BA International Relations covers themes such as war and security, diplomacy and development, globalisation and global power relations, communication and resistance, and international political economy.
You will gain a solid foundation in the history of international relations and IR theory, studying subjects such as decolonisation, international organisations, European integration, foreign-policy making, counterterrorism, human migration and non-state violence – allowing you to understand better the complexity of contemporary global governance and the theories that explain it. As you progress through the degree, the flexible nature of the course allows you to specialise in those aspects of international relations that most interest you.
You will gain an in-depth understanding of international politics, examining how states, groups and individuals interact across borders, and you will consider some of the most important issues that confront the world today. Your studies will give you a solid grasp of how the world of international relations works, taking into account, among other things, the recent global economic crisis, changes in the European Union, immigration, human rights, global terrorism, the rise of China, the power of the US, conflict in the Middle East and the problems hampering African states.
The Department of Politics and International Relations has a strong commitment to high-quality, cutting-edge research, all of which informs our teaching. We are a research community that applies various theories and methods to the study of domestic, transnational, regional and global politics. We have expertise in African, British, Chinese, European, Middle East, North American and South Asian politics, and our research covers areas such as security, democratisation, youth politics, international diplomacy and political communication, as well as contemporary and radical theories of democracy and power.
- Study with leading experts on Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
- Study key issues in conflict and security, humanitarian crises and development.
- Be a Model UN delegate or visit an embassy with our student societies.
- The flexibility to specialise in what interests you.
- Work placement opportunities.
Core ModulesYear 1
Introduction to International Relations
This module offers a broad introduction to theory and history in international relations since 1870. You will look at a variety of different theoretical lenses, ranging from orthodox to critical perspectives, in order to understand events from the collapse of the Bismarckian European order and the origins of World War 1 to the contemporary War on Terror. Along the way you will also explore the origins and the end of the Cold War, decolonisation and the End of Empire, the rise of international institutions, humanitarian intervention and new security issues.
Introduction to Politics and Government
This module will introduce you to the academic study of politics and to the ‘real world’ of contemporary politics. As a foundational course, it will give you all the essential tools to understand the nature of politics and analyse the way different political systems work. You will be introduced to key concepts such as politics, power, rights, ideologies, democracy and representation, and will learn about the different actors, institutions and processes that make up politics today.
Classic and Contemporary Readings in Politics and International Relations
This module will introduce you to foundational thinkers and texts in the history of political thought and international relations theory. The first half will explore ideas of community, politics, order and justice in ancient early Christian thought from Socrates to Augustine. The second half will explore how themes of war, peace and the state, as well as liberalism, imperialism and resistance, are developed from the early modern to contemporary period in thinkers such as Hobbes, Kant, Hegel, Smith, Mill, Marx and Fanon.
Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
This module will provide you with the analytic skills and resources to evaluate, understand, and criticise research findings in politics research. It will also provide you with the practical skills to carry out your own independent research so that you can produce a high-quality dissertation in your final year and graduate with transferable skills that will prepare you for the job market. The module aims to encourage a critical and rigorous approach to research, both in terms of how you evaluate the research of others and how you do your own. These twin goals are important for getting the most out of your time studying politics.
International Relations Theory
Building on Introduction to International Relations, this module explores the key thinkers and debates in International Relations Theory. You will become familiar with a variety of ways of thinking about International Relations, engaging with questions about the nature of power, identity, and ethics in politics and how these interact in the international realm. The module is divided into two parts. In the first, you will examine the three foundational theoretical paradigms within International Relations – realism, liberalism, and Marxism. The second part explores newer critical approaches to International Relations theory, including constructivism, post-structuralism, feminism, and uneven ecological exchange.
Undergraduate Dissertation in Politics and/or IR
The dissertation offers you the opportunity to pursue independent research in a topic of your own choosing with the support of an academic supervisor working one-to-one with you. You will develop your own research question and research strategy, explore the scholarly debates surrounding your topic, and advance your own thesis that interprets or challenges the way your topic has been understood. You are encouraged to use a variety of quantitative or qualitative methods and theoretical approaches as appropriate to the field you are exploring.
Optional ModulesYear 1
- All modules are core
Understanding the European Union: Politics and Theory
In this module you will analyse the contemporary politics of the European Union and its institutions, amid the challenges of the triple crisis of economics, migration and Brexit. You will learn about the political history of European integration after 1949 and the contemporary theory of European integration. The first term will begin with an introduction to the European Union as a political system followed by an overview of the European Union's historical development. The second term will focus on contestation of the European Union and the theories that underpin this, in order to explain how the EU developed and the challenges that it faces. Topics will include Euroscepticism, party politics, public opinion, Brexit and EU-UK relations, and European Parliament elections. The theory sessions comprise of federalism, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism and the new institutionalisms.
- International Political Economy
- War and Security in World Politics
- International Organisations
- The Politics of Human Rights
- Introduction to Political Communication
- Democracy in Britain
- Contemporary Political Theory
- Political Behaviour
- Modern Political Thought
European Union Public Policy
In this module you will develop an understanding of regulation in the European Union, including delivery of policy and administration. You will look at how the world's largest market operates, with a focus on EU public policy, including de-regulation, re-regulation, budgets and spending. You will examine the concept of the single market, the Euro and its crisis, justice, home affairs and counter-terrorism, the EU budget, agriculture, regional development, and social and environmental policies.
European Union Foreign Policy
In this module you will develop an understanding of the European Union's foreign relations, focussing on political, security and economic impacts. You will examine its international role, looking at the Common Foreign and Security Policy, its relationship with NATO, the USA and Russia, its connection to immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and its role in global trade negotiations.
- Politics in Action: The Politics and International Relations Experience Placement
- Contemporary Middle East Politics
- US Foreign Policy
- The Politics of Africa
- Defence in the Post-Cold War World
- Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
- Global Energy Policy
- Refugees and Migration in World Politics
- The Politics of the Internet and the Information Society
- Radical Political Theory
- The British in India: a Social and Political History
- The Politics of Toleration
- Social Justice: From Theory to Practice
- Advanced Seminar in British Politics
- American Political Development
- The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
- Theories of Freedom and Democracy
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure: you will take 12 course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice.
Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take. The first year is foundational and marks do not count towards your final degree. The second year and final year marks do count, with more importance being given to the final year marks in order to reward progress and achievement.
A Levels: ABB
At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics.
Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A - levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. Socio - economic factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Other UK Qualifications
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, students can progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
Our outstanding record of success for work and further study puts Politics & International Relations at Royal Holloway in the top 10 for graduate career prospects (Complete University Guide, 2015). Our degree programmes not only promote academic achievement and employability. You will learn to approach problems in a rigorous and analytical way, and you will develop your abilities to communicate in both speech and writing.
Our graduates are highly employable and have secured jobs in a wide range of professions, such as public affairs, the law, the civil service, accountancy, management, journalism, broadcasting, teaching, international development and diplomacy. Many of our graduates also go on to further study, entering postgraduate programmes both at Royal Holloway and at other prestigious institutions around the world.
Recent employers include:
- The Church of England
- The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
- The Conservative Party
- Ernst & Young
- The European Commission
- Global Capital
- HM Treasury
- The Henry Jackson Society
- House of Commons
- Ipsos MORI
- The Labour Party
- NATO Headquarters
- Oxford Business Group
- Proctor & Gamble
- Save the Children
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9250
International students tuition fee per year**: £16900
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
*The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations, and for students starting a degree in the academic year 2018/19 will be £9,250 for that year, and is shown for reference purposes only. The tuition fee for UK and EU undergraduates has not yet been confirmed for students starting a degree in the academic year 2019/20.
**Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.
***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.