The University of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is the oldest and the most renowned university in Myanmar. To prepare for setting up a Department for International Relations in 1955 many Myanmar scholars were sent to visit the most famous universities in the United Kingdom and the United States to observe their courses on International Relations. At the same time, advice was taken from selected Myanmar scholars from the University’s own Department of Modern History and Political Science, the most relevant department to inform International Relations. In 1958, a Board of Studies for International Relations was officially formed with professors from the Departments of Modern History and Political Science, Geography, Geology, Social Science and with other visiting foreign professors. The first two-year post graduate programme for International Relations was introduced in the Department of Modern History and Political Science which came under the Social Science faculty at the University of Rangoon. Later, the post graduate diploma programme in International Relations was extended to offer a Bachelor’s degree programme, Bachelor Honors degree programme and Master’s programme. The medium of instruction was English, as in all courses at the University.
In 1964, in the context of a new education plan, all courses taught in the English language had to be offered in Myanmar language. Some of the subjects offered at the University were impossible to teach in Myanmar language so they were suspended. International Relations was one of the subjects suspended at the then Rangoon University of Arts and Science (RASU).
Fortunately in 1982-1983 a new policy for higher education came in, stipulating that all disciplines at university and college levels were to be offered in English language except Myanmar literature. Consequently, International Relations was reintroduced at the university, having been suspended for fifteen years. Many senior lecturers from the Department of History at RASU and Mandalay University were selected to study the teaching methodology, curricula and contents of syllabi concerning International Relations subjects at universities in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. During the vacation period of 1983, a refresher training course for International Relations was conducted for young faculty members under the intensive guidance of senior Professors and lecturers at RASU.Departments of International Relations were reintroduced in 1983 at RASU and Mandalay University. Demand for International Relations subject was high despite limited human resources in the departments of both universities. So, each university accepted 100 students who were selected based on two criteria: a high total in their matriculation exam and 65 for English. Then every selected student had to sit for an interview and a psychological test. Students who were admitted to study International Relations earned a high total score and the subject was rated highly, alongside other subjects such as medicine, technology and economics in Myanmar.The Thirty Year Education Plan was introduced in the academic year 1995-1996, with the combination system: a combination of arts subjects and a combination of science subjects for high school students, especially for Grades 8, 9 and 10. Under the 8 sets of combinations for the matriculation exam, only those students who took History at Grade 9 and Grade 10 could apply for International Relations. The combination system was a barrier for some subjects at university level education.From 1996 to 2011, the Department of International Relations’ intake was low and few students graduated. Students were also reluctant to take this subject because of the language barrier. Following democratisation in Myanmar in 2011-2012, the combination system was decentralized with some minor restrictions and students who passed their matriculation exam with an all arts combination could apply to read International Relations.A PhD programme in International Relations was introduced in 1999. From 1999 to April 2017, the Department of International Relations produced 49 PhD degree holders, in various fields of International Relations. The Department is currently staffed by 26 faculty members, running both International Relations and Political Science disciplines.
A new undergraduate interdisciplinary course, B.A (ASEAN Studies), was introduced with the support of all arts subjects. It extended its area of study to Southeast Asia and the Pacific (SEAP) and about 120 students obtained B.A (SEAP Studies) in 2005-2006 before that degree programme was unfortunately suspended.
To fulfil the needs of community and State, a post graduate Diploma in International Relations (DIR) was launched in 2003. A Diploma in Political Science (DPS) was introduced in June 2013 at the request of the Hluttaws (Parliaments) and public.
Following the significant change in 2012 when the University of Yangon reopened for undergraduate classes, the Department of International Relations offered a new discipline, Political Science. Criteria for student selection for the two courses now offered differ. International Relations requires a total score of 470 in the matriculation exam, and 65 for English. Aspiring Political Science students must have total of 420 in their matriculation exam, and 60 for English. Hopefully, a new selection policy will be introduced as the university gains greater autonomy under higher education reforms since 2013.
The Department of International Relations is currently headed by Professor Dr Chaw Chaw Sein, since 2006.
To promote International Relations and Political Science students’ experience and knowledge to enable them to support the development of Myanmar
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