Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

International Relations (with placement year)

BA (Hons)
Entry 2018: BBC / 112 UCAS points
Duration: 4 years
Attendance mode: Full-time
Award: BA (Hons)
UCAS code: L296
Placement: Placement year available
Suitable for international students
Faculty of Social Sciences
Apply Prospectus downloads


This new International Relations (with placement year) degree for September 2018 entry examines the dynamics of international interaction between states, international organisations and non-state actors, with a particular emphasis on understanding regions in crisis such as the Middle East, the Korean peninsula, and the Horn of Africa.

You’ll address major contemporary questions such as:

  • Are national states losing control of international affairs?
  • Could intervention in Syria work?
  • Where did ISIS come from and where are they going?
  • Are we heading for a new Cold War with Russia?

You will study the theoretical foundations and recent developments in the discipline of International Relations, and become familiar with the models and tools used by international conflict analysts to understand crisis situations and formulate policy responses.

You will have opportunities to learn beyond the classroom through political simulation exercises, field trips and specialist workshops, creating new bridges between academic and practical dimensions of the field.

"Studying in South Korea and ‘stepping back’ from the British education system enabled me to critically reflect upon educational environments and my own experiences.

It gave me a sense of perspective on education that I would not otherwise have considered"

Tim Monteath
BA (Hons) International Relations and Security Studies

Why Bradford?

The University of Bradford has been pioneering and teaching Peace Studies and International Development for over 40 years: we have excellent library collections and our academic staff are experts in their field. We don’t sit in an Ivory Tower – we make knowledge work by collaborating with governments and NGOs around the world. Our research in politics and international relations was ranked 7th out of 56 universities in the UK in terms of its impact on society and public policy (Research Excellence Framework, December 2014).

So, the content of our brand-new degree programmes is informed by the up-to-date expertise of our lecturers and enriched by the experience of practitioners in our field, including our many alumni, with whom we partner.

Our teaching is very interactive and focussed on professionalism and employability. You will study in groups and teams, develop your own research projects, go on field trips, engage in extended simulation games, do ‘immersion days’ on key topics, and develop a wide range of tangible skills directly applicable to careers in politics, international relations, peace and conflict and international development. Our teaching and assessment methods are tailored to a wide range of learning styles, and meant to keep you busy, engaged and enjoying your course!

You will also learn from your fellow students and from the city. The Division is diverse with, typically, over 40 nationalities among our students – meet the world in your classroom! Bradford itself is a fascinating and very multicultural city, as well as being one of the cheapest cities to live and study in the UK, and we make the most of all the city and its beautiful surroundings have to offer by working with community groups.

Entry requirements

Typical offer: BBC / 112 UCAS points

A levels:

There are no specific subject requirements.

BTEC Extended Diploma:

DMM — there are no specific subject requirements.

Applicants on Access Programmes:

Meet UCAS Tariff of 112 — there are no specific subject requirements.

Plus minimum of:

GCSE English at grade C or 4 (equivalents accepted).

Additional entry requirements:

If you do not meet the entry requirements for direct entry onto this course you may be interested in our Foundation Year in Social Sciences and Management or our International Certificate of Foundation Studies.

English language requirements:

Minimum IELTS at 6.0 or the equivalent.

If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.


The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.

Year One

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Global Issues and Challenges Core 60
Histories of the Present Core 20
The Evolution of the International System Core 20
Analysing Violence and Security Core 20

You will begin the programme in Semester One of the first year by studying a series of global issues or challenges, as a means to understand the ways in which states and non-state actors begin to approach or analyse transnational or global problems such as climate change, refugee crises, or threats to international peace. This will alert you to some of the key actors at the global level and the way that they operate, as well as introducing you to important concepts and tools for critical thinking in International Relations. In Semester Two, you will study the concepts of the Violence and Security, as a grounding for the rest of your degree programme, and you will examine the historical emergence of the international states system. 

In the 60 credit module Global Issues and Challenges we start exploring how we might tackle the many problems facing the world today: How do we begin to understand the immense problems that face us, in all their complexity, let alone actually tackle them? In this module you will learn how to get started: you will learn some basic tools for beginning to unpick and analyse the pressing problems of our time. You will work to develop your own understanding of key global problems as a basis for beginning to think about how they might be resolved.

Histories of the Present asks critical questions about the historical developments that have shaped present realities, and about the stories we tell about both past and present. If "History is written by the winners," that is, the powerful get to control the way that historical events are depicted and interpreted, then how, and how successfully, do they do this? Does our everyday understanding of the past reflect the interests of the powerful and how does this affect our responses to problems of the present? In this module, you will explore the relationship between knowledge and power and the role that institutions such as museums and objects such as memorials play in this. Drawing on the University's own special archive and that or our partners, the Bradford Peace Museum, you will examine sources and documents relating to historical episodes of war and peace and design and present your own museum exhibit or memorial presenting an alternative history of contemporary problems.

The Evolution of the International System gives you the essential foundation you need to build your understanding of the contemporary international system from the fall of Napoleon to today. The syllabus is organized into three blocks as tools for analysing the development of today's world order: the supremacy of Europe from the revolutionary era to the First World War; the rise of the USA, the USSR and China and the eclipse of Europe in the twentieth century, and the emergence of a multipolar international system following the fall of Communism. Throughout, a careful balance will be maintained between overarching themes and structures, specific turning points, and case studies.

Analysing Violence and Security provides an introduction to analysing a broad range of contemporary security challenges. Using real world examples of contemporary security problematics such as new wars, nuclear weapons and terrorism, arms control, biochemical warfare, health and biosecurity, risk, environmental security, post colonial security, and gender and insecurity, it will give you the conceptual, methodological and theoretical knowledge to analyse violence and security, insecurity, instability and armed conflict in the modern international system.

Year Two

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Contemporary International Relations Core 20
Analysing Contemporary Conflict Core 20
Globalisation and Global Governance Core 20
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Core 20
Power Shifts: Regional and Global Challenges Option 20
State Formation and Dynamics in the International System Option 20
Technology, Violence and War Option 20

In the second year, your core modules will teach you about the main theoretical approaches in the discipline and you will use these to examine the nature of contemporary conflict; the interactions between states; the phenomenon of globalisation and the emergence of global governance institutions. You will be able to choose between a number of options which address the history of state-making, changing technologies of warfare, shifting power relations between the Atlantic and Pacific hemispheres, and techniques of foreign policy analysis and diplomacy.

The module Contemporary International Relations provides an introduction to the foundational and post-foundational theories of international relations; war and the process of state-making, colonialism and decolonisation; the Cold War and Cold War security logic. It also covers analytical approaches to the understanding of contemporary global politics, international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, NATO and international security; global economic governance after World War Two; transnational social movements; the contemporary international system and international security, nuclear proliferation and arms control, the conventional arms trade, and climate change.

In Analysing Contemporary Conflict you will learn knowledge and analytic skills needed for a systematic and critical understanding of the causes, dynamics and impacts of conflict in the contemporary world. You will apply key concepts in various research and analysis tasks, exploring contemporary cases of conflict and the validity or limitations of existing academic thinking. As such, the module emphasises an applied and practical approach to conflict analysis, developing your skills in gathering and analysing information about relevant case-studies and contexts of conflict.

We don't have a world government, and we are never likely to have one; but increasingly problems spill across borders and require co-ordinated action at a global scale. How is such co-ordinated action directed? Who are the powerful actors in global politics? Why are some international institutions more powerful than others? And why do we make more progress towards good governance globally in some policy areas than in others? In the Globalisation and Global Governance module, you will learn to analyse and explain the way that global governance systems develop and operate, and the constraints and opportunities that determine what kind of a job we do of governing global issues.

In the module Foreign Policy and Diplomacy you will gain a detailed and critical knowledge of the structures and dynamics of foreign policy and diplomacy as practised in the present day. It includes theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of foreign policy, how states make foreign policy, the role of international institutions, the theory and practice of international diplomacy and its application in bilateral, regional or international negotiations, co-operation or crisis response. We also look at the historical context of diplomacy, focusing particularly on the twentieth century and the contemporary period. You will gain the tools to analyse policy making in a variety of states and evaluate how membership of multilateral bodies influences foreign policy.

Power relationships globally are in flux. The Middle East is in turmoil. And the powers themselves are struggling through difficult transitions. The module Power Shifts: Regional and Global Challenges provides in-depth analysis and knowledge of global power relations. It focuses on US global power, US-Russian relations, perceptions of a rising threat from Russia to Europe, the evolving dynamics of European security, the geopolitics of East Asia, power shifts in the Middle East, the changing role of the NATO alliance, new power alliances such as the BRICS, the threat from non-state actors. 

The module State Formation and Dynamics in the International System starts by looking at how the modern western sovereign state emerged at the expense of pre-existing supranational bodies, through the treaty of Westphalia. We examine how individual state structures developed, the relations between them, and how some of them swiftly went on to acquire global empires. Then we look how states emerged from the decolonisation process in three European empires, the British in South Asia and Africa, and the French and Portuguese in Africa. Finally, we look at the political, economic, security and cultural consequences of the ongoing interaction between the 'old' western states and the 'new' post-colonial ones. This includes the formation of regional and international organizations such as the UN, the World Bank and the OAU/AU, evolving notions of sovereignty and neo-colonialism, and global migration.

The module Technology, Violence and War examines contemporary debates about the relationship between society, technology and violence, focussing in particular on the implications for security and arms governance of recent innovations in drone warfare, nanotechnology, biotechnology and cyberwarfare. The module will include a visit and talk at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to familiarise students with the early history of military-technological innovation. You will be taught using a mixture of lectures, group seminar work and assessed presentations on a case study selected by the group. The case study will be chosen from examples of the recent offensive use of a novel technology. Different groups will be tasked with examining the various ethical, legal, strategic and security issues raised by the offensive use of a novel technology.

Year Three

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Dissertation Core 40
Politics and Security in Africa, or Elective Elective 20
Pathways to Professional Practice Core 20
The Politics of International Crisis Response Core 20
Politics and Security in the Middle East Option 20
Creative Conflict Transformation Option 20
Contemporary Development Challenges Option 20

In the third year, you will undertake a dissertation and a workplace-based project, which could include producing a briefing paper or research note for one of the Division’s partner organisations, which range from West Yorkshire CND to the British Army. You will also participate in a simulated international crisis and play the role of an international diplomat participating in a series of international negotiations, in order to learn about the way that international organisations such as NATO and the United Nations deal with threats to international peace and security. You will also have the opportunity to develop specialist regional knowledge of either Africa or the Middle East, or to take an elective in a field of special interest. This includes the opportunity to take one module from our suite of Masters modules.

Your dissertation is a substantial capstone project with which to conclude your degree. It represents your opportunity to undertake an extended piece of research and writing, guided by an academic supervisor. You will draw on the various concepts and theories you have learned and applying these to a case study or issue area of your choice to come up with new understandings of or solutions to pressing challenges in the world. You will learn about doing research, how to set out a pertinent and important research question, using analytical tools to analyse data, developing your ideas into arguments. The dissertation is a very useful signature piece of work to impress future employers and show them your in-depth knowledge of an area.

Politics and Security in Africa examines the complex and dynamic political and security issues facing African countries, and their implications for peace, conflict and development within the region and beyond. It covers topics such as colonialism, decolonisation, fragility, governance, democracy, gender, development, conflict, security, terrorism, intervention, and other key issues as may emerge. The module will allow students to draw on their knowledge of broader frameworks and theories to apply them to a specific region, Africa, and to particular country case studies or themes in the region.

Bridging the divide between academic theory and professional practice is essential for you to effectively deploy your university studies to make a contribution to the real world outside. Pathways to Professional Practice aims to provide you with preliminary familiarity with the everyday challenges and problems of the practical context of peace and development work, through conducting a placement with a partner organisation in Bradford, or through designing and implenting your own practical project focused on promoting the aims and goals of the university, the student community, or an organisation outside. Under supervision, you will produce a professional quality project document and maintain a learning journal documenting the challenges and issues you face in the professional context, leading to a reflective report on your experience of professional work. The module also offers an opportunity to interact with peace and development professionals in specially designed workshops to assist you in identifying possible career pathways.

The Politics of International Crisis Response brings you together with fellow students in politics, security, international relations, and development studies. Working across these neighbouring disciplies, you will develop an understanding of the dynamics that bear on international responses to complex crises, including disasters, humanitarian or development emergencies, gross abuse of human or minority rights, violent conflict or inter-state security crises. Through relevant case studies, this module examines existing international and regional mechanisms for crisis response and identifies lessons from past experiences. A crisis simulation game and other simulation exercises will give you the opportunity to develop skills and experience that will help you to engage with the challenges and practices of relevant international policy and practitioner communities.

Politics and Security in the Middle East covers topics such as colonialism, decolonisation, fragility, governance, democracy, gender, development, conflict, security, terrorism, intervention, the formation of nation-state model, the rise and the fall of Arab nationalism, political Islam, regional security and oil politics. The module will allow students to draw on their knowledge of broader frameworks and theories to apply them to a specific region, the Middle East, and to particular case studies or themes in the region.

Creative Conflict Transformation invites you to explore some of these questions, and to look beyond the most familiar peacemaking processes to include the arts (e.g. music, applied theatre, literature), memory work, critical/peace education, conflict resolution and mediation. It starts from the assumption that much work to address conflict and its legacies requires a capacity to both envision and act for change. How might we cultivate this capacity in ourselves and others? While this module can and should not provide final answers, it will draw inspiration from existing experiences and experiments and encourage you to reflect both creatively and critically on how they might help you shape your own approach to conflict engagement.

The global political economy is in the process of fundamental transformation. Power relations between north and south, east and west, are changing rapidly, with huge implications for international collaboration on issues such as trade, aid, global governance and on trans-border problems. In Contemporary Development Challenges students will learn about the challenges of applying theoretical models in a useful, ethical and reflective way, which is relevant to the well-being of people, and to the achievement of social, economic and environmental benefits for communities and societies. This will be done through investigating contemporary development issues which affect the Global South most acutely, and exploring these in case-study countries, by undertaking advanced supervised research projects, negotiated between students and tutors.

Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Learning activities and assessment

Assessments will require you to produce professional policy briefs, analyses, and reports, alongside the more familiar format of academic essays and dissertations.

Career support and prospects

Career support

The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.

Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.

Employment statistics

88% of our 2016 Peace Studies and International Development graduates found employment or went on to further study within six months of graduating.*

Salary expectations

The average starting salary for our 2016 Peace Studies graduates was £20,571.*

*These DLHE statistics are derived from annually published data by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), based on those UK domiciled graduates who are available for employment or further study and whose destinations are known.


The teaching and learning in Peace Studies and International Development happens in a variety of spaces: lecture theatres, seminar rooms, flexible spaces with moveable furniture where students can work in groups.

We reach outside the classroom – for example, inviting guest speakers from around the world to debate via Skype to debate, and organising study sessions that make use of our innovative eco-friendly campus, and the diverse city of Bradford. We also take students on field trips, in the UK and abroad (for example, around Yorkshire, to Northern Ireland, to The Hague, and to a different African country each year), and extended role plays (in a youth hostel somewhere picturesque).

We have a lot of extra-curricular activity, guest speakers, seminars and training sessions. Our Student Liaison Officer also organises lots of social activity - our central, cosy common room is a great place to meet and learn from fellow students and host to quiz nights, international potluck suppers, free breakfasts, coffee breaks. And don’t let’s forget the annual Peace and Development Ball, and our very own Peace football team…

The JB Priestley Library has excellent resources, especially for Peace, Politics and Social Change, and International Development, in which the university specialises - see details of our Special Collections.

The library is open 24/7, as are other safe, welcoming and interactive spaces around campus designed for students’ to meet and study together.

The University and the Division are very global in outlook, and so are the students we attract. For that reason we offer free Modern Foreign Language classes for beginners in Arabic, French, German and Spanish. These two-hour weekly classes are led by experienced language teachers and result in a certificate of attendance. A much wider range of languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese or Korean, is taught – also for free – under a peer-to-peer scheme. Often PSID students get involved both as teachers and learners.

Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees


  • Home/EU: £9,250*
  • Home/EU, sandwich placement year fee: 10% of the applicable full-time fee
  • International: £14,950
  • International, sandwich placement year fee: £1,500

* Fees going forward have been capped by the Government at £9,250 in October 2017.

See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

Financial support

Every year the University of Bradford awards numerous non-repayable scholarships to UK, EU and international students on the basis of academic excellence, personal circumstances or economic hardship.

These include:

  • Undergraduate cash bursaries to all Home and EU students whose family incomes are under £30,000 a year
  • Scholarships worth up to £3,500 over three years to all Home and EU students who achieve AAA or higher in their A-levels (or equivalent)
  • Half Fee Academic Excellence Scholarships for International Students
  • Sanctuary scholarships to enable forced migrants seeking asylum, or those already granted refugee status who cannot access student finance
  • Country specific scholarships

Adam Curle and James O'Connell Peace Scholarships

In addition, the Division of Peace Studies and International Development offers two scholarships to students who demonstrate leadership and academic potential.

Any applicant who has formally confirmed acceptance of our offer (either conditional or unconditional) of admission onto any of our undergraduate degree courses is eligible to apply. Each is worth £3,000 (£1,000 a year over three years) and can be used for any purpose – living expenses, books, internships, travel. 

Application is by a short personal statement. Email Dr Fiona Macaulay for more details.

How do I find out more?

Got a question?

Fill in our form and our Enquiries team will answer it for you.

Enquiry form

This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.