Skip to main content

MA in International Relations

Pathway diagram for MA in International Relations

The Convenor for this degree is Dr Debbie Lisle who can be contacted for further information.

September 11th attacks

The last decade has been a turbulent time in international politics. Terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001 shocked the world, marking an apparent watershed between Western interventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone , Afghanistan , and Iraq . Trends of ‘globalisation’ continue apace, with China’s economic rise driving down consumer prices across the world and American mortgage markets sending shock waves through the political economy of Western Europe. Meanwhile, with half the world – nearly three billion people – living on less than $2 per day, issues of poverty, development, disease and malnutrition continue without a global agenda for their resolution. Such a state of continuous flux makes the study of international politics an exciting challenge.
Tiananmen Square

As a subject, International Relations seeks to make sense of this flux. It examines the origin and development of the state system, how the state’s power has altered over time and come to be affected by non-governmental organisations, individuals and market forces. It explores the role that ideas such as sovereignty, human rights, justice, security, ethics, democracy and culture play in our changing international environment.


Murals in Northern Ireland

This MA offers the unique opportunity of studying these issues, and many more besides, along with the practical experience of living in the city of Belfast . Historically, Belfast , and Northern Ireland more broadly, has formed a bridge between North America and continental Europe, as well as being a place that symbolises the many layers and changing nature of international politics, where apparently communal conflicts have a clear international aspect. The famous murals of West Belfast are a living example of such internationalisation.


What you will study

Studying International Relations at Queen’s you will be encouraged to think critically about how the seemingly ‘local’ feeds into, influences and can come to constitute genuinely ‘global’ affairs. The programme is split into three sections: two semesters of taught courses, followed by a summer pursuing your own research in the form of a dissertation . In the first semester, two compulsory courses (‘Approaches to Social Science Research’ and ‘Theories and Issues in International Politics’) focus on furnishing you with the theories, methods and approaches you will need for studying the patterns, trends and complexity of world politics.


Peacekeeping troops

Semester two concentrates on application of these techniques, as well as a allowing you to specialise and narrow the focus of your interest somewhat. Here you have the ability to choose from the wide range of modules on offer, studying issues such as globalization, international security, conflict intervention, European governance, Northern Ireland in the world, as well as more philosophical issues of sovereignty and citizenship beyond the nation.

Who will teach you

The MA in International Relations is based in the International Politics and Ethnic Conflict research cluster . However, the MA itself is run by a young, enthusiastic team of academics with a diverse range of expertise. The three that you are most likely to come into contact with are:

  • The MA International Relations convenor,  Dr. Debbie Lisle, whose research focuses on how world politics has been represented in the cultural realm. This leads to an examination of a range of non-traditional sites of international relations, such as travel writing, war films and photo-journalism. As well as having a book published with Cambridge University Press, Debbie has articles published in journals such as Review of International Studies, Millennium, and Security Dialogue.
  • Dr Dan Bulley  teaches,  along with Debbie Lisle, on the core first semester course, ‘Theories and Issues in International Politics’. Dan’s research examines questions of the ethics and politics of foreign policy, and the possibility of theorising ethics in world politics. He has published chapters in several edited volumes, as well as articles in Review of International Studies, the British Journal of Politics and International Studies, and International Politics.
  • Dr Mike Bourne will be teaching on the second semester ‘International Security’ course. Mike has a strong record of research and policy work on the proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, as well as a strong interest in critical security studies. He has published a book with Palgrave and has chapters in several others, and has been a consultant on NGO, government and UN-funded security projects.