Skip to main content

Politics with Philosophy

Search Royal Holloway

Politics with Philosophy

BA
  • UCAS code L2V5
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

This combined degree option gives you the opportunity to combine your studies of Politics (75% of the course) with Philosophy (25%). This will deepen your understanding of politics as well as introduce you to key elements of philosophy such as ancient philosophy and reason, argument and persuasion.

Politics at Royal Holloway invites you to explore the ideas and ideologies, as well as the processes, institutions and issues that are fundamental to understanding the politics of our times. You will gain a solid foundation in politics and political theory and as you progress, the flexible nature of the course allows you to specialise in fields such as European integration, democratic theory, British and American politics, political communication and young people’s politics. You will develop your understanding of power relations at all levels of social life and gain insight into the role of identity, ideology, interests and institutions in shaping the modern world.

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.

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

  • Engage in topics ranging from American politics to political communication and young people’s politics.
  • Study philosophical approaches spanning the Anglo-American and European traditions.
  • Two complementary departments within a single School.
  • Home to the Contemporary Political Theory Research Group.
  • Research placement opportunities.

Core Modules

Year 1

You will take the following modules in Politics:

  • 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 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.

You will take the following module in Philosophy:

  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

Year 2

You will undertake a short ‘reflecting on feedback’ exercise in order to progress into the final year of study. You will also take the following modules in Philosophy:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

Year 3

You will take the following module in Politics:

  • 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

Optional modules in Philosophy may include:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.

Year 2

Optional modules in Politics may include:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Year 3

Optional modules in Politics may include:

  • 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.

  • 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
  • Contemporary Middle East Politics
  • Advanced Seminar in British Politics
  • Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
  • American Political Development
  • The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Theories of Freedom and Democracy

Optional modules in Philosophy may include:

  • Practical Ethics
  • Varieties of Scepticism
  • Modern European Philosophy 1: Husserl to Heidegger
  • Modern European Philosophy 2: Critical Theory and Hermeneutics
  • Modern French Philosophy
  • The Varieties of Scepticism
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Major Thinker

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take twelve 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.

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

4th in the UK for graduate prospects (Philosophy)

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020

Explore Royal Holloway

All undergraduates starting with us in 2020 onwards have the opportunity to take a Placement Year, which will add even more value to your studies.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

They say the two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today