Programmes of study

in the Department of International Relations

We run the following programmes:

  • a three-year undergraduate programme
  • an undergraduate General Course programme (for students wishing to substitute a year at their home university for a year at LSE)
  • five MSc programmes
  • a research programme for MPhil/PhD students

We are also involved in some joint degrees, which are administered by other LSE Departments.

Find out more about our degree programmes and how to apply via the links below.


Lists and league tables

In 2018 the prestigious journal Foreign Policy compiled its Best International Relations Schools in the World in collaboration with the Teaching, Research and International Policy (TRIP) survey.

The LSE was listed top UK institution for the 'Top Master's Program for Policy Career in International Relations'.

The LSE IR PhD programme was listed 14th for the 'Top PhD Program for Academic Career in International Relations'.

International Relations degree programmes

BSc International Relations

International relations is the study of an international system composed of territorial states which acknowledge no superior authority over matters which they consider of vital interest. This degree studies the functioning, theory and history of this system, and the nature of the changing relations between states and non-state actors.

Questions of central interest to the programme are: Why, on the one hand, do states go to war and what impact does this have on the international system? Why, on the other hand, do they often cooperate and obey international law? What is meant by "governance" and how do we explain regional developments like the European Union, or the re-emergence of the United Nations?

We will also investigate the widely different character and circumstances of states, examining the implications of the highly uneven distribution of power, money, welfare and knowledge in the international system for the foreign policies of states towards each other, and for the maintenance of international order.

Students on this programme also have the opportunity to receive a language specialism attached to their degree certificate and transcript.

Full details and how to apply:

Programme starting in 2021

Watch the BSc IR video

General course

International Relations is the study of an international system composed of territorial states which acknowledge no superior authority over matters which they consider of vital interest. It analyses the nature of this system -- the rules and forces governing the behaviour of states, the factors that lead to military conflict or peaceful co-operation, and the current trends towards both a more integrated and a more fragmented world.

The General Course is a study year for visiting undergraduates.

MSc in International Relations/MSc in International Relations (Research)

The MSc International Relations is an advanced, academic study of the subject. It is suitable if you plan to progress to a career with an international focus. The MSc International Relations (Research) is designed as a preparation for research work and includes Methodology courses. Home/EU applicants intending to apply for ESRC funding should apply to this programme rather than the 'straight' MSc IR.

Most of the teaching takes place in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

A 10,000 word dissertation must be submitted in late August.

Full details and how to apply:

MSc International Relations
MSc International Relations (Research)

MSc in International Political Economy/MSc in International Political Economy (Research)

This programme is intended for graduates with a good first degree in Politics, Economics, History, International Relations and other degrees with similar content.

The MSc International Political Economy Research is designed as a preparation for research work if you are entering the field from another related discipline. The MSc International Political Economy gives an introduction to the academic study of the subject and would be suitable if you plan to progress to a career that might have an international focus.

It is not necessary to decide which programme you prefer until you submit your option choices in the Michaelmas Term, normally in late-October, unless (as a Home/EU applicant) you intend to apply for ESRC funding, in which case you will need to have decided to study the research programme and state this on your application form. If you do not apply for, or do not get, ESRC funding, it may be possible, depending on your choice of options, to change programmes up to the end of the first term of the course.

The majority of the teaching takes place in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. You must also submit a 10,000 word dissertation by 1 September, or if this falls at the weekend, the first working day after 1 September.

Applicants should note that this programme focuses on political economy and is not a course in international economics. Although economic concepts are taken very seriously, the focus is firmly upon the political determinants and effects of economic outcomes.

Full details and how to apply:

MSc International Political Economy
MSc International Political Economy (Research)

Sciences Po-LSE Double Degree in Affaires Internationales and IR/IPE

This is a double degree, combining one of Sciences Po's affaires internationales programmes with either LSE's MSc International Relations or MSc International Political Economy.

The programme is based on reciprocal recognition of both curriculum and evaluation in the partner university, and offers a top-level education in international affairs and international relations or international political economy. It is designed primarily for those who intend to practise negotiation in government, international institutions and business, as well as those with a general interest in international relations and international political economy.

The double degree takes place over the course of two full academic years, with the first year in Paris and the second in London. At Sciences Po, you choose between three specialisations, International Security, International Economic Policy and International Public Management.

At LSE, you will have a choice between taking the MSc International Relations and the MSc International Political Economy. At the end of two years of successful study you will be awarded either a Master’s in International Security, in International Economic Policy or in International Public Management from Sciences Po and either MSc International Relations or MSc International Political Economy from LSE.

Full details and how to apply

MPhil/PhD Research degrees in International Relations

This programme offers you the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the international relations industry. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

More information
Full details and how to apply

Visiting Research Student in International Relations

We welcome research students from other universities to spend from one term up to one academic year at LSE as a Visiting Research Student (VRS).

The VRS scheme allows students pursuing research at other institutions to attend courses and benefit from the expertise of the LSE faculty, Library and academic support services.

More information
Full details and how to apply


Joint degrees 

BSc International Relations and History

The BSc International Relations and History programme is aimed at students who wish to complement the in-depth understanding of the complex unfolding of historical events with a theoretical perspective on how international society is organised. This is a joint honours programme, with equal emphasis in each subject area.

International relations deals with the nature of the changing relations between states and with non-state actors. It studies the functioning of the international system – the forces, factors and interests, the customs, rules, norms, institutions and organisations from which the theory and history of its development are formed.

History is a wide ranging and challenging subject to study. It seeks to understand the past and to make sense of the present, adding an important dimension to the understanding of many aspects of human society.

The joint honours BSc International Relations and History is offered by the Department of International History in conjunction with the Department of International Relations. 

Student testimonials videos

Full details and how to apply:

Programme starting in 2021

BSc Politics and International Relations

This is a joint degree with the Department of Government.

The study of politics involves analysis of the ways in which individuals and groups define and interpret political issues and seek to shape government decisions. It encompasses a broad spectrum of activities relating to public affairs, from elections and bureaucracies to wars and terrorism.

International relations deals with the nature of the changing relations between states and with non-state actors. It studies the functioning of the international system – the forces, factors and interests, the customs, rules, norms, institutions and organisations from which the theory and history of its development are formed. 

This programme combines the two complementary fields of politics and international relations in a joint honours programme, with around half of the programme in each field. You will learn political concepts and theories, will compare political phenomena in a variety of cultures and countries, and answer broad theoretical questions about the political world. You will also gain insight into how the international community works, studying alongside students from a wide range of countries.

Full details and how to apply:

Programme starting in 2021

BSc International Relations and Chinese

The aim of this joint honours programme is to develop graduates who are able to combine theoretical and applied knowledge of international relations as a discipline, and of China as a global power, with linguistic proficiency in Mandarin and competence in navigating Chinese and international settings relevant to diplomacy, international organisations and corporations.

It will offer you a foundational theoretical underpinning in the discipline of international relations, as well as the opportunity to specialise in particular thematic and regional areas of IR research, with an emphasis on China as a globally active state. You will develop linguistic proficiency in Mandarin through two study abroad periods at Fudan University in Shanghai, and through increasingly specialist language courses that focus on international relations and professional practice. Students will start as beginners in Mandarin, but will graduate able to work in Mandarin-language settings.

This programme was formerly known as BSc International Relations and Mandarin.

Full details and how to apply:

Programme starting in 2021

MSc Theory and History of International Relations

This programme gives you the chance to understand and appreciate both the theoretical and the empirical approach to the study of international relations.

This is a joint degree with the International Relations Department and based in the International History Department. It allows you to benefit from the expertise of two highly-rated departments, sampling courses in both Departments. You will therefore gain an understanding of both international relations theory, taught by leading experts in the field, and recent international history.

The structure of the degree is intended to ensure a good balance between International History and International Relations. This means it is an excellent preparation for those contemplating further research in either International History or International Relations, as well as being accessible to those who are making the transition from related disciplines such as political science, modern languages, economics, law or journalism.

The programme provides you with the opportunity to specialise in a wide range of geographical regions or other aspects of international relations including world wars, East-West conflict, European integration, the role of political doctrines and ideologies, revolutions and national liberation struggles.

Full details and how to apply

MSc Global Politics

The MSc Global Politics is a leading, interdisciplinary programme on globalisation, global governance and global politics.

Based in the Department of Government and taught by the Departments of Government, International Relations and International Development, and the European Institute, it makes the most of the expertise of LSE staff at the cutting edge of debates about globalisation and global politics.

The MSc includes a compulsory course, The Politics of Globalisation, which offers a comprehensive overview of the changing structure of the global order, and the impact of various dimensions of globalisation on politics among and within countries. In addition, you will select options from over 50 courses related to various aspects of global politics, and will complete a dissertation on an approved topic of your choice.

This programme will be a good preparation for further research work, or for a career in education, the public services or the private sector at national, international or global levels.

Full details and how to apply

LSE-Peking University Double Degree in MSc International Affairs

Organised jointly by LSE and Peking University (PKU), this double master’s degree offers an outstanding opportunity to study the international relations of China and the Asia Pacific region, as well as the theory and history of global international relations.

This programme will be ideal for graduate students and young professionals. You will spend your first year at the School of International Studies at Peking University, and the second year at LSE. It will allow you to:

  • Experience a full academic programme in both China and Europe

  • Take courses in both the International Relations Department and the Department of International History at LSE

  • Combine an empirical and a theoretical approach to contemporary international affairs

  • Study in small seminar groups of no more than 15 students

  • Engage at an advanced level with the latest academic research and undertake your own research-based term work and dissertations

The programme provides an excellent preparation for careers in academia, business or consulting, government or international agencies, the media, politics and law.

The courses in London will be taught in English, while those in Beijing will be taught in Chinese or English, giving students a choice about which language they want to use for their studies.

All applicants apply via LSE. This includes applicants from the People’s Republic of China, and areas of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and PKU students.

Once you successfully complete your studies at both institutions, you will be conferred Master Degree of Law and Master Degree of Sciences by PKU and LSE respectively.

Full details and how to apply


Other degrees 

Master of International Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs

LSE and the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC are pleased to announce that LSE graduate students and recent alumni are now eligible to apply for the Master of International Studies (M.I.S.) degree program. The M.I.S. is a multidisciplinary, academic dual degree program that is designed to complement your studies at LSE with an intensive year in Washington, DC. Students in the MIS program may concentrate on a variety of global issues or regional fields, including conflict resolution, international security studies, international economic affairs, international development, international public health, technology and international affairs, international law and organisations, U.S. foreign policy, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Students may also take advantage of the Elliott School's professional skills curriculum as well as pursue unpaid internships.

Awarded only after all degree requirements at both LSE and the Elliott School are met, the MIS requires one academic year of study. The MIS prepares students for careers in diplomacy and public service, international organizations, multi-national corporations, non-governmental organizations, and journalism.

The application deadline for the MIS program is January 15. GRE scores are recommended, but not required, for applicants from LSE; students should note, however, that GRE scores must be submitted in order for applicants to be considered for fellowships.

For more information on the MIS program, please visit the Elliott School website or contact the Director, International Programs and Education, Daniela Reichert, by e-mail or by phone at 001 202 994-0953.

Executive MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy

The executive MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy is a unique programme designed to enhance the strategic vision of global leaders.

The programme will provide you with both the analytical tools to understand a changing world and the policy skills to operate within it. Lectures focus on: 

  • The emergence of new strategic actors, such as China and India

  • Global economic trends after the financial crisis

  • Developments in the world's key regions, such as Europe and the Middle East

  • New security issues, such as climate change 

  • Global flashpoints, such as Brexit, the South China Sea and Syria

In sharply-focused seminars, you'll challenge conventional wisdom on these topics. Workshops and policy simulations on crisis management, and diplomatic negotiations will provide you with practical insights into what has been learned from the lectures.

You will learn how to deal with emerging threats and risks by operating strategically, and how to solve common problems by negotiating with stakeholders as well as adversaries.

Full details and how to apply

LSE Summer School

LSE Executive Courses

Five day intensive short courses for executives.

Full details and how to apply

LSE external study

University of London International Programmes with academic direction provided by LSE.

Find out more

For further information about the application process for any of the above Master's degrees, and LSE Graduate School more generally, please visit Study at LSE.

Graduate School - how to apply