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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, civil society or the armed forces who wish to study while pursuing their careers. We also welcome recent graduates wishing to undertake postgraduate study. The MSt is offered by the Department of Politics and International Studies and provides a two-year, part-time route to a full Cambridge Master's degree.

The Mst in International Studies attracts students from a broad range of professional and geographical backgrounds. The course admits some 50 students per cohort from every corner of the world. The graphic below indicates the global spread of recent cohorts.


The current course is 2023-25. Applications are now closed.  Applications for the next course will open in September 2024.  

Course overview

Course Overview

The course is distinctive in its multidisciplinary approach and breadth. Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminars on 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 International Relations. 

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 Politics and International Studies

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.

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 in International Relations Theory, International Security and International Organization (taught by Prof. Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, Prof. Jason Sharman, Dr. Alena Drieschova, Dr. Carsten-Andreas Schulz, and Mr. Ian Shields)

Students will select three further optional course modules from the following options*

1. International Constitutional Law (Prof. Marc Weller)

2. Global Capitalism and the Anthropocene (Prof. Jeremy Green)

3. Africa, Decolonization and Technology (Dr. Stephanie Diepeveen)

4. The Modern Middle East in Global Politics (Dr. Roxanne Farmafarmarian)

5. IR Theory and the Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Dr. Steven Ward)

6. Law and Politics in China and the Developing World (Christian Sorace)

7. The Great Powers Today (Prof. Brendan Simms)

8. US Foreign Policy in a Multipolar World (TBD).

9. Religion and Politics (Prof. Tomas Larsson)

10. Politics of the European Union (Prof. Julie Smith)

*Please note that individual modules offered may be subject to change according to student demand or unforeseen circumstances.

Students completing the first year successfully will spend their second year researching and writing a dissertation of 20,000 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:

18 September 2023 - 29 September 2023
04 December 2023 - 15 December 2023
08 April 2024 - 19 April 2024
24 June 2024 - 05 July 2024

Year 2:

30 September 2024 - 04 October 2024
13 January 2025 - 17 January 2025
Attendance at all the residential sessions is compulsory and applicants must ensure they can meet this attendance requirement before applying for the course.


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

Written work: Students will submit work to demonstrate their knowledge of the content of the core course. The specific format of the work will be confirmed at a later date.

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

Watch our MSt in IR introductory video

Listen to information and highlights both academically and socially from current students and professors and get advice on how to apply and thrive within the programme. 

Watch the introductory video for the MSt in International Relations Programme



Useful information 

If you want to know more about the September 2025 - June 2027 cohort, please get in touch and we will let you know as soon as information is available. 


Current course dates:  18 September 2023 to 20 June 2025

Course duration: 2 years

Apply by:  28 February 2023

Course fees for 2023-2025: 

  • Home: £19,000
  • Overseas: £33,500

Course director:


Department of Politics and International Studies: The Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP

Qualifications / Credits: Master of Studies

Course code: HUPIM9

Fees and funding

Fees and funding 

The fees for 2023-2025 will be £19,000 for home students and £33,500 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 (£50 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.

Application requirements

Entry requirements

Applicants for this course will normally have achieved a good UK 2:1 honours degree or a GPA of 3.7 or equivalent from a non-UK university. 


Should be able to demonstrate an equivalent level of relevant experience acquired in a non-academic setting, for example through their professional work.


Language requirement

•    For those whose first language is not English and who have not previously studied for a degree in an English language university, evidence of proficiency in English: an IELTS score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component) or a TOEFL score of 110 (with 25 in each element).
•    You can use this website to find out if you will have a language requirement.
•    A background in international relations, politics, law, economics, security or history is a definite asset but is not a requirement.
•    Candidates are asked not to contact potential supervisors before application. If you are successful in your application the Department will allocate an appropriate supervisor for you based on your research proposal.



Applications are made through the Postgraduate Admissions website. Further information about how to apply can be found on their How do I apply page, and they also have a very comprehensive FAQ page
When you have completed the necessary preparation and you are ready to begin your online application, you should take note of the following important information before you create your application.

  1. There is an application charge of (GBP Sterling) £50 per application. You can make the payment by providing your card details when you submit the online application.

  2. Your application is not complete without the required supporting documents (see below).

Please see our Postgraduate Application Guide for further information on the application process.


Supporting documents

You will be required to provide the following supporting documents as part of your application:

  • References 

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

  • Transcripts

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 500 words) outlining their proposed research, methods and sources. For more guidance on your research proposal.

Please include each of the following elements:

  • a well thought-out title
  • an explicit reference to the methods of research to be used (e.g. archival, discourse-analytical, empirical - whether quantitative, interview, or survey)
  • references to the relevant literature of which you are already aware, or which you expect to be able to consult
  • reasons why Cambridge is, in your view, a particularly appropriate research institution within which to carry out this research, including the presence of specific individual scholars with expertise in the field of your proposed dissertation, and whose supervision you would welcome.

Please identify a potential supervisor with whom you would like to work.

  • 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 250 words is sufficient.

  • Employer Support Letter

The MSt is a part-time degree that many students complete alongside a full-time job. This represents a major commitment from students, but also from their employers.  

In particular, the employer must commit in writing to allowing students to attend all the in-person periods of residential study over the course of the degree. Attending the residential is compulsory for being awarded the degree. 

Students enrolling in the degree also commit to completing the reading and writing requirements of the course work, including the dissertation, by specified deadlines alongside their existing work commitments. Unforeseen work commitments and assignments are not grounds for extensions to the deadlines for any component of the degree. 

The employer letter need only be a brief statement from the student’s manager that these commitments on attending the residentials in person in Cambridge and completing the components of the degree on time have been discussed by the applicant and manager and agreed by both. 

If students change employer during the course of the degree a new letter should be obtained and submitted to the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS).  

Find out more

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

If you have questions about the course, please attend an open day or get in touch with us at

** Please note the course director is unable to comment on research proposals prior to application.**


Our last open event was held on Monday 26 September 2022 when the Directors of the MSt in International Relations course hosted an Open Evening in the Atrium of the Alison Richard Building.

We do not have any open events scheduled at this time. 

If you have further questions about the programme or would like to be contacted about future events please feel free to contact us via email at