Politics and International Relations

What is the study of politics and international relations?

Politics, sometimes also referred to as political science, involves the study of a state’s governance. This may include the study of policies, the political system and politicians themselves. Politics is particularly concerned with the function of power, and how it is used in particular ways to achieve outcomes.

A political system is vital to the function of any country and studying politics will empower you to understand the world around you more deeply.

Politics considers conflict, contestation, co-operation and communication in a constantly changing political context.

Politics encompasses both a theoretical and an in-practice side. Those who study politics may specialise in a particular political theory, especially if that theory drives the politics in a particular state. You may also consider how theory is applied in practice, by examining governments of the day to consider the reasoning behind their policies.

Studying politics will assist you in developing a broad knowledge base, as you will consider how economics, law, history and public relations intertwine to impact the functions of modern governments.

While political science generally focuses on the governance of individual states, international relations turns its lens global. International relations involves the study of the interactions between states. It considers how international partnerships are formed, and the implications of this domestically, for other states and for the world as a whole.

The study of international relations revolves around two interrelated concepts of cooperation and conflict. International relations specialists consider issues such as foreign policy making and diplomacy, states and ethnic groups, military force build-up and humanitarian intervention, peace building and preventive diplomacy, international aspects of human rights, international development, environmental degradation, and international migration and refugees. They may also examine how these issues in one country may have implications regionally or globally.

International relations also incorporates the examination of international organisations and groups that form across borders. These include the United Nations, the World Bank, Médecins Sans Frontières and Amnesty International, to name a few. You will consider the formation and functions of these organisations, as well as assessing their long- and short-term impacts on international affairs.

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Bachelor of Arts

Hone your interpersonal and communication skills as you navigate the interests of states and regions across the globe.

What does a politics and international relations specialist do?

Analytical and communication skills are central to the field of politics and international relations.

Working in politics, you may find yourself as an adviser to a leading or opposition member of parliament. You will be required to analyse and assess large quantities of policy, data and political communication and condense them into readable summaries. A broad knowledge base will serve you well, as Australian politicians can regularly change portfolios.

Clear, digestible communication is central to the field of politics. Whether you are working as a public relations officer for a politician, or as a political journalist, you will need to be adept at oral and written communication. The voting public will rely on the communication you put out to influence their understanding of key issues of the day.

Should you pursue a career in international relations, you may find yourself at the forefront of Australia’s diplomatic mission. Based within another country, you will liaise with that state’s government to help promote cooperation and protect Australia’s interests overseas. Advanced interpersonal skills will be vital, as you deal with a diverse range of individuals every day.

Those with a passion for international relations often pursue positions with government departments, international or multinational organisations. Here, you may draw on an additional area of specialisation or interest, such as economics, law or even medicine. You will work alongside likeminded individuals to devise strategies, outcomes or products that benefit communities around the world.

What jobs are there in politics and international relations?

When you work in politics and international relations, your days may be varied and fast-paced. Those with specialisations in this field are also highly sought after in a number of other fields, including international finance, law, marketing and communications.

JCU students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations have learned broad skills and advanced knowledge to tackle roles within Australia and overseas. While many work within governments, others have carved their niche in private enterprise and non-government organisations.

The strong interpersonal and communication skills you develop will empower you to pivot across industries according to your interests. You will find these ‘soft skills’ in high demand by employers.

A JCU Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations could lead you to positions such as:

  • Politician
  • Political advisor
  • Diplomat
  • Political journalist
  • Public relations officer
  • Policy advisor
  • International business executive
  • Communications officer
  • International marketing executive
  • Translator (second language required).
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Why study Politics and International Relations at JCU?

Success in politics and international relations requires an adaptable skillset and a broad knowledge base, combined with a keen understanding of relationships between individuals and states.

Politics and International Relations at JCU has cultivated a strong focus on Australia and the Indo-Pacific, meaning you’ll be equipped to engage with states that have a strong regional influence on the country. Your familiarity with the Indo-Pacific’s global context will empower you to succeed.

You’ll emerge with a highly relevant understanding of Australia’s place in the world, and its governance and diplomatic functions, both on a domestic and international level. Your experience with real-world and simulated case studies help ensure you’re ready to put your learning into practice.

With options to study at JCU Townsville, JCU Cairns or externally, you’ll be able to study in the manner that suits you best. Embrace the diverse opportunities available at JCU with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations.

Transferable skills Expand employability opportunities through elevated thinking
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Rakara Raula-Nelson


Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and International Relations, and Bachelor of Business, majoring in Economics.

“I want to be a strong advocate for gender equality in PNG, my home. My qualifications, both in economics and in politics and international relations, allow me to work in governance and positively impact communities in PNG. My studies equipped me with the knowledge and skills to empower women economically and to work with Australian Aid to build partnerships between the PNG government and the Australian government.”

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