International Relations (with Foundation Year)
UCAS Code: Combined Honours only – see combinations tab|Duration: 4 years|Full Time|Hope Park
UCAS Campus Code: L46
Work placement opportunities|International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
About the course
Every day, international issues are in the news headlines – this is your chance to become an expert on relations between states, economies, ideas and societies. In a world where nuclear weapons remain primed for use, the world economy teeters on the brink of collapse and delicate ecosystems are under threat, it is little wonder that our International Relations degree is proving a popular choice among students who wish to better understand the world’s most challenging problems.
International Relations is a multidisciplinary subject, which draws in contributions from politics, history, media, sociology, law, economics and religion. Global issues dominate the news headlines on a daily basis and International Relations will allow you to focus on this dimension of politics. This is an opportunity to become an expert in international issues in a historical, political and cultural context.
All our academics are conducting internationally published research. Our key strengths are in Theories of International Relations; Peace and Conflict; British and US foreign policy and EU and UN politics. Our subject deals squarely with some of the most daunting, intractable but important challenges of today.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, seminars, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students in the first year. You also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.
For the International Relations part of your Combined Honours degree, there are approximately 6 teaching hours each week, which reduces to approximately 5 teaching hours in your second and third years. On top of teaching hours, you are also expected to spend a number of hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments you may have. You are expected to spend an average of 40 hours per week devoted to your studies, including taught hours and independent study.
Assessment and feedback
Assessments are varied and consist of a formal exam focusing on lecture topics, and a range of written coursework assignments. You will be given clear, generic and additional assessment criteria at the start of the degree and at appropriate points throughout your studies. In your final year, you will complete a special study or dissertation.
Assessment is regarded as an important aid to learning and the team recognises the importance of providing timely, high-quality, constructive written feedback to you that not only explains the strengths and weaknesses of the particular piece of work but which also makes clear what must be improved in future work. This also applies to exam scripts - feedback is given to you on a form and is discussed with you in the following autumn. Feedback is provided verbally to the whole year group where possible, to emphasise points of general relevance. You are also provided with individual written feedback and will have the opportunity either in class time or in 'drop in' office hours to discuss your work privately with the tutor.
The Foundation Year is a great opportunity if you have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualifications required to enter directly onto our degree programmes. A significant part of the Foundation Year focuses upon core skills such as academic writing at HE level, becoming an independent learner, structuring academic work, critical thinking, time management and note taking.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year will enable you to progress into the first year (Level C) of your chosen honours degree. Further details can be found here.
Introduction to International Relations
Your first year provides you with the knowledge of the key sub disciplines that underpin International Relations.
Year one consists of five dimensions of learning which aim to aid students to gradually develop their understanding of IR and master the basic of the discipline prior to advancing into second year.
These four dimensions consist of:
Students are introduced to the formative terms and concepts used by IR scholars in their everyday analysis of world politics. Students can expect to explore the origins of power, the concepts of the State and Nation, explore the differences between power and influence and the various dimensions of the security.
Theories of IR
Theory is a social scientist’s tool for understanding the world around us and for developing research. Students will be introduced to the formative theories of IR. They will learn to distinguish between Realism and Liberalism. They will learn to apply these theories to make sense of international events in real time. Far from exhaustive, these theories provide IR students with the necessary basics for further developing their theoretical toolkit as they progress through their degrees.
Global institutions and structures
Social scientists study human behaviour. For many disciplines, institutions are the product of human behaviour and subsequently shape human behaviour in turn. In order to understand world politics, students will expect to be introduced to global institutions that govern world affairs daily and manage the global balance of power in an ever uncertain and volatile world. Such institutions include the United Nations, NATO, the EU, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Criminal Court and World Trade organisation to name a few
Regional events and developments
Coming toward the end of their first year, and equipped with the basic conceptual, theoretical and institutional knowledge central to IR scholarship, students will be introduced to recent and current events across the globe. This section of the course takes on a regional focus with analysis of developmental trends in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Student will expect to touch on political, economic, social, cultural and diplomatic issues.
In addition to discipline focused lessons, students will have a one-hour lecture per week dedicated to academic skills developments. They will be introduced to research skills, writing techniques, skills in sourcing appropriate academic material, presentation skills and the basics of methodology.
Explorations in International Relations
This course aims to provide students with a strong understanding of the theory and practice of key aspects of international relations. It considers the role of the state and the attributes of those who help to shape international relations on an individual, institutional and systemic basis. The course includes a special focus on the analysis and interpretation of foreign policy. It builds on the core principles of state relations and associated factors to examine how foreign policy fits within international relations and how they shape the contemporary world. This second year is based around the following components.
Theories and analysis of International Relations
This component builds and expands on the theoretical ideas you will have studied in first year and which goes on to examine a range of key issues and problems. This part of the course expands on theoretical approaches in International Relations including mainstream (i.e. liberal and realist perspectives), middle ground (i.e. Constructivism, English School) and critical (e.g. Marxism, Dependency Theory, Post-Structuralism, Post-Colonialism, Critical Theory, Feminism, Green theory, Post-Developmentalism). These are discussed from both theoretical and practical perspectives, in their advantages and limitations to understand contemporary international relations.
Global Issues in International Relations
This component offers a contextualization on the main global issues and debates in international politics today including environmental issues, food security, poverty, migration, conflict and intervention, terrorism, and transnational organized crime. These issues bring together a contextual and theoretical perspective in recognizing debates underpinning these issues and their development.
The challenges and structures of Foreign Policy: EU and UK Foreign Policy
The practical side of the programme is focused particularly on the challenges and structures of foreign policy, and there is a supporting seminar series focused on foreign policy. This looks at theoretical approaches to foreign policy analysis, and then develops a series of in-depth case study evaluations. Two seminar series (one per semester) support analysis of foreign policy:
EU Foreign Policy
This seminar series explores the origins and developments of EU Foreign Policy and assesses its strengths and challenges including security, trade, environmental, normative, and integration dimensions, among others.
UK Foreign Policy
This seminar series explores UKs international identity and foreign policy in relation to key regions/countries in the world. Through a geographical assessment, the seminar fosters discussions over directions and challenges of UK foreign policy in security, trade, development, environment among other dimensions.
Advanced Studies in International Relations
As you would expect in your final year, the pace steps up a gear and so does the complexity of the issues and ideas students encounter. The course builds upon the theoretical foundation that students would have had from their first and second years. It also incorporates and develops on the nuanced and critical understanding of ‘real world’ dynamics. By the end of the course, students are expected to have developed a complex understanding of global politics and its critical fault lines, show clear competence in applying theory to contemporary international affairs and have clear and well-articulated opinions even in the face of strong contrary ideas.
In terms of teaching, contact hours are separated into lecture, seminars and research classes.
The seminars, in particular, are 2-hours intensive sessions designed to help develop core academic and soft skills. Students have the opportunity to debate and lead sessions. The seminars are divided into two core areas throughout the year. They help students deepen knowledge in issues relating to:
Security, Peace and Conflict: Diverse questions such as the climate and global conflicts, humanitarian intervention, terrorism are key components of this strand.
Political theory: In the political theory strand, we are concerned with questions such as just war theory, what does justice mean for environmentalism.
Research element: The research classes prepare students for their final year long essay. We use this contact hour to provide skills, knowledge and support to the students, equipping them with the fundamental skills necessary for a long essay research.
Students will do either a 10,000-word dissertation in conjunction with your other subject, or a 5,000 words special study. They will receive guidance and individual support from an assigned tutor in the creation and completion of this work. They are expected to work on this project mostly by themselves.
There may be some flexibility for mature students offering non-tariff qualifications and students meeting particular widening participation criteria.
As a graduate of International Relations from Liverpool Hope University, you can move on to build an exciting, interesting and meaningful career at home or abroad. A familiar route for our graduates is to pursue a career in the foreign service. As a diplomat, you may work to further the interests of your country overseas or serve a regional organisation such as the European Union or United Nations. The knowledge, understanding and skills that you acquire during your degree can help address a varied range of major challenges in fields ranging from international conflict to trade and migration.
Similarly, graduates often choose to join the Armed Forces, to work for non-governmental organisations in the development aid sector or as foreign correspondents breaking international news. In each of these roles, your study of International Relations theory and practice – and what these tell you about relations between states, peoples and power – could make a critical difference on the ground.
Private sector organisations, especially those in globalised trade including banks and energy sector companies, value an International Relations background.
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2024/25 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
On top of tuition fees, you also need to consider the cost of core textbooks at approximately £100. There are optional national and international fieldtrips and the cost of these vary, but these costs will be set out clearly with plenty of notice.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
International tuition fees
The International Tuition fees for 2024/25 are £12,500.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
This course is only available with Foundation Year as a Combined Honours degree with the following subjects: