- Entry requirements: 2:1 Bachelor's degree
- Full-time: 12 months
- Part-time: 24 months
This MA offers a fantastic opportunity for postgraduate students from across the world to join in and learn about contemporary debates on the meaning of security, democracy and the role of political processes in International Relations.
This MA programme offers a brilliant opportunity for you to enhance your career prospects by learning about international relations, academic methods and contemporary security debates.
One of the key characteristics of the programme is flexibility and choice, which allows you to pursue your own particular areas of interest through our optional pathways, which draw on the expert knowledge of staff in the Department of Politics i.e. International Relations and Security, Conflict Resolution and Political Communication.
The Department of Politics at the University of Liverpool has an internationally recognised expertise on topics of international relations and security. We have a unique combination of expertise in international relations theory, non-state actor violence and resolution of conflicts.
The department puts a strong emphasis on high quality teaching. Classroom seminars and lectures are designed interactively and centre around student engagement. Likewise teaching staff are passionate about making complicated matters of international relations accessible to students.
The MA is ideal for graduates in Politics studies or other social science degrees who want to increase their knowledge in international relations and contemporary security debates.
Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.
International students may be able to study this course on a part-time basis but this is dependent on visa regulations. Please visit the Government website for more information about student visas.
If you're able to study part-time, you'll study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.
Studying part-time means you can study alongside work or any other life commitments. You will study the same modules as the full-time master's degree over a longer period, usually 24 months. You can make studying work for you by arranging your personal schedule around lectures and seminars which take place during the day. After you complete all the taught modules, you will complete your final dissertation or project and will celebrate your achievements at graduation the following term.
You will take 30 credits of required modules and 30 credits of optional modules in Semester one.
Optional module ENVS434 is a ‘year-long’ module and represents 7.5 credits in each semester, 15 credits in total.
Students may take optional modules from other relevant subject areas with approval of the Subject Lead.
This module surveys the main theories in the academic discipline of International Relations (IR). It adopts a quasi-chronological approach, beginning with the philosophical roots of IR theories and ending with contemporary theoretical debates. Attention will be paid throughout to the historical and social context from which theoretical developments emerged, and how these are relevant or useful in our understanding of contemporary security issues. The aim is to equip students with the necessary conceptual and analytical tools that can then be applied to their own specific areas of interest or field of research. By the end of the module students should be able to understand the key theoretical debates in the subject of IR.
This module will be of particular interest to students interested in big data and how it is collected and used in modern society; in the politics and policy questions around social media; and in the interactions between media, platforms, and citizens. It will introduce students to the study of online media and platforms, with a particular focus on ‘big’ social trace data. As well as developing their understanding of how Internet-based media systems work, students will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of using big data for social science research, and engage with key online political communication policy questions.
The module examines a range of interconnected issues concerning the politics/media relationship. It offers a critical overview of the ways in which the media have been studied and discussed in relation to political processes and explores the key aspects of contemporary theory and research in politics and media. Part one is devoted to theories and debates about the politics and media relationship. It examines different ways of making sense of the relationship between the state, the public, and the media and questions surrounding media power and media audiences. Part two focuses on specific cases and controversies in the media-politics relations. It explores the changing relationships, representational forms, power dynamics, and impacts of media performance in selected forms of contemporary ‘conflict’.
The module provides students with in-depth specialist knowledge of the principles and structure of international law, with a special emphasis on law-making processes. It offers a selected introduction to the field by placing the issues covered into the political and historical context of international relations. The module features discussions of some of today’s most debated theoretical and practical international legal issues against the backdrop of multiple international, regional and domestic legal and policy frameworks. They include the evolving role of international law in international affairs, the forms of law making, the ever increasing number of actors involved, the expansion of international adjudication, the creation of states, the various faces of sovereignty, and the impact of international law on domestic systems.
Each lecture addresses selected elements of these debates and the basic principles underpinning them. Examples of basic questions include: What is international law? Is international law really law? How did it develop as a body of rules separate from domestic law? What types of norms define the international legal order? What are the main international decision-making processes and who are the actors involved? What are the manifestations of state sovereignty and how do states exercise sovereignty from the perspective of international law and relations? How does international law affect domestic law? Or what is the status of international law within domestic legal orders?
This module looks at the international politics of the Middle East, focusing primarily onidentity and security issues. At a general level, it seeks to provide a comprehensive account of the issues on the security agenda of governments and international organizations at a time of turbulence and change in the Arabworld. It takes the broader view of security as understood within the field of International Relations. Thus, in addition to the study of causes of conflict and co-operation, it is concerned with a wider range of issues that have the potential to bring greater political stability or instability. The nature of regimes and the significance of democratisation efforts for regional stabilityare central concerns of the module. It involves analysis of state structures, the pattern of relations between states, the political economy, new transnational movements, the role of identity and belief systems and the involvement of external powers. Special attention is paid to the Arab-Israeli conflict and other regional conflicts.
The majority of teaching will be delivered face-to-face on campus. Online delivery will be used to complement the on-campus delivery and where technology affords a better learning experience.
This module requires students to engage with contemporary forms of exploitation often categorised as ‘slavery’, to consider the origins and human experience of such activities, to assess proposals for combating them, and to apply these to an independent research project. Seminars will challenge students to analyse the major themes in legal and political responses to trafficking, forced labour and other forms of human rights abuse analogous to slavery. Students will develop strategies for researching practices and policies relating to contemporary ‘slaveries’ and they will develop an independent study of a particular aspect.
This module aims to acquaint students with terrorism and counter-terrorism in today’s world. It starts by examining key concepts, theories, and history and then moves on to looking at a range of issues that have been the subject of particular debate, such as whether terrorism works, whether there are regularities in how campaigns end, and the necessity and contributions of literature on ‘Critical Terrorism Studies’. The module concludes by looking at whether we are at the end of the religious wave of terrorism and what we might expect to occur next.
Conflicts, terrorism and wars have plagued human societies since their inception: which factors are likely to explain their occurrence and duration of wars? How are civil wars different from inter-state and ethnic conflicts? Who is more likely to become a terrorist? How does the public react to terrorist attacks? How do states respond to terror? This course examines a number of theoretical and empirical debates in the study of conflict and terrorism. We will investigate how empirical analyses can help settling some debates while others remain still open. By the end of this module, students are expected to (1) develop an understanding of the major explanations for conflicts and terrorism and critically discuss their strengths and shortcomings (2) interpret the findings advanced by the empirical literature against or in line with the discussed theoretical predictions (and students’ own pre-theoretical intuitions) (3) get exposed to the data and techniques employed by empirical scholarship to investigate conflict and terrorism.
Please note: this is a theory and method heavy course and the application of both will be a mandatory requirement for the assignment(s). Students should be prepared to devote considerable time to familiarize themselves with methods and theory.
Civil war is the most common form of armed conflict today. While around thirty interstate wars have been fought since World War II, over one hundred civil wars have been recorded. Scholars have long focused their attention on civil conflict, producing a large body of literature on different aspects of civil war, e.g. exploring onset, duration, strategies, outcomes and termination, the formation of rebel groups, and the various forms of intervention in civil war. The module will introduce students to this body of research.
Substantially, the module is divided into four parts. The first part provides an introduction to the study of civil war and an extensive methods discussion. The latter will emphasis concepts and measurement, causal assessment, and case selection. In the second part of the module, we will look at civil war onset. War is a costly and risky endeavor, and rebels face particularly steep odds going up against states that are typically far more powerful. Why do they occur? The third part explores the dynamics in civil wars. Why do parties target civilians? When do civil wars spill over? The fourth part looks at the end of wars and termination of conflict. Why do some civil wars last longer than others? Why do some end in a negotiated settlement while others do not? Does outside intervention facilitate the termination of civil wars and prevent their recurrence?
This module explores the role of the EU as an international actor in the sphere of foreign policy, international relations, and security and defence. It analyses the historical development of EU foreign policy and its various dimensions, the main institutions and players involved, but also the different roles the EU assumes when acting internationally, and how it relates to regional and global partners. This latter element will also be explored with regards to the UK’s pending exit from the EU, which will change their relationship from one of membership to one of external partner in some form. The module delves into some critical questions about the nature of the EU- whether it actually is an actor capable of making a distinct foreign policy- and whether any policy-making at EU level, particularly in matters of security and defence, is legitimate. This module can build on previous knowledge about EU history and integration or can provide new and specialised knowledge about this organisation’s foreign policy.
This module follows the evolution of the field of conflict studies: from the early adoption of an IR framework of bargaining to explaining conflicts within states, to testing structural, country-level correlates of conflict resolution or recurrence, to the recognition of multidimensional conflicts and the shift toward dyadic data, and finally, to the recent focus on armed group fluidity and theories about how rebel spoiling, splintering, and alliances lead conflicts to take new forms.
This module explores how our understanding of the nature and causes of regime change have adapted as more and more countries around the world have joined the category of “democracies,” especially since the end of the Cold War. The fundamental aim of the course will be to gain an appreciation for the immense institutional variation that exists across countries holding elections today, as well as examining some of the greatest remaining threats to the quality and consolidation of democratic institutions. Some themes of the course include horizontal versus vertical forms of accountability, varying legacies from the authoritarian period, institutional choices used to achieve democratic “buy-in” among opposing elites, and electoral competition under the threat of violence.
This module requires students to engage with the politics around children’s rights and their ‘best interests’ in contemporary world. It explores how childhood is conceptualised and experienced in different contexts, examines debates about children’s rights, and analyses child protection policies and practices as canvassed by governments, NGOs, and INGOs.
You will take 45 credits of required modules and 15 credits of optional modules in Semester two.
Optional module ENVS434 is a ‘year-long’ module and represents 7.5 credits in each semester, 15 credits in total.
Students may take optional modules from other relevant subject areas with approval of the Subject Lead.
Analysing and interpreting events and data in political science requires a proper understanding of epistemology, methodologies and methods. Social science research can be conducted in many different ways; depending on the epistemological stance, research aim, and stage of the research process different tools are required and appropriate. A researcher may tend more towards a neopostivist position, while another prefers an interpretivist approach, which may lead to very differently constructed truth claims. Moreover, depending on whether the goal is theory-centered (theory is used to advance a general theory), or case-centred (theory is instrumental to explain a specific case), different research strategies are appropriate.
Finally, the research process may be required to gather new data (methods for data gathering are required), or it may draw on existing data (‘only’ methods supporting data analysis are required). Due to the size of the field, POLI116 will be highly focused and cannot claim to comprehensively cover all possible methods. The goal of POLI116 is meant, firstly, to provide a guidance on how conduct research project aimed at detecting regular causal relationships through theory-centered (hypothesis testing) investigations. Against this backdrop, this module will familiarise students (PGT and PhD) with descriptive statistics and qualitative case study design. Secondly, the module is meant to provide support for the dissertation (POLI119), assist students in designing a viable research project, and choose appropriate methods.
Not only since the end of the cold war, the organization of violence and security on the international level – a state-centric system, based on armed military and police forces, and revolving around balance of power – has been challenged. Arguably the classical order has been amended or even supplanted, by multiple other forms of organized violent actors. This module is an introduction to the theoretical and empirical security studies literature on violent non-state actors, such as private security companies, warlords, terrorist and international criminal organizations. In detail, this module investigates under what circumstances non-state actors resort to violence, explores the logic of their behaviour, and discusses potential government measures to counter such violence. Moreover, the course will grapple with theoretical question of how IR-theory can inform and facilitate research on non-state actors. Although the module is mainly thematically-driven, the course will also review several current cases studies (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, 9/11) to provide students with a better understanding of the shifting patterns of conflict, violence and security in the international system.
This module will offer a cross-national comparative perspective on the state of journalism around the world, journalists’ perceptions of their role in society and the contextual factors that influence journalistic roles and performance. Only 14% of people in the world live in counties with free media so it is important to appreciate that the news media might play different roles based on the nature of the political system, the respective media systems and the relevant cultural and societal differences. The extent to which the news media can act as the fourth estate is to a large extent determined by these contextual factors but also by audiences’ expectations about the role of journalists in their society. A range of case studies will be used throughout the module.
This module explores the relationships between politics, economics, and mainstream media. The traditional, 20th century business models of news media have collapsed, prompting news organisations to make redundancies and to consider new ways of financing their activities. As a result, significant concerns have been raised about their sustainability as well as the wider role that news media (should) play in democratic societies. Furthermore, social media platforms and search engines have become the new gatekeepers, directing attention to news (and the knowledge, understandings, and attitudes shaped by news consumption) based on algorithms and audience members’ self-selection into disparate groups. In this module we will be looking at the ways in which media content across a variety of platforms and channels is being shaped by economic considerations and neoliberal ideology and how this creates tension, and sometimes outright contradiction, with the public and democratic role of mass media (including social media platforms) in open societies.
Comparative Peace Processes examines the similarities and differences between peace processes. What common features can be identified in terms of how and why peace processes develop? What aspects of threat removal are most common, such as decommissioning, disarmament and reintegration? What political tools, such as consociation, partition, secession, devolution or integration, might be used? After a short overview, the module addresses these questions via a series of case studies, including Northern Ireland, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine Bosnia and the Basque region.
The module introduces students to the quantitative study of international relations, security studies and comparative politics. Much of the most important research on topics such as the foreign relations between states, public attitudes towards global issues, and violent conflict within societies is quantitative. The module provides a guide to navigating these areas of research.
Beginning at an introductory level with descriptive statistics, it will introduce students to the most frequently-used tools for the statistical analysis of politics. Using statistical software, students will replicate existing studies and familiarise themselves with some of the major datasets in the fields of comparative politics, international relations, and security studies.
By the end of the module, students should have the confidence to replicate existing research in political science, make use of quantitative datasets in the study of politics conduct their own quantitative empirical investigation. Having studied statistics in a previous university degree is not a requirement for the module as we start from an absolute beginner’s level.
This third year module examines how burgeoning economic, political and security relations between Africa and China are contributing to changes in the global order. Challenging framings of states in Africa as ‘system ineffectual’, inconsequential to global politics, and lacking material and ideational capabilities to structure their foreign relations, the module, through critical IR theories, examines how these states’, the rise of China and the dynamics in China-Africa relations are impacting, shaping and reframing the norms and practices of development and global security governance.
This module provides alternative perspectives on global politics, drawing on feminist theory and gender analysis, with a focus on conflict and peace, and the implications for global politics and International Relations (IR). The module will engage with theoretical concerns (how are women affected differently by conflict and peace, how do we engage feminist methodologies) to practical concerns (conflict, security, participation, sexual violence, human rights). Theories and concepts will be illustrated with relevant global case studies and examples. The module aims to encourage engaged, critical reflection on feminist approaches to our understanding of issues in world politics.
This module examines the different ways in which states intervene in the domestic affairs of other states or territories such as humanitarian intervention, invasion, annexation, peacekeeping, and colonial interventions. It explores how intervention has changed and developed historically, especially during and after the Cold War. It analyses whether state-practice has out-run the rules and norms that guide international state behaviour, particularly the legal framework of the United Nations and other relevant bodies of international law. From this basis, the module will use examples of different kinds of interventions as cases to study and to evaluate whether their mere existence heralds a change in state-practice and a concomitant need to revise legal and political codes of conduct. Such cases include the shift in peace operations from first generation peacekeeping during the Cold War under the strict rules of impartiality, neutrality and the limitation of force to self-defence, to the robust and partial peace enforcement practiced by the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It further includes historical and recent examples of invasion, such as Iraq in 2003, annexations of foreign territories such as the Crimean annexation by Russia in 2014, the contentious cases of humanitarian intervention for which Kosovo and Libya are used as precedents, and will ponder the question whether there is such a thing as the Responsibility to Protect. Finally, the module will also examine less overt more and subtle forms of state intervention such as covert action and state-sponsored terrorism in the physical and cyber realm.
The module examines the dynamics between space, power and culture through drawing upon topics denoting crisis and change in human geography. Drawing on academics’ specialist expertise, students learn about space and power through different themes including migration, land, labour, gender and sexuality. Themes can change according to ongoing crises, topical issues, and debates in the discipline – each taught session allows us to focus on one pertinent field of study in the discipline.
Your dissertation (POLI119) is taken in the summer vacation period.
The dissertation gives students the opportunity to produce a lengthy piece of work (12-15,000 words) on a topic of their choice.
Teaching is mainly by 2-hour seminar, with some lecture input within the seminars. The seminars will constitute the primary forum by which key concepts, ideas and information will be communicated. You will also have the opportunity to discuss the content of the seminars during the office hours that are offered by all teaching staff.
The emphasis on seminars as a teaching tool reflects the belief among the teaching staff involved in the MA that this form of communicating knowledge is ideal for studying international relations at MA level. The seminar is intended to serve as a venue where the different debates and perspectives in the literature are closely examined by you and your peers.
Your independent study and research skills will be enhanced through your work developing a 12,000 – 15,000 word dissertation in a research subject of your choice, which is completed in the summer period at the end of your MA.
Methods of assessment on the MA are predominately via essays and presentations. There are some exam assessments in optional modules.
Your completed 12,000 – 15,000 word dissertation in a research subject of your choice makes up 60 credits (one third) of your final MA mark.
We have a distinctive approach to education, the Liverpool Curriculum Framework, which focuses on research-connected teaching, active learning, and authentic assessment to ensure our students graduate as digitally fluent and confident global citizens.
You will benefit from the expertise and community found within the Department of Politics, which is based within the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures in 8-14 Abercromby Square. Students will be taught in a variety of building on campus.
From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:
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Student career development is a major interest for the department and we actively encourage you to integrate career planning into your academic studies. The International Relations and Security MA provides you with analytical skills and empirical knowledge to equip you for a range of chosen careers, including, but not limited to: diplomacy, journalism, the military, as well as the non-governmental sphere. The MA also delivers ideal training if you are interested in an academic career in doctoral research.
If you have a professional background in any of these (or other relevant) areas, the MA provides you with the opportunity for continuing professional development, whilst enabling you to bring your experiences to the cohort which will further enrich the programme.
Career options are wide and extensive, including working in:
Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.
|UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)|
|Full-time place, per year||£10,400|
|Part-time place, per year||£5,200|
|Full-time place, per year||£21,400|
|Part-time place, per year||£10,700|
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support.
If you're a UK national, or have settled status in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan worth up to £12,167 to help with course fees and living costs. Learn more about tuition fees, funding and Postgraduate Loans.
We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This could include buying a laptop, books, or stationery.
Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.
We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to help cover tuition fees and help with living expenses while at university.
The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.
My qualifications are from: United Kingdom.
|Postgraduate entry requirements||
2:1 Bachelor’s degree in Politics studies or other social science degree. On occasion, 2:1 Bachelor’s degrees from non-social science areas will be considered.
A Pre-Master's course, which prepares international students for postgraduate study with us, is offered by the University of Liverpool International College. If you hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent, but don't meet our entry requirements, successfully completing the relevant Pre-Master's pathway means you're guaranteed a place on your chosen course.
You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language. International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.
|English language qualification||Requirements|
View our IELTS academic requirements key.
Standard Level (Grade 5)
|INDIA Standard XII||70% or above from Central and Metro State Boards|
|Hong Kong use of English AS level||C|
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Liverpool bursts with diversity and creativity which makes it ideal for you to undertake your postgraduate studies and access various opportunities for you and your family.
To fully immerse yourself in the university experience living in halls will keep you close to campus where you can always meet new people. Find your home away from home.
Discover what expenses are covered by the cost of your tuition fees and other finance-related information you may need regarding your studies at Liverpool.
Have a question about this course or studying with us? Our dedicated enquiries team can help.
Programme Lead, Dr Ulrich Petersohn
Last updated 23 March 2023 / / Programme terms and conditions /