Leading politics and international relations schools preparing graduates for global success

Leading politics and international relations schools preparing graduates for global success
These 3 insitutions are preparing students for global success. Source: UCD

Political studies is said to be the “study of influence and the influential” while the study of international relations looks into how nations can collaborate to achieve peace instead of war. As trite as it sounds, these studies serve as anchors that help students navigate a field that is often complex and discordant.

And the complexity of today’s world has created a demand for experts strongly grounded in the how, where and why of power dynamics. The increasingly sophisticated challenges confronting society today — inequality, the climate crisis, and geopolitical tension among others — reinforce politics’ position as the frontline of problem-solving, and this requires enhancing your ability to dissect, analyse, and construct power structures.

The good news is, today, there are more useful tools that can help. Endlessly detailed voter information offers insights never found before, giving hope that we may end up with smarter analysis and, in turn, better reforms. Crucial insights into these advanced knowledge, skills and tools can be found at the following universities:

University College Dublin, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe)

Source: University College Dublin

SPIRe is in the top 100 ranked political science departments in the world. It has an enormous diversity of people and of graduate programmes. Its nearly 150 postgraduate students are from over 30 countries with a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Staff research many different political issues, including ethno-political conflicts, human rights, development, political economy, security and the European Union. Within its six research centers — the UN-linked Centre for Sustainable Development Solutions, the Centre for Peace and Conflict Research, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Research, the Centre for Democracy, the Dublin European Institute and the Connected Politics Lab — students also have the opportunity to engage directly with world-leading faculty members from other UCD schools. There are also many opportunities to meet and interact with leading scholars and policy-makers who visit the school

SPIRe programmes are split into two streams. Our MA degrees — such as Middle East Politics and Political Theory, to name just two — focus on applied knowledge and feature the option of a professional internship. Our MSc degrees hone in on scientific knowledge and research skills including dedicated modules on quantitative and qualitative research methods. A minor research thesis is an integral part of all MSc programmes. For most topics, like Peace and Conflict, students can choose either the MA or MSc route.

In addition to a range of specialist programmes in politics, international relations, and development, the unique MSc Politics and Data Science is ideal for those with a social science and/or technical background seeking cutting-edge data science methods to study digital text, audio, and video. Substantive political science modules are paired with modules on R and Python, quantitative text analysis, simulation modeling, statistics, and more.

A master’s degree at this global top 100 school of politics and international relations (QS World University Rankings 2023) — located in a safe, friendly European capital city — is an exciting and eye-opening foray to make better sense of the complex world we live in.

University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science graduates. Source: University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science

Source: University of Edinburgh

At the University of Edinburgh, you can find answers to some of the thorniest questions confronting European society. The MSc International and European Politics is a showcase of respected academics and their advanced insights on key theories, issues, and controversies surrounding the EU bloc and its societies. It also features modules related to international relations as well as European studies, comparative politics and regional studies. 

Like many programmes from the School of Social and Political Science, this MSc ushers graduates to roles at the likes of NATO and the United Nations, the European Commission and Parliament, regional and national government institutions, development organisations, educational, research and think-tank organisations, banking, media, lobbying, and commercial organisations.

Another programme, the MSc International Relations, looks at power from a different lens. Topics explored include war, terrorism, power, diplomacy, climate change, trade, poverty, migration and international cooperation. The MSc studies them and calls for suggestions on solutions. Training in theory is intensive, with opportunities to apply knowledge available. A career awaits in regional, national and international government institutions, party political support, development organisations, educational, research and think-tank organisations, banking, media, lobbying and commercial organisations. Those more research-inclined can progress to a PhD. 

Durham University

politics and international relations

Source: University of Durham

The MA in International Relations trains students to take a critical view of issues such as globalisation, foreign policy, humanitarian intervention, and the role of international organisations. These concepts, theories, and paradigms are analysed. And from real-world studies informed by quantitative and qualitative investigations, there are crucial lessons to learn and challenge what you know about international politics, international organisations and how they influence relationships between nations. 

The MA in Research Methods (Politics, International Relations, Security) is different from regular politics and international relations master’s degrees. Instead of focusing on one discipline, it is more well-rounded by including training from fields like security. The biggest differentiator, however, is its focus on research methods. The MA does this by implementing the ESRC research training guidelines for “1+3” PhD students, and includes compulsory elements in a wide variety of techniques including statistics and quantitative methods, but contains less subject-specific content than the other MA courses. For a year, there are 180 credits to earn, divided into two core and two optional modules of 30 credits each, plus a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits.

The programmes above are offered by the School of Government and International Affairs. It is ranked eighth for Politics in the UK (Complete University Guide 2024). Perhaps what’s more important to know is that it’s the first Politics Department to hold an Athena Swan Bronze award. The latter recognises its efforts to promote gender equality. “Engaging with the Athena Swan process has helped us to identify areas in the school in which gender-based inequalities were an issue, and given us a formal way to address those inequities,” says associate professor Dr. Tessa Ditonto. “Because of this process, we have made real progress in a number of areas. For example, thanks to an emphasis on gender equality in our recruitment process, we’ve achieved near-parity in the number of women and men on our staff, with a strong representation of female PhD students.”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International