Bachelor of International Studies

This Bachelor of International Studies will give you a strong understanding of the international forces shaping government, business and community life in Australia and globally.

An exciting feature of the course is an immersive international experience. It aims to give you an-depth understanding of a particular society, and may involve studying at an overseas university, working for an international organisation or learning a language.

Graduates of this degree find interesting work in aid, government, non-profit organisations and international businesses.

As an online student you’ll have the flexibility to study when and where it suits you, and graduate with the same globally-recognised Deakin University qualification as an on-campus student.

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At a glance

Study mode



Deakin University
Career Opportunities

Nationally recognised - meets Australian Qualifications Framework standards.

  • Year 12 with an ATAR of 60, OR
  • A Diploma or educational equivalent, OR
  • Relevant work experience including any community work


Work placement

A form of international experience is required

Course length
Full-time: 3 years | Part-time: 4-6 years | Maximum 7 years
Study mode



Study from anywhere, when it suits you best and graduate with the identical qualification as an on-campus student.


Study part of the course online. Combine your online learning with classes or practical sessions on-campus at a college or university.


Attend classes on-campus at a university, TAFE or college and interact face-to-face with teachers and fellow students.

Assignments, exams, tests & online activities
Start date

2 start dates per year.

Deakin University

SEEK Learning offers a range of degrees you can study online through Deakin University and receive the same qualification as an on-campus student.

Deakin University boasts an impressive reputation for being number one for student satisfaction in Victoria (2012) and offering industry placements that count towards your degree.

Read more about
Deakin University

The course price can vary depending on a few factors, including whether you are an Australian resident or your chosen payment option. To find out more, contact the course provider.


You can gain entry into the Bachelor of International Studies by fulfilling one of these criteria:

  • Year 12 with an ATAR of 60, OR
  • a Diploma or educational equivalent, OR
  • relevant work experience including any community work

In all cases, selection is based primarily on academic merit. Information on your existing qualifications and work experience will also be considered in the selection process (and you may also gain credit for prior learning).

What you'll learn

You’ll learn skills in analysis and interpretation of the international forces shaping government, business and community life in contemporary Australia.

You will also develop a systematic understanding of other countries and societies, as well as cross-cultural competencies, through an internationally oriented curriculum.

International experience

A form of international experience is an essential part of this course.

You will need to complete one of these options:

  • An international internship
  • An internship with an international organisation, undertaken in Australia
  • A trimester of study abroad
  • Deakin's language program (for students studying Arabic, Indonesian or Chinese)

Course structure

Students must complete 24 credit points of study, including six core units; a major sequence selected from the list below; and at least two credit points of approved international experience.

Major sequences

  1. Indonesian

    Indonesian language studies develop communication skills in Bahasa Indonesia, as well as an understanding of Indonesian culture, history and society. With more than 220 million speakers of Bahasa Indonesia, and Indonesia being Australia's closest Asian neighbour, the region is increasingly important to Australia economically, politically and culturally. In-country language programs are available to students undertaking a major sequence in Indonesian.

    Career opportunities:

    Careers in this field include work in the communications industry, community and government organisations, community health organisations, the education sector, ethnic affairs associations, foreign affairs departments, multicultural organisations, tourism associations and translation services.

  2. International relations

    The International Relations major sequence focuses on understanding conflict and cooperation and, war and peace in contemporary international politics. Students examine the system of states before, during and after the Cold War, the nature of power and security, global issues, human rights and Australia's place in the world.

    Career opportunities:

    Graduates can expect to gain employment in a wide range of organisations including federal defence agencies, foreign affairs departments, immigration departments/consultancies, major corporations, management consultancies and multicultural associations.

  3. Middle East studies

    A major in Middle East Studies will give students a comprehensive understanding of the events and issues shaping the region. There will be emphasis on both historical and contemporary issues relevant to the analysis of the Middle East as a regional system, as well as its place in the international system. A particular stress will be placed on the changing role of the United States in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War and its push to reshape the region's political landscape according to American national interests. Several of the endemic conflict situations that exist in the Middle East will be examined throughout the sequence, including the War on Terror; the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Israel-Palestine impasse; the 2006 Israel-Lebanon crisis; Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the role of "rogue states".

    Career opportunities:

    Graduates can expect to gain employment in a wide range of organisations including the education sector, federal defence agencies, government departments, immigration departments/ consultancies, intelligence agencies, major corporations, management consultancies, media organisations, multicultural associations and research.

Core units

  1. Cross-cultural communication

    The primary aims of this unit are to enable students to develop an understanding of cultural diversity, and to equip them to respond appropriately to social and cultural difference. It outlines the core features of culture and communication as human constructs, and explores key questions concerning interactions between groups that are defined by cultural, ethnic, socio-economic or religious differences. The unit provides students with a conceptual understanding of intercultural communication as well as practical skills for interacting across a range of cultural contexts. Perspectives on cultural competence will be explored and illustrated with case studies and examples from a variety of international settings.

  2. Professional writing for work

    This unit focuses on developing professional communication and flexible skills for employability in a twenty first century work environment. Students will explore ways of professionally representing themselves, organisations and community causes or social issues within the context of their own discipline-specific work requirements. They will use online techniques and tools and imaginative virtual world workplace scenarios to prepare themselves for academic, organisational and web writing for specific purposes in workplace contexts.

  3. Order and justice in world politics

    This unit investigates the relationship between international order and justice in contemporary global politics. The role of justice in world politics will be discussed through the examination of a number of theoretical approaches and through particular issues in global politics. Accordingly, a number of issues including war and peace, human rights, national self-determination, humanitarian intervention and world poverty will be analysed within the context of justice in world affairs.

  4. International studies @ work

    The primary aim of this unit is to guide and assist students enrolled in the Bachelor of International Studies in making informed decisions about their study and subsequent work-career options, and to help them identify and develop key employability skills and attributes. As such, the unit is concerned with career development learning, and encompasses four main elements: self-awareness, opportunity awareness, decision making, and transition learning. Drawing directly on the experiences and insights of representatives from industry we look at career opportunities and related developments in the field of international studies, ranging from the government sector and private enterprise, through to non-government organisations both within Australia and overseas. We consider what is involved in establishing your ‘profile’ and gaining an edge when it comes to securing a job and laying the foundations for a career, and work with students in developing their own e-portfolios. We also address a range of key workplace skills and attributes, including presenting information (oral, visual), report writing, teamwork, undertaking different types of research, and analysing information.

  5. Understanding public policy

    In this unit, we study public policy from three key viewpoints:

    • We investigate the relationship between government and citizens, the role of policy in the lives of citizens, and contribution of different actors to the policy making process.
    • We examine various areas of public policy in depth, analysing each in terms of policy development; actors; institutions; instruments; context (political, social, economic, historical); and human impact.
    • We develop skills central to policy work, including preparing policy briefings and conducting policy analysis.
  6. Contemporary social research

    The unit enables students to explore different modes of social science research. It comprises:

    • Key concepts in social research, including research design, ethics and sampling;
    • Qualitative and ethnographic approaches, including in-depth interviews, participant observation and data analysis;
    • Social surveys, including survey design, sampling, data analysis and reporting.
  7. Developed and developing worlds

    This unit explores key phenomena that have shaped the way in which the Global North (in which Australia sits) and the Global South relate to each-other: colonialism, capitalism and development. The unit draws extensively on case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia. It deals in pragmatic and ethical terms with the work of a range of development actors, including NGOs, multi-lateral and bilateral aid agencies, and corporations. It also explores the role of people in developing countries, and ideas of participatory development. The unit is interdisciplinary in nature, combining area studies (African, Latin American, Asian) with development studies, politics, political economy and international relations.

International Relations major sequence

  1. International relations

    In the post-Cold War political environment, students, scholars, and policy-makers have been forced to rethink the content and theoretical conceptualisations of the discipline of international relations. To a considerable degree international relations scholarship has focused on the political and security dimensions of the Cold War. This preoccupation with what was a brief and unusual period in global history masked the importance of economic and resource-based issues. These issues, along with human rights and the environment, now need to be more fully integrated into the study of world politics if we are to understand and adequately respond to the challenges created by the processes of globalisation and fragmentation.

  2. Australia and the world

    The unit introduces students to the study of Australian foreign policy. First, there is an investigation of foreign policy decision-making and the domestic and international settings. This is followed by an examination of Australian identities and alignments in foreign policy: as a 'middle power', 'ANZUS ally', and as 'part of the region'. Contemporary foreign policy issues such as security, economic relations, environment and human rights are explored through these frameworks.

  3. Issues and themes in Middle East politics

    This unit takes a thematic approach to examining the modern Middle East and the West's relationship to the region. Each week we examine a different theme of importance to the Middle East, such as human rights, democracy, globalisation, terrorism and resource politics.

  4. The rise of China

    What is being referred to as the rise of China is a very complex subject. It involves the ongoing evolution of the domestic political system and economy, and in the role and impact of China in the international system. This unit examines the actors and instruments that constitute the Chinese political and foreign policy system, focusing on the determinants of contemporary trends and developments. The unit considers the impact of domestic and international structural factors that have an impact on Chinese politics and foreign policy. Finally, the unit examines the implications of China's rise in regional and global terms.

  5. Order and justice in world politics

    This unit investigates the relationship between international order and justice in contemporary global politics. The role of justice in world politics will be discussed through the examination of a number of theoretical approaches and through particular issues in global politics. Accordingly, a number of issues including war and peace, human rights, national self-determination, humanitarian intervention and world poverty will be analysed within the context of justice in world affairs.

  6. Controversies in global capitalism

    This unit examines the contemporary controversies of global capitalism. It begins by examining the history and the changing structures of the world economy. This unit examines the politics and ethics of global capitalism by considering the debates regarding the crises of global finance, the impact of transnational corporations, the nature of poverty and inequality, the environmental consequences of free trade, and the impact of global capitalism on democracy.

  7. Theories of international relations

    The nature and purpose of the study of international relations is now widely contested. This is reflected in the diversification of theoretical approaches in the field. Conventional perspectives (realism, neorealism), once largely unchallenged, now face both reformist (liberalism, rationalism) and critical (Marxism, postmodernism) rivals. This unit focuses on the evolution of international thought last century by concentrating on the debates and disputes between competing intellectual perspectives. The approaches of various theoretical traditions to the central actors and issues in global politics-such as human rights, war, sovereignty, markets and the environment are a central focus of the unit.

  8. International relations of the Asia-Pacific

    This unit provides students with an introduction to the international politics of the Asia Pacific. It examines: the historical formation of the region, the role played by the Cold War in shaping regional dynamics; US interests and policy in the region; the regional position of China, and the interests and policy of Japan. It also examines Taiwan-China relations, the regional issues surrounding Korean reunification, ASEAN, APEC and economic cooperation, Indonesia's regional role, UN peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and East Timor, the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 and concludes with an overview of contemporary challenges to regional order.

  9. Conflict, security and terrorism

    This unit examines the key concepts in security: power, conflict, and the security of the nation state. We begin by examining the evolution of the nature of the study of security from the narrow military focus of realism to broader approaches of critical security. We then look at the evolution of strategic thought from classical times to the present debate on the revolution in military affairs. We then focus on some of the current debates within the field: nuclear deterrence, nuclear strategy, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and regional conflict and intervention.

  10. Study Tour: America and the international system

    This unit provides an experiential approach to learning about America’s role in the international political system and the role of International Organisations such as the UN, IMF and World Bank. Via their learning about key aspects of American history, politics and culture, students are encouraged to explore and reflect upon how American history, culture and politics informs the study of International Relations as a discipline and their own understanding of contemporary international politics.

  11. Study Tour: International and intercultural studies

    This unit focuses on developing students’ understanding of Indonesian culture and society. It also encourages students to explore differences between Indonesia and Australia and to reflect on Indonesian perceptions of Western countries. Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own culturally-embedded understandings and to explore the issues involved in enhancing intercultural communication and competency.

  12. Study Tour: Japanese politics, society and culture

    This unit focuses of developing students’ understanding of Japanese society and politics. Based at Musashi University in Tokyo, via a program of guest lectures, seminars, workshops and field trips students will both gain insights into Japan’s distinctive culture and be encouraged to utilise these insights to reflect upon their own culturally-embedded understandings and consider how they can enhance their intercultural communication skills and competencies.

  13. American foreign policy

    This unit provides students with an in-depth introduction to the foreign policy of the United States. It examines the American foreign policy system, the policy community, American foreign policy interests, and the role of the US in the post-Cold War international system. The objective of this unit is to provide students with a conceptual, empirical, and analytical basis for understanding trends and developments in American foreign policy.

  14. Beyond borders: Transnational activism in world politics

    This unit critically examines the nature, effectiveness and implications of transnational activism in world politics. After exploring key concepts, the unit will examine the nature and controversies of a number of case studies, focusing on issues such as effectiveness, state-activist interaction, agenda setting, NGO micro-politics and the politics of representation. Case studies include the North Korean human rights movement, indigenous rights, LGBT rights and the global labour movement. Case studies will be taught by guest lecturers, in their area of research expertise.

  15. Transnational diplomacy and policy

    This unit critically examines the practices of transnational diplomacy and policymaking including the roles and relationships between intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental actors and national governments. The unit explores the nature of diplomacy in a globalizing world and interrogates the forms and effectiveness of a range of political and policymaking efforts to address current issues in world politics.

    The unit will be delivered via a series of lectures, workshops and participation in a Model United Nations Summit (on campus or via the cloud).

International study experience

Students have the opportunity to undertake one of the following:

  • trimester of study at an overseas university exchange partner
  • international internship
  • in-country language program (in Chinese, Indonesian or Arabic)
  • approved study abroad program
  • approved onshore internship with an international organisation.

Support and delivery

Studying online explained

How Deakin's online courses are delivered

As an online student you’ll watch lectures, complete readings and participate in tutorials, just like an on-campus student. The difference is you’ll do this online, when it suits you.

Deakin was one of the first universities in Australia to deliver courses for off-campus students, and they pride themselves on an online learning system that is cutting-edge, engaging and easy to use.

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