International Relations and Politics BA

2024-25 entry
Department of Politics and International Relations

Study international relations and politics and you'll learn how to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. How can world leaders unite to combat climate change? Can we truly reach world peace? Will we ever achieve gender justice? You will explore these questions and many more topics in this exciting and flexible degree course.

Key details

Explore this course:

    Course description

    Houses of parliament at sunset

    Whether you have studied politics and international relations before or not, if you have a keen interest in global politics - how the world works and how it can work more effectively - then this is the degree for you.

    This course gives you a complete overview of the study of international relations and politics and introduces you to a whole range of exciting topics.

    Our core modules will give you a solid foundation in the theories, methods and analytical skills that you’ll apply to your studies. You’ll get to choose from a variety of optional modules, so that you can structure your degree to align with the topics that interest you the most.

    When you begin your studies with us, our top priority is supporting you with the transition from school to degree-level study. We do this by introducing you to the key areas of the discipline, so that everyone starts with the fundamentals.

    In addition to your in-class work, we also hold study skills workshops, which take you through everything you need to know about university study, from referencing to preparing for your future career. 

    As you progress through your degree you’ll apply what you’ve learned to real life political issues and develop your own research interests and skills.

    We’ll be with you every step of the way - our staff are experts in their field so no matter what topic you want to specialise in, there’ll be someone who will guide you in your research. Their current research covers topics such as: Brexit, transgender politics, animal rights, environmentalism, populism and Middle East Politics, and of course these all feed into the modules that you will be studying. 

    Want more out of your degree? You’ll also have the opportunity to study abroad, undertake a placement year or take part in a whole host of other global and work experiences.

    Students in a seminar

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:

    Title: International Relations and Politics BA
    UCAS code: L201
    Years: 2022, 2023
    First year

    Core modules:

    Analysing Politics

    This module is about (1) politics, and (2) how to analyse it. More specifically, it involves (1) understanding how power and truth operate in the contemporary world; and (2) discovering different ways to research these dynamics so as to build compelling and rigorous accounts of the political worlds that we find ourselves a part of. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and independent study; and will be assessed on the basis of an essay and online multiple-choice tests.

    20 credits
    The World's Wicked Problems

    This module will introduce students to key international relations concepts and discussions. Students will be able to understand, analyse and reflect on some of  the most pressing issues in the international arena including: 

    migration

    climate change

    poverty and global inequalities

    sexual violence 

    armed conflict 

    This introductory module will equip students with the tools to continue engaging with more in-depth theoretical and empirical international relations discussions as they progress through their studies.

    20 credits

    Optional modules:

    British Politics

    This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.

    20 credits
    Gender and the World

    This module aims to interrogate the role of gender and sex in shaping world politics. To do this, it asks how notions of masculinity and femininity shape our institutions, how gender might influence the political problems we prioritise and whose voices are taken seriously in developing responses to these problems. 

    Students will answer these questions through the study of the politicisation of sex, the relationship between gender and violence, how current practices of gender are shaped by colonialism and a range of other timely topics that shape the world today. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of different approaches to gender, be introduced to key concepts from feminism and queer theory, learn to apply these ideas practically to a set of case studies and debate what the future of gender is in world politics. 

    20 credits
    Introduction to Comparative Politics

    This module examines the utility of the comparative approach to politics with a particular focus on democracies, dictatorships, and semi-democratic regimes. The key features of each regime type are considered and these are used to explain the nature of the comparative method, its strengths and weaknesses. This course also applies a comparative lens to processes such as democratisation, modernisation, and mobilisation. This course will draw on a wide range of examples from democratic, authoritarian, and semi-democratic countries.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Global Political Economy

    This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introduce the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.

    20 credits
    Introduction to Western Political Thought

    This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.

    20 credits
    Planet Politics

    From the atmosphere to Antarctic ice sheets, the Earth has been fundamentally transformed by human activity: we now inhabit a ‘human planet’. At the same time, from mining and agriculture to modern patterns of resource consumption, humankind has become dependent on the very activities that have caused these transformations. 

    Far from being automatic or inevitable, these transformations are deeply political on multiple levels – in their causes, in their consequences, and in the many arguments and differences over how to respond to them. 

    This module will introduce students to some of this ‘Planet Politics’. It will consider questions such as: 

    Are we on the verge of a planetary ecological crisis? 

    Is capitalism the problem, or the solution? 

    Are there just too many people? 

    Is meaningful international environmental cooperation possible? 

    What are the vested interests obstructing change? What forms of social resistance are appropriate? 

    What is ‘environmental justice’? 

    Examining both key environmental and resource issues and the main approaches to studying them, the module asks some of the biggest questions about life: how should we live, and what should we do?

    20 credits
    Political Violence

    This module will provide students with an introduction to political violence and begins by engaging with debates over the conceptualisation of violence, and when violence should be understood as “political”.  It will then introduce students to debates over the causes and consequences of violence through an examination of specific topics, which may include:

    histories of violence

    terrorism

    interstate war

    settler-colonial violence

    structural violence

    slow violence

    gender based violence

    war ecologies

    the politics of violence prevention

    violent resistance

    attempts to regulate violence.  



    We will explore these themes by asking how violence is refracted through race, gender, ethnicity, and other forms of social difference. Students will have the opportunity to explore these topics through specific examples and develop the necessary skills to apply them in practice. 

    The module will allow students to develop an understanding of the key theories, concepts, issues and themes in the study of political violence by:

    understanding the debates on the conceptualisation of “violence” and what makes violence “political”

    developing skills in critical analysis, writing, and presentation

    developing the ability to apply theories and issues to specific cases of political violence

    20 credits
    Race and Racism in World Politics

    Through historical and contemporary case studies, students will study how our world today has been shaped by historical events, many of which continue to inform current relations. We will discover how discourses around race, ethnicity, gender and class construct realities today, determining who rules and who is ruled, who lives and who dies. 

    The module will give students a theoretical toolkit, including approaches from the majority world, enabling them to appreciate power and the political significance of silences in accounts of the global and political.

    We will learn about the historical production of the idea of race; how it configured the world in particular ways; how race mandated the colonial project. However, the module will also go beyond race to think about colonialism and the identities that operate in conjunction with race including class, ethnicity, and gender, and how they can determine what type of life people can live or whether they can live at all. For example, they determine whether a child has the right to security, or has to risk losing life in the Mediterranean escaping violence at home. 

    Students will also learn about resistance and efforts to construct a different and more just world. Through rich historical and contemporary case studies, students will learn how to connect theories to understand current affairs, drawing on thinkers from various backgrounds to counter some of the dominant narratives within international relations.

    20 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Learning and assessment

    Learning

    Lectures take place in one of the large lecture theatres on campus. These sessions are led by the module leaders, and are designed to provide you with core ideas, concepts, key reading and debates.

    You’ll be equipped with all of the information you need for that week so that you can contextualise your readings and apply your learning in your seminars. 

    Seminars are smaller group sessions in which you discuss and debate the content that you learned in your lectures. You’ll prepare for seminars by reading materials, so that you can actively engage with other students and bring your own perspective and research into lively discussions.

    In some seminars, you may have the opportunity to do more practical based learning such as creating websites, videos, posters, podcasts and blogs, so that you can demonstrate how you can creatively communicate your research to different audiences, both independently and in groups. 

    We have great connections with policymakers and practitioners from various sectors, and we often invite these external speakers into seminars to share their own experiences or insight on topics that you will be learning about in your modules.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours

    We have over 55 specialists in the key areas of politics and international relations working at the cutting edge of the discipline on issues such as: Brexit, transgender politics, animal rights, environmentalism, populism and Middle East Politics. This research directly shapes and inspires what you're taught on all levels of our programmes.

    Assessment

    We understand that everyone has different strengths when it comes to assessment. We use diverse assessment methods so everyone has a chance to thrive. You’ll hone key skills and gain practical experience to prepare you for your future in the workplace. 

    Assessments include:

    • Exams/quizzes
    • Dissertation
    • Short and long form essays
    • Podcasts
    • Editorial style writing
    • Book reviews
    • Policy reports
    • Presentations and group work

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    AAB

    A Levels + additional qualifications
    ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    34
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + A at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAAAB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AA
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in either Law, Business Management, Humanities or Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction and 9 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    ABB

    A Levels + additional qualifications
    ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
    International Baccalaureate
    33
    BTEC Extended Diploma
    DDD in a relevant subject
    BTEC Diploma
    DD + B at A Level
    Scottish Highers
    AAABB
    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels
    B + AB
    Access to HE Diploma
    Award of Access to HE Diploma in either Law, Business Management, Humanities or Social Sciences, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction and 15 at Merit
    Other requirements
    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Graduate careers

    Studying politics and international relations lends itself to a whole range of different careers.

    Of course it’s the perfect subject if you want to go into government, policy analysis and academia, but you may be surprised to know that the transferable skills and knowledge that you will gain from the modules we have on offer appeal to employers from a whole range of sectors. 

    Alumni from the department have gone on to work in professional, political and administrative organisations across the world, in local, national, and international government, the charitable sector, education, the media, public relations, research and the private sector.

    We recognise how important employability is to our students, so we ensure that there are plenty of opportunities to add valuable work experience to your CV. This could be from projects that you work on as part of your course, such as drafting policy reports, or one of the many work experience options you can undertake with support from the faculty employability hub.

    Image of Politics alumni and Sky News Journalist, Olive Enokido-Lineham, in a green suit sat by plants

    How International Relations led me to become a Sky News Reporter

    Olive Enokido-Lineham BA International Relations and Politics

    "The course deepened my curiosity to learn more about current affairs and what’s going on in the world."

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    Video featuring students from the Department of Politics and International Relations speaking about their experiences studying at University.

    We're proud to be one of the UK’s top departments for research and teaching in politics and international relations. Our academics are recognised internationally for their research expertise and for informing changes to national and international policy.

    The Department of Politics and International Relations is based next to the Wave, the new home for the faculty of Social Sciences. The Wave features state-of-the-art collaborative lecture theatres, study spaces and seminar rooms.

    Teaching may take place in the Wave, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. Many of the University buildings are close together so it’s easy to walk between them and it’s a great way to get to know the city.

    Department of Politics and International Relations

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report


    Department of Politics and International Relations

    94 per cent of our research in the Department of Politics and International Relations is rated in the highest two categories

    Research Excellence Framework 2021

    Top 20 in the UK for Politics

    Guardian University Guide 2023

    Top 10 in the UK for International Relations

    Guardian University Guide 2023

    Fees and funding

    Fees

    Additional costs

    The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    Funding your study

    Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

    Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

    Placements and study abroad

    Placements

    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the three year course to a four-year Degree with Placement Year. 

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range transferable skills 
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    Study abroad 

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Visit

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place

    Apply

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer

    2024-2025

    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
    www.ucas.com

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    Study international relations and politics and you'll learn how to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. How can world leaders unite to combat climate change? Can we truly reach world peace? Will we ever achieve gender justice? You will explore these questions and many more topics in this exciting and flexible degree course.