MSt in International Relations

Find out what current students say about the course in this introductory video.

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

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 M.Phil in International Relations, details of which can be found on the website at

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 understand it better.

Who is the course designed for?

The programme is designed for mature students from (for example) industry, teaching, the civil service, NGOs or the armed forces, but 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.

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 written assignments, working independently, and, where they have chosen to do so, using information technology
  • Developed the ability to undertake independent research and writing

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.

Read about the experiences of former MSt students

Teaching and learning

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 provisional options:

  • International Relations of South Asia
  • International Relations of the Modern Middle East
  • International Relations of Africa
  • The Cold War
  • China in the International System
  • Gender, War and Security
  • International Migration and Development
  • Democratisation
  • Issues in International Law
  • American Presidents and Foreign Policy
  • The Geopolitics of Energy Security
  • European integration

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.

Teaching blocks

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

Year 1:

  • 18 - 29 September 2017
  • 4 - 15 December 2017
  • 9 - 20 April 2018
  • 18 - 30 June 2018

Year 2:

  • 24 - 28 September 2018
  • 7 - 11 January 2019

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

  • Lectures: each module has a minimum of 12 hours teaching, including on average 8 hours of lectures
  • Seminars: provided for most modules, 6-8 hours per module
  • Supervision: 10-15 hours (second year)



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


Students must attend all sessions of their six option modules, but will assessed on three modules by either:

  • Two essays not exceeding 2,000 words each; or
  • One essay not exceeding 4,000 words; or

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. Supervisions also result in an annual progress report at the end of Year 1 and termly reports during Year 2.

Entry requirements

Expected academic standard

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

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

  • IELTS Academic: Overall band score of 7.5 (with a minimum of 7.0 in each individual component)
  • TOEFL: Overall score of 110 (with a minimum of 25 in each element)
  • CAE: Grade A
  • CPE: Grade A, B, or C

Supporting documents

You will be required to provide supporting documents as part of your application. Please see below for details.

Fees and funding

The fees for 2017 will be £7,500 per annum for Home/EU students and £12,000 per annum for overseas students. The combined graduate fee includes college membership. Students on this course can apply to Wolfson, Selwyn, Sidney Sussex, Robinson, Churchill and Queens 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 and the cost is usually c.£20 per night. We would also suggest you budget for living costs of c.£40 per day.

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

You may be interested to know that from 2016/17, Student Finance England (SFE) is introducing a postgraduate loans scheme for full-time and part-time Master’s courses. Information on eligibility, the amount of the loan and the level of repayment can be found in SFE’s The Student Room. Please note that SFE is planning to take applications via its main Student finance website, from summer 2016.

How to apply

Applications will be accepted online from 14 September 2016 until 31 March 2017.

Read the MSt Application Guide to find out more about the application process and what you need to do and consider as a potential applicant. See below for details of the supporting documents you will need to provide when applying for this course. A research proposal is required at the time of application - Guidance notes and examples provided below.

Apply online when you are ready to start the application process.

Find out more

If you have any questions about the application process, contact our Admissions team: or +44 (0)1223 746262.

For all other enquiries, contact the Programme Manager, Linda Fisher: or +44 (0)1223 746218.

The Course Directors for the 2017 course are Dr Mike Sewell and Dr Julie Smith, but please note they are unable to comment on research proposals etc prior to application.

Open Evenings

We will be holding our second informal open evening for prospective applicants to meet current students and staff on Tuesday 10 January 2017. This event will take place in the Department of Politics and International Studies from 5.00pm - 7.00pm. If you would like to attend, please contact Liz Deacon as numbers are limited.


pdf Syllabus information: year 1

pdf Syllabus information: year 2

pdf Thesis proposal guidelines

pdf Thesis proposal examples

pdf Admissions criteria

pdf Supporting documents required for application

Pre-enrolment information

Information about studying with ICE

Apply online now

To book on this course you can either book online or contact us directly:

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

Venue information

If you need particular information about this location please contact our Registration team at or on 01223 746262

Course details

Start date

18 September 2017

End date

1 July 2019

Application deadline

30 March 2017

Course code



2 years
Taught in 6 separate residential blocks


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

Course fee

Home/EU: £15,000.00
Overseas: £24,000.00

Qualifications / Credits

Master of Studies

Course directors