Last Updated on January 2, 2023 by Fola Shade
There are several advantages to studying international relations that you can apply to your profession or to other areas of study. The analytical abilities necessary for making future policy judgments are also strengthened by studying international relations. It enables you to comprehend the social, political, and economic dynamics at play in various regions of the world. You can comprehend the significant forces operating outside of one’s own country by studying this discipline. Additionally, you develop an understanding of issues with international justice and security, making it feasible for you to comprehend both current events and potential future occurrences.
There are many benefits of studying international relations. For students, international relations is an opportunity to learn about different cultures, countries and people first hand. It puts graduate students ahead of the game by equipping them with the necessary tools for success in their first job.
What is International Relations?
International relations is a wide-ranging subject that allows students to investigate and research the relationships between countries and governments. Sometimes it’s called international studies, international affairs, or global studies, and it can be spread across a university’s humanities and social science departments.
When you study for an International Relations degree, the focus lies on relationships between nation states and large intergovernmental organizations like the EU, UN or World Health Organisation. The subject is often categorised as either political science or interdisciplinary. These degrees cover areas of politics, law, history, geography and economics.
Top reasons to get a degree in International Relations:
In an increasingly global world, there are many great reasons to choose a Bachelor’s or a Master’s in International Relations; but these are the top ones:
- Cross-cultural communication. The internet has made it easier to do business with people from around the world – but what good is that connection if you don’t understand each other? International Relations will give you an understanding of how others see the world; which might be very different to your own views!
- Critical thinking skills. Similar to cross-cultural communication, an International Relations degree will teach you to question and understand different arguments. This is a key transferable skill for 21st century employers.
- There are so many opportunities! International Relations is a really broad topic, but don’t let that put you off. It means you can choose the subjects that interest you, and focus on them. There is a real advantage to the flexibility: You can also take an IR degree into almost any professional field. The skills you pick up are transferable, which is really valuable to employers and opens many different career options for you.
Benefits Of Studying International Relations
So, are you wondering why you should consider studying International Relations? Here are some of the reasons.
- You’ll develop transferable skills
International Relations programs are designed to help prepare students to develop communication skills that can be applied across diverse cultures. Apart from acquiring specialized knowledge cantered around intercultural approaches and theories, students studying international relations will also develop the following skills:
- Analytical and research skills to help solve complex problems
- Communication skills to communicate effectively and tell compelling stories
- Interpersonal skills help in building an effective relationship with stakeholders, which is essential, especially when you’re working in multicultural settings.
- Public speaking, verbal, and writing skills.
The skills you acquire while studying international relations can be applied in many other industries and areas. Even if you decide not to continue your career path in International relations, these skills will help you in your other areas of endeavor.
- Address global contemporary issues
Studying International relations will position you to address contemporary global issues. The world is living in a time where the overall living standards is higher than what it ought to be. The human race is facing diverse challenges despite constant scientific discoveries and technological advancement. Human trafficking, kidnapping, insurgency, poverty, inequality, corruption are some of the problems faced by nations. After graduating with an International Relations degree, you’ll be able to work with NGOs, private/public institutions, or local governments to address these trending issues. Whether you choose to implement public policies or collaborate with organizations to implement welfare projects, you’ll be helping to reduce the sufferings and social injustice in the world.
- International relations is far more than politics
Although a degree in International Relations prepares you for a career path in Politics, your career options and opportunities are no way limited to politics alone. Because the skills acquired during the course of study are transferable, students who study international relations go further to work in different industries and careers including activism, national security, military intelligence and analysis, international business frontiers, and more.
Many graduates go on to become diplomats and work in a wide variety of areas like:
Preservation of cultural property
- Global health
- Human trafficking
- Conflict resolution
- Climate change
- Environmental issues
- You get to live a life of impact
Most people who get to study international relations do so because they are passionate about making the world a better place regardless of their career goals.
Individuals who use their degree to work in politics (e.g. ambassadors, activists, diplomats) can achieve their goals by developing privacy policies that can help make the world a better place by improving the lives of people. For example, they can
- Address issues like poverty alleviation, nutrition and food insecurity
- Promote the rights of children and women
- Provide aid during a crisis and other natural disasters
- Coordinate counterterrorism efforts
Also, those who choose to go into the business path after their graduation can be agents of change. They can help champion an organization’s strategic and charitable operations.
- You’ll be part of a team
International relations is not a course that exists in isolation from other related courses. Whether you’re in a consulate/embassy or working as an ambassador, your job will be a collaborative one. For example, Diplomats collaborate with different agencies to establish ties between people around the world and also learn how to connect people across borders to achieve a common international goal. They work with people from all works of life including professionals from intelligence services, military, law enforcement, agriculture, trade, commerce, science, and technology.
- You’ll experience cultural immersion
In order to be highly successful in your career pursuit as a business executive, lobbyist, ambassador or diplomat focused in a particular region; you’ll be required to immerse yourself in other cultures. Part of the experience will require you to learn another country’s traditions, cultures, and language. In addition to making you highly proficient at your job, it will position you for deep personal growth which is incredibly fulfilling.
- It’s a great career path
Depending on your aspirations, interest and experiences, career opportunities related to International relations in the Public, Private, or NGO space are always in abundance. If you’re considering a career in government, you can opt-in for a role in intelligence or security. This will afford you the opportunity to be involved with international relations projects. More so, studying international relations is a great starting point to kickstart your ambition to be an ambassador or diplomat.
What do I learn in a Master in International Relations?
The topic areas in an International Relations Bachelor’s and Master’s may seem similar on the surface, but dive a little deeper and the differences become clear. In fact, diving deeper is the key.
To qualify for a Master’s in International Relations, prospective students will usually need a good degree in a relevant field. This often means a Bachelor’s in international relations, history, politics or economics.
An international relations Master’s last one to two years; some universities also offer part-time programmes where you can spread the coursework to four years, allowing you to work on the side.
When you’re applying to these courses – especially in the UK -, you should check if they are “research” or “taught” as this will change the contents of the courses. Most research courses will require students to come up with their own research area, and write a dissertation, with a supervisor as a guide.
Taught Master’s on the other hand are more like Bachelor’s degrees in their structure, but may still require significant self-reliant research projects such as a dissertation.
The best universities to study International Relations
The following universities are considered the best in Europe in a subject ranking on Politics & International Studies, published by QS:
- University of Oxford (UK)
- Sciences Po (France)
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (UK)
- University of Cambridge (UK)
- King’s College London (UK)
How is studying International Relations different from Politics?
International Relations will nearly always include some focus on politics – but that’s only scratching the surface!
International affairs is a much bigger subject than politics. While the relations between nation states are covered by international or global studies, there are wider subjects studied, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), world wide organisations, and the foreign policies of many nations and blocs, which help inform the interconnectivity of the world today.
Anthropology, demography, terrorism and human rights may be topics in both politics and international relations courses, but the focus will be wider in international relations – and look at the different ways nations try to solve these issues.
international relations jobs
There are many routes an International Relations degree may take you down, when you want to start your career. We’ve listed a few of the jobs and areas you may want to look into, but many international employers in all sectors value the skills of International Relations graduates:
But what are your International Relations career options? Popular International Relations degree jobs include: diplomacy work, lobbying, political analysis, international law and intelligence.
1. Diplomat – Maintaining good relations between countries
As a diplomat, you will represent and protect a nation’s interests abroad in terms of politics, trade and consular services. You’ll spend usually around three years in a foreign country. Some of your responsibilities will be:
- Act as a link between the country you represent and the country where you are stationed
- Collect and report on all the information that would affect your nation’s interests
- Discuss, negotiate and mediate with the local government issues about peace and war, trade, commerce, economics, as well as social and cultural aspects
2. Intelligence Specialist – Gathering state-critical information
As an intelligence specialist, you can work in the military, the navy, national security departments, or almost any state department of one of the national government agencies. Your main duties will include:
- Collect and analyse operational intelligence data
- Create mission reports, using data, maps and charts
- Evaluate results and prepare reports, statistics and graphics
- Maintain intelligence databases, libraries, and files
3. Political Analyst – Explaining the political climate
Generally, you’ll be employed by the government, but you can also find work opportunities within media companies or research institutes. Your tasks will be to:
- Inform about and interpret various political developments
- Analyse laws, public policies, and government decisions
- Advise government officials, political parties, or the media
- Forecast political trends and election results
- Put events into historical context
4. Lobbyist – Promoting ideas to those who can make them a reality
Lobbyists are usually hired by an association, corporation, or non-profit organisation to convince government members to make a decision that would benefit the organisation or company they are representing.
As a lobbyist you will perform tasks like:
- Monitor, research and analyse legislation
- Attend congressional hearings
- Reach out to government policymakers
- Use communication tools to promote ideas to the public
5. Communication Specialist in a non-profit
A degree in International Relations can land you a job in a non-profit organisation that operates at an international level. As a Communications Specialist, you’ll have the chance to develop your career in a local office that has a global reach.
Non-profit agencies like World Vision and Red Cross provide such global service, but there are many other options, too. Your main duties will be:
- Creating effective communication strategies
- Handling internal communications
- Writing content for media and social networks
Graduates of International Relations degrees can pursue even more careers in the field. Discover them for yourself by diving into the wide range of Masters all over the world connected to this popular subject.
What salary can I earn with an International Relations degree?
There’s no scientific way of predicting the salaries International Relations graduates can expect, and it varies widely by location, as well. But the table below shows the average entry-level salaries for typical jobs that IR graduates qualify for:
|Average annual salary as a…||London / UK||Berlin / Germany|
|Policy Analyst||£32,000||45,000 EUR|
|Intelligence Analyst||£30,000||50,000 EUR|
|Publishing Editor||£26,000||30,000 EUR|
benefits of studying politics and international relations
Politics and International Relations explores the world in which we live by considering how the decisions we make collectively affect the culture, society and economy of the world as a whole, including an in-depth look at how various political actors including governments and international institutions influence our world.
You will explore voting behaviour, different political systems, making and implementing policy, nationalism and concepts of democracy. You will study organisations, how states interact, global wealth and poverty and the ever-present concerns of conflict and peace.
You can also take advantage of unique options made possible by the research pedigree of our academic team with a strong track record in publishing international papers and articles.
The knowledge and skills you will gain from this unique subject combination will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. You may well join the many Aberdeen graduates who are household names in politics and journalism, senior figures in global business, international affairs and diplomacy and leading thinkers, authors and experts in their fields.
Studying politics and international relations has a few perks that include:
Studying international relations is exploring a variety of factors that comprise the field. During your education, you will take courses in macroeconomics, history, international organizations, human rights, cybersecurity, social sciences, and mathematics. Having an understanding of all of these helps students understand the relationships between countries.
Ability to apply lessons into real life
The coursework in international relations provides a solid foundation for understanding the relationships between individuals and organizations. Students of international relations can use their education for negotiations, to find solutions to a conflict or other real-life dilemmas.
In addition to gaining specialized knowledge about intercultural approaches, students graduating from an international relations program will typically acquire and refine transferable skills such as their research and analytical skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills.
Multiple career options
Many students become diplomats who work on a broad range of topics in areas such as environmental issues, climate change, or human trafficking. Still, a degree in international relations is not limited to a political path. Students can pursue a career in intelligence, such as an analyst or something in international business.
Have an impact on real issues
Students who choose to work in politics can develop and implement related policies that can potentially improve lives around the world. For example, they may work to coordinate counterterrorism, assist in natural crises, promote human rights, and address concerns like world hunger and environmental issues.