International Relations and Global Governance MA - January 2021

Study the International Relations and Global Governance MA course at Aston University – a leading centre for research on Europe and international relations – to give you a head start in your future career.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type

Full-time / Part-time

Course format

No placements


1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

UCAS code(s)


Start date

Course outline and modules

This cutting-edge master’s course, delivered at Aston over one full academic year, will help you to get a broader perspective on issues of globalised governance and contemporary international relations alongside the opportunity to learn in an exciting multicultural environment.

What you’ll learn

On this masters, you’ll study international relations theory and explore government structures from a global perspective.

Examine the governance of global problems, such as trade, health and the environment, and explore issues of national and multi-national governance through organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

You will develop a wide-ranging skillset, including negotiation skills and public speaking, which will help to open doors when it comes to forging a career working for international organisations, governments and political institutions.

Depending on your interests and future career plans, the course provides the flexibility to choose from a wide range of elective modules, such as Critical approaches to Security studies, International Relations and Easy Asia, Changing China, and Concepts and Strategies for Social Data Analysis.

You can also specialise within different regions, including Europe or East Asia.

Aston is ranked 3rd in the UK for Area Studies research (REF 2014), so you know you will be learning from a team of international lecturers who are experts in their field. You’ll also benefit from 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.

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies to find work. The new post-study work visa will apply to international students starting undergraduate and postgraduate courses from 2020. Click here for more information on post-work visas.


Core modules

International Relations Theory

‘This course provides an advanced grounding in the key concepts and ideas employed in the analysis of International Relations and International Politics. It seeks to understand and address some of the most compelling questions within the International Relations discipline, such as: Why do wars occur? How can states cooperate? What is the role of international organisations? This module will offer students a sense of the identity of International Relations as an academic discipline, whilst equipping them with a set of conceptual tools that will better enable them to make sense of the international system and the events that take place within it. International Relations Theory critically examines the nature, impact, and application of the major schools of thought in International Relations.’

Assessment method: The assessment is by class presentation (15%) and by one 2,500 word essay (85%).


Governance of Global Problems

The module aims at a critical appraisal of existing models to address global problems. Starting from a critical engagement with the two key concepts of globalization and global governance, the module goes on to assess different international, transnational, regional and local strategies to deal with selected global - or globalized - issues.’

Assessment: The assessment by 2.000 words policy paper (80%) and by portfolio (20%).


Concepts and Strategies for Qualitative Social Science

This is an advanced module on qualitative social science which links specific research methods to broader and deeper debates in the philosophy of social science: What exists in the social world? What is the nature of social scientific knowledge? Are different forms of knowledge equally valid/complementary/mutually exclusive? The module likewise deconstructs concepts like ‘research’, ‘social’, ‘science’, ‘qualitative’ and ‘knowledge’ and allows students to understand the metatheoretical substructure that underpins classic and contemporary debates in the social sciences: Can research be value-free? Which research method is ‘best’? what are the strengths and weaknesses of method x when compared to method y? These are just some examples of the questions into which the modules aims to provide insight. The module will allow students to engage with a variety of classic and contemporary texts in order to make them more discerning and sophisticated social scientists. By the end of the module, students will able to apply appropriate selected methods to their own research – notably their MA dissertation.’

Assessment: The assessment by 3.000 words essay (80%) and by individual presentation (20%).


Dissertation module

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.

Optional modules
  • Rethinking European integration
  • EU as a Global actor
  • Post-migration Europe
  • Rouge states
  • IR and East-Asia
  • Changing China: People’s Republic in the 21st Century
  • Religion and Politics
  • Critical Approaches to Security Studies
  • International political economy
  • Interest groups and lobbying
  • International political communication
  • Negotiation skills: EuroSim and ModelUN
  • Concepts and Strategies for Social Data Analysis
  • Languages modules


Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Entry requirements

2:2 degree in Social Science, Language or a related subject. Other degrees might be suitable depending on personal statement and motivation.

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements

For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your country webpage.

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.

Learning, teaching and assessment

Learning and teaching

You will take part in interactive seminars, discussion and simulation exercises, as well as undertaking group project work. All assignments are designed in a practical way to enable you to link your learning to real world issues. 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 degrees 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.

Study skills

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


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

Personal development

The MA focusses on developing your practical skills, so assignments may include working with simulated negotiation sessions, and analysing speeches delivered by politicians. We also help you develop your presentation skills and public speaking, alongside classical assignments such as essay writing.

Students on this postgraduate course come to study at Aston from the UK and all different parts of the world, so you’ll become part of a diverse student community which will further broaden your horizons.

Programme Director(s)

Dr Davide Vampa

Fees and scholarships

UK/EU students (2020/21): £8,000

International students (2020/21): £15,000

*Part-time students pay a pro-rata version of full-time fees. More on fees.

Tuition fees are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. When undertaking a placement year a placement year fee applies.

More information on fees


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.

Career prospects

The careers pursued by our students vary greatly, but typical careers include: employment in international organisations, (for example the EU, WTO, UN), research in policy-oriented domestic or international think tanks, careers in government administration, further postgraduate research at PhD level, journalism, international marketing or business.


Frequently asked questions

Why should I study International Relations and Global Governance MA at Aston?

The International Relations and Global Governance MA course at Aston will help you to get a broader perspective on issues of globalised governance and contemporary international relations alongside the opportunity to learn in an exciting multicultural environment.

Why should I do a master’s degree with Aston?

All our MA courses equip students with the knowledge, along with analytical and transferable skills to pursue further postgraduate research or a successful career in the public or private sector.


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