in international political contexts, such as the European Union or the United Nations.

Alternatively, the course can be a stepping stone for work in civil society, such as charities, environmental organizations or other international non-profit organizations.

Graduates can also put their communication, research and analytical skills to work in a range of careers in the public or private sectors, including education, finance or the media.

The Masters course is an excellent basis for undertaking further postgraduate study in International Politics, such as a PhD, with a view to a full-time career in academia or research.

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Normally an upper second class first degree in Politics, International Relations, International Studies, or a cognate discipline; non-standard entry requirements may be accepted in special cases by the programme convener with the approval of the Politics Research Committee.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fee statusFees for students starting 2019-20
Scottish and EU students £7,300 per year of study
Rest of UK students £7,300 per year of study
International students (non-EU) £17,275 per year of study
Fee statusFees for students starting 2020-21
Scottish and EU students £7,650 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £7,650 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
International students (non-EU) £18,150 per year of study
See our scholarships for International applicants

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students will increase by no more than 5% per year for the length of your course.

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year.

Examples of additional costs:

One off costOngoing costIncidental cost
Graduation feeStudio feeField trips

*these are examples only and are not exhaustive.

Additional costs:

  • may be mandatory or optional expenses
  • may be one off, ongoing or incidental charges and certain costs may be payable annually for each year of your programme of study
  • vary depending on your programme of study
  • are payable by you and are non-refundable and non-transferable

Unfortunately, failure to pay additional costs may result in limitations on your student experience.

For additional costs specific to your course please speak to our Enquiry Team.

You apply for this course through our Direct Application System, which is free of charge. You can find out more information about making your application when you click Apply Now below

  Degree Course code
Apply nowInternational Relations MScP060126

Course Contact

Professor Kurt Mills
Social Sciences
+44 (0)1382 384974

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