International Studies Courses

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International Studies Courses overview

International Studies (IS) is a degree that focuses on issues that affect the global community. It encompasses both the historical and modern, solutions, problems, and how the many societies on the planet interact. Key topics tend to cover the realms of politics, economics, sociology and culture. In other words, International Studies questions how and why the fabric of the world is the way it is.

IS examines key global actors, all the way from individuals to governments to multinational corporations who affect the world. The place we live is increasingly interconnected across state lines and language barriers, and International Studies provides a fascinating way to examine how global affairs such as development, environmentalism, and human rights play out on an international stage.

Sometimes there can be some confusion between International Relations and International Studies. While there is some overlap between the two courses, International Relations focuses on inter-country relationships while International Studies focuses on other players as well as the state.

Is international studies for me?

You will enjoy International Studies if you are fascinated by the interconnections between communities and cultures in global society. A degree in International Studies can be a great pathway to working in diplomacy, social policy, development, politics, activism, research or journalism to name a few. Consider studying IS if you can (or want to) see the forest for the trees.

Study pathway

A degree in International Studies can be helpful if one wants a career in a globally connected field. Typically, an undergraduate degree in International Studies will help you hone research skills and gain an understanding of key global actors that make up the world stage.

Most Australian tertiary education providers will offer courses in International Studies, whether as a full degree or as a major in your Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree.

Once you get an undergraduate degree in IS, you are eligible to further your studies with more qualifications. You can get a graduate diploma, graduate certificate or master's degree in IS. Many institutions will not have the prerequisite that your undergraduate degree is in International Studies if you wish to pursue postgraduate qualifications in IS. Some will also accept workplace experience in the field as either recognised prior learning or to help along your admissions process for a postgrad degree in IS.

Employment options

Those that have a degree in International Studies can show they have skillsets and knowledge that are attractive to employers across a range of industries. Skills such as research, communication, analysis, building solutions, and understanding of different cultures and languages can be transferable to many industries.

Those with IS qualifications are prepared to work in many different sectors across a range of areas. Such positions can include but are not limited to:

Working for intergovernmental organisations (IGOs)

Also known as ‘international organisations’, intergovernmental employees include those who work for organisations like the United Nations, the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and many more. Often intergovernmental employees will work as representatives of a sovereign states, representing the interests of a sovereign state, and work to collaborate and bargain with those who represent other sovereign states. IGO employees will often work in the area of international law.

Private sector international relations/international business

People with an IS degree are well qualified to traverse state, cultural and language barriers as a representative of multinational corporations. These employers may be straight businesses, or include aid or development work that raises a profit. International banking and finance jobs are also possible after completing a degree in International Studies.

Working for non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Non-governmental organisations aim to improve the lives of people through fields such as humanitarian, educational, human rights, environmental and social aid. NGO employees may work in a variety of services as diverse as healthcare to gender empowerment and other activist related fields that aim to change other people’s lives for the better.


International Studies is a broad field, and offers the opportunity to specialise in the following areas:

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Student Stories

Crawford School of Public Policy
Floranesia Studied Masters of National Security Policy at Australian National University
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Yasmin studied Masters by research at Monash University and then completed Master of Diplomacy at ANU.
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Penny Maher studied Bachelor of International Studies at Bachelor of International Studies and took up Advanced Master of National Security Policy at Crawford School of Public Policy


Edith Cowan University (ECU)

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Edith Cowan University (ECU)

Discover courses, get advice from staff, watch demos and enjoy music, food and games.