MSc International Relations Theory

Programme Specification - MSc International Relations Theory
1. Awarding Body
2. Details of accreditation by a
professional/statutory body, e.g. ESRC;
BPS etc
3. Name of final award
4. Programme Title
5. Duration of the course
6. Based in the Department/Institute:
7. Relevant QAA subject benchmark
8. UCAS Code
9. First written/last amended
International Relations Theory
11 months full-time, 23 months part-time
International Relations
November 2010 / December 2012
10. The programme aims to:
To provide intellectual challenge to academically able graduate students by engaging with
difficult material at the cutting edge of contemporary international relations theory
To provide students with a grasp of the relation between the study of international politics and
the other social sciences
To provide students intending to pursue higher degrees in theoretically-oriented International
Relations and International Political Theory with a basis for doctoral level research
To provide a basis for students moving into careers (including work in government,
international organizations, business and the media) which require articulate and clearthinking individuals with a sophisticated knowledge of competing paradigms for explaining and
judging contemporary world politics.
11. Programme outcomes: knowledge and understanding; skills and other attributes
Programme Outcomes: Students completing this degree should possess
Knowledge and understanding: an advanced understanding of theoretical debates within the field
of International Relations; specialist knowledge of at least one sub-field of normative or explanatory
theory, for instance theories of security; of global distributive justice; of the ethics of war or the
politics of international law; knowledge of a range of applications of IR theory to different fields of
empirical investigation.
Skills and other attributes: the ability to engage in advanced conceptual analysis and read and
interpret complex texts and arguments; the ability to formulate and articulate precise arguments in
both written and oral form; ability to design and independently execute a dissertation on an
approved subject of their own choice.
For further information relating to careers.
12. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies to enable outcomes to be achieved and
Teaching and learning strategies:
Mixture of lectures, seminars and individual supervision. All courses work to notional norm of 40
contact teaching hours per course. In addition students are expected to undertake guided
independent study.
Lectures provide an overview/ map of the core literature/ debates in the subject. Lectures are not
compulsory, although students are strongly advised to attend lectures associated with their course.
Seminars provide the opportunity for more active learning and normally involve student
presentations to structure the discussion – they are usually either 1.5 or 2 hours in length. Seminars
are compulsory and attendance is noted. The core course on this programme supplements
seminars with 4 small group meetings (3-4 students) during the first 2 terms.
All MSc students have an academic adviser in the Department who maintains an overview of their
progress and offers advice on dissertations.
Students are expected to supplement formal contact hours with extensive unsupervised reading,
preparation for seminars and essay-writing. Reading lists and course guides, and in many cases,
lecture hand-outs are provided in hard copy and on Moodle.
Assessment strategies:
Most courses are summatively assessed by 3 hour unseen examination, though some, including the
core course, also have a coursework component. The other element of summative assessment is a
10,000 word unsupervised, independently written dissertation on a topic approved by the student’s
adviser. Students take a diagnostic test in October to establish areas of strength and weakness in
relation to the programme, and are required to produce essays for diagnostic and formative
assessment throughout the year. The normal requirement is for three formative essays per course.
In some cases essays are substituted for by other written assessments such as book reports. In
addition all students are assessed on their seminar presentations as a way of helping them to
develop their oral presentation and hand-out writing skills.
13. Programme structures and requirements, levels, modules and awards
See MSc International Relations Theory programme regulations.
Additional information
14. Criteria for admission to the programme
A good 2.1 honours degree or equivalent is required. Preference is given to students with
backgrounds in International Relations, Politics, or related social science and humanities subjects
such as Sociology, History, Geography, Philosophy. Students with some background in social and
political theory and philosophy are particularly welcome.
15. Indicators of quality
Demand for existing IRD programmes from well-qualified candidates is buoyant. There are
consistently strong examination results in MSc courses run by the IR department and External
Examiners have consistently praised the quality of IR course provision and students’ work. The IR
Department has a particular concentration of scholars specialising in IR theory, and all courses on
the programme are taught by research-active staff.
16. Methods for evaluating and improving the quality and standard of teaching and
Taught Courses Sub-Committee looks at teaching and assessment issues twice or three
times a year and, when necessary, consults by email. It reports to the Departmental
Staff/ Student Liaison Committee meets once a term. Student representatives of the IRD
MSc programmes are members of this committee, which operates as a forum for
discussion of any issues to do with teaching quality from the students’ point of view. SSLC
items are raised at the Departmental Meeting as required;
Taught Courses Sub-Committee considers proposals to change any aspects of the
degree programme and any proposals for new courses;
Head of Department analyses scores from TQARO surveys and takes action to address
any problems, where necessary in consultation with the Director of Teaching and
Programme as a whole is reviewed every 4-5 years.
The School’s quality assurance processes include:
 regular staff appraisal and review;
 improvements in teaching technique are effected by the Teaching and Learning Centre
(TLC) through observations, advice and further training;
 induction programme and mentoring scheme for new members of staff;
 Staff/student liaison committee;
 centrally administered student satisfaction questionnaires by the Teaching Quality
Assurance and Review Office;
 an improved system for ensuring that External Examiner’s comments/recommendations
are fed through to Departments and acted upon;
 the School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee (TLAC) which regulates all
aspects of teaching quality;
 annual monitoring of courses and periodic reviews every 3-5 years. The outcomes of the
annual reviews are presented to TLAC;
 the School’s Undergraduate Studies Sub Committee and Graduate Studies Sub
Committee which oversee all taught programmes and ensure that significant changes to
programmes and courses pass through a sequence of formal stages to ensure that
curricular changes are appropriate and compatible with other developments.