International relations

International Relations

Are you interested in international security and the changing world order? Then International Relations at Tallinn University is for you!

Study level Master's Studies

Duration of study 2 years

Language English

Cost per semester € 1480

Our programme provides flexibility to ensure that students are able to make the most of their education.  It is a great opportunity to learn from some of the top IR scholars in the field and to experience it in an international environment.  Best of all you’ll be able to gain valuable knowledge and improve your analytical skills in International Relations at Tallinn University. The programme unites traditions of Anglo-American and continental European IR scholarship and education in reflecting the changing international system and the security threats that are emerging.

Take the first step in fulfilling your dreams by studying at Tallinn University's School of Governance, Law, and Society!


Who are we looking for?

Students with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations or a related field are encouraged to apply.  Related fields include political science, economics, history, law, anthropology, and human geography.  We are looking for highly motivated and active students who can not only excel academically but also contribute to the study environment in a positive manor.  Students who do not have a relevant academic background are still permitted to apply and will be expected to demonstrate their ability to be successful in our programme. That will usually include IR relevant practical or employment experiences to make up for an IR academic background. 

Why study with us?
  • Internationally renowned and experienced and faculty from Canada, Finland, USA, and Estonia.
  • Innovative teaching methods.
  • International student body and study environment with students from all over the world.
  • Is the only IR curriculum in the region that gives an overview on contemporary security threats as well as the regionalization process.
  • Focuses on foreign and security policy (incl. the small-state perspectives) and regional cooperation in world politics.
  • Gives in-depth knowledge of state relations, international organizations and the role of non-state actors.
  • Has a mandatory internship to provide students with practical experience and networking before graduation.
  • Interdisciplinary approach, including an interdisciplinary project, which will broaden perspectives.

Course outline

At Tallinn University you have a unique opportunity to study contemporary security threats and the changing world order.  These topics are critical for aspiring policymakers and researchers and Tallinn University is one of the few universities in the Nordic-Baltic region to emphasize them.  The academic staff is producing innovative research on the same topics including cyber deterrence and small state alliance tendencies and have been published in top ranking journals such as International Security and authored books published by Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge, and Ashgate. 

The International Relations master's programme is cycle studies. Classes will be held Monday-Friday at night from 17:00-20:00. Many students will take advantage of this structure to also take advantage of internship, volunteer, and employment opportunities that arise. There may be some seminars and elective courses during the day, though they will not be frequent.

The IR curricula allows for specialisation in one of two modules: "Changing World Order" or "International Security and Conflict Studies". In addition there is an elective section that enables a wide choice of courses so students can tailor their studies to their research interests. 

Courses in the programme will enable the students to become better researchers. Courses such as „Academic Writing and Research Design" and „Qualitative Research Methods" will provide the skills needed to complete a successful master's thesis and to have the needed skills after graduation. Other courses will provide the conceptual and theoretical foundation to thrive in the IR discipline. Some examples being „World Politics and Global Governance", „Formation of Global Norms and International Regimes", „Conflict Analysis: Approaches and Cases", and „Small States in the Changing World Order".

Study programme

Academic Staff

Mika Aaltola

Mika Aaltola (Finland) is a professor of International Relations European studies at Tallinn University. In addition, professor Aaltola works as the Director of the Global Security Programme at the Finnish Institute of International affairs. Previously, he was an Academy of Finland Research fellow (2008-2010), Visiting professor at the University of Minnesota (2006-2008) and a University lecture at the University of Tampere (2006-2008). His international monographs has examined the US foreign policy culture (Brill 2008), the relationship between power politics and humanitarianism (Palgrave 2009), global pandemic security and politics (Routledge 2012), and global connectedness, flows and geopolitics of interdependence (Ashgate 2014). He has been a visiting researcher at Johns Hopkins, Cambridge University.

Matthew Crandall

Matthew Crandall (USA) is an associate professor of International Relations at Tallinn University and the International Relations master's programme administrator. He completed his PhD from Tallinn University and his Master's degree from the University of Tartu. His research interests include small state security and soft security threats. He has published in Contemporary Security Policy, Defence Studies, East European Politics, and Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe.

Read an article written by Matthew Crandall about "Trumping Up Baltic Foreign Security Policies". Read Matthew Crandall's thought about why "Estonia is a very connected place".
Check out the one minute lecture "What Does the Chaning World Order Mean for Small States?" by Matthew Crandall. 
Check out Matthew Crandall's post in the TLU blog where he discribes a panel discussion “US-EU relations in the Trump era”

Also find out how "International Relations' students in Tallinn University Learn from the Very Best"!

Kevin Blachford

Kevin Blachford (United Kingdom) specializes in international relations and security studies. He has a PhD in international relations from the University of Winchester and his research interests include republicanism, militarism and American foreign policy. He has previously taught at Bristol University, Westminster University and Portsmouth University.

Admission Requirements

General requirements:
Entrance exams:
  • The entrance exam consists of written assignment (written answers to the questions concerning their motivation and desire to study at the programme) and an interview with the admissions committee via Skype.
  • For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to take a screenshot during the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.
  • Maximum number of points is 100 (50% written, 50% oral part).
  • Students receiving minimum 35 points of the written part, are allowed to the oral interview.
  • Minimum programme enrollment threshold: 70 points out of 100.
  • Candidate is expected to bring to the admission interview the Bachelor's thesis and the review(s).
  • Written assignment. Please submit a motivation letter (minimum 1000 words), answering the following questions:
    1. The choice of the programme: Why Tallinn University? Why IR programme? What courses and moduls interest you the most? What do you plan to write in your MA thesis?
    2. Previous studies and work experience: What were your BA studies about? Comment on your academic writing skills and give an overview of your BA thesis. Describe your work experience if you have it. 
    3. Your plans after MA studies: What do you plan to do after the graduation? What is your dream job? How will the MA studies help to achieve your goals? What competences do you hope to get from the programme? 
    4. Knowledge of the field: What are the basic problems in the field of IR that you would like to solve? Give your solutions.
    5. How do you plan to finance your studies?

Post-graduate destinations

Giorgi Sirbiladze (Georgia) graduated from Tallinn University in 2014 with a master's in International Relations.  After graduation Giorgi began working for the Georgian ministry of foreign affairs in the diplomatic service and currently is serving his country abroad.
Studying International Relations at Tallinn University enhanced my theoretical knowledge and broadened my insights of the contemporary world. It increased the possibility to put my knowledge in practice and participate in a process that might make the world a better place to live. I believe, this is what I am currently doing."

Priit Pallu (Estonia) graduated from Tallinn University in 2017 with a master's in International Relations. Priit is currently working in the Estonian Centre For Defence investment as the Head of the General Equipment Procurement Bureau.

"The IR program of Tallinn University gave me a new level in understanding how international actors work. Understanding their mindset has helped me in my daily work to pay attention to traditional and non-traditional security matters and prioritize tasks in a joint effort with Estonian Defence Forces in keeping my home country safe".

Ada Davis-Nouri (USA) graduated from Tallinn University in 2017 with a master's in International Relations.  Ada is currently a doctoral student in Fiji at the University of the South Pacific where she is researching legislative-based climate change adaptation strategies. 
"The International Relation's department at Tallinn University is outstanding, I could not have picked a better Master's program. Diversity and inclusivity of non-Western IR perspectives is of great personal importance to me as an indigenous student, so inclusivity being of paramount importance to the IR instructors was of real significance to me during my studies. Thus, it is an excellent opportunity for local or international students alike to expand their world views and personal pool of knowledge outside what is offered at a typical university."

Kaisa Einsok (Estonia) graduated from Tallinn University in 2016 with a master's in International Relations. Kaisa is currently an adviser for EU Presidency in Government Office, European Union Secretariat.
"Young people do not always acknowledge what connections there are between different fields and faculties. Tallinn University enabled me to get a broad but well-balanced education through its flexibility and versatility."

Shingo Masunaga (Japan) graduated from Tallinn University in 2015 with a master's in International Relations and is currently a doctoral candidate at University of Turku in Finland, Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS).
"At once far off, and near - I thought it is a long way to complete the programme, but when you finished it, the basics of IR were already installed on you. And, it consists of you - became part of you." 

Why School of Governance, Law and Society?

  • The school of Governance, Law, and Society has a large international student body and a large number of international faculty members. It provides the perfect institutional setting for the International Relations programme.  
  • By focusing on law, political science, international relations, and sociology it fosters a multidisciplinary environment. The IR programme is also able to use the competencies of other disciplines in the programme to complement the existing competencies of the IR staff.  
  • Students have excellent opportunities to spend a semester or two abroad through the Erasmus programme. Our Eramus network provides a large selection of schools as well as the easy transfer of credits.The incoming Erasmus students add to the diversity of the institute and programme. 
Extracurricular Activities

International Relations Society group on Facebook.  

The International Relations Master’s programme has an active student organization „International Relations Society“ that organizes activities, guest speakers, movie screenings, and field trips. Our partners have also sponsored study trips to the European parliament and NATO headquarters in Brussels Belgium. Also, being located in the capital of Tallinn, students will have access to a number of high profile events and conferences dealing with foreign affairs and contemporary regional issues. 


Below are a select number of recent publications from the IR faculty.

Mika Aaltola

Matthew Crandall

Below is a select list of master's theses from recent graduates of our IR programme

There are also many other interesting master thesis as follows (thesis are searchable in Tallinn University Academic Library):

  • The Emergence of Nationalistic Tendencies in the Context of Globalization Processes. The example of Germany, France and the United Kingdom- Benjamin Klasche, 2015
  • Deciding to Lose: Rationalist Explanations for Hopeless Wars- Shunsuke Kikuchi, 2013
  • Land Grabbing as a Tool for Food Security. Whose Security? - Margit Aav, 2012
  • State Using private Military Companies: Reasons and Implications- Liis Poola, 2012
  • The Implications of the Rise of China on the Norms of International Society. The Case of Human Rights and Democracy- Pille Kesler 2012

Tallinn University has a modern urban campus located in the center of the city. The beautiful view of the harbour is a constant reminder that students studing at Tallinn University are in the center of a major European hub. The airport, train and bus stations are also just a few minutes away by public transport. Our students have access to physical and online libraries, computer labs, cafeterias and cafes. Further, the university has all the facilities necessary for a productive learning environment and ample opportunities for leisure, sports, and social activities, all leading to an exciting and well balanced student life. Take a walk around our campus via the virtual tour!

Our IR program is taught entirely in the English language. Our student body is international, with students from many countries in Europe, as well as students from Africa, Asia, and the Americas, all studying IR at Tallinn University. Day-to-day student life is always international at Tallinn University, as our IR program is closely connected with other English language programs and among your classmates, you will also find visiting Erasmus students.

Before applying to the programme, you can learn more about School of Governance, Law and Society on our Summer School 2018 course: The Formation of Global Norms in a Changing World Order!

Contact us

In case you have any questions about the programme do not hesitate to contact us. We are more than happy to help you!

  • Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Governance, Law and Society:
    Phone: +372 61 99 941
  • For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist:

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