International Relations: Who is it for? What is it about?

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a relaxing summer!

Today’s blog post will focus on the course I study at Surrey, which is International Relations BSc. It’s a fantastic course to learn about how different countries and organizations manage their relations with one another and achieve their objectives. It looks at how political power is distributed, and how it is utilised- and sometimes, weaponized- by states and organisations. Especially with regards to foreign policy, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The department which manages the course administration, the Department of Politics, is fantastic for ensuring that you can have frequent communication with your course administrator, module leaders, and anybody else whom you may need!

My first year on the course allowed me to gain a valuable understanding of the core features of international relations. Whilst all of the modules are compulsory, they are all incredibly interesting and provide a crucial foundation for your following years of study. Specifically, I looked at and researched the history of international relations; the critical decade of the 1980s, political debate in the United Kingdom (the salient issues in British politics which shape Britain’s foreign policy), Britain’s relationship with the European Union following Brexit, core political theory, as well as the “politics of crisis”- particularly salient during the Ukraine war. In my first year although during COVID meant online our tutors gave us the material provided and taught us just like being in class again!

My second year, which I have just completed, allowed me some choice regarding which modules and topics I studied and researched. The compulsory modules provided me the opportunity to learn data analysis software- RStudio- and learn about the core theories of international relations. You may choose, as your optional modules, to look at the European Union as a case study of international organisations, cooperation, and foreign policy. You may also opt to study the international political economy, and how different regions and nations’ economies rise (and fall). Or you may choose to look at international security, studying how states manage matters of national and international imperative. This module is especially interesting in the current world we live in, with growing political insecurity in Europe. I chose to study international security as one of my optional modules, and I highly encourage anyone who goes on to study international relations to do the same!

The third year of the course, which I am about to enter, provides complete flexibility around which modules one may wish to study. In addition, it is the year where one may choose to write a dissertation- an in-depth piece of research into a specific area of international relations. You may choose not to write a dissertation; in which case you can opt to take on additional modules in lieu. There is an option for a research module that emulates a mini dissertation,

Anybody who has an interest in how the world works, how countries interact with each other, or how decision-making is conducted on the world stage, will love this course! It will provide you a great opportunity to learn, research, and gain a vital understanding of these areas. You will have a great working relationship with the Department of Politics, and be able to contact your personal tutor, your module leaders, and anybody else with expertise for any guidance you may need!

Enjoy your summer!