SOAS University of London

International Foundation Courses and English Language Studies

International Relations

Academic Subject Summer Course

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • How to Apply


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“The lectures were very interesting and comprehensive, and I covered many topics I hadn’t studied before. The English Language support was very helpful too, and the study atmosphere was very comfortable and friendly. It was a great way to adjust to the new environment as a newcomer to London.” - Student comment


The course offers students an introduction to issues and ideas in International Relations. It is intended for people interested in how modern relations between nations and people have evolved and how they are changing in a globalising world. The course is taught through a series of lectures, seminars, case studies and discussion classes with supporting English tuition.

The course combines lectures, seminars and case studies to explore a wide range of developments in international relations today including: the rise of nationalism in Europe; democratic revolutions in the Middle East; America’s waning hegemony; and the challenges of global warming and nuclear proliferation.

Students will get the opportunity to produce group presentations on a variety of different international questions, and to participate in role-playing exercises that give an insight into the practical diplomacy of international relations.

International Relations can be taken either as a full 9-week course, as a 6-week option starting in either Block 1 or Block 2, or alternatively as a single 3-week course in any block. The content for each block is different.

Click on the Structure tab for more details and to see what structure the lectures will follow.


English language recommendations for students choosing subject courses: Students will need at least an intermediate level of English in order to understand the lectures, which are delivered at undergraduate level, and to engage in lively discussion in the seminars and tutorials. See our brochure for further details of appropriate language test scores. 


Block 1 - International order and change

The focus of this first block is the rise of the modern states-system and the structures of power that shape international politics today. How can states with different national interests maintain peace and security?

Lecture Topics
  • Sovereignty and the modern international order
  • Great powers - US hegemony
  • Collective security - United Nations
  • Global inequality - North-South relations
  • The shifting balance of power - China's rise
  • Nuclear weapons and arms control
Block 2 - Culture, states and security

The second block explores the influence of domestic institutions and national cultures on the relations between states. What role does liberal democracy play in shaping the dynamics of world politics, and can societies with different cultures live peacefully?

Lecture Topics
The Plumb-pudding in danger, or, State epicures taking un petit souper ... Js. Gillray, inv. & fecit.
  • Nationalism and the modern state
  • Democracy and liberal peace
  • Autocratic states and the West
  • Failed states and new wars
  • Human security and development
  • Revolution in world politics
Block 3 - Individuals and ethics in a globalising world

 The third block shifts the focus to the level of the individual. How are traditional notions of security and power in world politics being transformed by the rise of transnational economic and social relations? Will globalisation give rise to a more cosmopolitan, less nationalistic world?

Lecture Topics
  • Migrants, refugees and citizens
  • Transnational actors and global civil society
  • Religion, identity and the 'war on terror'
  • Universal human rights and international law
  • Humanitarian intervention and state sovereignty
  • Global environmental politics



How to Apply



(31st March 2020): Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are unable to run the Summer Programme in 2020 and it is, unfortunately, cancelled. The information below is for reference only and we expect to provide details of the programme for 2021 from October onwards.


2020 Course Fees
  • 3 weeks (1 block): £1,500 GBP
  • 6 weeks (2 blocks): £2,900 GBP (save £100*)
  • 9 weeks (3 blocks): £4,000 GBP (save £500*)

*compared to the cost of a 3-week block

Accommodation Fees
  • per 3-week block: £790 GBP

We recommend you apply early, especially if you want accommodation in the SOAS Halls of Residence.

You will be sent an invoice and receipt for the course fees when you have accepted the offer and paid for your place on the course. A letter of registration will also be provided for visa purposes when you have paid the full fees. Refunds of accommodation and course fees are only made at the discretion of SOAS in exceptional circumstances.

If you have any queries, please email



Please fill in the online application form or print off the IFCELS Summer Programme 2020 Application Form (pdf; 147kb)   and post it to:

Head of Department, International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

Please ensure you send a scanned copy of the photo/issue page of your passport with the application.

Summer Pathway Preparation Course PCI 2020 (pdf; 163kb)