The Curriculum

MA in International Relations

The two year International Relations degree track at IUJ, as already noted, has both coursework and thesis components. The program is designed to provide a structured, systematic approach to understanding international political, strategic, economic, social and cultural issues in the Asian Pacific and Islamic worlds, to train students to conduct large scale research projects, to develop sustained, logical lines of argument, to defend their positions orally before highly critical audiences and to cultivate a sympathetic interest in other peoples, other civilizations and other ways of life. The program has been constructed in such a way as to give students the maximum freedom to pursue their own interests, within the limits of the specializations offered by the School. Coursework is exacting and the highest possible standards are expected of theses and research essays. Students are encouraged to read extensively, to think deeply, to discuss their ideas both with members of the academic staff and with their colleagues, and to be constantly aware of the practical policy applications of their work.

1. Coursework

Core Required Courses

Advanced Seminar I, II and III

Core Elective Courses

  1. History of International Relations
  2. International Politics
  3. Comparative Government and Politics
  4. Foreign Policy Analysis
  5. Human Rights and Global Justice: Cultures, Gender, and Equality
  6. International Organizations
  7. International Political Economy
  8. International Economic Systems and Order
  9. Contemporary International Security Issues: National and Human


The IRP also offers thirty-eight elective courses with regional and thematic focus. The elective courses seek to provide more advanced, specified, and up-to-date studies and correspond with the dynamic and multi-disciplinary nature of international relations field. They include regional studies of Japan, China, the United States, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eurasia. The elective courses also deal with the current issues of human security, refugees, environment, conflict resolution and peace building, the United nations, global civil society. Such diverse course offerings allow considerable flexibility for students to customize their academic pursuits in the course of the two-year mater’s study.

2. The Thesis or the Research Report

The preparation, writing and defense of an MA thesis or a research report constitutes the culmination of a student’s academic life in the IR program. 

Students select their supervisors at the end of their second term and begin work on their thesis in the Advanced Seminars, which extend over three terms.  Both thesis and research report require the demonstration of academic and empirical research and critical analysis.

A thesis is expected to be a significant and original contribution to learning. It requires extensive research, sometimes including a period of fieldwork, a heavy commitment in time and intellectual energy, and highly developed presentation skills. Thesis must be defended orally before a committee of two examiners. Those thesis considered eligible for the award of Distinction are then submitted to External Examiners, scholars in Japan or overseas, with established international reputations in their field, for final appraisal.

A research report is an empirical analysis of a policy or current affairs with a certain concept/theory to an actual situation/policy or an elementary theoretical analysis of an existing concept with literature review to a lesser extent. Research report must be defended orally before the supervisor.