Politics and International Relations – Bachelor of Arts

Want to know how and why decisions that affect society are made? Become equipped with the concepts, theories, and facts you need to make sense of the world around you.

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students studying online from outside New Zealand

Specialise in Politics and International Relations for your Bachelor of Arts at Massey

Understand the world around you

Politics is about contestations for power and how we make decisions in society – who gets what, when and how – from the local community to the nation and internationally.

Politics is concerned with the conflict of ideas and values. It has to do with who governs. It’s also to do with how and why decisions that affect all of us are made. That could vary from how much students should pay to study at university to whether the UN should sanction military interventions.

A wide range of topics

With Massey's Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations), you may study topics such as:

  • how New Zealand’s system of government works
  • what the rise of China means for the future of global politics
  • the nature of inequality and how it is affected by public policy
  • what is happening in the Palestine/Israel conflict
  • the core concepts and the great thinkers of political philosophy
  • the causes and consequences of key contemporary international conflicts.

Small class sizes and enthusiastic lecturers

At Massey, politics is taught in a small interdisciplinary qualification where you have regular and close contact with academic staff. Your lecturers are active researchers in their respective fields. They are a politically diverse group who critically and enthusiastically engage with contemporary and historical events.

A Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations is a good fit if you:

  • are interested in how decisions are made in society
  • want a career where you can make a difference to the lives of others
  • want to understand what is going on in the wider world.

Planning information

If you study full time, in the first year you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.

If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school if you wish. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.

You need to pass five courses at 300-level for your BA. One of these (230310) is in the compulsory core and three are required for your major. If you are not taking a double major or a minor, you will need to take one 300-level elective course to meet this requirement.

About this major

A Politics and International Relations major consists of 120 credits (eight courses).


Completing a minor is optional. Minors increase the breadth of your degree. They give you extra knowledge, attributes and capabilities.

A minor must be in a different subject from your major.

A Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a minor

You may choose a minor from the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business or Bachelor of Science. If the minor is from another degree the regulations of that qualification will apply.

A politics and international relations minor (for students who are studying a different degree) 

If you are not studying towards a BA (Politics and International Relations) and wish to complete a minor in politics and international relations see the BA regulations for requirements.  

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations or this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may be no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Compulsory courses

Choose 30 credits from
Course code: 200161 Introduction to Politics 15 credits

An introduction to the study and nature of politics, including political theory, political parties, electoral systems, public policy and international relations.

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Course code: 200262 Politics and Public Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand 15 credits

A critical study of politics and public policy in Aotearoa New Zealand, with an emphasis on political institutions, the development of public policy, and the interplay between politics and economics in policy development.

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Subject courses

Choose at least 30 credits from
Course code: 200201 Middle Eastern Politics 15 credits

An examination of the contemporary politics of the Middle East, including North Africa.

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Course code: 200215 Foundations of Political Thought 15 credits

A study of the history of political thought from antiquity to the nineteenth century.

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Course code: 200261 World Politics 15 credits

An introduction to major theories, issues, events and institutions in contemporary world politics.

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Choose at least 45 credits from
Course code: 200300 Peace Studies 15 credits

A critical investigation of the ways that violence, conflict, and peacebuilding are understood within politics, and the resulting sub-discipline of peace studies.

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Course code: 200301 Contemporary International Conflict 15 credits

An examination of contemporary international conflict drawing on case studies from around the world.

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Course code: 200302 Israel/Palestine and the Arab World 15 credits

An exploration of issues in Israeli-Arab relations including the state of Israel's relationships with its Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian Authority, the neighbouring Arab states and the wider Middle East.

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Course code: 200303 Global Democratic Politics 15 credits

This course will critically examine core issues and debates in contemporary democratic theory and practice in a global context, with a focus on diverse forms of and challenges to political participation in contemporary democracies.

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Course code: 200315 Contemporary Political Thought 15 credits

A study of key developments and debates in contemporary political thought.

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Course code: 200361 Contemporary New Zealand Politics 15 credits

A study of selected topics and themes in contemporary New Zealand politics and government, with particular reference to the period from 1984 to the present.

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Subject elective courses

Course code: 145318 Geopolitics 15 credits

An advanced study of geopolitics, emphasising geographical processes across a variety of topics.

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Course code: 150201 Te Kawenata o Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand Society 15 credits

A study of the Treaty of Waitangi background, texts, principles, and application to contemporary New Zealand. There is a particular focus on land, legislation, court decisions, social policies, the environment, constitutional matters, claims to the Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty settlements. Differing perspectives of hapū/iwi/Māori and the Crown, as well as opportunities for resolution, are explored.

Restrictions: 269274

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Course code: 200100 Politics of Culture and Power 15 credits

A broad exploration of what counts as politics in the context of cultural identities, social hierarchies and power relations.

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Course code: 230121 Future State: New Zealand in the 21st Century 15 credits

An inter-disciplinary exploration of the pressing social, political and economic issues (present and future) facing New Zealand in the 21st century such as globalisation, inequality and environmental challenges from the perspectives of the social science disciplines of geography, anthropology, sociology and politics.

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Course code: 294280 Security and Diplomacy 15 credits

This course examines the nexus of security and diplomacy and the related theoretical and explanatory approaches with a particular emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations), outside of university admission regulations.

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

If you have already completed a bachelor degree

If you have already completed a bachelor degree you may replace 230111 Tū Kupu: Writing and Inquiry or 230112 Tū Arohae: Critical Thinking with courses of your choice. You will need to apply for replacement courses via a Special permission request in your portal and you will need to attach evidence of your completed degree with the request.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Can't meet the entry requirements?

If you need to do a course before you start your qualification, there may be options for you in Summer School.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Search our scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

Politics and international relations have two big things going for them: they are exciting and they are relevant. Study in this area can lead to a range of careers, including:

  • business
  • diplomacy
  • finance
  • journalism
  • policy analysis
  • public service.

Our graduates are working as researchers, policy advisers, analysts and managers and in the commercial, industrial, business, media, financial and public sectors. They also work in the:

  • NZ Defence Forces
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
  • Treasury
  • Air New Zealand
  • Reserve Bank
  • United Nations
  • TV3News
  • Amnesty International, and
  • academia.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

What our students say

“My degree helped me not only find employment, but to choose the jobs where I can make the most difference to the lives of others.”
Amy Thomson

Bachelor of Arts (Politics)

“Coming to study at Massey University was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Haolun Xu

Bachelor of Arts (Politics)

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