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Politics and International Relations

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Politics and International Relations

BA
  • UCAS code L290
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

BA Politics and International Relations looks at political ideas and processes, as well as global issues such as war and security, diplomacy and development.

You will gain a solid foundation in politics, the history of international relations and IR theory, studying subjects such as democracy, decolonisation, democratisation, international organisations, foreign-policy making, human migration and human rights. As you progress through the degree, the flexible nature of the course allows you to specialise in those aspects of domestic politics, political theory and international relations that most interest you.

By combining Politics and International Relations, you will gain an advanced understanding of how individuals, groups and states interact across borders, and how political institutions and ideas differ around the world.  As you progress through your studies, you will engage with important contemporary challenges, including, for example, the recent global economic crisis, changes in the European Union, human migration and the threats posed by terrorists and new communications technologies.

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.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • Learn how to approach problems in a rigorous and analytical way.
  • Gain a solid foundation in politics, the history of international relations and IR theory.
  • Our graduates pursue roles in many sectors including the civil service, public affairs and law.
  • Consider contemporary challenges, such as terrorism, climate change and refugees.
  • Work placement opportunities at MPs’ offi ces, NGOs and local government.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Year 2

All students are also required to undertake and pass a short ‘reflecting on feedback’ exercise in order to progress into the final year of study.

  • 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.

Year 3
  • 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 Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2
  • 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.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between states and markets, power and wealth. You will look at the key concepts and theoretical debates in International Political Economy, such as the globalisation of trade, finance, and production, the continued problems of development and democratic governance in the world economy, and emerging questions surrounding global flows, networks and spaces. You will consider the history of regimes, crises, and competing theories of political economy from the nineteenth century to the present day and examine how political institutions operate in international politics to regulate the creation of wealth, and who benefits from these arrangements.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and limitations of global governance. You will look at the creation of international organisations and the role of states in this process, how different organisations are designed, and the effectiveness and functioning of different types of organisation. You will consider the role of international organisations in creating policy, pursuing organisational objectives, and altering the relations between actors at various levels. You will also examine the significance of major challenges for global governance, such as countering international terrorism, policing organised crime, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the modern human rights regime. You will look at what human rights are and their historical origins, including governance and the international legal regime. You will consider genocide and debates about intervention, examining the war in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Darfur, and current issues in Syria. You will explore transitional justice, the laws of war and international criminal tribunals, and assess the remedies available to victims of human rights abuses.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how citizens, politicians and the media interact across Western democracies during both electoral and governing periods. You will look at the production and consumption of political news, consider election campaigns and their effects, and examine contemporary debates in political communication, including ethical issues.

  • I in this module you will develop an understanding of contemporary British politics. You will look at the ways in which British government has evolved, how it continues to operate, and why it operates in the way it does. You will consider the causes and consequences of major political change in Britain and examine the underlying assumptions upon which theoretical disputes in political science are based.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the main theoretical approaches of the study of political behaviour. You will look at major current controversies in the field of political behaviour and critically analyse and evaluate theoretical and empirical arguments through the interpretation of bivariate and multivariate analysis of data. You will consider the ways in which individuals directly or indirectly influence political choices at various levels of the political system, and the relationship between voters and political parties. You will also examine the theory and practice of how electors decide whether (or not) to vote and whom to vote for.

Year 3
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • In this module you will combine participation in a workplace environment for one day a week during term time (and three days a week for each term's reading week) with scholarly reflection on the nature of the organisational, professional, and policy contexts of the placement. Your placement will be in an organised setting such as Parliament, local government, the office of an MEP, NGO, campaigning or activist organisations, a political party, a media organisation, or the policy or communications division of a local company working in a relevant field.

  • 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 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

The course has a modular structure: you will take 12 course units altogether 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 attached to the final year marks in order to reward progress and achievement.

Top 10 UK Politics department for research intensity

Source: THE REF 2014: Subject ranking on intensity

93% of students agreed staff are good at explaining things

Source: NSS, 2019

92% of our Politics and International Relations graduates are employed or go on to further study within six months of graduating

Source: DLHE, 2018

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