Leeds School of Social Sciences

What can I do with an international relations degree?

Published on 04 Apr 2021

Studying international relations will give you knowledge of how states, international organisations and non-state actors interact on the global stage.

What is international relations?

International relations is focused on understanding the unique relationships that exist between various nations and cultures. These relationships can impact everything from international politics, law and economics, to security, diplomacy and governance.

International relations explores questions about security through topics such as peace and conflict, political economy, the impact human activities are having on the environment and how we use human rights as a language for bringing respect and dignity to the world populations.

Careers with an International Relations degree

Graduates with International Relations degrees go on to work as diplomatic services officers with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to protect and promote UK interests; as policy officers advising organisations on strategies regarding global problems; intelligence analysts helping keep countries secure by assessing and interpreting intelligence data; lobbyists in the private sector representing interests and understanding how new laws will affect industry; as international aid / development workers providing assistance to people and communities; as researchers collecting and analysing data about social issues; as journalists using their knowledge of world politics; and as teachers both home and abroad.

Postgraduate study

At Leeds Beckett, international relations graduates can pursue more specialist areas such as the MA Peace and Development, MA International Human Rights Practice and MA International Political Economy.

What kind of skills will I gain?

International relations graduates are highly valued by employers for the range of skills developed during their degree. Some of the skills you will gain are:

  • problem-solving skills – through analysing and evaluating literature and research data, and applying it to real-world issues
  • critical thinking – through interactive group work in seminars, writing reflective reports and critical reviews, and exploring and applying political theory
  • teamwork – through working in groups for assignments and in seminar activities
  • research skills – through the planning and execution of a range of different research projects and activities
  • organisation and planning – through planning and organising your own workload, and designing and executing research activities for assignments
  • written and verbal communication – through writing essays or reports, creating and delivering presentations and leading / contributing to group discussion
  • IT skills – from using Microsoft Office programmes for assessments, e-tools to locate appropriate research literature and specialist data analysis programs

What other experience will I gain on the course?

Your studies do not just take place in the classroom. As part of your degree, you will undertake a volunteering placement where you will gain relevant skills sought by employers. You can volunteer locally here in Leeds, within the UK or even abroad. We’ve had students work with a range of communities from Nepal, Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and Ghana to refugee projects in Calais and Leeds city centre. Students find this volunteering experience to be a highlight of their degree and essential for giving them the confidence to enter the job market after graduation. Check out the student testimonies on our course website.

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