MSt in International Relations

The next intake to the Master of Studies (MSt) in International Relations will be in 2015 and details of the new course will be added to this website in summer 2014. The following information may therefore be changed for the next course, but will give you an idea of the content and structure of the course.

Covering contemporary and historical perspectives on International Relations, the MSt offers education and research training at the Master's level. The MSt will appeal both to recent graduates and to those already pursuing a career in any walk of life. For those candidates looking ahead to further graduate research, the MSt in International Relations offers a valuable starting point and will make it possible to accurately gauge a candidate's suitability for further research. The MSt has been approved as a pathway through to PhD research.

The course attracts well-qualified and highly motivated students from the UK and beyond. and we anticipate around 45 students being accepted onto the course. Successful applicants will become members of a Cambridge college where they will join the wider graduate community as well as enjoying full access to the facilities of the University.

Who is the course designed for?

The programme is suitable both for students who have just completed their first degree, and for mature students from (for example) industry, teaching, the civil service, NGOs or the armed forces. A background in international relations, law, economics, history or politics is a definite asset, but we welcome applications from all disciplines.

What will I be studying?

During the first year, all students will be required to undertake a core course in International Relations and also chose six modules from the following options :

  • International relations of the modern Middle East
  • International relations of Afghanistan and South Asia
  • Rising powers and the international order
  • The politics of the WTO
  • Democratisation
  • International political economy
  • Introduction to international law
  • The Cold War
  • US presidents and their wars
  • Energy security
  • International migration and development
  • The politics of European integration
  • European geopolitics
  • China in the international system

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

How will I be taught and assessed?


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

Year 1

  • 16 - 27 September 2013
  • 9 - 20 December 2013
  • 24 March - 4 April 2014
  • 16 - 29 June 2014

Year 2

  • 22 - 26 September 2014
  • 5 - 9 January 2015

Attendence at all the residential sessions is compulsory and applicants must ensure they can meet this attendence requirement before applying for the course.


In Year 1 the taught elements of the course are assessed through a combination of an invigilated three-hour examination for the compulsory core course, and assessed essays or examination for each of the six optional modules. The core course is worth 40% of the overall mark for the year and each module is worth 10%. In the second year, students submit one dissertation of 25,000 words which will be assessed by two examiners.

Sessions will be offered in essay writing, examination technique and research methodology, and opportunities will be given to submit practice essays and to write an essay under examination conditions.

What can I go on to do?

As well as progressing to success in PhD studies, former MSt students have used the skills and knowledge acquired on the course to develop their careers within NGOs, IGOs, major companies and organisations. Details of some of our past students can be found on the Student Profiles link below.


The fees for 2013 will be £9,000 for Home/EU students and £14,000 for overseas students. This fee covers both years of the course.

Students are also required to cover their college fee and to cover their expenses during the residential sessions. The college fees are collected by the College, who will make clear to students how much these payments are, how they are to be made and by what deadlines. Accommodation is available in your college and the cost is usually c. £15- £20 per night. We would also suggest you budget for living costs of c. £40 per day.


Teaching will take place at the Department of Politics and International Studies, West Road, Cambridge, but there will be events at Madingley Hall and students are invited to join alumni for a residential weekend at Madingley Hall during the first residential session: 20 - 22 September 2013. The cost of this weekend is included in the course fee.

Entry requirements

Graduate work in Cambridge is intense and very intellectually demanding and so the University has high academic entry requirements. You are normally expected to hold or be about to achieve at least a 2i honours degree from a UK University, a GPA of 3.7 or higher or an equivalent standard from an overseas university.

There is provision to accept non-standard applicants who do not satisfy the above criteria, but such applicants must produce evidence of relevant and equivalent experience and their fitness to read for a Master's degree. Such applicants will also normally be required to attend for interview.

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 is required: IELTS: overall band score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component).

Admissions process and how to apply

Applications for admission to the 2015 course will open in September 2014. Please check this website for updated information during summer 2014.

In addition to the standard application documents, you must submit a research proposal outlining the proposed topic for your dissertation in the second year. We do not provide a template for this submission, but would expect applicants to provide 1-2 pages (c 1,000 words) outlining their proposed topic. Please also note the guidance provided below.

Further information

Find out more

We do not have any open days for potential applicants to this course and all information will be posted on this website. If you do need further information on administrative matters, please contact the Course Administrator:

Mrs Linda Fisher
Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall
CB23 8AQ

Tel: 01223 746218
Fax: 01223 746290

Course Directors

For academic information, contact the Course Directors: Dr Charles Jones or Dr Mike Sewell

Pre-enrolment information

Information about studying with ICE

Register interest

To register your interest in this course please contact us:

Write to us

Linda Fisher
Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
Madingley Hall, Madingley
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

Call us

+44 (0)1223 746218

Email us

Course details

Start date

16 September 2013 (09:00)

End date

1 July 2015 (17:00)

Application deadline

1 April 2013

Course code



2 years
Taught in 8 separate residential blocks


Department of Politics and International Studies
Alison Richards Building
7 West Road
United Kingdom

Qualifications / Credits

Master of Studies

Course directors