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Durham University


L250 International Relations BA Undergraduate  2021


Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.

For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

UCAS code L250
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

Course Summary


Taught by expert staff, undergraduate education in Politics at Durham is structured around the study of International Relations, International Organisations, Security and Theory. In addition to learning research skills, the degree includes the opportunity to study the politics and international relations of specific regions, as well as theoretical examinations that help us to understand how we make sense of a complex and inter-connected world. You will move from general study in these areas in your early years to more specialised options in Years 2 and 3.

Modules in the second and third years reflect the research expertise of the School’s academic staff. Such areas include, but are not limited to: European Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Thought and Political Theory, Theory, Middle East Politics, the Politics of East Asia, International Relations, and International Political Theory.

The School places great importance on research-led teaching, which integrates new and cutting-edge research into the curriculum and introduces you to a variety of research-oriented skills and research-based projects

You will also have the opportunity to apply for a one-year study placement in one of the following institutions: Boston College in the USA; the University of British Columbia in Canada; the University of Hong Kong; and the National University of Singapore.

Year 1

Compulsory modules:

  • Introduction to International Relations 
  • International Security, Interdependence and Organisation 
  • Global Regions in International Relations
  • Researching Politics and International Relations.

Plus one of the following:

  • Democratic Political Systems 
  • Political Theory
  • Comparative Politics
  • One module offered by another department OR one module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Year 2

Compulsory modules:

  • Research Project
  • International Theory OR International Organisations.

Plus four of the following which can include the one above not chosen previously:

  • International Theory
  • The Politics of Pacific Asia
  • Foundations of Western Political Thought
  • German Politics and Society
  • International Organisations
  • Sovereignty, State and Empire
  • Global Political Economy Middle East in the International System
  • Democratic Theory
  • Politics and Identity in Contemporary Germany
  • Class and Nation in British Politics
  • Analytical Politics
  • Crises and Conflict in European Studies
  • One module offered by another department OR one module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

Year 3

Compulsory module:

  • Dissertation (Double).

Examples of Optional modules:

  • China in Global Political Economy
  • Elections and British Politics
  • Israel: Politics and Society
  • The Theory and Ethics of Political Violence
  • Women in Politics
  • One module offered by another department OR one module offered by the Centre for Foreign Language Study.

We review course structures and core content (in light of e.g. external and student feedback) every year, and will publish finalised core requirements for 2021 entry from September 2020.

Study Abroad

Students can apply for a one-year study placement in one of the following institutions: British Columbia in Canada, the University of Hong Kong, and the National University of Singapore. In some cases courses are offered in English, while in others teaching is in the local language. We have an ERASMUS/Year Abroad Co-ordinator who will help you prepare for your year abroad, and who will maintain contact with you while you are away.

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

Teaching is at the centre of the activities of the School of Government and International Affairs, where you will enjoy a vibrant and challenging intellectual environment. The School places great importance on research-led teaching, which integrates new and cutting-edge research into the curriculum and will introduce you to a variety of research-oriented skills and research-based projects. Teaching takes the form of lectures and small group seminars, with an emphasis on encouraging our students to become independent thinkers, able to locate, analyse, and question subject material with the skills learned in the course of their studies.

Students on this degree learn through a diversity of assessment methods, including but not limited to examinations and unseen essay questions, essays, group projects, and a dissertation. Modules are assessed during the year of study, with each module offering multiple chances for assessment and feedback on student work. In your final year, you will submit a dissertation, which allows you to explore in depth a topic of your choice. You will be assigned a supervisor to assist you in the design and production of your dissertation.

All of these are supported by a virtual learning environment, Durham University Online (DUO). Seminars provide the opportunity for students to engage in discussion of a particular topic and/or to explore it in more detail than might be covered in a lecture. Student participation is an important part of seminars. This emphasis on small-group teaching reflects a conscious choice to enhance the quality of the learning experience rather than the number of formal sessions.

Small-group teaching and one-to-one attention from the personal academic advisor (provided for all students when they enter the degree) are part of the learning experience throughout, but by the final year classroom time gives way, to some extent, to independent research, including a dissertation – supported by one-on-one supervision – that makes up a third of final year credits.

In this way, the degree systematically transforms you from a consumer of knowledge in the classroom to a generator of knowledge, ready for professional or postgraduate life. These formal teaching arrangements are supported by “drop-in” surgeries with teaching staff and induction sessions that begin in the week before the start of the course and continue at key times throughout each year of the degree.

Our degree, through the diversity of assessments, simulations, independent learning, and various classroom based activities aim to provide you with multiple opportunities to develop a range of important transferable and employability skills including: complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating work others, time management, judgment and decision making, and cognitive flexibility.

As a student in the School of Government and International Affairs, you can also attend an extensive programme of research-focused seminars where staff, guest speakers, and visiting scholars present their cutting edge research.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offer – AAA including a social science or humanities subject. 

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD and A levels as above.

IB Diploma score – 37 with 666 in higher level subjects, including a social sciences or humanities subject.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions Selectors for more information.
  • If you do not satisfy our general entry requirements, the Foundation Programme offers multidisciplinary degrees to prepare you for a range of specified degree courses. 
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.


English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £21,730.00 per year
Home Student £9,250.00 per year
Island Student £9,250.00 per year
International non-EU Student £21,730.00 per year

The tuition fees shown for home and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities

School of Government and International Affairs

We offer exceptional opportunities that will help you become critically and socially engaged graduates of the highest calibre.

Our graduates have an enviable record of employment and enter a wide range of career areas including business and finance, local and national government, armed forces, marketing and PR, media - newspaper and TV journalism, publishing, law, manufacturing industry, recruitment and teaching.

Our graduates have gone on to have great success in the political arena - with alumni job titles including Chief Operating Officer for the GB Equality and Human Rights Commission, Head of Defence Inquests and Disclosure in the Ministry of Defence and Political Officer in the British Embassy Mogadishu, while others hold senior academic and government positions around the world.

Other recruiters include leading employers such as the House of Commons, Accenture, British Airways, Ernst and Young, British Telecom, Goldman Sachs, PwC, Royal Navy, House of Fraser, Aldi, Channel 4, HSBC, Teach First, Durham University, Black Rock, Parliament and the Audit Commission.


When applying for roles many employers will ask you to supply academic references from one of your tutors. We always advise that you should approach tutors who know you and your work well, such as a special subject or dissertation tutor.

To help guide you with this process we arrange for advisors from the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre provide short presentations to each year group as part of joined up sessions with an Academic Careers Contact and the Head of Undergraduate Studies:

  • Year 1 covers an introduction to developing employability skills.
  • Year 2 focuses on internships / work experience.
  • Year 3 focuses on graduate schemes / recruitment cycle / effective on-line applications

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information

School of Government and International Affairs


From soapboxes to statecraft, you will learn how and why nations are run the way they are.
Our expert staff will help you to develop a thorough knowledge of the structure and functions of the modern state, the history of ideas about the nature and purpose of politics, and the development of particular regions and their political systems.

Teaching is at the centre of the activities of the School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA), where undergraduates enjoy a vibrant and challenging intellectual environment. The School places great importance on research-led education, which integrates new and cutting edge research into the curriculum and introduces students to a variety of research-oriented skills and research-based projects.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020.
  • Top 10 in The Complete University Guide 2020.


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Government and International Affairs web pages.


The School of Government and International Affairs is a concentration of research expertise in political processes and institutions, political thought, and international and area studies. Teaching takes place both in the Department’s own rooms and in conveniently located lecture rooms.

The University Library has an excellent collection in politics as well as specialised research collections such as the European Documentation Centre. Colleges provide additional library resources as well as computing facilities.


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