International Relations program at King’s

From system to unit level, what is the King’s IR program all about?

Looking for the right BA program can be overwhelming because there are so many options available. At least it did for me. In fact, I started by scrolling UK universities in an alphabetical order. After getting as far as the letter c, I started seriously questioning my methods. Focusing on universities with some name in the field turned out much more sensible strategy, for example, the Department of War studies in King’s has more International Relations scholars than any other department in the UK.

For me, the decisive element in choosing the King’s IR program was its in-built flexibility. Students take the identical set of modules only in their first year and after that everyone is not just encouraged but also expected to focus on topics of their professional and academic interests. In our second and third year, we can choose most of our modules ourselves.

Reflecting the inter-disciplinary nature of international relations in practise, the IR program is actually a joint-effort by Departments of War Studies, European and International Studies and Political Economy, which ensures a wide range of module options. In our third year, when we choose our regional specialization, the King’s Global Institutes play a major role in running the so-called area studies.

For me, deciding between modules would have been substantially more difficult unless we had had the mandatory ones last year. The first-year modules in international history, international economics, international relations theory, and in conflict and security studies, together gave a good understanding of the different dimensions of the contemporary international relations. For someone who is not particularly keen on international economic relationships or political theory, this was particularly useful. First, it gave me insight on topics that I would not have otherwise studied in detail. Indeed, both theoretical frameworks and economic relationships are crucial in understanding policy makers’ decisions and state behaviour. Second, it helped me discover my interest areas even more firmly -thus helping me to choose my second year modules.

TLibrary dayo illustrate this in practise, I explain briefly the modules I am currently taking. In fact, I believe I managed to construct a nice set of mutually supporting elements (Also just a view of one of our magnificient libraries)

The Foreign Policy Analysis- module asks who does foreign policy and how foreign policy objectives come about. The Statecraft and Diplomacy- module looks at how states and other actors interact with each other and what tools, ranging from appeasement to gunboat diplomacy, they use in pursuing their objectives. The War and Global Conflict- module focuses on the cases where the competing objectives cannot be settled peacefully and interaction leads to a violent conflict or war.  Finally, the core module this year, titled as Global Politics, provides a framework for all this with a focus on global transformations, transnational challenges, international institutions and chancing power structures of the 21st century. Needless to say, every passing week is extremely interesting!

Christmas on Campus

Christmas on Campus

International Relations 101

Every inhabitable bit of land on this planet is owned by a state. The world looks like a single entity only if looked from space. On the ground, it is composed of some two hundred separate territorial units, each facing the same dilemma. How to ensure everyone’s right to mind their own business when what happens outside the state borders affects what happens within? In reality, of course, these seemingly separate units are not so independent from one another. In fact, they are entangled in an increasingly dense and complex web of interaction.This is the question, which drew me to King’s in the first place. I want to understand how units based on territorial sovereigntyand independence could better overcome cross-border challenges.

The study of International Relations has traditionally meant studying relationships between states. In modern times, a host of other actors need also to be considered. In my program, you can pursue the path that interests you most. Whether your focus is on the traditional foreign policy and diplomatic relations, the influence of the non-state actors in challenging the state authority, or the overlapping economic and social relations binding states together in international institutions, the decision is yours.One of the greatest advantages of the International Relations program is the chance to build it largely based on your own interests.

In my department, the studying experience encompasses much more than mere academic teaching. One can read the same books everywhere, but the kind of first-hand experience you get here is harder to master on your own. Lectures and seminars are frequently accompanied by a range of different events focusing on a particular aspect or situation in international politics. Blurring the line between academics and practitioners, between theory and policy, is encouraged both in and outside the classroom.

In addition to the university-run events, the wide spectrum of different student-run societies, and the co-operation with other institutions such as think thanks and policy-centres, ensure that every week is packed full of non-academic opportunities. Moreover, with its highly international student body, there is sense of learning international relations in practise. With each passing week, I face new opportunities to experience communication and teamwork in an international environment.

London, International Relations and King’s vast professional and academic networks are an excellent match. Applying to King’s was one of the best decisions of my life.

View from the War Studies Department

View from the War Studies Department

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