International Relations

Gain advanced knowledge in the field of International Relations in preparation for a career in diplomacy or public service.


This degree is aimed at students seeking professional careers in areas such as:

  • Diplomacy
  • Public service
  • International organisations

It also serves as preparation for students wishing to complete a doctoral research degree in international relations.

Unit assessment is based on class participation, research reports, and an examination. The research report will account for 50% of the overall mark. Students must pass all components and attain an average of 50% or more for the award of the degree: Students who attain a combined average of 75% or more for unit work and the research report will be awarded the degree with distinction.


Students must take a minimum of three semester units. Those students who have not previously taken the International Relations Theory compulsory unit are required to do so. Great emphasis is given to the writing of short research reports (4 000-5 000 words within each unit). Students must submit a major research report of between 15 000 and 30 000 words prepared in the final quarter of the course. For those students planning to pursue a PhD this project typically becomes the foundation for subsequent in-depth research.

INTR7068 - Advanced International Relations Academic Literary and Research Methodology for MA Research

The purpose of the course is to give students advanced methodological skills required to produce an MA research proposal and ultimately an MA research report. Students will also be required to identify and critique the research methodology used in seminal works in the discipline.

7042 - Development Issues

This course focuses on ideas and debates about development. It examines how the notion of development is reflected in the international system.

The first part of the course will examine conceptions of development through the prisms of key thinkers such as Sir Arthur Lewis, P.T. Bauer, Raul Prebisch, Adebayo Adedeji, Mancur Olson, and Douglas Norht. In the latter part of the course, attention will focus on some contemporary concerns such as:

  • The origins of institutions
  • The developmental state
  • The role of the World Bank
  • Poverty reduction
  • Corruption
  • South-South cooperation in global governance

SINTR7012 - Gender

Gender and other issues related to social justice and equality are explored. This is done using post-positivist IR theories and methodologies. This course will focus on:

  • Bias and prejudice in international relations
  • Why can't women rule the world according to Fukuyama
  • Feminist theories
  • Gender-related security and power issues
  • Gender and economics
  • Postcolonial gender studies

INTR7020 - Middle East

The Middle East is the most volatile region in world politics. This unit seeks an understanding of the dynamics of domestic, regional and international politics in the Middle East and the pacing of the middle Eastern system of states in the world system.

INTR7029 - International Relations: Europe

This unit introduces the European Union. It is a fascinating example of regional integration that currently embraces 27 states. The EU's pursuit of economic and political integration raises interesting questions, such as:

  • Why and how did European integration occur?
  • How is EU governed?
  • Why does the EU continue to pursue a policy of enlargement?

INTR7023 - Africa

This seminar examines conflicts and conflict resolution processes in Africa since the 1990s. It aims to expose students to the causes, courses, and consequences of African conflicts and efforts to resolve them. Situating these conflicts within the internal, regional, and external contexts furnishes a broader perspective on how they have evolved and been resolved.

INTR7017 - International Relations of East Asia

An overview of the history of international relations in the region since 1945 is provided. Issues pertaining to state formation and nation-building are explored and the impact of extra-regional actors (such as the United State and the former Soviet Union) is considered.

INTR7007 - Human Security

This course probes the evolution of the concept of human security in international relations, its core components, and relevance to myriad challenges facing Africa and the rest of the world in the 21st century. The course introduces students to the debates about the concept and its relevance in the contemporary era.

Key Topics Include:

  • Intellectual foundations and debates over the concept of human security
  • New and old wars
  • Persistent conflict
  • Just war thinking

INTR7068 - International Politics of African Elections

This course explores themes such as:

  • The international dynamics of elections on the continent
  • The role of international electoral assistance bodies and programmes
  • The role of regional and global governance institutions in electoral management
  • The role of elections in conflict and conflict resolution
  • Case study analysis forms an important part of this course.



Entry Requirements

BA Honours degree in International Relations or Political Studies with a mark of at least 70%.


BA Honours degree in Public Administration or Public International Law with a mark of at least 70% (This pertains only to students that completed their studies at an institution not offering International Relations or Political Studies)

The departmental screening committee evaluates eligible applications on a competitive basis for the available places.

Applicants should include with their application:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • transcript of marks
  • letter of motivation
  • An example of recent academic or professional writing

Additional entry requirements may apply.

University Application Process

  • Applications are handled centrally by the Student Enrolment Centre (SEnC). Once your application is complete in terms of requested documentation, your application will be referred to the relevant School for assessment. Click here to see an overview of the Wits applications process.
  • Please apply online. Upload your supporting documents at the time of application, or via the Self Service Portal.
  • Applicants can monitor the progress of their applications via the Self Service Portal.
  • Selections for programmes that have a limited intake but attract a large number of applications may only finalise the application at the end of the application cycle.

Please note that the Entry Requirements are a guide. Meeting these requirements does not guarantee a place. Final selection is made subject to the availability of places, academic results and other entry requirements where applicable.

International students, please check this section.

For more information, contact the Student Call Centre +27 (0)11 717 1888, or log a query at

University Fees and Funding

Click here to see the current average tuition fees. The Fees site also provides information about the payment of fees and closing dates for fees payments. Once you have applied you will be able to access the fees estimator on the student self-service portal.

For information about postgraduate funding opportunities, including the postgraduate merit award, click here. Please also check your School website for bursary opportunities. NRF bursaries: The National Research Foundation (NRF) offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of bursaries and fellowships to students pursuing postgraduate studies. External bursaries portal: The Bursaries South Africa website provides a comprehensive list of bursaries in South Africa.