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    I posted on here a short time ago about deciding which offer to accept for my postgrad studies. I hold 5 offers from Kings, Durham, Warwick, St Andrews and SOAS. All courses are for an MA in International Relations other than St Andrews which is Middle Eastern and Central Asian Security.

    After much research and consideration, I have narrowed it down to St Andrews and Warwick. It is difficult to compare on a course basis as they are different programs, however working on the understanding that I have an equal interest and desire to do both courses, which university would you recommend?

    Many factors to consider however any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
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    I am an IR Masters student who has been accepted for an IR PhD. I have heard good things about Warwick's IR credentials and I've come across journal articles written by people at Warwick. I have never come across St Andrews during my studies or heard it mentioned in IR circles (my narrow IR circles, mind you).

    Reputation isn't everything, but if it's IR specifically you're interested in, you might want to go to a place recognised for its IR teaching and publications. It could be, of course, that St Andrews is great for security studies (although, I would have thought Kings would be higher up than St Andrews in this field), and then this difference is moot. So yeah, you could always check their relative standing.
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    (Original post by dylan_aber)
    I posted on here a short time ago about deciding which offer to accept for my postgrad studies. I hold 5 offers from Kings, Durham, Warwick, St Andrews and SOAS. All courses are for an MA in International Relations other than St Andrews which is Middle Eastern and Central Asian Security.

    After much research and consideration, I have narrowed it down to St Andrews and Warwick. It is difficult to compare on a course basis as they are different programs, however working on the understanding that I have an equal interest and desire to do both courses, which university would you recommend?

    Many factors to consider however any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
    Hi there.

    Setting aside course content it's difficult to say. Both St Andrews and Warwick are quite small and rather remote. Both have great communities, and are by all accounts great places to be a student. St Andrews is, as I'm sure you are already aware given the applications you made, exceptionally well-known for IR, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, so I don't think you have much to worry about regarding overall reputation of either.

    Can I ask what you did your undergraduate degree in? One thing I will say is that if you did an undergrad in IR then there is less virtue in doing an MA in IR. The reason I say this is that many MA degrees do not have subject specific requirements (you can do an MA in IR with an undergrad degree in history, economics, psychology, sociology etc), and so the broader the MA degree subject is, the more likely you are to be repeating things you did in your undergrad if it was in the same subject. For example, the core module at Warwick for the MA in IR is on theories of IR and by just having a quick glance at the core reading these are all first-year undergraduate level textbooks. If your undergrad wasn't in IR then this won't really be an issue for you, and the range of modules on offer at Warwick for their MA looks pretty wide ranging. The Middle East and Central Asian Security Studies course at St Andrews is much more focused both regionally and subject-wise (security specifically as opposed to IR generally), and you will also have to take language classes, and the range of classes offered is much smaller.

    Another potentially important question to consider is what you plan to do after the MA. If you want to do a PhD then on the surface it doesn't really matter which of these institutions you choose as they are both highly regarded and you will have the opportunity to work with some great academics. Your potential PhD topic will likely be framed by the work you do for your MA, and so you should bear this in mind. If you want to go straight into work then you need to think carefully about the skills and expertise you will pick up with each of these degrees, and how they would map onto specific employers that you may be thinking of. It isn't necessarily the case that the broader the subject area the easier it is to find employment.

    So I would think very carefully about which course you want to take as they are actually very different, regardless of the fact that you wouldn't mind taking either.
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    Thanks to both of you for your comments!

    Hi Tasha. My undergraduate degree was in IR yes, at Aberystwyth. Yes I have had the same thoughts regarding your points about doing an MA in straight IR. It appears to be a trade off between going over old ground and retaining the ability to do a wide range of module choices.

    Yes as you say they are both very good institutions and very similar in reputation. St Andrews has the benefit of fee's just over four thousand less than Warwick (While not a deciding factor for me, it is still something to bare in mind) and a program size of only 15-20 students. While I do not know the program size at Warwick, I expect it to be much much higher. Wether that is a cost or a benefit is debatable.

    I think the problem is that while I am very interested in MECAS, I still have a broad interest in many ranging fields and regions in IR. Yes part of the problem is I am unsure exactly where I would like to go after masters. I would love to do a PHD if I prove to be academically capable, however I'm currently unsure as stated. I have had mixed responses from academics and fellow students at postgrad level regarding how masters may shape a PHD. Some say that you may be expected to do a PHD in a MECA or Inter Sec field if you do that at masters, others say it does not matter as you have a background in IR and produce a strong proposal it would be fine. As you can see that despite researching my postgraduate future extensively, I have lacked advice regarding the positives and negatives of specialising and making my choice on a personal level.

    I think as you said there may be strong benefits to specialising more as I do not have to cover as much old ground and would aid any future ambitions in that employment/academic sphere. However while I agree what you said that a broad IR MA does not always help, its more about if going the other direction hinders if you wish to divert from MECASS in the future. Lastly regarding the language track, that option at St Andrews does look attractive. I have always had an ambition to study arabic and St Andrews does have Arabic and Middle East expertise. I would however spend the summer giving myself a crash course/ summer course in it to see how I take to the learning and make the decision on that basis. But it is a nice bonus opportunity and is attractive to employers that you have a basic grounding to build upon.

    Many thanks for your thoughts, certainly have helped!
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    QUICK QUESTION! sorry, i know this thread is about postgraduate courses and PHD for IR, but it concerns IR so i was just wondering. If i do this degree at undergraduate level, what types of job prospects will i be able to go into?
    I have no idea
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    The list is extensive. I suggest going to open days and doing further research online. Keeping it very brief and just skimming the surface, it is highly regarded in many spheres from IR afflicted organisations themselves (UN, EU, NGO's etc) to international corporations, law, education and consultancy. Obviously most appropriate to a job to with IR or in the 'international sphere' as many call it, however a solid grade from a reasonable university will do you well in most areas that do not require a particular specialised degree to enter.
 
 
 
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