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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


The Master of Studies (MSt) in International Relations is a part-time course designed for students from industry, teaching, the civil service or the armed forces

We also welcome recent graduates wishing to undertake postgraduate study.


The MSt has been developed by the Department of Politics and International Studies in association with the Institute of Continuing Education and provides a two-year, part-time route to a full Cambridge Master's degree.




Watch our MSt in IR introductory video and find out what our MSt students have to say about the course>>





Find out about studying International Relations at ICE>>




Useful Information 


Course dates  20 Sep 2021 to 12 Jul 2023

Course duration 2 years

Apply by  4 March 2021


Course fees 

Home: £18,534
Overseas: £32,604


Course directors

Dr Julie Smith

Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian


Venue Department of Politics and International Studies in the Alison Richards Building


Qualifications / Credits: Master of Studies

Course code: HUPIM9




Applications for 2021-23 are now closed.

The next course is due to run in 2023-25, with applications planned to open in autumn 2022.



Find out more


If you have any questions about the application process, contact our Admissions team.


Get in touch with us>>



Please note the Course Directors are unable to comment on research proposals etc. prior to application.




Course Overview

We plan to deliver our postgraduate and MSt qualifications in person in the academic year 2021-22. Please note that this will be reviewed in line with the latest public health guidance available at the time. If required, to ensure the health and safety of students, we may look to utilise alternative teaching formats and will contact students if we expect changes to the course delivery.


Virtual Open Events

Our most recent Open Evening took place on Tuesday 12 January 2021.

You can watch it here>>


About the course

The course is distinctive in its multidisciplinary approach and breadth. Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminars, in theory, politics, history, economics, law, security and various regional and area studies, as well as individual thesis supervision. The taught part of the course aims to familiarise you with the range and variety of disciplines required for a thorough critical understanding of the field in all its complexity and of the means and methods that have been devised to comprehend and analyse it.


Who is the course designed for?

The programme is designed for students from (for example) industry, teaching, the civil service, NGOs or the armed forces who wish to study while pursuing their career; it is also suitable for students who have just completed their first degree. A background in international relations, law, economics, history or politics is a definite asset, but we welcome applications from all disciplines. The course is taught in intensive residential blocks which enables students to continue with their professional careers while studying, and also enables international students to attend.

Please note that as a part-time course, students are not eligible for a student visa and therefore those who are not eligible to remain in the UK will require a short-term study visa which only entitles residency during the stipulated residential sessions of the course.

Students wishing to study full-time are encouraged to consider the MPhil in International Relations>>


Aims of the programme

By the end of the course students should have:

  • Developed the ability to apply critically the main theories, models, and concepts used in the study of international politics
  • Developed an understanding and substantive knowledge of international politics, history, economics, and security
  • Extended and developed their analytical, evaluative and critical capacities
  • Developed transferable skills, including the ability to take responsibility for their own learning, making oral and written presentations, planning and producing substantive written assignments, and undertaking independent research
  • Developed the ability to undertake independent research and writing
  • MSt students aiming to proceed to PhD study must fulfil the usual requirement for progression by achieving a High-Performance grade i.e 75 per cent or above.


Former MSt students have used the skills and knowledge acquired on the course to develop their careers within NGOs, IGOs, major companies and organisations.

Read about the experiences of former MSt students or watch our introductory video to find out what our MSt students have to say about the course. 


Teaching and learning

During the first year of the MSt in International Relations, all students are required to undertake a core course in International Relations, consisting of three modules:

Theory (Dr Giovanni Mantilla)
International Organisation (Dr Mette Eilstrup- Sangiovanni)
Security (Steven Ward)

Students must also choose three from a range of option modules, which are planned to include:

Africa (Stephanie Diepeveen)
Cold War Old and New (Dr Walter Ladwig III)
Democracy and Technology (Professor David Runciman)
Environmental Politics (Dr Cristina Peñasco)
European Politics (Dr Julie Smith)
Governing Migration (Dr Tugba Basaran)
Great Powers (Professor Brendan Simms et al)
International Law (Professor Marc Weller)
International Political Economy (Dr Jeremy Green)
International Relations of the Modern Middle East (Dr Roxane Farmanfarmaian)
Politics and Religion (Dr Isa Hussin and/or Dr Tomas Larsson et al)
Please note module options offered may be subject to change.

Students completing the first year successfully will spend their second year researching and writing a dissertation of 20-25,000 words on a topic of their choice, subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) of the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). Dissertation work will be individually supervised by an academic specialist.


Teaching blocks

All teaching takes place in Cambridge during the six residential sessions which are scheduled as follows:

Year 1:

Monday 20 September - Friday 1 October 2021
Monday 6 December - Friday 17 December 2021
Monday 21 March - Friday 1 April 2022
Monday 20 June - Friday 1 July 2022

Year 2:

Monday 26 September - Friday 30 September 2022
Monday 20 March - Friday 24 March 2023
Attendance at all the residential sessions is compulsory and applicants must ensure they can meet this attendance requirement before applying for the course.

Contact time

Year 1: 12-15 hours per module (3 Core and 3 options), divided between lectures and seminars.
Year 2:  25-40 hours of directed dissertation advisement, divided between lectures, seminars, and one-on-one supervision




Dissertation: 20-25,000 words maximum (including tables, footnotes, and appendices, but excluding bibliography).

Students must attend all sessions of their option modules and will be assessed on each by one essay not exceeding 4,000 words.


Written examination
Compulsory core course examination paper written under examination conditions of three hours' duration.

Students are given formal feedback on their assignments and informal feedback throughout their course, including during supervisions. Dissertation Supervisors are asked to write an annual progress report at the end of Year 1 and termly reports during Year 2.



Expected academic standard

Applicants for this course will normally have achieved a good UK 2.i honours degree, GPA of 3.7 or above or overseas equivalent. 

Please see this chart to check equivalent International qualifications

There is provision to accept non-standard applicants who do not satisfy the standard academic criterion. Such applicants must produce evidence of relevant and equivalent experience and their suitability for the course.


Language requirement

If English isn’t your first language, you will be required to submit evidence that you meet the University’s English language requirement before you are admitted.

Please follow this link for full details of the University Language Requirement:

Please note that there are no exceptions to this requirement and, if you are offered a place on the course, it will be subject to you meeting this requirement.

Those that have taken previous degrees in English may not fulfil the requirement. Please use the calculator to check if you are required to take a language test. Failure to do could mean that you are not able to join the course.


Supporting documents

You will be required to provide supporting documents as part of your application.



You will need to provide letters of recommendation from two referees who can provide academic or professional references; where possible, academic references are desirable.



A transcript is a list of all the courses you have taken during a programme of study, with the result you obtained, and with the credit value if applicable.

If you are currently studying, please provide a transcript listing the courses taken during your programme of study, with the results or grades obtained for each.

If you have previously completed degree-level study, please provide a transcript (where available) and degree certificate for each degree-level programme you have studied, showing the date the degree was awarded and the final class or grade obtained.


Research Proposal

Applicants must submit a research proposal outlining the proposed topic for the dissertation in the second year. There is no template for this submission, but we would expect applicants to provide 1-2 pages (c 1,000 words) outlining their proposed research, methods and sources.


Personal Statement

Applicants are encouraged to provide information within the application form about their motivation for applying for the course and to outline relevant experience and interests. A statement of no more than 500 words is sufficient.


Letter of Support from your Employer

If you will be in employment during your studies, please ask your employer to provide a letter stating that they support your application and understand/accept that in undertaking the course you will need time away from work to attend the residential sessions. Please note if you are unable to provide a letter of support from your employer with your application, you can provide it at a later date if you are subsequently offered a place on the course.



Fees and funding 


The fees for 2021-23 will be £18,534 for home students and £32,604 for overseas/EU students, payable in instalments over the two academic years. The combined graduate fee includes college membership. Students on this course can apply to  Queens'RobinsonSelwynSidney Sussex, and Wolfson colleges. 

Students will be expected to cover the application fee (£70 online) and any costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence during residential sessions in Cambridge. Accommodation is available in your college at their standard rates.

Sources of government funding and financial support - including Professional and Career Development Loans

For information on a loan from Student Finance England for course fees and a contribution towards living costs, please see



Find out more


Check out our frequently asked questions here>> 


If you have any questions about the application process, contact our Admissions team.


Get in touch with us>>



Please note the Course Directors are unable to comment on research proposals etc. prior to application.