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

This masters course surveys the new security challenges confronting societies in an era of economic, social and political globalization, and provides a thorough grounding in the academic study of international politics.

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.

We offer a regular postgraduate forum, visiting speakers and an annual postgraduate conference. Students 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:

Credit rating: 20

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’

Credit rating: 20

Students are introduced to important debates about the academic study of international politics.

They will address questions such as:

  • What assumptions and conventions underpin international politics? 
  • Is international politics still dominated by power-rivalry between nation-states?
  • What are the principal challenges to the security and stability of the international order?
  • Have new challenges emerged in recent times? 
  • How should these be responded to? 
  • To what extent can international politics be governed by shared rules and institutions? 

By drawing on the most recent developments in the study of international politics, students will explore important questions about the nature of international relations and survey some of the most cutting edge controversies in contemporary political debates.

Indicative topics include:

  • Principal topics in the study of international relations.
  • Security challenges in the current world order.
  • Prospects for coordinated responses to security challenges.
  • Economic, social, political and military developments associated with globalization.
  • Impacts of globalization on the nation-state.
  • The role of the United States on the world stage.
  • Regionalism and multi-level governance
  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Economic warfare
  • Debates over the use of military force in the 21st century

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

Credit rating: 20

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.

Credit rating: 20

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.

Credit rating: 20

To develop a knowledge and understanding of the development and functioning of European security, its institutions, decision-making, and negotiations.

Credit rating: 20

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

Credit rating: 20

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the issue of terrorism and a comprehension of some of the problems for democratic states in Europe, as well as the European Union in responding to this threat.

The Treaty on European Union stipulates that one of the key objectives of the European Union (EU) is to provide citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice. Yet, when it comes to the measures taken to combat terrorism following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks in the United States (US), has the EU lived up to this promise thus far?

The module provides students with the analytical tools to systematically assess the phenomenon of terrorism, its increasingly international character, and varying national and European responses to the problem.

Indicative topics include:

  • Definitions, Typology, Prehistory
  • Radicalisation and causes for terrorism
  • Religious based terrorism and Al-Qaeda
  • Counter-terrorism in the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice
  • European Union multilateral terrorism cooperation with the US and the world
  • Terrorism in European Foreign Policy
  • The US Experience and EU-US transatlantic cooperation on counter-terrorism
  • What role for European military forces and NATO in the War on Terror?
  • The Future of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

Case studies of terrorist groups, such as:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Red-brigades, Italy
  • Baader Meinhoff, Germany
  • ETA, Spain
  • USA
  • Russia and Chechnya
  • Al-Qaeda

Credit rating: 20

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

All students must attempt the Politics dissertation.

Credit rating: 60

You conduct supervised, independent research to produce a 18,000 word dissertation.

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.

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 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £5,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £5,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £14,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowInternational Relations MScP060126

Course Contact

Dr Stephen Rozée
Social Sciences
+44 (0)1382 384929

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