Master in International Relations (MAIN)

Master in International Relations (MAIN)

Two-year English-language Master's degree programme provides students with the knowledge and analytical skills to understand and explain the international context of politics, economy, and security. The world is growing ever more interdependent and major political decisions, influencing our everyday lives, are made not only by individual nation states but increasingly also by regional as well as global institutions.

Our programme helps students understand how international and European politics work, and what are the challenges faced by states as well as business and societal actors in the globalized world. Students learn in depth about the functioning of the European Union and of the key global institutions which states have developed to address these challenges. They study how, if at all, international conflicts can be productively transformed into cooperation. In addition to providing students with a robust background in international and European politics, the programme puts an emphasis on the development of students’ analytical capabilities, abstract and critical thinking, and communication as well as language skills. Thanks to the broad scope of competences students acquire and deepen during their studies, our graduates become highly valued experts in national administration and diplomacy, European and international institutions, transnational corporation and NGOs, media, think-tanks, political parties, and academia.

Detailed information

Programme Duration: 2 years

Language of Instruction: English

Academic Director of the Programme: Doc. PhDr. Jan Karlas, Ph.D. (

Coordinator for Admission: Michal Parízek, M.Sc., Ph.D. (

Admission Administration:


The programme, our teaching philosophy, student competences

The programme aims at providing students with a deep understanding of the problems of international and European politics. Throughout the curriculum, we put emphasis on two cornerstones of our graduates’ success, that is on students’ competences in the field of international relations on the one hand, and on the development of students’ analytical, communication, and language skills on the other hand.

Over the course of the programme, our students build a solid substantive knowledge of the problems of contemporary international politics and of their historical roots. The curriculum covers especially the following areas:

  • International Relations. The programme offers a general introduction – historical and theoretical - into international relations and into the nature of the international system. States as well as non-state actors behave in international politics in certain ways, and students learn to understand how and why.
  • International Economics and Security. Students are provided with a comprehensive introduction to the two key issue areas of international life – international security and economic relations.
  • European Union. European politics are omnipresent in the everyday political life of European Union member states. In addition, European Union has become one of the key players on the global scene. Our students are provided with a broad range of courses that help them understand the principles of contemporary European politics, their historical roots, as well as specific areas in which the EU is active, on national, European, and global level. The programme offers students the possibility to obtain a formal certificate of specialization in European studies.
  • International Organizations and International Law. International Organizations have become important players in international politics and the decisions they adopt have direct and often dramatic consequences for states and societies. In addition, international politics are ever more tightly bound by the growing body of international law. The programme provides students with a comprehensive overview of the institutions – treaties as well as organizations – that increasingly regulate international life and constrain the choices states can adopt.


Throughout the curriculum, our target is to help our students not only increase their competences in the field of international relations, but also to acquire specific skills relevant for their future professional careers.


  • Empirical analytical skills. Our students undergo robust training in both qualitative and quantitative (on the introductory level) skills. They learn how to collect relevant empirical data and how to process them. We believe the ability to conduct independent data collection and analysis is the key to the success of our graduates in their future careers – in civil, private, or not-for-profit sector.
  • Abstract and critical thinking. Our programme is not primarily about the learning of specific facts, we put a lot of emphasis on the development of our students’ ability to think in abstract terms and critically. Taking a step back and seeing problems in a broader perspective is often the best way to approach them. The ability to think outside of the box is essential in the environment in which constant adaptation and change is the need.
  • Languages and transferable skills. The success of our graduates depends not only on their hard analytical skills and their knowledge of international politics, but at least to the same extent on their soft skills – the ability to formulate thoughts cogently, to present them professionally, to communicate in foreign languages, to effectively work with computers, internet, and communication technologies. Throughout the curriculum, we work on helping our students develop these skills – both as a natural part of the curriculum and in dedicated sessions.
  • Academic integrity. Charles University is a reputable institution with long history of academic excellence. In their centuries old graduation oath, the University graduates swear on their readiness to put the skills and knowledge they have acquired during their studies to the service of humankind. They also swear on their readiness to defend and promote the good name of the University. Although these are lofty words, we do take the academic integrity of our students, including such problems as plagiarism, seriously. Our long-standing commitment to the academic integrity of our students is the best signal we can send to the outside world about the personal qualities of our graduates. We believe this is, ultimately, what the outside world will value perhaps even more than the specific acquired skills and competences. All too often we hear today stories of fraud and corruption at institutions of higher education, both in the Czech Republic and in other European Union countries. Charles University is not and does not want to become a part of this story, and we believe our graduates benefit from this fact.


Future careers

Career prospects of our graduates reflect the prestige of the programme they have studied and the high demands the programme puts on their abilities and on their academic, professional and personal development. Our graduates are individuals who have been trained in critical thinking as well as in concrete analytical techniques and qualitative as well as quantitative data analysis. They have robust background knowledge relevant to current international and European politics. They are able to work in teams and in an international environment. They effectively know foreign languages, they are able to put into use their advanced writing, presentation, and communication skills. They are able to use computers effectively, not only on their CV. They have the abilities – analytical as well as managerial – to take part in demanding and complex projects, and subsequently to reach mid-level or high-level positions early on in their careers. They are people who have demonstrated personal integrity, the ability to work hard, and the capability to think deep.

Our graduates work in diverse fields:

  • national administrations
  • diplomacy
  • international and European institutions
  • transnational corporations or NGOs
  • media or think-tanks
  • political parties
  • academia

Through our mentoring programme and with the help of letters of reference, commenting individually on students’ demonstrated abilities, likely career prospects, and their personal strengths (as well as weaknesses), we help our graduates demonstrate their competence and abilities to their future employers.


Curriculum and graduation requirements

The study curriculum of the programme International Relations is centred on the first year’s set of common compulsory modules and the second year’s individual specialization, stay abroad, and master’s thesis research. The curriculum is summarized in the table below. In the first semester students attend modules concerning the nature of the international system in general – modules on the theories of international relations, the introduction to international economic relations, and the introduction to international security. In the second semester, we build on this basis a new block of courses dealing with the problems of governance beyond the nation states. Specifically, students attend courses that cover, in considerable depth, the evolution of the European integration process and contemporary European politics, as well as international law and the major global institutions. Over the course of the first study year, they also obtain systematic training in the methods and techniques of empirical political analysis, both quantitative (on an introductory level) and qualitative.

In the second year, students choose from a broad range of elective courses that deepen their understanding of the individual areas of international and European politics. These courses come from the selection offered by the department of international relations and from other departments and institutes of the Faculty. In addition, or alternatively, during the second year students are encouraged to spend one or two semesters of their study abroad, at one of our numerous partner universities across Europe and over the world.

Throughout the second year, students work on their master’s theses, under the individual supervision of one of our faculty. The state exam at the end of the studies is composed of compulsory exams in International relations and in European studies, and of a choice from specializations in International Organizations, International Law, or International Economic Relations.


International Relations, Security & Economy

European Studies & International Institutions

Research Methods & Individual Master's Thesis Research




Theories of International Relations


International Economic Relations


Conflict studies



Researching International Politics: Quantitative Methods





European Union


International Law


International Organization


Researching International Politics: Qualitative Methods






Elective Courses: International Relations, Security & Economy, Erasmus/stay abroad


Elective Courses: European Studies & International Institutions, Erasmus/stay abroad


Master's Thesis Research


The programme offers a Double Master's Option in cooperation with the Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Konstanz, one of the leading German political science departments. In addition to obtaining the MA in International Relations from Charles University, the students of the Double Degree option obtain a degree from the prestigious MA in Politics and Public Administration from University of Konstanz. The curriculum of the two year double degree programme can be found in this attachment.

Every year, our Department offers to students of International Relations guest courses taught by professors coming from leading European and global universities and research centers. Recently, these included:


  • Dr. Hylke Dijkstra, Maastricht University, European Security in an Unpredictable World; 2017
  • Dr. Matthew Stephen, Berlin Social Science Center, The Political Economy of Rising Powers; 2015
  • Dr. Edina Szöcsik, Universität Konstanz; 2014
  • Prof. Tapio Raunio, University of Tampere, How Does the European Parliament Work?; 2014
  • Dr. Benjamin Faude, Berlin Social Science Center, International Law and International Politics: The Causes and Consequences of Legalization; 2014
  • Dr. Sonja Grimm, Universität Konstanz, Transition to Democracy through Revolution; 2012
  • Prof. Katharina Holzinger, Universität Konstanz, The Causes of Civil Wars; 2011
  • Prof. Gerald Schneider, Universität Konstanz, Causes of Political Violence: Theory and Empirics; 2010
  • Prof. Robert Jervis, Columbia University, New York, Perception and misperception in international politics, psychological factors in decision-making; Deterrence and intelligence in international security: The case of US-Iraq relations, and US Foreign and Security Politics: Bush and Obama compared; 2010
  • Prof. David Chandler, Westminster University, London; Debating Liberal Peace(building); 2009
  • Prof. Richard Schultz, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Boston; Armed Groups and Irregular Warfare: A Major 21st Century Security Challenge; 2009
  • Dr. Diane Snyder, Princeton University, US National security and Intelligence System; 2008


Credit structure of the programme

9 required courses (59 ECTS credits)

5 elective seminars accompanying the required courses (20 ECTS credits)

Elective courses – individual specialization within the programme International Relations (minimum 29 ECTS credits)

Elective courses from other institutes of the Faculty (up to 12 ECTS credits)

Master’s thesis defence and the final state examination

Total credits: 120


Find more information about courses in Karolinka (e-brochure about programmes).


Study prerequisites and application requirements

Applicants for MAIN programme will need to have obtained their BA certificates by the time of the start of the first semester of their studies (end of September every year). Having some background in international relations, political science, European studies or other related disciplines will prove advantageous for the students during the course of the programme, but it is not essential. On the other hand, what is essential for the applicants’ success during the selection procedure is a demonstrated active interest in international and European politics and their ability and willingness to work hard on developing their competences in the field during the course of their studies.

On the formal level, the application file will include:

  • a diploma certificate of BA level education, or an up-to-date certificate of attendance of a study programme, indicating that the applicant will obtain the BA level diploma by the time of the start of our programme
  • a transcript of grades from the previous study programme(s)
  • a short academic CV
  • a motivation letter


Tuition fees

  • 6000 EUR per year

The programme operates two fee reduction schemes. First, within our merit-based scheme, excellent and highly motivated students are eligible for fee reductions of 1000 EUR per semester and in exceptional cases of 2000 EUR per semester, hence reducing the study fee, for the very best students, to one third of the standard rate. Second, students who have fulfilled all study requirements except of the MA thesis defence (i.e. who have obtained all study credits) are eligible for a 90% fee reduction in the last semester of their studies. Please note that the fees cover only the cost of instruction and examinations, and that students are responsible for paying their own living expenses (food, lodging, etc.).