The Complete Guide to Studying International Relations in Malaysia

Find the best universities to study international relations in Malaysia. Explore its entry requirements, degree pathway and career opportunities here.


Are you known in your circle as a political pundit? From Brexit and Greta Thunberg to Malaysian politics, you’re highly aware of current issues that are occurring not only locally but also globally. Even better, you have well-thought-out opinions on what can be done.

If you resonate with the statements above, then an international relations course may just be it for you.

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about studying a Degree in International Relations in Malaysia, including what you’ll learn, what careers you can pursue and which institutions are the best for international relations.

University of Nottingham Malaysia

International Relations BA (Hons)

Ranked 22nd in the UK for Politics in the Subject League Table 2023, The Complete University Guide

#1. What is International Relations?

cg-international-relations-v03-whatInternational relations is the study of relations between nations and other international bodies such as the United Nations, World Health Organisation and European Union. As a branch of political science, international relations explores topics such as politics, international law, economics and world history.

As the world becomes increasingly connected, international relations help us understand how our decisions affect the culture, society, and economy of the entire world. Whether it's a financial crisis, a pandemic or a war, these issues shape government policy, affecting job prospects and people's lives all over the world.

By pursuing a tertiary education in international relations, you will explore political and environmental perspectives, both locally and globally. You’ll learn how to critically analyse various social and cultural issues (e.g. human rights, global poverty, threat of terrorism, environmental sustainability), dissect the reasonings behind the actions of foreign policymakers and come up with solutions to major problems that the world faces.

#2. Entry Requirements for International Relations

a) What are the subjects required to study international relations?

In general, there are no subject prerequisites to study international relations.

However, you will need to have a credit in English at SPM or equivalent.

(b) Requirements for Diploma in International Relations

These are the general entry requirements for a Diploma in International Relations:

  • SPM (or equivalent): Minimum 3Cs including English

(c) Requirements for Degree in International Relation

To pursue a Degree in International Relations, you need to complete a pre-university programme and meet the entry requirements:

In addition to that, you will also need at least a credit in English at SPM or equivalent.

Important Note: Entry requirements for some universities may be higher, so it’s important that you scrutinise the details carefully.

#3. Studying an International Relations Course in Malaysia

a) What subjects will you study in international relations?

The academic study of international relations is designed to prepare you to be a creative and critical thinker with vast knowledge of social issues, political systems, history and culture. During the course of your study, you will be exposed to political ideologies, theories and concepts and learn how to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Here are some of the subjects you may cover throughout your international relations studies:

  • Global Comparative Politics
  • Revolutions, Popular Uprising and Social Movement in World Politics
  • International Political Economy
  • Global Diplomacy
  • International Law and Organisation
  • International Security
  • International Conflict Negotiation, Mediation and Resolution
  • Political Communication, Public Relations and Propaganda
  • Sustainability and Environmental Politics
  • ASEAN Regionalism in World Politics
  • Research Methods in International Relations

Some universities also have modules that are ASEAN or Malaysian-focused where you’ll explore politics and public issues affecting the region and country.

As part of your Degree in International Relations, you may be required to complete either an internship or a dissertation.

b) How long is an international relations course? 

A Diploma in International Relations takes 2 years.

A Degree in International Relations typically takes about 3 years to complete.

c) How much does it cost to study international relations in Malaysia? 

An International Relations programme could range from RM79,300 to RM111,400.

University of Nottingham Malaysia

Foundation in Arts and Education

Established programme and quality teaching that will provide you with a seamless transition into your preferred degree programme in arts or social sciences

#4. Your Education Pathway for International Relations

cg-international-relations-edu-pathwayUpon the completion of your SPM or equivalent qualification, you can opt to enrol into a pre-university (STPM, A Levels, etc.) or Foundation in Arts or Foundation in Business programme. Alternatively, you can also choose to pursue a Diploma in International Relations.

Completing a pre-university or a foundation programme will enable you to proceed to a Degree in International Relations.

#5. Should You Study International Relations?

cg-international-relations-v03-is-it-right-for-youa) Is International Relations right for you?

If you’re wondering whether you should pursue this programme, here are some questions to think about:

  • Do you consider yourself an investigative person with critical analytical skills?
  • Do you enjoy debating and engaging in challenging issues?
  • Do you aspire to make a difference in the world?
  • Are you open to learning about different cultures and governing systems?
  • Are you comfortable with group discussions and public presentations?
  • Do you have ambitions to have a career in politics, government or international security?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, this course may be right for you!

b) Skills required to pursue a career in international relations

Here are some key skills a good international relations graduate should have:

  • A keen interest in policy, politics and social issues and a desire to promote change
  • Ability to hold a strong and balanced argument
  • Ability to think critically and quickly
  • Ability to understand diverse perspectives and successfully negotiate and influence others
  • Good research and analysis skills
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Adaptable and can fit in in any environmental setting

University of Nottingham Malaysia

International Relations BA (Hons)

Ranked 22nd in the UK for Politics in the Subject League Table 2023, The Complete University Guide

#6. Jobs You Can Get with an International Relations Degree

With an international relations qualification, you can seek employment opportunities in a range of industries, including local and national government, aid and non-governmental sectors, finance and international businesses, foreign ministries, international media and journalism and international organisations.

Here are some careers you can pursue with an international relations qualification:

  • Political Analyst
  • Diplomatic Officer
  • NGO / International Aid Worker
  • Politician
  • Political Activist
  • Communications Specialist
  • Researcher in Think Thanks
  • Reporter
  • Social Entrepreneur

#7. Best Institutions for International Relations in Malaysia

If political studies is where you shine the brightest, then check out some of the best institutions for International Relations in Malaysia.