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Learn international relations with online courses and programs

Work toward building a more peaceful and cooperative world. Learn international relations with online courses delivered through edX.

What is international relations?

International relations encompasses interactions, relationships, and cooperation between countries and international actors on a global scale. It involves a wide range of political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics that shape the interactions among nations. 

This field analyzes diplomatic negotiations, treaties, conflicts, alliances, trade agreements, international organizations (such as the United Nations), human rights issues, global security, and more. Professionals who work in international relations seek to understand the complexities of international politics, power dynamics, and cross-border conflicts, with the goal of promoting peaceful resolutions, cooperation, and mutual understanding among countries in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.

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International relations course curriculum

International relations is a broad field that touches on many different issues. Learners interested in studying this field can find an international relations class on topics such as: 

  • The driving forces of contemporary international politics

  • The different forms of government and their histories

  • The development and application of international law

  • Global problems requiring international coordination, such as climate change, pollution, pandemics, and refugee crises

  • Cultural similarities and differences between regional populations that inform perspectives on world issues

Are you ready to start your learning journey? edX offers online courses that allow learners to study international relations, as well as a variety of other topics. Sign up for an accelerated boot camp or enroll in a full degree program and start working toward a bachelor's degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree in a relevant subject. You can also explore executive education programs specifically designed for busy professionals.

International relations jobs

The field of international relations offers diverse career opportunities. Some of these jobs include:

  • Diplomat: Diplomats represent their country's interests abroad, negotiate treaties, engage in diplomatic dialogues, and promote international cooperation. They work at embassies and consulates, handling issues like trade and cultural exchange.

  • International development specialist: Professionals in this role work on projects aimed at improving living standards and reducing poverty in developing countries. They manage aid programs, promote sustainable development, and address social, economic, and environmental challenges.

  • Political analyst: Political analysts research and analyze international political trends, policies, and events. They provide insights on political developments, advise policymakers, and contribute to informed decision making.

  • Human rights advocate: Human rights advocates can work for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or international bodies to promote and protect human rights worldwide. They raise awareness, advocate for policy changes, and support vulnerable populations.

  • Global security analyst: These analysts assess global security threats, including terrorism, conflict, and proliferation of weapons. They provide risk assessments, develop security strategies, and contribute to conflict resolution efforts.

  • International trade specialist: Professionals in this role facilitate trade between countries, ensuring compliance with trade agreements and regulations. They analyze market trends, negotiate trade deals, and promote economic cooperation.

  • International lawyer: Specializing in international law, these professionals handle legal issues such as treaties, human rights, trade, and international disputes. They may work for law firms, governments, or international organizations.

  • Foreign correspondent: Journalists reporting on international affairs as foreign correspondents cover news, events, and developments from different countries. They provide firsthand insights into global issues for media outlets.

  • Intelligence analyst: Intelligence analysts gather and analyze information from various sources to assess threats, inform national security decisions, and support counterterrorism efforts.

Individuals who possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills, cultural sensitivity, effective communication abilities, and a genuine interest in global affairs are well-suited for professional roles in international relations. In order to succeed, you should also have a willingness to adapt, collaborate, and navigate complex geopolitical landscapes. 

Start building the soft skills and technical expertise needed to work in this field today. Propel your career forward with edX.