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Major

In response to COVID-19, the University of Sydney has reviewed the availability of courses to be delivered remotely for students commencing their studies in Semester 1, 2021.

This course component will be available to study remotely for students commencing in Semester 1, 2021. Please note that some units of study that are not essential to completing the course component may not be available to be studied remotely.

Note: The University intends to offer as many units of study as possible in a remote as well as face-to-face learning method of delivery in Semester 1, 2021 and subject to ongoing border closures and public health orders impacting attendance on campus, in Semester 2, 2021. However, some units of study and courses require students to study in-person at the relevant University of Sydney campus/es and host locations for placements and will not be available remotely.

About this major

International Relations is the study of the international political, social, cultural and economic system. You will explore the historical development of that system and gain a comprehensive understanding of the actors, institutions, and processes of international relations.

The major focuses on territorial states that acknowledge no superior authority over issues vital to national interest. You will analyse the nature of this system—the rules and forces governing the behaviour of states, the factors that lead to military conflict or peaceful co-operation, and the current trends towards both a more globally integrated, and a more fragmented world.

In your first year you will be introduced to the core theories, concepts and institutions in international relations, and the history of international system. The second and third year units progressively build upon these foundations, further developing your understanding of central issues, including international security, international organisations, international political economy, and international law. You will also explore the role that international institutions play in shaping policy decisions at the global level.

This major covers key research and teaching areas including:

  • the study of the politics of countries around the world, and the way these nations interact in the international arena (foreign affairs, strategic behaviour and diplomacy)
  • policy-making processes at the international level
  • war and peace, security, terrorism, the international political economy, global cultures, international environmental politics, human rights and security. 

As a graduate you will have developed critical analytical skills and knowledge desired by public, private and non-profit organisations, both domestically and internationally.

For more information on the program structure and content including unit of study information, please refer to the Arts and Social Sciences Handbook.

Graduate opportunities

Our graduates enter a wide range of careers. Examples include:

  • Aid worker 
  • Business and government consultant 
  • Diplomat
  • Human rights officer 
  • International relations officer 
  • Journalist 
  • Market researcher 
  • Policy analyst 
  • Public service positions
Courses that offer this major

To commence study in the year

Units of study in this major

To commence study in the year

The course information on this website applies only to future students. Current students should refer to faculty handbooks for current or past course information.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.