What is International Politics?


Politics is the study of power in its many guises, including military force, political parties, social mobilizations and the realm of ideas. You can focus your attention on the international sphere – that’s known as ‘International Relations’ – or within countries, commonly just called ‘Politics’. You can study either of these topics at Aberystwyth, a combination of both, or give more focus to your studies on more specialist degrees, such as Climate Change, Strategy Intelligence and Security or International Politics and Military History – click here for the full list of options.

But what is it? International Politics is about the world we live in, the challenges we face, power and struggles, and the opportunities – as well as obstacles – for peaceful relations among peoples, societies, states, organisations. It is also about ideas: different understandings of how the world works, what is important and how we might tackle the challenges we face. It considers the histories of peoples and places but also how our world is becoming increasingly complex and interdependent, especially in the increasing conflict and era of climate change.

Of course, studying international politics is also about what happens and who makes it happen! That can be at the local, regional, national and global level and includes not only national governments and regional blocs like the EU, but a range of non-state actors like Amnesty International, the World Bank, multinational corporations, or influential billionaires like Elon Musk.

Our students go on to have a range of exciting careers. They work for the civil service, in journalism or NGOs, the security forces and some even become politicians! They also take their skills into different areas such as teaching, research, law, or graduate programmes with major companies. The study of international politics opens up a wealth of opportunities!