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.
To 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!