Political Science and International Relations
Political Science and International Relations graduates understand diplomacy, conflict, power structures and politics in a globalised world.
Political Science and International Relations students develop strong skills in conceptual analysis, research, strategic thinking and persuasive communication.
As well as learning about political ideas such as capitalism and socialism from a historical, contemporary or regional perspective, Political Science students examine political systems, issues and movements including economic growth, human rights, climate change, war and security in a local and global context. From this they learn about research design and methodology, and how these are applied in conflict resolution and diplomacy frameworks.
International Relations students explore the complex relationships between countries and the roles of government and non- governmental organisations and multi-nationals.
Roles and career pathways
Political Science and International Relations graduates work in a wide range of roles that involve critical analysis, research, consequential thinking and strong verbal and written communications skills. Government organisations employ graduates in policy, stakeholder relations, communications and research analyst or advisory roles. First roles for graduates with undergraduate degrees may be in an administration or coordination role before progressing to an adviser or senior adviser role in a policy team.
Political Science and International Relations graduates also work as political assistants, journalists, programme coordinators, customer service managers or parliamentary researchers. They may work in policy roles in unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government departments and Parliamentary Services or with global non-profits, government organisations such as Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, embassies, logistics and supply chain organisations, and import and export trade businesses.
Postgraduate study in Political Science and International Relations such as an Honours or Master’s degree is helpful for a number of intermediate to senior policy and research roles where specialised and in-depth analysis is important. The Honours course in Political Science includes a limited entry parliamentary internship programme working with a Member of Parliament. A number of students combine both Political Science and International Relations as double major or may add additional subjects such as Economics, History, Public Policy, Management, Māori Studies or a Language to broaden their employment options. They may also undertake an additional degree in an area such as Law. Postgraduate courses in Strategic Studies or Migration Studies can be a focus for graduates wishing to specialise in these aspects of international diplomacy and security.
Where Politics and International Relations graduates work
Political Science and International Relations graduates work across the private and public sectors. They may work in political environments as well as in non-profit, non-government organisations and government departments.
Recent Political Science and International Relations graduates have worked in organisations such as:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
- New Zealand Defence Force
- Ministry for Primary Industries
- Trade Me
- Parliamentary Services
Build relevant skills and experience
Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop practical work place experience. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) programmes offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience.
Make career connections
Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career and networking opportunities. The student run politically neutral Politics Society (PolSoc) runs networking events for interested students. The Centre for Strategic Studies, based at Victoria University of Wellington is the oldest institute for research and public engagement on strategic and foreign policy and offers a range of seminars for students interested in this area. Also the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs runs a programme of events, including a Careers Without Borders event in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington. Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Wellington Young Professionals also offer various events and opportunities for networking. The Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.