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International Relations

What is the International Relations program about?

International Relations is more than the question of war and peace between nations.

We live in an uncertain era during which global issues increasingly affect our daily lives. Globalisation and the rise of international institutions has changed the way we respond to world affairs.

Studying International Relations provides you with an understanding of the complexities involved, across a range of transnational issues of security, power, foreign policy, economics, values and beliefs, diplomacy and human rights.

It provides you with the critical perspective and diplomacy needed to work in foreign policy and international politics in governments, organisations and institutions.

You can contribute to building a better world, by studying the issues that matter.

Why study International Relations with us?

We offer a range of study options that can provide you with expertise in International Relations, electives that can diversify your skills, and the flexibility to study complementary discipline areas.

Your studies will provide you with a critical understanding of the forces shaping the world in which we live, and how Australia relates to its regional and international communities.

With a strong reputation in International Relations research, we offer a variety of postgraduate research courses that will develop your advanced research knowledge and skills, helping you understand issues concerned with conflict and cooperation at the highest level of political analysis.

What careers relate to International Relations?

Our graduates are employed by government departments such as Foreign Affairs, Treasury, Defence, and Health at the Federal level and state public service. Others have careers at the United Nations, or international non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International or Doctors Without Borders, write speeches and give advice to parliamentarians, act as lobbyists, or work for large corporations.

  • Community development officer/coordinator
  • Diplomat
  • Emergency relief officer/coordinator
  • Embassy/Consulate/High Commission official
  • Field coordinator for not-for-profit
  • Foreign aid officer/coordinator
  • Foreign affairs analyst/specialist
  • Human rights advocate
  • Intelligence specialist
  • Journalist
  • Multicultural affairs liaison
  • Politician
  • Peace monitor
  • Political and policy adviser/analyst
  • Press officer
  • Program coordinator for not-for-profit
  • Public servant
  • Research assistant
  • Trade and investment adviser/analyst
Dr Lionel Nichols, YouTube video

Dr Lionel Nichols | Barrister, London
Bachelor of Arts & Laws

International law is always evolving, it's so dynamic... You look at more than just law — you look at politics, you look at ethics, you look at so many other areas."

Read more about Lionel

How can I learn about International Relations?

Students can choose to study international security, international justice, international law and human rights, international organisations such as the United Nations, the foreign policies of major powers, the politics of terrorism, globalisation and international political economy.

Interested in studying with us? Explore our course and research opportunities below.

Each course and unit is linked to its own page with more detailed information on the Courses & Units website.


In 2020, the School of Social Sciences is offering the below units, including breadth units, which contain content from this discipline. Please refer to course pages to determine which of these units can be included in your course of study, as well as a complete list of units.


Semester 1

  • HPP101 Introduction to Politics and Policy

Semester 2

  • HIR101 Introduction to International Relations

Semester 1

  • HIR203 China's Global Power
  • HPP222 Modern Political Ideologies

Semester 2

  • HIR202 International Security
  • HPP205 Australian Politics and Policy
  • HPP216 Key Concepts in Social Justice

Semester 1

  • HPP302 Governance, Power and Public Policy
  • HIR308 International Cooperation
  • HPP314 Governing the Antarctic and Oceans
  • HPP315 American Politics
  • HSS305 Social Sciences Internship A
  • HSS306 Parliamentary Internship

Semester 2

  • HIR304 Order, Violence and Justice
  • HPP304 Parties, Leaders, Elections and Campaigns
  • HPP312 Environmental Justice, Politics and Policy
  • HIR306 Espionage, Terror and Global Disorder
  • HIR307 Global Political Economy
  • HIR309 Third World Development
  • HSS305 Social Sciences Internship
  • HSS306 Parliamentary Internship
Breadth Unit

Semester 2

  • XBR301 War! The Moral and Legal Limits of Political Violence


Our Honours program provides students with an advanced exploration of International Relations. Comprised of specialised core units and a research thesis or project, study at the honours level introduces skills and methods involved in independent research.

In 2020, the School of Social Sciences is offering the below units, including breadth units, which contain content from this discipline. Please refer to course pages to determine which of these units can be included in your course of study, as well as a complete list of units.

Semester 1 & 2

Semester 1

  • HIR402 Politics of International Relations

Semester 2

  • HIR403 Strategy, Security and Statecraft


With our Postgraduate Coursework programs you can develop your professional knowledge and expertise into a qualification. Study options are available both online and on campus, and part-time.

Our Postgraduate offerings are currently being updated. Please Contact us to find out more.

Your learning experience in International Relations goes beyond the lecture and tutorials.

You will be taught by experts, and gain perspective from guest lecturers and forums; study abroad for a fortnight, a month, a semester or a year, as part of your degree; have options to complete your studies your way, whether on-campus, online, part-time or full-time;  pursue your passion or specialisation with a range of scholarships, bursaries and financial assistance programs, or meet your career goals with our pathway options.

The School of Social Sciences and International Relations, as part of the College of Arts, Law and Education, offers a growing collection of units that are available to be completed either wholly or partially online to enable flexible study.

* The online availability for each unit is indicated on each individual unit page under ‘Availability’, then ‘Attendance options’ by the ‘Off-Campus’ icon .

Read more about Online Study in Arts

Read more about Online Study in Justice

We provide access to a variety of scholarships and bursaries at a University, College and Discipline level. The main application period begins in August, and closes on the 31st October the year prior to study commencing.

Browse Scholarships

Don't meet the traditional entry requirements? The School of Social Sciences offers an alternative entry pathway into our undergraduate programs. The Arts pathway is a great introduction into university study, and can assist you in gaining the qualifications and experience you need for your chosen career. This foundation year of study provides students with the skills and knowledge related to studying the arts and social sciences, with additional support and guidance to help you succeed.

Whether you intend to study a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Social Science, completing this year of foundation study in Diploma of University Studies (Arts Specialisation) (21A) will assist you in achieving your goals.

Pathway Programs at the University

An overseas study program gives you the opportunity to experience different cultures, study languages, undertake work placement or internships, make new friends and explore the world while receiving credit toward your degree and creating professional and life experiences. It provides a 'total immersion' experience in a variety of study areas and locations. You can choose a program length that suits you, from a 2-week fieldtrip, a short-term summer program to a full semester (or two).

Find out more about Overseas Study opportunities

Take your passion for ideas further than you ever imagined.

We offer a collegial, supportive environment, with experienced supervision, regular seminar series, research skills training, and many opportunities to work with peers and academics on your areas of interest. We supervise across a range of methodologies and conceptual/theoretical approaches, and encourage scholarship that draws on ideas from across diverse fields.

Choose a research topic that reflects your interests and identify a supervisor with the expertise to guide you in your research. Search for a discipline staff member via our staff profiles, or by an area or expertise.

The School of Social Sciences welcomes qualified applicants to undertake a research degree with us in any of our areas of research strengths and interests.

Masters by Research
Doctorates (PhD)

To find out about application procedures, entry requirements, and scholarships, refer to College of Arts, Law and Education Research Degrees.

Our research in International Relations

Our research in International Relations focuses on dimensions of power, politics and policy in local, national and global contexts. Areas of research strength include national and global governance, environmental issues, security, transnational politics, laws of war and human rights.

Our work is published in leading journals and by top-tier academic presses, we have access to an international network of top-flight researchers, and members of our team have received prestigious research grants and fellowships.

We welcome proposals from qualified applicants to undertake research degrees in PhDs and Masters, and are pleased to discuss research proposals that cross disciplines, including law, science, business, economics, journalism, geography and environmental studies, education and health sciences.

Dr Matt Killingsworth

Featured Researcher | Dr Matt Killingsworth

Matt is Head of Discipline, Politics and International Relations and a Senior Lecturer in International Relations. Matt's research includes opposition and dissent in Communist Eastern Europe, justice in post-Communist Eastern Europe, the changing nature of war and the laws of war. Matt is a regular contributor to The Conversation and can be heard each week on 936 ABC Hobart discussing the week in international politics.

View Matt's full researcher profile Browse our academic staff profiles