What’s it like studying International Relations?

Sophie Aikman

As a finalist looking back over my time at uni, I’m so happy that I chose to study international relations at Durham. I had a lot of anxiety as a prospective student; I wasn’t sure what to study and was worried I’d end up having to tolerate something I didn’t really enjoy for three years. Thankfully, this was not the case.

What is International Relations?

International relations is a political course with a broad set of modules covering everything from foundational political theory to the political workings of specific countries. Over the course of my degree, I’ve taken modules focused on America, the UK, and China. Additionally, I’ve been able to take broader modules about women and gender, the global political economy, and international organisations. The wide range of topics and the amount of choice I have over what I study is something I’ve really enjoyed throughout my degree.

Why I chose International Relations

When I chose to study international relations, it was largely because I actually didn’t know what I wanted to study. I did know that I wanted to educate myself about the world and current events. I wanted to be one of those people who was aware of the political climate and could speak confidently about politics with educated opinions. I think this was one of the best decisions I have made for myself. By not knowing what to study, I found something so interesting and broad that allows me to graduate well-rounded in a plethora of worldly topics.

Why Durham?

What I did know was that I wanted to study at Durham University. When I came to visit the summer before applying, I absolutely fell in love with Durham City and the university campus. It was so exciting to be somewhere so different than anywhere I’d ever been, and to feel such a strong sense of belonging in a place where I knew no one. After that summer, I spent the rest of my time in school with this unbearable longing to go back. Not getting accepted simply wasn’t a reality that existed to me.

Since I’ve been in Durham, not only have I enjoyed my course, but the School of Government and International Relations (SGIA) has provided great support throughout my degree. By no means has university been easy, so I’ve always been appreciative of their understanding approach to extensions and attendance. Additionally, the department consistently goes out of their way to improve themselves conducting focus groups, surveys, and always doing their best to ensure that students are getting the most out of their degree and uni experience.

Best choice of my life

Overall, I couldn’t be happier to be studying international relations at Durham University. I don’t think I have ever made a better choice for myself and my future.

Discover more

Our School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA) is ranked 1st in the UK for Politics Graduate Prospects in the Complete University Guide 2022. 

We are a research-intensive department and we use innovative teaching techniques to ensure we combine our latest world-leading research into the programmes we deliver.  

Feeling inspired? Visit our SGIA webpages to find out more about studying with us. 

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Sophie Aikman

Hi! My name is Sophie Aikman from Collingwood College and I’m a finalist undergraduate studying International Relations at Durham University. I’m an international student from WI, USA and am head producer at PalTV, Durham’s award-winning student-led broadcaster.

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