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International Relations

About the major

International Relations is the study of the international political and economic system. It explores the historical development of that system and provides students with a comprehensive understanding of actors, institutions, and processes of international politics. The major in International Relations 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 globalised, 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. Students will also explore the role that international institutions play in shaping policy decisions at the global level.

Key research and teaching areas include:

  • Politics at the global level: 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);
  • The policy-making process at the international level, and;
  • War and peace, security, terrorism, the international political economy, global cultures, international environmental politics, human rights and security.

Graduates from this major will have the skills desired by public, private and non-profit organisations, domestically and internationally.

Requirements for completion

The International Relations major and minor requirements are listed in the International Relations unit of study table.

Advanced coursework

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the advanced coursework units of study page.


The Discipline of Government and International Relations offers systematic and extended study in key areas of politics and international relations. The GIR Honours is a long-established program that has produced graduates who go on to great success. The honours year is more intense, challenging and rewarding than any year in the Undergraduate degree. The program is well recognised in Australia and has benefits in obtaining employment. Expectations are high, with work continuing throughout the year.

To be eligible to apply for the GIR Honours program, applicants would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of a 3-year degree program with at least 6 senior units in Government and International Relations (2000 and/or 3000 level) and a grade of 75 or above across those 6 units of study
  • Capacity to undertake 48 credit points in the honours years
  • Capacity for the Discipline to provide supervision

The GIR Honours program is a year-long program starting in semester 1 of each academic year. The honours components include two coursework units, a literature review and a 18,000-word thesis. Students are required to take a research design unit that prepares them for the research they will complete in the extended dissertation. Students then also have an option to choose one of the two units focusing either on the philosophy of social science research or conceptualising society. The content of the honours thesis is to be negotiated with a dedicated project supervisor, who will be a member of the academic staff with expertise in the chosen area.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in International Relations with an average of 70% or above. Access to the honours program is limited to available supervision.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where undertaking the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the International Relations honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information