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MA in the European Union and International Relations

Gain a high-level understanding of political and economic power in a globalised world.

Why choose this course?

  • Study at a leading centre for research on contemporary Europe and international relations
  • Active membership of the Aston Centre for Europe, a thriving research hub which organises debates, study visits, and conferences and seminars on current international issues throughout the academic year
  • Develop wide-ranging skills of critical analysis and approaches to the study of European integration and international relations.




Duration: Full time 1 year. Part time 2 years

Start date(s): October  

Distance learning available: No

Intake: Approximately 10-15 per year

Entry requirements:
2.1 Degree in any discipline (or equivalent).
An overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of Band 7 in Writing and Band 6 in Speaking, Reading and Listening; or TOEFL 105 (with 25 minimum in Writing and Speaking and 23 minimum in Reading and Listening); or Pearson Academic results of minimum 68 in Writing and Speaking and minimum 61 in Listening.

Fees for 2014/2015*: 
UK/ EU: £4,700 
Non-EU: £13,000 
*These figures have not been confirmed, but they are expected to be approximately as stated. Part-time students pay a pro-rata version of full-time fees.

Application: We recommend that overseas students apply before the end of June due to visa requirements as these can take a few weeks to process.

Apply for this course online

Through this programme, graduates gain a high-level understanding of political and economic power in a globalised world. Studying modules on topics such as Religion and Global Politics, Security and Defence in Europe and International Political Communication and Leaders, students develop wide-ranging insights into political behaviour and skills in the critical analysis of contemporary political issues.

This programme is ideally suited to internationally oriented careers in the public or private sector.

Sample Module Options

The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Core modules:

This module focuses on the process of European Political and Economic Cooperation up to the present day and beyond; particularly, Europe’s growing role as an international actor. Within this framework, issues looked at will include the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and its role as mediator in international conflicts such as the Gulf War, Middle East, and the former Yugoslavia, with a particular emphasis on the war on terrorism, Iraq, and intelligence co-operation, as well as the Union’s positioning vis-à-vis the United States, particularly since the latest EU enlargement. Another area to be looked at is Europe as an economic power and her relations with its immediate neighbours, its major partners such as the US, Japan and South-East Asia, particularly in the age of the euro, and its role in Third World development and global environmental issues. While analysing these issues we will evaluate what the trends appear to be, in the context of globalisation and world developments.

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is on the basis of one 5, 000 word essay

The aim is that the student acquires knowledge and understanding of key methodological processes in social science research, and, by the end of the module, should be able to apply appropriate selected methods to his/her own research (notably the dissertation). The student should also learn to use a multi-media VLE environment effectively and confidently in a self-directed (though supervised) way.

Students learn to apply conceptual and ethical approaches to social science research, develop high-level quantitative and qualitative methods of social science data collection and data analysis.

Assessment method: The assessment is by one essay (3000 words; 40% of grade) and completion of the task-focused continuous assessment (60%).
Students will demonstrate their ability to design, conduct and report the results of a research project in the subject domain relevant to their Master programme. They will work independently, under the guidance of a supervisor. Preparing a Masters dissertation is a complex exercise which will strengthen and test various subject-specific and transferable research skills, including research methodology and academic writing.

Assessment method: Students prepare a 15,000 word dissertation on a research subject of their choosing, guided by a member of the academic staff.

Elective modules:

A better understanding of International Relations can help to explain why and how problems such as terrorism, economic and financial crisis, armed conflict or trade wars occur and how they might be best resolved. This course provides an advanced grounding in the key concepts and ideas employed in the analysis of International Relations and International Politics.  This will offer you a sense of the identity of International Relations as an academic discipline and also give you a set of conceptual tools, which will better enable you to make sense of international events. International Relations Theory critically examines the nature and the impact of the major schools of thought in International Relations.

Assessment method: The assessment is by class presentation (15%) and by one 3000 word essay (85%).

This module provides students with a broad understanding of the important developments within the European polity. In particular, the module analyses the evolution of the EU, the role of European institutions, recent trends in European politics, economics and society, and the impact of European integration at both national and supranational levels. 

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is on the basis of one 5, 000 word essay

This course aims to enable students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of leadership studies in political science, and with key concepts used in the analysis of political institutions and leadership. This knowledge forms the conceptual, methodological and analytical basis for many of the political and politics-related issues to be studied by MA students. This course aims to enable students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of the study of political leaders and leadership, and with key concepts used in their analysis.

Assessment method: Assessment is by one 5,000 word essay.

The module provides a comprehensive comparative overview of regions, and forms of regionalism / “minority nationalism” in present-day Europe. The course will focus on (i) constitutional, legal and political arrangements for regions within the EU, including in the recently reformed countries of East-Central Europe; (ii) the EU’s own regional policy-making, (iii) a survey of on-going reform processes of territorial governance in a variety of countries (e.g. UK, Spain, Poland), and (iv) the increased levels of paradiplomacy and cross-border engagement of regional governments and authorities across the EU.

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is by way of one 4, 000 to 5, 000 word essay.

The module will be an advanced level course comparing the EU with East Asian visions of regionalism and analysing the political, economic and social relations between the EU, its member-states with East Asia (here defined as the ASEAN 10 plus Japan, North and South Korea, China and Taiwan). It is an interdisciplinary module and students will be exposed to the wide and diverse perspectives on international and interregional relations. The module will draw from history, area studies, international relations, sociology, business and economics and comparative regionalism. It will also call upon the participation of a variety of external experts.

Assessment method: Assessment is by means of a portfolio (75%) and an exam (25%)

For the portfolio, students will be required to prepare short class presentations for each session and to complete one written assignment (2,500 words). The presentations ought to be accompanied by a one-page handout containing the main points. The assignment will be in form of a briefing paper/ policy analysis of a topical issue chosen by the student. The portfolio will contain the handouts and the briefing paper.

This module provides a detailed overview of the most important aspects of religious and political development in Europe from 1945 until today. It includes a detailed empirical account of the following main themes of research: theoretical approaches to religion and politics; the historical trajectory of religion and politics after 1945; an overview of Huntington’s theory of the conflict of civilisations; European secularism and fundamentalism; Christianity and politics; models of church-state relations; Islam and politics; religion and politics in the construction of the European Union; and religion and

international relations.

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is by way of one 5, 000 word essay
This module focuses on the evolution of security and defence policies in the European Union. It will start by considering the origins of security cooperation in Europe before going to consider the evolution of EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

The module will then examine the broader issues of European security by looking at several case studies starting with European involvement in former Yugoslavia and moving onto more recent ESDP missions, including EUFOR Chad, EUPOL  Afghanistan and EULEX Kosovo.  By focusing on ESDP case studies, the module aims to explore wider issues concerning EU’s security policies such as its unique approaches to crisis management, military capacity and civilian-military dimensions of conflict intervention and state-building. 

Assessment method: Assessment is by means of one 5,000 word essay
This module provides students with a thorough knowledge of the theoretical foundations of political communication in contemporary democracies. It examines various aspects of government information policy and the relationship between government, the media and the public, exploring the political content of the mass media. It assesses the relationship between media, political actors and the public, and considers the extent to which mediated activity has influenced politics and the distribution of power. This is a policy-relevant module that distinguishes students as highly informed and strategic thinkers in the political arena.

Assessment method: Assessment is by means of a campaign portfolio – materials and presentation, to include analysis of strategy deployed (20%) and one 3,500 word essay (80%).

This module engages with the praxiological element of international politics.  It begins with the theoretical discourses surrounding international politics as a way of exploring the practices that emerge within its structures.  It then examines the interplay of theory and practice by engaging with alternative textual sources namely, works of fiction, memoires, diaries and film to grasp the nature of ethical and moral debates of international politics.
 

Assessment method: Assessment for this module 4 bi-weekly submissions each worth 25 % To be submitted in class on the following weeks: 16, 18, 20, 22. 

This module provides students with an appreciation of the broad and complex issue of political leadership as an academic discipline in the context of Europe, both within the EU, Europe more generally, and its nation states. There will also be comparative analysis with leadership in the US. Students will be able to understand key political concepts regarding leadership, and to use them in political debates.  They will also develop an understanding of the key contents and problems of the major sub-discipline of leadership studies in political science.

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is by one 5,000 word essay

This module considers key questions in post-Cold War international security. It starts by considering the scope and evolution of Security Studies, and introducing students to key approaches to security, including realism, liberalism and constructivism. Subsequently, students will have the opportunity to examine key concerns of global security by considering issues such as the pattern of global conflict, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, energy security, piracy and the defence trade. We will also consider the changing role of key security actors, such as the UN and NATO.

Guiding questions of this module are: What are the key concerns of international security? What are perceived to be the key threats and how are they managed? Are international security concerns different to national security?

Assessment method: Assessment for this module will be by way of one 5, 000 word essay
This is a truly unique module combining the subject areas of International and Comparative Political Economy. The module is divided into two parts. Part I is dedicated to an introduction to International Political Economy (IPE), a branch of International Relations, which focuses on the interactions between states and markets, power and wealth in the international system. Why do we live in a world characterised by inequality? What are the reasons for underdevelopment and what are the possible solutions? What is driving the North-South conflict? Why is it so difficult to solve the problem of re-occurring financial crisis despite its devastating social consequences?

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is by means of one 3,000 word essay (85%). 15% of the grade for this module comes from presentation, preparation and involvement(15%): this involves  a presentation to the group of around 20 minutes, as well as preparation for and contribution to the weekly seminar sessions.

This module examines how economic policy-making is conducted at EU level on the basis of the legal instruments adopted since the inception of the integration process through to the most recent treaty developments.

After reviewing the treaty bases for policy and the legal system that has evolved to give effect to them, including the balance of powers between the institutions, the module examines the key policy areas affecting the European economy as set out in the basic instruments and developed at political level.

The module then focuses on two of the most important competences of the EU as regards economic policy, namely EU competition rules and the single market, and compares and contrasts the approaches to law and policy taken at European level in these fields.

Assessment method: Assessment for this module is by way of one 3, 000 word essay.

You will take part in interactive seminars, discussion and simulation exercises, as well as undertaking group project work. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. MA students are a fundamental part of the intellectual life of the Politics and International Relations study group. All students on MA programmes take part in the regular series of guest lectures and research seminars on issues of contemporary political relevance as well as taking part in the conferences and events organised and hosted by the Aston Centre for Europe and by the study group.

All students have the opportunity to take part in a week long study trip to visit the EU institutions and related organisation in Brussels. 

All students are allocated a personal tutor at the start of their studies; this member of academic staff can offer individual study advice and guidance and is there to help support your studies.

Assessments on the MA programme take a wide variety of forms, ranging from essays and examinations through to policy reports, briefings and campaign portfolios.

All of our MA Programmes equip students with the knowledge and analytical and transferable skills to pursue further postgraduate research or a successful career in the public and private sector. The careers pursued by our students vary greatly, but typical careers include:

  • employment in international organisations (EU, WTO, UN etc.),
  • research in policy-oriented domestic or international think tanks,
  • careers in government administration,
  • further postgraduate research at PhD level,
  • journalism,
  • international marketing or business.
You will have access to:
  • Our Virtual Learning Environment – Blackboard – to support your studies, including Blackboard discussion groups
  • The University Library, including over 25,000 books and a wide range of electronic journals.  The library has special provision in place to help part time and distance learning students access their resources: www.aston.ac.uk/lis/studentinfo/parttime
  • University wide facilities such as the Careers Service, Students’ Advice Centre, Students’ Jobshop, Counselling Service, Sports Facilities, and Chaplaincy.

Read what the staff have to say about their programme:

The Institutions of the European Union

Dr Carolyn Rowe - MA Programmes Director. A contributing author of ''The Institutions of the European Union'' (Oxford University Press)

PhD (European Politics) University of Birmingham; MA (European Studies) Humboldt Universität zu Berlin; BA (Modern and Medieval Languages) University of Cambridge

“This multi-dimensional study programme develops students’ understanding of the EU as a Global Actor, and how it relates to other international organisation. It pushes students hard, but a demanding programme really encourages them to excel!”

Nat Copsey Book Cover

Dr Nathaniel Copsey - Head of Study Group

DPhil (Political Science) Sussex; MA (European Political and Administrative Studies) College of Europe; BA (Modern History) Oxford

“The MA in the European Union and International Relations programme encourages students to develop their critical thinking and engage in contemporary debates about the EU’s role in the world. It is a fascinating world of study”

Student Profile

Student Profile

Ben Harrison

MA in the EU & International Relations

What’s great about studying on this MA is that many of my lecturers are involved with the EU through consultancy work, so they are helping to make an impact in the EU. The involvement of my lecturers with the EU means that Aston has a lot of great contacts, which is always helpful when looking for internships/jobs.

 

Student Profile

Student Profile

Thomas Novy

MA in the EU & International Relations

This is a really high-quality course run by skillful, experienced and friendly teachers. There are lots of opportunities to express opinions in class and every opinion counts. For me, the benefit of this qualification is that I am able to develop my profile as a specialist in European political issues.

 

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries

Fees & funding

Fees & funding

Accommodation

Accommodation

Learn a language alongside your course

Learn a language alongside your course
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Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research