Bachelor of Arts — International Studies

Student Profile – Sarah Macdonald

"The International Studies major is also flexible enough to add a minor or a second major, depending on your career aspirations. For example, I chose a minor in Conflict Resolution, as I had always been fascinated by this area and could see its real-world application in international working environments," says Sarah. Read Sarah's story here.

In the current climate of globalisation, an understanding of the impact of global issues on your future will enable you to contribute effectively to the changing environment. The International Studies major will equip you with these skills.

The importance of interacting effectively with people from other cultures in workplace and educational settings is being widely recognised as essential. This is the first International Studies major to cover these aspects.

  • The only undergraduate programme in international studies in New Zealand
  • This major provides you with opportunities to develop an understanding of the changing global environment
  • Papers in intercultural competence enable you to adjust to social and cultural change, and give you the knowledge and skills to succeed professionally and socially in multicultural settings.


Career opportunities

International-Studies-A4-08-16International Studies is an ideal major if you are interested in a career that involves interaction with people from other cultures either in New Zealand or overseas. This covers a wide range of occupations and includes:

  • Business
  • Diplomatic service
  • Service industries (hospitality, tourism, social work, local government)
  • Local authorities
  • Social work
  • Justice system
  • Health
  • Police
  • Teaching
  • Translating and interpreting (with relevant training and qualifications)
  • The media
  • Public relations
  • National and international human rights organisations.

See our Future Career Guide (PDF) for more information about career options in this field.

Structure and content

You will be introduced to the discipline through a number of compulsory papers in international studies, while language and intercultural competence papers provide you with the intercultural and transnational competence and skills to interact in international and multicultural contexts.

Your learning at AUT takes you out of the traditional lecture room environment. For example, the two intercultural competence papers include critical incidents, field trips, discussions and collaborative work.

Learning continues out of the classroom with the help of technology, including blogs and wikis, and the virtual learning environment Second Life in which students have the chance to explore virtual representations of other cultures and meet people from those cultures.

In the second year, you can experience overseas study with the possibility of student exchanges in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Spain, the Netherlands or a country in the Pacific or South America.

In your final year you will be able to apply your knowledge and skills in a workplace setting when you take the core paper, a co-operative education practicum. In some cases this paper could be completed overseas.

You also will be able to develop your interests further through a choice of relevant papers in social sciences, business, culture, applied linguistics or languages. There are a number of double majors that complement the International Studies major, such as:

What is intercultural competence?

Intercultural competence is the ability to establish and maintain relationships with people from other cultures — including different ethnicities, race, religions, physical or mental disabilities, or even a different discipline of study.

Even if you are not very familiar with a culture or can't speak much of the language, by increasing your intercultural competence you will gain the knowledge, skills and attitude to  effectively engage  with difference and the unfamiliar. You will then be able to interact with others using the appropriate behaviour thereby avoiding miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Intercultural competence also means being more aware of your own culture, and your own values and beliefs that form your individual identity and worldview.

Upon successful completion of this programme, graduates will have the knowledge to:

  • Understand and critique the evolution and development of International Studies as a discipline
  • Apply their knowledge of historical developments in the Asian and Pacific regions to interpret and evaluate current and emerging trends and issues
  • Clarify the complexities of regional and global issues, events and socio-political practices by applying theories, models and frameworks from a range of disciplines
  • Evaluate the impact on societies and individuals of processes of globalisation, innovation and change
  • Interpret and analyse interactions in international or multicultural settings by applying theories, models and frameworks of intercultural and transnational competence, including knowledge of an additional language
  • Understand their own identity and culture, and employ multiple identities as required in new environments
  • Critically evaluate perspectives and practices in their own and other cultures, and be open to different cultural experiences, influences, opportunities and approaches.

The International Studies major will add an international dimension to your graduate profile, and the intercultural papers in particular will add the soft skills like cultural intelligence and resilience that employers are looking for in graduates. The International Studies major can be taken as a single major, double major such as Conflict Resolution, or minor in the BA.

It can also be taken as a conjoint with the Bachelor of Business or Computer Information Sciences, as an additional major in other degrees such as Business Information Systems, Environmental Science, Event Management, Human Resource Management and Employment Relations, or as a double degree with Law (LLB).


BA core papers
COMM570 Academic Communication
CLSY500 Culture and Society or COMM600 iCommunicate
COMM610 iReflect
COMM700 iResearch
CLSY703 Cooperative Education


CLSY502 Intercultural Competence
CLSY601 Intercultural Competence in a Global World
SOSC681 Borders, Boundaries and Globalisation
SOSC782 Globalisation, Innovation and Change
A language paper (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Te Reo Māori, NZ Sign Language, Cook Islands Māori, Samoan)

Plus a range of papers to develop a students' particular interests in business, international relations, social sciences, applied linguistics or languages. These papers include:

CHIN605 Contemporary Chinese Society Or CHIN606 Introduction to Chinese Culture
COMM651 WeSpeak: Pronunciation, Phonology and Effective Communication
CLSY503 Asian Popular Culture
CLSY601 Intercultural Competence in a Global World
CLSY602 Aotearoa New Zealand Culture and Society
CLSY701 East Asian Values and Beliefs
CMAO500 Introduction to Cook Islands Māori - Te Reo Ipukarea
ENGL500 Contemporary Language Studies
ENGL501 Critical Media Studies
ENGL503 A Pacific Reader
ENGL601 Language and Communication
ENGL603 Language in Society
ENGL700 Global English
ENGL701 New Literatures
HIST690 Te Tiriti O Waitangi: The Treaty of Waitangi
JAPA605 Japanese Society and Culture
JAPA703 Japanese Religions and the Samurai
POLS680 States and Nations
POLS780 Asian and Pacific Issues
POLS781 International Relations
SAMO500 Societies, Cultures and Practices
SOSC683 Societies, Cultures and Practices
SOSC780 Multicultural Communities

Organisations consulted in the creation of this programme

  • Staff in the School of Languages and Cultures, Victoria University of Wellington
  • University of Otago, Department of Languages and Cultures
  • University of Auckland, School of East Asian Studies
  • Massey University, School of Language Studies
  • Asia NZ Foundation, Director, Business Programme
  • Auckland City Council's International Affairs Manager (now Auckland Council)
  • New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (NZALT)
  • Auckland Chamber of Commerce, Manager International Division
  • The NZ Police
  • Asian Health Support Services
  • Waitemata District Health Board
  • Auckland Ethnic Council
  • Emeritus Professor Mike Byram, University of Durham
  • Indiana University, Director of International Studies programme.

Last updated: 09-Feb-2018 9.51am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.