International Study Centre

Study international relations

Students working in a classroom

What is international relations?

International relations focuses on the way two or more nations interact with one another. It enables you to explain and understand the world as a whole and it tackles key global issues and challenges facing our world today.

Through a combination of subject fields such as economics, history, sociology, anthropology and politics, international relations helps to make the world a better place.

The subject deals with a variety of global issues such as:

  • Human rights
  • Global poverty
  • The environment
  • Terrorism
  • International security
  • Global ethics
  • Politics

International relations is the interconnectedness of these issues across the globe. It is about making sure things run smoothly between countries, governments and multinational companies in our interconnected world.

Why study international relations?

There are a variety of reasons to study international relations at university:

Transferable skills

Thanks to the breadth of subjects incorporated into an international relations course, you will develop a number of key transferable skills. Not only will you build the academic knowledge base needed to succeed in an international relations career, you will gain desirable skills that will help you in various other roles too. These include:

  • Communication
  • Analysing information
  • Problem solving
  • Team work
  • Time management and organisation.

Global Awareness

Studying international relations will provide you with different perspectives on global issues and challenges. You will understand the complications of cross-border interactions and deals, and gain a strong knowledge of current international affairs. Learning how to analyse complex and numerous factors will equip you with an awareness of how an event in one country could have consequences in another

Help make international decisions

With an international relations degree you could go on to work in a variety of global positions. By developing strong academic knowledge of international current affairs, global influences and consequences of actions, you will be able to contribute and advise on aspects that have a worldwide impact.

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

If you want to study international relations, we offer a number of university preparation courses, leading to degrees at the University of Sussex. Our International Study Centre will provide you with the academic and English language skills needed to succeed during an international relations degree at Sussex.

Which course should I study for international relations?

Business, Media and Social Sciences

Venture into business with a pathway programme that will prepare you to study a degree at one of the UK’s top business schools. Start your career in business today.

International Relations and International Development

Study International Relations and International Development at the University of Sussex, the number one ranked university in the world for Development Studies.

Business, Media and Social Sciences

Interested in expanding your business knowledge? Study a Pre-Masters pathway to prepare for a postgraduate degree at a top UK business school.

Degree options at the University of Sussex

There are a variety of degrees you can study at the University of Sussex once you have completed the relevant pathway at the International Study Centre.

Undergraduate degrees

Degree progression from the International Foundation Year: 

  • International Relations BA 
  • International Relations and Anthropology BA 
  • International Relations and Development BA 
  • International Relations and  Sociology BA 
  • International Relations with a Language BA 
  • Economics and International Relations BA 
  • Geography and International Relations BA 
  • Law with International Relations LLB
  • Politics and International Relations BA 
  • International Development BA
  • Economics and International  Development BA 
  • Geography and International Development BA 
  • International Development with a language BA

Degree progression from the International Year One: 

  • International Development BA
  • International Relations BA
  • International Relations and Development BA

Postgraduate degrees

Progression from the Pre-Masters Programme:

  • International Relations MA
  • International Education and Development MA

Why study international relations at the University of Sussex?

The Department of International Relations at Sussex is the largest in Europe.You will benefit from the international expertise and support of top academics throughout your degree. The University of Sussex is ranked 1st in the world for Development Studies (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022).

Opportunities also include:

  • Talks and careers advice to help you develop practical skills
  • International work placements
  • Studying part of your course abroad
  • Student-run volunteering and other activities with the Sussex International Development Society. 

Through the skills you learn during your degree, you will be highly sought-after by employers. Graduates from Sussex have gone on to work for international organisations and non-profit organisations such as Oxfam, UNICEF and American Express.

97% of Department of International Relations students were in work or further study six months after graduating (Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2017).

Study in a diverse environment

International relations graduate job prospects

As a graduate of international relations you will be able to pursue a range of international careers. With your strong knowledge of global influences and current affairs, you could end up in a role where you will be making global decisions. Some of the jobs you could pursue include:

  • Political analyst
  • Intelligence specialist
  • Diplomat
  • Social researcher
  • Public affairs consultant
  • Public relations specialist.
Yolanda from China

“The experience of the International Study Centre is unique, because you can meet a lot of different nationalities there, which provides you with an understanding of diversity and multiculturalism. You can learn how to co-operate with cross-culture classmates.’’

Yolanda Wang from China International Year One International Relations and International Development