Politics, International Relations and Modern Languages explores the key areas of contemporary politics and international relations, and combines these with the in-depth study of French language, society and culture.
Taught in partnership between the Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, and the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, this course is informed by the outstanding research and international outlook of both departments.
The politics element of the course provides an introduction to the working of international relations. This includes research into areas such as security, international diplomacy, and the use of military force, as well as European languages and cultures. As a modern linguist, you will not only learn to speak and write fluently, you will also develop excellent communication and research skills and combine language proficiency with cross-cultural perspectives.
As a part of Royal Holloway’s close-knit international community based in our beautiful historic campus, you will be within easy reach of London. You will also have the exciting opportunity to spend a year working, teaching or studying in a French-speaking country, when you will immerse yourself in the language and culture and truly broaden your horizons.
• Taught in partnership with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
• Spend a year of study and/or work in a French-speaking country. We have a study exchange with Sciences Po Strasbourg, a prestigious school of politics in France
• Gain written and verbal fluency in French.
• Other language options in German (LR22), Italian (LR23) and Spanish (LR24).
- Study with leading experts on Brexit and EU Budgets.
- Taught in partnership with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
- Spend a year of study and/or work in a French-speaking country.
- Gain written and verbal fluency in French.
- Other language options in German (R200), Italian (R300) and Spanish (R401).
Core ModulesYear 1
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 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.
You will take one of the following modules in French depending on your language proficiency:
This module develops your command of both French-English translation and critical analysis of French-language material by exposing you to a range of source material which might include prose fiction, poetry, drama, film, graphic novels, multimedia and web content, and newspaper and magazine articles. In weekly seminars, you will focus closely on the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific features of a range of French-language text types.
The module aims to develop reading and writing skills in French. Classes use French as much as possible and the course is assessed in French. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material. Themes studied vary from year to year but are likely to include every-day life in France, an introduction to French-speaking society and culture, regions and traditions.
The module aims to develop speaking and listening skills in French. Classes use French as much as possible and the module is assessed in French. The module uses a blended approach: it is based on a beginners' coursebook with additional material on Moodle and as weekly hand-outs based on authentic material.
The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate spoken French. Students will work on a wide range of authentic material in French to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions and to introduce them to contemporary issues and culture. The course will be taught and assessed in French.
The module aims to expand students’ ability to express themselves in accurate written French. Major grammatical issues will be taught and/or revised, and students will work on a wide range of authentic material in French to expand their vocabulary and range of expressions. Key linguistic features of the texts will be identified and discussed to improve the student’s language acquisition and analysis skills. The course will be taught and assessed in French.
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.
You will take one of the following modules in French depending on your language proficiency:
In written French, the module builds on techniques acquired in first-year language modules through a particular focus on techniques of analysis, writing and rewriting, in particular on learning to construct arguments and exposés in authentic, accurate and appropriate French. Themes studied help as preparation for the year abroad (themes may vary, examples include : Le travail en France, être jeune en France, la contestation sociale).
In this module you will further develop your ability to communicate effectively in French, in writing or orally, with good grammatical and lexical accuracy. You will look at texts from a variety of sources and examine authentic recordings from a range of subjects. Much of the content is delivered in French, with the exception of grammar classes, which are taught in English.
In this module you will develop an understanding of translation from French to English through sustained translation practice. You will look at the syntactical, stylistic, lexical and culturally specific problems generated when translating from French source text to English target text in a range of translation scenarios and across a range of text types. You will consider common translation challenges, such as conversion, transfer, compensation, gloss, exoticism, deceptive cognates, lexical gaps and cultural specificities, as well as examining the constraints of character count and house style.
You will spend the third year of this degree programme abroad, either studying, working, or both. It is usually expected that you will spend at least 9 months in a country where the native language is the same as the language you are studying. The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will support you in finding a suitable study or work placement, or you may explore opportunities independently. This year forms an integral part of your degree programme and will be formally assessed.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we will commit to providing 2020 entry students with a subsidy equivalent to current Erasmus+ funding (where this would have previously been funded by the Erasmus+ scheme). To find out more visit the Erasmus+ page.
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.
You will take the following module in French:
In this module you will enhance your ability to analyse and compare written material from different sources. You will develop competence in accurate and discursive French, and extend your oral presentation skills, with particular emphasis on the formal spoken register. You will look at extracts from French documentaries and feature films, and listen to recordings and podcasts, such as the France Inter and France Culture programmes. You will also look at a range of cultural questions and examine the key features of French culture and society.
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
Optional modules in French may include:
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.
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 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 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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of security studies as a subfield of International Relations. You will look at the issue of war and it is/should be fought. You will consider the theories of security and how these have changed, especially in an age of terrorism, and examine a wide variety of security including nuclear weapons, drone warfare, genocide, and gun control.
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 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.
Optional modules in French may include:
This module will focus on four texts dealing with love and desire taken from French literature; these will be studied in the light of their common themes and will be used to explore issues around the representation and understanding of passion and romance in the literary text.
- The Illustrated Text in France
- Power and Money in the European Union
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.
- The British in India: a Social and Political History
- Contemporary Middle East Politics
- US Foreign Policy
- Comparative Foreign Policy
- Young People's Politics
- Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
- Visual Politics
- Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
- Global Energy Policy
- Refugees and Migration in World Politics
- American Political Development
- The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
- The Politics of International Development
- Issues in Democratic Theory
- Political Theories of Freedom
- Defence and Security Governance
- Military Change in the 21st Century
- Leaders and Political Communication
- Global Healthy Policy
- Political Protest
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.
Optional modules in French may include:
This module highlights the interventions of women writers and artists in Dada and Surrealism during the early decades of the 20th Century in France. The first half of the module introduces ideas around feminism, women in art, and women’s writing, with an aim to equip you with a foundation in theory. Selected key readings, available on Moodle, provide a basis for class discussions. In the second half of the module, you look in detail at work by individual artists and writers, including literary texts (poems, narratives and manifestos) and artworks (collages, paintings and photographs). Because it draws on recent and ongoing scholarship and curation, and because many of these women are little-known, the topic leaves considerable scope for original comment and research.
This module explores how French novels and films of different genres and decades reflect, perpetuate and challenge the effects of fast-developing consumer capitalism and globalization on conceptions of identity between writers and artists over a century of experimentation.
In theory at least, early modern French theatre had little time for villains. Genuine wickedness, vice and evil were regarded as too serious a subject matter for comedy, while theorists of tragedy insisted that a wicked character – whether ultimately defeated or triumphant – could not produce pity, one of the key tragic emotions. And yet, as this module demonstrates, wicked and villainous characters recur throughout ‘classical’ French theatre. Indeed, by refusing to present villainous characters who are simply outright monsters – a straightforward ‘other’ to the social and moral norm – playwrights sometimes suggest that the most troubling characters are those in whom we might recognise elements of ourselves.
- Text and Image in France: from Cubism to the Present
- Blindness and Vision in French Culture
- French Final Year Dissertation
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure, whereby you will take 14 units at the rate of four per year in the first, second and fourth years, plus two in the third year, which is spent working or studying abroad. Most modules contain an element of assessed coursework, which contributes to the final mark awarded.
Your first year is formative, though your results will determine whether you can progress to the second year. Your second and fourth year results, alongside those of the third year spent abroad, will contribute to your final degree classifcation. Work completed in your fourth year will count for a larger proportion of the result.
You will be assigned a personal tutor who will provide you with support, guidance and advice throughout your studies.
You will also have access to the comprehensive e-learning facility Moodle, which features lecture handouts and other supporting materials, such as lecture slides, quizzes, video clips, and links to relevant academic journal articles.
A Levels: AAB-ABB
- At least one A-level in an essay based subject.
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9 - 4 including English and Mathematics.
- Grade B at A-level in French for the advanced level language pathway. For the beginners' language pathway there is no language requirement.
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. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.
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, the International Study Centre offers the following pathway programmes:
● International Foundation Year - for progression to the first year of an undergraduate degree.
● International Year One - for progression to the second year of an undergraduate degree. You can join the International Year One in January 2021 and progress to degree study in September 2021.
Your future career
A global economy offers exciting opportunities to those wanting to pursue successful and rewarding careers. An ability to speak languages and a keen analytical mind are among the most sought-after qualities in today’s highly competitive job market; Politics, International Relations and Modern Languages equips students with both.
Our course fosters a deeper cultural understanding of a foreign language which can be a great asset in industries such as export, trade and international marketing. In these fields, workers need to build and maintain solid relationships with foreign partners, so a cultural understanding can help workers anticipate foreign clients’ expectations. Many government jobs require language skills, particularly in the sectors of immigration and diplomacy.
This course produces high calibre graduates with the skills and knowledge to fully exploit every opportunity including those presented during the study year abroad. Studies show that students who have spent time abroad as part of their degree gain higher status and better-paid jobs. As part of the study year abroad, those of our students who wish to pursue a career in teaching can apply to work as an English language assistant in a continental school. Alternatively, there is an opportunity to spend the year in employment on an approved work placement (former students have worked for companies such as IBM in Marseilles, France) or apply to work as an intern for an MEP. This latter option is a popular choice for those who wish to gain work experience in politics.
We have an outstanding record of success for work and further study with our degree courses not only promoting academic achievement but providing you with the life-skills necessary to excel, post-graduation. Our students have an excellent record of finding professions in related fields, with recent graduates having forged careers in companies and institutions such as:
• The European Commission (EU citizens only)
• The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
• Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
• Proctor & Gamble
• Henry Jackson Society
• Mazda Motor Europe
• British Council
• Oxfam Head Office
• Merlin Entertainments Group
• Ralph Lauren
Fees & funding
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £17,700
Other essential costs***: The cost of your year abroad will vary by country. Typical living costs to consider will be accommodation, food and household items, entertainment, travel, books and bills (including your mobile phone). You'll also need to budget for travel to and from your country of study. Additional costs compared to studying in the UK will also depend on personal choices and it is important to research the cost of living before the year commences.
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2020/21, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2021/22 has not yet been confirmed.
**The Government has confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2020/21 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award a fee reduction scholarship which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.
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. Fees shown above are for 2020/21 and are displayed for indicative purposes only.
***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.