What can I do with a degree in Political Science and International Relations?

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Are you interested in making a difference to the world around you? Does the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s democracy interest you? Does news about politics and elections in other countries capture your interest? Are you concerned about major issues in international politics and international security? How about issues such as human rights, health, environment, foreign policy or conflict? Do you want to critically analyse these questions and pursue a career based on your interest? If so, you should study Political Science and International Relations.

Political Science is often called the study of who gets what, where, how and why. Political scientists use a variety of theories, ideas, tools, and methods to conduct an independent and informed study of our communities.

Through their degree in Political Science and International Relations, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These include:

  • Political analysis
  • Understanding the ways that laws and economic policies are developed
  • Interpretive thinking
  • Thinking critically, creatively and challenging ideas
  • Logical and quantitative reasoning
  • Understanding globalisation and its effects on our politics and economy
  • Policy formulation and analysis
  • Understanding international relations, international law and diplomacy
  • Problem solving skills adaptable to differing contexts
  • Oral and written communication
  • Research and computing.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this subject, through internships and field trips. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

Political Science and International Relations students gain skills that can be applied in a wide range of exciting careers within politics and in areas such as law, business, education and journalism.

Recent UC graduates have been employed in:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand government agencies such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Health, Economic Development, Defence, Environment, and Justice as well as the Treasury, Te Puni Kōkiri, Immigration New Zealand, Parliament, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Office of Treaty Settlements, and the Security Intelligence Service
  • Iwi and Māori governance bodies for example Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
  • Regional councils
  • Tertiary institutions
  • International agencies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Not-for-profits like St John and the Red Cross
  • Private companies in banking, insurance, media, legal, finance, recruitment, and education sectors
  • Public and private organisations in other countries such as Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States of America

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs. See some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets existing policies and consults with stakeholders or briefs in leaders
  • Prepares and presents reports and recommendations for policy development

Governance manager / support officer

  • Supports and advises appointed leaders such as councillors or members of parliament
  • Ensures compliance with public sector and/or local government legislation
  • Manages many relationships and interactions

Parliamentary officer

  • Keeps and maintains records
  • Assists in the development of policies
  • Prepares reports and recommendations to support senior members

Executive Assistant / legislative aide to an MP

  • Liaises with constituents, other politicians, the media, lobbyists, community groups
  • Awareness of local, regional, national and international issues, and drafts materials
  • Promotes the politician’s work

Immigration officer / manager

  • Examines documentation such as passports
  • Approves or rejects entry into a country
  • Organises the removal of people who have broken immigration law

Communications / media advisor, journalist

  • Develops information, media and communication strategies
  • Researches, writes, edits and produces content for various audiences and mediums

International aid worker

  • Manages and assesses projects
  • Supports long-term development
  • Evaluates responses to emergency situations

Advocate

  • Advises and represents individuals, groups or a cause
  • Examines and drafts contracts
  • Provides relevant information to clients

Diplomat

  • Promotes Aotearoa New Zealand’s interests overseas
  • Reports on affairs and develops foreign and trade policies
  • Liaises with local authorities and negotiates agreements with other countries

Export / customs coordinator

  • Specialises in domestic and international markets or laws
  • Inspects or coordinates mail, imported and exported goods
  • Administers documentation and ensures adherence to the law

Research analyst / advisor / assistant

  • Organises and conducts research
  • Develops and tests theories, interprets results
  • Writes reports, makes recommendations and publishes research

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea, product or service
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress in their studies and into a career, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations often provide regular communications and offer the opportunity to network with others within the same community

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Political Science and International Relations subject page