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Nottingham Trent University

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How personal perspectives enrich the study of International Relations

International Relations, as a subject, discipline and practice, means different things to different people.

Many may be drawn to it through a passion or keen personal interest in a particular area of world affairs, looking to better understand the factors and powers involved, others to the international nature of the content and some to move into careers in diplomacy, politics or journalism. Studying International Relations – the way nations, states and international movements interact on a global scale - can help to contextualise these areas of interest and enable students to work towards making a difference within them. 

As well as their own motivations, each student also brings their own unique worldview and experiences to the table from around the world, adding to a rich array of professional and personal perspectives. This melting pot of different social, cultural, political and economic viewpoints is a vital part of International Relations study and the benefits it offers, as we explore here.

Which professions do International Relations students come from?   

The students on our Online MA in International Relations come from a huge variety of professions and walks of life, not to mention regions of the world. From teachers looking to branch out into specific areas of academic interest or hoping to enter other public sector organisations, to journalists aiming to deepen their understanding of international events, each arrive with their own organic set of experiences and views on the world and how it is governed.

Our course has also attracted civil servants, diplomats, translators, social workers and those working for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and within international institutions like the United Nations (UN). Brought together through our immersive virtual learning environment, our students bring a wealth of industry knowledge and personal opinion to the course, which helps to widen the scope through which the cohort learns as a whole. Each student, as well as the personal experience they have built up, can become an important part of the learning for their peers.

The power of international group debate and discussion  

Your understanding of any subject can be greatly enhanced by discussing it with others, but this is perhaps especially true of International Relations. As so much of the way we see the world comes down to our own (often subconscious) subjectivity, hearing the contrasting views of others can help us to expand our own perspectives and see global affairs more objectively. 

That’s why our Online MA involves a large amount of discussion, critical thinking and group projects. The course features several assignments which students must work collaboratively on to complete, based on either debating opposing theoretical ideas or sharing their own working experiences and exploring those of others, so that each student is able to personalise and contextualise their learning.

Working and debating with others like this helps you to develop the kind of ‘culturally relative’ perspective (an understanding of beliefs and values on the terms of the culture they originate within), you will need to rely on within an International Relations role. 

“I find studying with people from all over the world very exciting because everyone comes from a totally different career background with different experiences,” explains Online MA student, Hawa Abdulrahman.

“It gives me a sense of belonging because we are very different people with almost one goal, going through the same experience.”

An open forum for the expression of ideas

Of course, effective debate requires a safe and non-judgemental platform, which is exactly what our Online MA provides. There are no wrong answers when it comes to exchanging ideas, and our faculty encourages all students to contribute their thoughts in an environment of mutual respect and awareness. 

This dedication to fair and equal discourse means that students can swap ideas and broaden their horizons freely, learning from the cultural and professional mix of opinions for maximum value. What’s more, open discussion can allow you to connect with your fellow students in ways that could help your future career in International Relations. Forming networks of contacts in relevant areas, and understanding what drives them and how they work, can be of huge benefit when following your own professional path.

The theme of openness extends to your dissertation on the Online MA too. You can frame your final project on any area of International Relations that most interests you, so it’s a great opportunity to carry out your own research and get under the skin of a topic you feel strongly about. With the wider global perspective you will have gained from the course, the dissertation is your chance to demonstrate your ability to critically think and delve into your chosen area from all sides.  

Through our Online MA, you can use your own experiences and those of others to develop your understanding of International Relations, ready for a career that enables you to affect positive change. Find out more by requesting information today.