Where in the world can international studies take you?

Posted October 11, 2013, by Mike Kermode

In 2014, the planet’s human communities will be more diverse, more in touch with one another, and facing more challenges than ever before.

Having an understanding of the interdependence and connectedness of these communities – in social, political, cultural, historical and economic contexts – is therefore an incredibly valuable asset.

What is international studies?

Also known as global studies, international studies focuses on understanding global populations, cultures, languages and political systems, and the relationships between them that help define the world we all live in. 

It’s a broad area that can take you places – geographically, and in your career. 

An international studies degree can take you around the world

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How do you get started?

Studying an international studies course is similar to an arts degree – you’re given a range of advanced analytical skills and broad knowledge, with the chance to narrow your focus through a choice of majors. What you’ll also develop is an understanding of the international forces at work in shaping governments, economies and societies.

As an international studies student you’ll encounter a range of subjects, such as: the international economy, cross-cultural communication, global security challenges, human rights, global trade and business, international environmental issues, geopolitical history, and the role of international organisations like the UN, EU, IMF and World Bank.

It’s also common to study development in the context of poverty, disaster and conflict, the movements of people as refugees, immigrants, tourists and business people, and region-specific studies like socio-political, economic and cultural change in Asia, Latin America or the Middle East.

An international studies course is also commonly marked by two other aspects. Firstly, it is tied to language studies. While studying the above and more, you’ll also be training in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Indonesian, or another language of your choice.

International studies students are often given the chance to complete at least some of their studies overseas in order to broaden their experience and knowledge, see the cultures they are studying in context, and further develop foreign language skills. 

Applying your knowledge to the real world

Job prospects for international studies graduates are many, encompassing a vast array of professions. International studies course graduates have an open door to roles in government, international agencies and the international private sector.

This means eligibility for roles in diplomatic and consular services, defence, national and global security, human rights and humanitarian services, international economic consultancy, NGO advocacy, tourism and hospitality, international and maritime law, international trade and public policy. The list goes on.

Your broad understanding of non-western cultures and the forces that shape local and international development will open doors to dozens of NGOs, government departments like AusAID and DFAT, and a host of private enterprises in ecotourism, media or international development consultancies. 

With international studies, the world is your oyster, and your expertise.

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Mike Kermode

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