Navigating the IR Module

Congratulations on being accepted into Western’s honors specialization in International Relations.  The program typically begins in second year.  Information on the module and the course requirements can be found here:

Advice on Course Selection and Pprogression

In second year, students enrol in IR2702E, PS2231E and HIST2705E.  It is important to take all of these courses in second year because they are essential to your progression to senior level (3000 and 4000) courses. 

In third year, you select senior level courses in history and political science.  You can choose courses that develop specific areas of interest (such as global governance, American foreign relations or human rights) or regions (Asia, Latin America, or Canada) or you can choose courses across a range of topics and areas.  You must complete 5.0 courses at the 3000 level.  As history and political science courses are typically research intensive and require students to write essays, you probably should not take all 5.0 in third year.  Of the 5.0 3000 level courses, 2.0 courses are in history and 1.5 courses in political science, in addition to PS3324F/G which is mandatory.  It is best to take PS3324F/G in third year as it builds the necessary skills and knowledge that you will need for 4000 level political science courses.  That leaves another 1.0 course at the 3000 level to complete: you can meet this requirement by taking a full year course from either discipline or you can split the difference, completing 0.5 in history and 0.5 in political science.

Please note: Information on courses eligible for the module can be found here: Not *every* 3000 and 4000 level course in history and political science counts towards the IR module.  The list that you can choose from includes over 60 courses from the two departments.

In fourth year, students take IR4702E – you can find more information on this course at

Please note: there is no substitute for this course.  If you are planning on studying on exchange in fourth year, you should take IR4701E in your third year.  It’s a challenging course and is geared towards students in their final year of study.  But several students have taken it in third year and done well.

Students must complete 1.0 additional 4000 level course: it can be from either history or political science or you can take half courses from each department. 

Adding Other Modules to Your IR Honors Specialization

A minor module gives you additional expertise that complements your studies in International Relations.  A minor module can usually be added to your IR degree.  Students in the IR program have completed minors in languages, psychology, economics and women’s studies.  

A major module is more challenging to add because it typically requires more than the 5.0 courses available to you.  Students have completed majors by taking courses on overload – for which special permission is required. 

Planning Ahead

The IR module takes up 10.0 of the 15.0 courses that you will complete in years 2, 3 and 4.  You should consider carefully the courses you enrol in outside of the module.  While you are engrossed in your undergraduate studies, post-graduate studies might seem far off, but it is useful to plan ahead.  Graduates of the IR program have pursued their academic interests in post graduate programs in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, at schools like the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, the Munk Centre of Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, Oxford, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the London School of Economics.   The programs they have pursued include strategic studies, international education, comparative politics, migration, development, international affairs, public policy and law school, amongst many others.  Many of these programs require students to have completed an introductory course in micro/macro economics.  Some programs have arrangements in place for students who have not taken economics.  But many post graduate programs expect a minimal knowledge of economics.  So think about completing a first year economics course.  Past graduates advise taking an economics course in third year.