International College

Study international relations and politics

Politics and international relations have an impact on every aspect of our lives, from food and travel, to education and justice. By studying politics and international relations, you'll understand how the world works. 

International Relations and Politics at the University of Sheffield

Sheffield’s Department of Politics is one of the top three in the UK for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014). With world-leading research across all disciplines, you’ll receive first-class teaching in every aspect of your degree. Inspiring academics will support you throughout your studies.

Your career goals are taken seriously at Sheffield. You’ll develop key skills that employers look for, including presentation techniques, statistical analysis and leadership. You’ll have the option to gain work experience that makes you stand out, and you’ll receive ongoing career support, even after you graduate.

International Relations and Politics degree options at the University of Sheffield

Explore some of the subjects you can study, the themes and topics you will learn about, and the career options available after you graduate.

International Foundation Year students can progress to degrees including: 

Sheffield’s BA (Hons) International Relations and Politics degree focuses on political theory and analysis on an international scale. In years one and two, you’ll study core modules in global politics, international relations, research design and data analysis. You can also study specialist modules such as environmental politics, development, and the EU. In year three, you will carry out a personal dissertation and research project.

International Relations and Politics rankings

Top 3 in the UK
for research excellence
Research Excellence Framework 2014


World Top 100
for International Relations and Politics
QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020


UK top 20
for Politics
The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

Degree preparation at the International College

Find your pathway to studying politics and international relations. Choose the International Foundation Year in Business Social Sciences and Humanities for progression to undergraduate degrees. The Pre-Masters in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities leads to postgraduate degrees.  

Why study international relations and politics?

Politics and international relations is a fascinating option to study at university. By studying politics and international relations, you’ll understand more about how the world works. You’ll learn about different political systems and their impacts, and you’ll examine global concerns, such as migration, health and conflict. The skills and knowledge you’ll gain from a politics and international relations degree could lead to an exciting career in politics or international diplomacy. Reasons to choose this subject include:

A politics and international relations degree gives you a deep understanding of global concerns and how they’re managed. You’ll go beyond the basic facts by analysing public policies, exploring how governments work together, and investigating conflicts from different points of view.

You’ll become a well-informed member of society with clear opinions and an appreciation of other people’s views. With a clear understanding of how political systems work, you could influence changes on a local, national or international scale.

When you graduate, you could pursue a range of careers in politics or international diplomacy. You’ll also have a diverse skill set that could be applied to many other careers, from journalism and marketing, to banking and law.

What can I do with an international relations and politics degree?

A degree in international relations and politics equips you with transferable skills that can be used in a wide variety of careers.

Career options include:

  • Civil Service fast streamer
  • government social research officer
  • politician's assistant
  • public affairs consultant
  • public relations account executive
  • social researcher
  • charity officer
  • diplomatic service officer
  • forensic accountant
  • human resources officer
  • local government officer
  • market researcher
  • journalist
  • public relations officer
  • stockbroker.

International relations and politics FAQs

Politics is about power and how it’s used to organise communities and nations. It looks at which people hold the power and how they use it. International relations is politics on a global scale. It studies the way different nations interact with each other. This includes political, economic and cultural interactions. Politics and international relations have an impact on every aspect of our lives – from food and travel, to education and justice.

To study international relations and politics you will typically need good grades in your A Level subjects. Alternatively, if you want to study abroad in the UK you could study the International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities which will prepare you for an international relations and politics degree at the University of Sheffield.

An undergraduate degree in international relations and politics can lead to a range of careers with a variety of different salaries. You could follow a career as a policy officer where you could start on a salary between £22,000 and £30,000, eventually progressing to a policy manager where you could earn from £40,000 to in excess of £50,000. You could also pursue a career as a political risk analyst where salaries can reach in excess of £70,000 when you are highly experienced.

An undergraduate degree in international relations and politics typically lasts three years. However, you could also choose a course that is four years where you will spend a year on a work placement.

To study international relations politics at university there are a number of subjects that can help your application. These include Mathematics, English Language, Economics, History, Politics, Sociology, Geography, Modern Languages, Philosophy and Psychology.

You do not typically need an A Level (or the equivalent) in Maths to study international relations and politics at university. However, it can be useful as you will be using data and statistics often.

If you are not sure whether you want to study politics or international relations, why not study both? At the University of Sheffield, you could study an undergraduate degree in international relations and politics in order to combine both subject areas and gain the skills to enter both career paths.

Find out more about starting your studies or check the latest COVID-19 information.