Find out what life is really like at Durham University

DepartmentsStudent experienceUndergraduate

What’s it like studying International Relations?

International Relations is such an interesting discipline as it covers a broad range of topics, looking at the relationship between economics, law and politics in the international sphere. You not only look at current issues such as climate change, international security and organisations but also the theories that underpin how our international system operates.

The School of Government and International Affairs at Durham, or SGIA for short, appealed to me because of the incredible breadth of research that the academics within the department undertake, covering Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, Africa and America. Being taught by scholars who are undertaking leading research in their field is especially rewarding, particularly when it comes to discussing issues with them in detail during small group teaching such as seminars or tutorials.

My experience

Throughout my degree I have learnt about everything from the United Nations and global regions, to climate change and global inequality, gaining skills and knowledge that is very applicable to a range of different careers. This is especially true for the opportunities to conduct your own research across all three years, learning key qualitative and quantitative skills that employers really look for.

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to take on optional modules in other departments or a language alongside your degree! Whilst I found International Relations and Politics as a whole really interesting, I developed a specific interest for education during my degree through taking on optional modules in the Education and Sociology departments to compliment my modules in SGIA, giving me well-rounded teaching in what is a very inter-disciplinary subject.

Looking at the more pastoral rather than academic side of things, the department are really supportive throughout your degree and the office staff are only an email away if you need them! Each student is allocated an academic advisor who is your first port of call for any worries which is really helpful, especially when you are getting used to university-level work. I also gained a lot of support from the First Generation Scholars group within SGIA which has a member of staff dedicated to supporting students such as myself who don’t have any family who has attended university!

The best spot in Billy Bee

Opportunities outside of your degree

If you want to delve even further into the world of International Relations outside of your degree, the Politics and International Relations society holds lots of interesting lectures, talks and socials, as well as their Annual Ball which is a great opportunity to meet more course mates in a social setting! There are also lots of opportunities for debating across a range of societies both in a casual setting or competitively as well! Personally, I focused on discussions surrounding equality of opportunity discussed within my course and became really active in The 93% Club, Durham’s society to support and advocate for state-educated students!

As I look forward to my graduation in just under a month’s time, I can say that my time in the department has been very intellectually stimulating. I am grateful for the skills that I am now able to carry into my future career. 

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.

Download our latest prospectus and college guide here.

Follow our students on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Georgia Carter

Hi, I’m Georgia, a third year BA Politics student in the School of Government and International Affairs and a member of Josephine Butler College! Throughout my time at university, I have got involved with college life, formals and social mobility work alongside my degree and will be taking up a position in a social mobility charity after graduation!
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