The Department of Government
The Department of Government

International Relations

Flags of the world. Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS is the study of borders: where they come from (conquest, secession, collapse), what crosses them (armies, money, people, ideas), and how they're governed (war, institutions, hierarchies). The states that govern within these borders have no common government, which demands that they must (a) confront the problem of how to enforce any agreements they might reach and (b) bear in mind that the use of force is an option available to any state. Much of the international relations literature, whether it focuses on behavior or institutions, focuses on the consequences of these propositions. At the University of Texas, the field of international relations is divided into three sub-fields: conflict (including civil and interstate wars); international political economy; and international law and organization.


The core course, GOV 388K The Study of International Relations is required of all students choosing international relations as one of their fields. All IR students for whom IR is a first field also take two semesters of Research in International Politics, a seminar focused on the "how" of conducting IR research. The first is taken in the spring of their second year and focuses on preparing an article-length paper that can serve as a master's thesis. The second takes place in the spring of the third year and focuses on preparing a dissertation prospectus. Second- and third-year students will take these courses together. Additionally, students are encouraged to take the department's first three statistics courses and at least one course in formal theory.

Listing of Graduate Seminars

  • International Law and Organizations
  • International Political Economy
  • International Secruity
  • Political Violence
  • Research in International Relations
  • Study of International Relations
  • Transnational Politics


With substantive specialties in international relations theory, international security and conflict, international law and organization, international political economy, development, and civil wars and terrorism, our faculty cover a wide range of mainstream IR research. Faculty regularly publish in the leading political science journals and university presses and have received numerous awards for their work, and they regularly work together and publish with graduate students. And with methodological expertise in historical and case study analysis, statistics, formal theory, and experiments, we are well-equipped to train and prepare Ph.D. students for a competitive job market.

Broader Intellectual Environment

The University of Texas also offers a number of opportunities outside the Government Department for students interested in international relations. The Strauss Center on International Law and Security, with faculty across Government, History, the LBJ School, and the Law School funds a number of speakers, workshops, colloquia, and other events for the international relations community throughout the year. Innovations for Peace and Development, co-directed by Michael Findley and Rachel Wellhausen, funds numerous students to engage in research and policy work related to peacebuilding and development. The Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft with faculty affiliates across History, Government, and the LBJ School also provides opportunities for students interested in the intersection of international politics and history. Finally, numerous regionally-focused centers, including Asia and East Asia, Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and Taiwan offer similar opportunities for interested students.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st ST STOP A1800
    Batts Hall 2.116
    Austin, TX 78712-1704