Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

BA International Relations

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This Information is for 2017 entry only - to see the information for 2016 entry please see this page

International relations explores how states interact with each other. This course offers you an historical understanding of the development of the ‘society of states’ and how it is changing today.

Taught by experts in a stimulating research environment, you’ll examine the ways in which states behave and what obligations they may have to wider conceptions of international society. You’ll explore the political dynamics that influence interstate cooperation, and the roles of international organisations like the UN in promoting international peace and security.

Core modules will give you the opportunity to gain expertise in specific regions and states including the Middle East, EU, Africa and the United States. At the same time, a wide range of optional modules will allow you to explore specialist topics that suit your interests, from terrorism and security studies to development challenges, gender and violence or political theory.

Core modules in Year 1 will equip you with the research and academic skills you need to study international relations. You’ll also gain an understanding of the historical development of states, the divide between the Global North and South and diverse political theories, while exploring current changes in the system of international politics and comparing the systems within different states. You can also start to put your studies into context, with optional modules on topics like development or British politics.

Year 2 allows you to build on this foundation, as you explore international organisations and their role in world order. You’ll develop a critical understanding of rival theories in international relations and examine important debates in security studies. The Approaches to Analysis module will help you improve your own research skills and give you an insight into the research methods used in the social sciences. A wider range of optional modules will allow you to focus on the political landscape in different countries or regions, and you could also choose a related module on development, public policy or a range of broader topics.

The only compulsory module in your final year will be your dissertation – an independently researched project on a topic of your choice, which showcases your knowledge and skills. In addition, you’ll complete your study with optional modules on topics as such as terrorism, UK foreign policy and Europe’s relationship with the wider global community. You can choose up to two optional modules from a range offered across the school in areas such as political psychology, the politics of aid or political theory.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Studying and Researching in POLIS 5 credits
  • Comparative Politics 20 credits
  • Making of the Modern World 20 credits
  • International Politics 20 credits
  • Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas 20 credits

Optional modules

  • British Politics 20 credits
  • Global Development Challenges 20 credits
  • Contemporary Africas: Politics, Society and the Environment 20 credits

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Theories of International Relations 20 credits
  • Security Studies 20 credits
  • Approaches to Analysis 20 credits

Optional modules

  • British Central Government 20 credits
  • Politics and Policy in the EU 20 credits
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia 20 credits
  • Politics of Contemporary China 20 credits
  • State and Politics in Africa 20 credits
  • United States Politics 20 credits

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation 40 credits

Optional modules

  • British Foreign Policy 20 credits
  • Politics of Islamism 20 credits
  • Israel: Politics and Society 20 credits
  • The Responsibility to Protect and to Prosecute 20 credits
  • Crisis Diplomacy: Coercion, Sanctions and the Use of Force in International Relations 20 credits

For more information on typical modules, read International Relations BA in programme catalogue

Broadening your academic horizons

At Leeds we want you to benefit from the depth and breadth of the University's expertise, to prepare you for success in an ever-changing and challenging world. This course gives you the opportunity to broaden your learning by studying discovery modules. Find out more on the Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods to help you gain diverse skills. These will include seminars and workshops where you can discuss in more depth the topics set out in traditional lectures. We emphasise the importance of participation, presentation skills and group work.

The teaching structure varies depending on your level of study – for example, in Year 1 you might expect to have six or seven lectures and three or four seminars per week. However, independent study is also a vital element of the course, as it allows you to develop your research and critical skills while preparing for taught sessions.

You’ll also have a personal tutor – one of our academics – who will be on hand to offer you guidance and support on academic issues, such as module choices, as well as career and personal matters.


Modules will use a variety of assessment methods. As well as traditional exams, you could also be asked to complete projects based on essays and case studies, policy briefs, group presentations, work logs, research briefs, project proposals or development agency reviews. In your final year you’ll also submit a 12,000 word dissertation.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB

We don’t require A level Politics for any of our degrees and we welcome applications that include vocational A level subjects such as AVCE (single or double awards). Any combination of these with A levels is acceptable.

In general we expect applicants to have two ‘traditional’ academic subjects at A-level. See our Accepted A-level subjects document to see which subjects we accept.

Alternate Qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

Complete 60 credits with 45 credits Distinction grade at Level 3.



Cambridge Pre-U

D3, D3, M1.

International Baccalaureate

35 overall (6,5,5 higher).

Irish Highers (Leaving Certificate)


Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AAAAB overall (AB at advanced level).

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the Schools Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

Were committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Politics and International Studies admissions team.

International foundation year

If you have the ability to study for a degree but don’t have the qualifications to enter directly to level one, you might consider studying a foundation year. We have formal links with the following foundation year programmes:

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to our courses.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.

How to apply

Apply to this course through UCAS. The institution code for the University of Leeds is L23. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

It is also possible to study this programme part time. The programme content is the same but you will study at a lesser intensity. Find out more about how to apply, support available and the part-time student experience at the Lifelong Learning Centre.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK/EU students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If youre unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

School of Politics and International Studies Undergraduate Admissions Policy


UK/EU: See fees section below

International: £16,000 (per year)

For UK and non-UK EU students starting in 2017, the fee for 2017/18 will be £9,250, subject to parliamentary approval of changes to higher education funding. We anticipate that we will be able to confirm the 2017 fee in late 2016. 

The fee may increase in future years of your course, as permitted by law. 

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students starting in 2017 will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans for the duration of their course. Read the full government statement

If you take a study abroad or work placement year, youll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Career opportunities

This course will give you in-depth understanding of one of the most important aspects of political life, as well as a range of transferable skills in research and analysis, critical thinking, communication and presentation that will be valuable in a wide range of careers in different sectors.

Our graduates have gone on to work in political research and analysis, the civil service, the media, marketing, PR, international organisations like the UN and World Bank and non-governmental organisations. They work as policy advisors, diplomats, advocacy workers, public affairs executives, youth or support workers and journalists. Others have pursued careers in education, the charity sector, banking and finance or law.

Graduate destinations have included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, BBC, Oxfam, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Department for International Development, Amnesty International, the House of Commons, the New Statesman and many others.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Placement opportunities

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. The University has partnerships with more than 400 universities worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

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