MA International relations part 2

This module is the second part of the MA in International Relations. You'll become equipped with the skills to design, plan and produce a research project addressing some of the key issues in contemporary international relations. Taught through a mix of bespoke masterclasses recorded by Open University experts, teaching chapters, online interactive activities, and peer-engagement through forums, this part of the MA will enrich your research toolkit and prepare you to write the final dissertation.

Vocational relevance

Given its focus on practical research skills, this module will enable you to develop key employability skills and attributes relevant to many career paths, including policy-oriented jobs.   


D828 is a compulsory module for:


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module will enable you to take on independent research culminating in the MA dissertation – a 12,000 word research project.

The module carefully guides you through the process of developing, and then conducting, a research project. There are two teaching blocks at the beginning of the module.

In Block 1 you will:

  • look at the issues of being an independent researcher, including time management and how to organise the research process
  • focus on narrowing down an area of study, with the aim to identify a topic of interest for the research question
  • conduct a scoping of the academic literature in your area of interest.

In Block 2 you will:

  • produce a literature review
  • learn how to combine theories and methods in a research project
  • learn how to collect and analyse primary and secondary data, whether through analysis of databases (e.g. on economic, military, cultural indicators), or through archival materials and interviews
  • learn about ethics and data management processes
  • develop and refine your own research proposal

The progression of the teaching material, from foundational to more complex aspects of the research process, coupled with assessment points at the end of each block designed to provide feedback at each step, will give you the chance to develop your own independent research skills through a structured and targeted approach.

During the independent study phase, progression will be supported through a range of module materials and activities including: check-in weeks; a “progression milestones” template; and “clinics” with tutors that offer targeted support on a specific aspect of your work that you would like to discuss.

These three elements – directed study, timetabling of progress and support from tutors – alongside opportunities to engage with fellow students and the assessment strategy, provide the necessary scaffolding and support for you to progress confidently in the independent study parts of this module.

You will learn

By studying this module you will:  

  • deepen your knowledge of key approaches to conducting research on key issues in international relations
  • widen your core knowledge of the methodological tools necessary to effectively conduct independent research at Masters level
  • develop detailed awareness and understanding of core research designs and methods as well as the ability to apply them in an effective and critical manner to an extended piece of work, such as the final dissertation
  • acquire study skills appropriate for more advanced study (i.e. doctoral studies).  

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be assigned a tutor and be part of a tutorial group. The bulk of the tuition will be delivered online with some additional phone or email support. The tutors are all experts in teaching and research in International Relations, and will provide guidance on your assessment through tutorial support and feedback.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box .

All assessment points are supported through the teaching strategy, which will gradually help you develop the research design skills necessary to conduct the independent research.

The first tutor-marked assignment assesses your ability to identify and produce a research question and assess the existing literature on that topic. The second tutor-marked assignment will assess your ability to produce a full research proposal which will then allow you to conduct the core independent research component of the module. During this independent research, the final tutor-marked assignment is an opportunity to receive feedback on an extended piece of writing (up to 2,000 words, plus 1,500 words of chapters summary). These will contribute to the end-of-module assessment which consists of a 12,000 word dissertation.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

MA International relations part 2 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2035.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

The expectation is that you will have completed the MA in International relations part 1 (D818). You can also apply to study this module if you have completed the course-work component of an MA in International Relations or a closely related discipline.

Preparatory work

Completing the MA in International relations part 1 (D818) provides the essential preparation required for this module. You will already be familiar with some of the key debates in International Relations, as well as some of the methodological approaches that could be used when doing research on key global challenges.  


Start End England fee Register
07 Sep 2024 Jun 2025 £3820.00

Registration closes 08/08/24 (places subject to availability)

06 Sep 2025 Jun 2026 Not yet available

Registration opens on 12/03/25

This module is expected to start for the last time in September 2035.

Future availability

MA International relations part 2 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2035.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

This module is taught through bespoke online module materials and study resources, all designed and tailored to the specific needs of this module.

In particular, this module is pioneering new ways of teaching research methods by using a series of recorded Masterclasses to bring the research experience of leading Open University experts directly to you. The Masterclasses take the form of audio/video conversations or roundtables, that you'll have the opportunity to engage with throughout the module.

In addition to the Masterclasses, you will also have:

  • a teaching chapter each week written by an Open University academic on the week’s topic
  • interactives, exercises and prompts for further reading on the Virtual Learning Environment
  • forum activities to engage with fellow students
  • an assessment guide
  • access to the OU library and its research resources.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio/video components are available on the module website.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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