International Relations and Politics BA2024-25 entry
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.
Explore this course:
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.
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:
UCAS code: L201
Years: 2022, 2023
- 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:20 credits
poverty and global inequalities
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.
- 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.20 credits
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.
- 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.20 credits
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?
- 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:20 credits
histories of violence
gender based violence
the politics of violence prevention
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
- 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.20 credits
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.
- Political Analysis: Research Design and Data Analysis
This module provides students with an introduction to research design and methods for analysing of political phenomena. The module encourages students to reflect on how they conceptualise, design and analyse the political world. This involves exploring the relationship between theory and empirical political research. The module explores various techniques used in the analysis of empirical political research, with particular emphasis on the collection and analysis of quantitative data.20 credits
- Tackling the World's Wicked Problems: theoretical tools and applications
Rising poverty and inequality within and between states, increased droughts, flooding and environmental degradation, armed civil conflicts and war, infectious diseases, gender based violence, institutionalized racism, food insecurity are just some of the pressing problems that the world faces today.20 credits
What solutions are there?
What sources of knowledge can we draw on to develop ways forward to tackle such problems?
This module will present students with a variety of theoretical perspectives and tools, such as Postcolonialism, and Green Theory, that seek to address the various ‘wicked problems’. Students will be tasked with critically evaluating different International Relations theories and their applications, assessing their utility and ability to practically solve the most pressing problems in world politics.
Global problems arguably require global solutions, and therefore global sources of knowledge. This module will also introduce students to ‘non-Western’ perspectives such as ‘Chinese IR’ and Ubuntu, in the process getting students to examine their ‘problem-solving’ capacities.
- Africa in the World
Africa has long been treated as a marginal part of the world, both historically and in relation to contemporary global politics. This module aims to take this misconception away by exploring the crucial role that Africa plays in the current world order and the way it has historically evolved.20 credits
Students will be introduced to the political, economic, socio-cultural, and military of Africa’s international relations and be familiarized with the key actors, institutions and processes involved.
We will look at how the slave trade and colonialism have shaped the modern world order, the global reverberations of African independence movements and pan-Africanism, and how continuing unequal relations are expressed in, amongst others, the politics of debt and military intervention.
The module will also analyse Africa’s relations to emerging global powers, such as China. To analyze these issues, the module will equip students with a range of theoretical and conceptual tools from the field of international relations, drawing to a considerable extent on the work of African thinkers.
- Chinese Politics
This module explores the political development of China from the end of the Qing Dynasty up to the present day. The core themes animating this module centre on China’s continuous quest for modernity, the transformation of domestic politics, economics, and society, and China’s changing position on the international stage.20 credits
It covers a range of topics including:
the 1949 revolution and the Mao Zedong era
the post-1978 reform and opening-up era
recent changes under Xi Jinping
Students will be expected to think critically about the transformation of China, including the main forces that shaped it, as well as the domestic and global implications.
- Contemporary Security Challenges
This module examines a series of key contemporary challenges to international security. It addresses debates about the changing nature of security, analyses some of the causes of conflict and the development of new security threats, and assesses some of the ways in which states seek to manage these threats. A range of approaches are examined in order to provide students with a theoretically-informed but policy-relevant understanding of security-related issues in the twenty-first century.20 credits
- Human Rights, Power and Politics
The module introduces students to the big debates about human rights. It explores the achievements of the human rights agenda, as well as its failures. The module interrogates a number of important questions about the relationship between human rights and politics. How do human rights work in domestic and international politics? What are effective strategies for realising rights? What role do non-state actors play in the realisation of human rights? Finally, by focusing on the methodological and ethical challenges of researching and measuring human rights, the module makes space for equipping students for their own future research projects.20 credits
- Oppression and Resistance
This module considers oppression and resistance from a variety of perspectives. Although the Enlightenment sought to liberate individuals from social/political domination, it failed to address many forms of oppression at home and was bound to European projects of colonialism. Addressing these forms of violence has been the major project of post-Enlightenment thought and global social movements. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand modern oppression and resistance. It explores: the legacy of the Enlightenment, feminism, sexuality, racism, post-colonial and decolonial thought, intersectionality, and social movement case studies such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.20 credits
- Political Theory in Practice
This module explores key debates in political theory, and the implications of those debates for current political practice. It first examines debates surrounding justice, and what these mean for welfare and taxation policies. It then analyses disputes over the meaning of well-being, and their implications for policies surrounding disability and health. It introduces students to different ideas of toleration, and how these influence laws on free speech. It also explores controversies over multiculturalism, and in particular its impact upon women. Finally, it examines care ethics and its implications for how we value the environment.20 credits
- The Left: Past, Present & Future
This module considers the past, present, and future of 'The Left'. From its origins in the French Revolution, this movement has struggled to balance equality, liberty and solidarity. Implementing these values has given rise to many different stands of leftist thought, leading to debates between radicals and proponents of meliorism. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand 'The Left' as a continuing project. Core topics include: defining 'The Left', its origins and theoretical development, its relation to political economy, as well as the current state of the left in the UK and around the world.20 credits
- The Making of The Modern Middle East
This module examines the major socio-economic and political dynamics that govern contemporary Middle East.20 credits
Drawing on insights from anthropology, history, politics, political economy and gender studies this module explores key historical developments and political themes in the region and will provide students with historical and theoretical toolkits to analyse various political events in the Middle East.
Students will learn how to:
use politics from below perspective
listen for multiple discourses and silences
contextualise voices and silences historically, politically, economically and geographically in wider regional and global power structures.
The module will equip students with the conceptual and analytical skills to de-exceptionalise their understanding of Middle East politics.
- The Political Economy of Global Capitalism
This module will begin by providing students with an account of the major theoretical traditions which seek to interpret and explain the global political economy. These are liberalism and interdependence theory; mercantilism, nationalism and hegemonic stability theory; and marxism, dependency and world systems theory. It then explores different aspects of the contemporary global political economy - finance, development, trade and production - and ends by reviewing the intellectual debate about the meaning of globalisation.20 credits
- The Politics and Government of the European Union
This module will provide students with a working knowledge of European integration, and of the main institutions of the European Union, including the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament. The module consists of a series of lectures on the history and institutions of the European Union, and seminars to discuss issues raised in the lectures.20 credits
- Migration and World Politics
Migration has been receiving more attention in international politics. This module analyses migration using a world politics lens. It will provide students with the concepts and theories - as well as the historical, contextual and critical skills - needed to understand international migration from different perspectives. It will discuss migration and problematise migration concepts and categories such as forced migration (asylum and internal people displacement), statelessness and citizenship, border control/security, labour migration, migration diplomacy, family migration and environmental migration. It will also approach case studies including the Migration and Asylum Policy of the European Union, migration politics in Latin America and the USA-Mexico border among others.20 credits
- Dissertation in Politics
This module involves supervised research on an agreed topic. Students will meet with their module tutors and peers in five two-hour dissertation interactive lecture-workshops (10 hours) prepare and submit a formally assessed 1,000-word research proposal, undertake individual research and be assessed on the basis of a 8,000-word dissertation. Students will also undertake four individual supervision sessions with their dissertation supervisor at which objectives will be specified, their achievement monitored and general progress reviewed.40 credits
- Animals, Ethics and Politics
This unit explores the debates surrounding what we owe to animals politically. It introduces students to the main debates in animal ethics, and asks how they affect our political practices, norms, institutions and policies. Particular attention is focused on the tensions between animal welfare and other political values and goods, with students exploring such controversial policy debates as animal experimentation, animal agriculture, conservation and the use of animals for entertainment. The overall aim of the unit is to investigate the implications of taking animals seriously for current political practice.20 credits
- Britain in a New Age of Crisis
This module will study some of the key moments in British political, economic, and social history since the year 2000. You will explore particular incidents over this time, such as the Iraq War, the Global Financial Crisis, austerity, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. You will also study recurring themes in British political history, such as the centralisation of political power, globalisation, equality, and the political economy of growth. You do not need to have studied British politics before if you wish to take this module.20 credits
- Britain in the Global Economy
To what extent does Britain's past development cast a shadow over its present and future?20 credits
By taking this module, you will look at British development from historical perspectives and trace the origins, the rise and the decline of Britain as a global economic power from the 18th Century to the present day. You will then focus on a number of core problems that have intensified within Britain since the 2008 global financial crisis, including Britain's dysfunctional economic model, its fraught relationship with Europe, the politics of immigration and culture, and contemporary constitutional challenges, such as the prospect of Scottish independence. It seems that Britain's status as a global economic power is entering its final years, so what comes next?
- Civilisation, Empire and Hegemony
With American power seemingly all powerful today, this unit provides a rethink of the origins of great power politics/economics. Mainstream Eurocentric theories in International Relations view great power politics/economics as having universal materialist properties. And they view America and Britain as hegemons that provide global public goods for the benefit of all. This module problematises this view by revealing the differing moral foundations and 'standards of civilisation' that inform the various directions that great power can take. It examines Britain and China in the pre-1900 era, contemporary America, Japan, and the potential role of China in the coming decades.20 credits
- Corporations in Global Politics: Possibilities, Tensions, and Ambiguities
Corporations are ubiquitous, affecting everything from mundane individual consumption choices, to the investment decisions of both weak and powerful states. Importantly, their authority extends beyond the economic sphere and into political, as they shape and execute policies and activities for some of the world's most pressing problems. This module explores the multifaceted political roles of corporations, and challenges students to critically reflect on their implications. Drawing upon international relations, political economy, and global governance literatures, it analyses the corporation theoretically, but also empirically drawing upon diverse case studies ranging from environmental sustainability and development, to war-making and peacekeeping.20 credits
- Contemporary Issues in Latin American Politics
Latin America is home to only eight percent of the world's population, but its countries usually top the rankings in bad public outcomes such as criminal violence, corruption, clientelism, and democratic erosion.20 credits
This module will offer a look at some of the most pressing contemporary issues in the region by critically combining theoretical approaches and empirical data.
We will explore issues such as:
Forms of government: from authoritarian regimes to populism
Economic development: industrialization, commodity extraction, and informal job markets
Poverty and inequality
Clientelism: making people turn out to vote
Criminal and political violence
Ethnicity and indigenous peoples
The battle for the expansion of rights
You will analyse how current theories help us understand the fate of Latin American nations, and also carefully review the evidence to build new empirically-grounded theory. By the end of this module, we aim to better understand some of the most acute contemporary problems, such as democratic erosion, criminal violence, and inequality.
- Conflict, Violence and Security in Africa
Why does Africa appear to be prone to conflict? In this module, you will seek to find the answers to this much-debated question through a systematic study of conflict, violence, and security in Africa, focussing on sub-Saharan Africa.20 credits
You will gain a better understanding of the complex and distinct dynamics of violent conflict in Africa, in part through an in-depth study of specific case studies, such as the anti-colonial wars in Kenya and Zimbabwe, military coups in Burkina Faso and Mali, child soldiers in northern Uganda, conflicts in Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Nigeria. In addition, you will examine broader security challenges that impact the lives of ordinary Africans as well as look at the international response to conflict, violence, and insecurity on the continent.
Cosmopolitanism is the idea that the world should in some sense be understood as a single political entity.20 credits
This module will engage with ‘cosmopolitanism’ from the perspective of normative political theory. It will start by discussing the historical origins of cosmopolitanism, from the Cynics in Ancient Greece to Immanuel Kant and will then move to a discussion of the contemporary wave of cosmopolitanism theorising that began in the latter part of the 20th century.
There have been two core strands to this wave:
claims about the global scope of justice
claims about the need for a global democracy
Both strands have come in for considerable criticism:
Is justice really global in scope?
Is it an idea that belongs within the state or nation?
Do we really need a global democracy, and is it feasible?
Does cosmopolitanism imply a world state?
Is the whole notion of cosmopolitanism dangerously imperialistic?
During the module students will discuss all of these questions, and more.
- Framing Politics? Economic Ideas as Political Weapons
Throughout the history of capitalism political battlelines and agendas have been set by economic ideas and forms of knowledge being used as political weapons to frame what can be said, done and thought by whom. In this module students will learn how political actors have used economic ideas across time to construct institutions and policies, empower and advantage certain social groupings over others, create shared understandings and expectations amongst citizens, and project (implicit) conceptions of justice. Students will come to an appreciation of how economic thought has shaped politics past and present, and how and why ideas change over time.20 credits
- Gender Politics in the Arab World
The topic of women and gender in the Middle East is probably one of the most prevalent themes in popular culture. The image of Arab women or LGBTQI community members as the victims of Arab men are only two of many images to which most people have become accustomed through the media. There is widespread ignorance concerning the lives, struggles and achievements of Muslim/Arab women and LGBTQI identifying and non-identiying persons living in the Arab World. This module examines what this focus on Arab/Muslim women tells us about current politics and power relation. We also study how the images of Arab/Muslim women are used to justify certain policies and maintain certain discourses and truths not only about these Arab/Muslim women, but also about other women: Western women.20 credits
This module has three components:
During seminars students will learn about Middle Eastern history in relation to gender and sexuality, covering early Islamic, Ottoman, colonial and recent histories. Students will study the relationship between national and Islamist movements and gender as well as examining key current issues.
One of the main aims of this course is to enable students to use theories to understand current trends in politics. These theories will help students pay attention to power relations not only between genders, but also in analyzing how gender functions in different knowledge/power structures and discourses.
- Global Culture Wars
Cancel culture, identity politics, the war on woke… How should we make sense of the so-called 'culture wars' that are transforming politics? This module examines this from a global and historical perspective, looking at the contemporary politics of culture wars that are found worldwide, and at how these kind of tensions have existed in one form or another since the dawn of modernity. In doing so, we will aim to take a step back from the commotion, scandal and outrage to instead trace the historical lineages of culture wars across global politics.20 credits
- Global Politics of Forced Migration
Armed conflicts, persecutions, and disasters cause people to be forcibly displaced, both nationally and internationally. By the end of 2022, there were 100 million forcibly displaced people according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Forced displacement, particularly asylum, has also received more attention from the media and decision-makers. In this module, we will discuss the politics involved in these forced displacement situations.20 credits
You will be provided with a comprehensive view of global forced displacement topics including asylum, refugee children, gender, family reunification, externalisation strategies, environmental displacement, and internally displaced people (IDP). Throughout this module, we will reflect on the following questions:
Who is a refugee? How do states create and employ different categories to classify forced displaced people? What are the implications of these classifications for forcibly displaced people?
Which actors and structures constitute the global governance regime of forced displacement?
What are the power and constraints of international organisations working on forced displacement?
By studying the asylum systems in Europe, Africa, and Latin America in a comparative way, you will gain the important tools you need to understand the global forced displacement regime.
- Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence
This module examines under what circumstances political violence is deemed legitimate or illegitimate. We will not treat this as a question to be answered by normative political theory, but rather as an empirical question of power and politics. The key organizing questions for the module will thus be: when is violence treated as legitimate in the world? who gets to determine this? and how and when do the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate violence change? Specific cases may include the distinction between civilians and combatants, the use of violence in war vs. peace-time, terrorism, torture, domestic/family violence, and police brutality.20 credits
- Marx and Contemporary Marxism
This module will familiarise students with Marx's corpus and enable them to evaluate key historical processes-such as the development of capitalism and modernity, the birth of the nation-state and the international system-through a Marxist lens. The first part of the module surveys the development of Marx's thought against the background of the socio-economic and political transformations of the nineteenth century. The second part focuses on thematic issues, reviewing how Marx engaged with the questions of strategy, mobilisation, gender, culture, imperialism, and colonialism. This puts Marx and Marxism into dialogue with other critical approaches, including feminism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.20 credits
Drugs are big business and politically salient, yet their production, trade, distribution and regulation are understudied in politics. Narcotics are rooted in complex webs of public, private and criminal power, with diverse consequences for growth, development, security and health. This module explores this evolving panorama: it traces the political evolution of therapeutic/psychotropic substances from the opium wars to prohibition, before analysing the 'War on Drugs', the attendant creation of mafia violence, and the emergence of 'narco-states'. Later classes address contemporary experiments in legalisation and decriminalisation, the development of licit recreational narcotics industries, and the implications for the global prohibitionist architecture.20 credits
- Pandemics and Panics: Health, Security and Global Politics
In today's globalized world, infectious diseases and other health issues have increasingly come to be seen as security threats - a shift that has challenged traditional notions of what 'Security Studies' is all about. This module seeks to provide an understanding of the contemporary politics of health and security, identifying the health issues which have been seen as security threats and the major policy responses to them. The module locates health and disease within the key approaches to Security Studies (including state-centric and human security approaches), and requires students to critically engage with the politics and ethics of securitizing health.20 credits
- Parliamentary Studies
This module focuses on how parliaments and legislatures operate and is founded on the basis of theoretically-informed but policy-relevant teaching. It therefore attempts to provide students with a sense of why cultures, traditions and informal relationships matter as much (if not more) than formal procedures. Although the House of Commons and the House of Lords provide the main institutional focus for this module students will be encouraged to adopt a comparative approach whenever possible and to situate their analysis within an appreciation of the changing role of parliament within evolving frameworks of multi-level governance.20 credits
- Party Politics: Competition, Strategies & Campaigns
This module provides an in-depth analysis of party politics. It offers a detailed exposition of the multiple issues related with parties, looking at the interactions both within and outside parties. The module covers key aspects of party politics such as the different types of parties, their organization, party membership, types of party systems, political competition and issue positioning, campaign strategies, formation of new parties, the effects of cleavages, coalition formation, party financing and the number of parties.20 credits
- Peacekeeping, State-building and International Intervention
This module looks at the way international intervention has changed in recent years. It draws on a number of different areas - humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, development and state-building. It draws these areas together by exploring what they have in common and how there has been a shift in the way that international intervention deals with these issues. In particular, the international community has moved from direct involvement towards a form of governance that operates from a distance by encouraging local ownership, capacity building and resilience.20 credits
- Public Policy and Democratic Politics
Recent years have seen a tide of pressures impact on policy makers. Fuelling distrust and disaffection with public policy making, populist politicians have blamed civil servants for alleged corruption. Political leaders have also pushed for fundamental changes in how states operate. From the bottom up, social movements have put pressure on policy makers to revolutionise racial and gender equality, and respond to climate catastrophe. Technological innovations confront policy makers with a new and alienating future.20 credits
Amidst a plethora of global crises, and with historically tight budgets and rapidly reducing timeframes, policy makers at multiple levels, from transnational bodies to local authorities, are now under extreme pressure to deliver. They need to find solutions for sustainability, stop pandemics, end inequality and protect fundamental rights. How can they make radical change happen? This module examines precisely this question. Students will gain a nuanced understanding of the pressures everyday policy makers face and how they manage these pressures with the aim of successfully implementing radical shifts in how we respond to the most pressing policy issues of our time.
- Political Psychology: The Personal Side of Politics
This module covers the major theories and research paradigms in the exciting subfield of Political Psychology. Rather than reviewing what happens in politics (e.g. who wins an election) or how it happens (e.g. who votes for whom), we will look at why it happens by studying the psychology of politics at the micro level (e.g. the personality of politicians), the meso level (e.g. the ideological and moral foundations of political parties), and the macro level (e.g. motivated reasoning, racism and prejudice, mass political behaviour and the influence of the media).20 credits
- Politics and the Quality of Life
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of contemporary political debates on quality of life issues and their relation to philosophical traditions within and beyond the main British political parties. This includes analysis of how quality of life is defined and measured in different contexts and relates this debate to long-standing debates on poverty, social exclusion and social capital. Attention is paid to the quality of life aspects of public policies.20 credits
- Practical Politics: How to Make Policy and Influence People
This course will provide a practical, hands on account of how policy is formulated, implemented and why it sometimes doesn't work. Focussing on environmental politics, the course draws on the experiences of policy experts including civil servants, lobbyists and politicians. It will an assessment that mirrors tasks routinely undertaken by those within or seeking to influence government.20 credits
- Research Project 1
This module allows students to research and explore in-depth a topic studied on a semester one module. Students will meet with their supervisor individually, to undertake research and be assessed on the basis of a 5,000 word project.20 credits
- Research Project 2
This module allows students to research and explore in-depth a topic studies on a semester one module. Students will meet with their supervisor individually, to undertake research and be assessed on the basis of a 5,000-word project. The subject/specialised topic studied in Research Project 2 must be different to the topic studied in Research Project 1.20 credits
- Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
This module will address when, why, and how widespread sexual violence occurs in armed conflicts. The module will20 credits
(1) examine how academics and international actors understand and research what sexual violence is and why it occurs in certain conflicts;
(2) assess the international efforts to prosecute and prevent sexual violence in armed conflict; and
(3) undertake in-depth case study analysis to assess the various long-term consequences of sexual violence in armed conflict for individuals, communities, and processes of reconciliation.
Resultantly the module will assess what can be done to address this security issue and its numerous violent consequences.
- State and Society in China
In this module, we examine relations between the party-state and society in contemporary China. You will explore this topic through a number of themes, such as resistance, 'civil society', gender, online expression, censorship and self-censorship, repression, responsiveness, and inequality. Through doing so, you will engage in important recent debates about China's political development.20 credits
- Terrorism, Violence and the State
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature and legitimacy of forms of protest against the modern state. In particular the module focuses on issues of contemporary terrorism. However, in order to understand the nature and motivations of terrorism it is necessary to understand the nature of the modern state and other, non-violent forms of protest such as civil disobedience.20 credits
- The Ethics of Political Leadership
This module investigates the ethics of political leadership via an engagement with the western tradition of political thought and contemporary analytical political theory. Its overall objective is to enable students to analyse and evaluate normative arguments on the significance and function of political leaders in contemporary politics. The module examines competing theories of leadership in their historical and intellectual contexts and a number of issues of contemporary ethical significance, including the problem of 'dirty hands', the nature of political integrity, and the ethics of political compromise. The approach is theoretical and philosophical and examples of political leaders will be used to highlight strengths and weaknesses of competing theories of leadership, and to emphasise their ideological assumptions and implications.20 credits
- The Politics of Security
This module explores the changing character of security studies and global (in)security, examining the proliferation of discourses and practices of security, threat, and risk in contemporary society. It introduces a range of advanced theoretical debates about security, exploring key concepts (including discourse, practice, identity, emancipation, securitization, and risk) and how they might help us to make sense of security politics by looking at a range of cases (such as terrorism, energy security, religion, technology and development). It asks you to think critically about the function of security, and the ethical and analytical assumptions that shape how security is theorised/practiced.20 credits
- War, Peace and Justice
This module provides a practical and theoretical overview of contemporary war, peace and justice. It explores key conversations, issues and conceptual responses relating to: the challenges and ethics of researching war; the construction of ethics and notions of justice in war and peace; the politics of technology in contemporary warfare; the politics of peace, resistance and pacifism; the politics of war, memory and commemoration; embodied and emotional registers of war; and the politics of death and grievability. Students will explore the practice, experience, representation and cultural imaginary of war in the 21st century and consider implications for peace and justice.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
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.
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.
- Short and long form essays
- Editorial style writing
- Book reviews
- Policy reports
- Presentations and group work
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
- A Levels + additional qualifications
- ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
- International Baccalaureate
- BTEC Extended Diploma
- DDD in a relevant subject
- BTEC Diploma
- DD + A at A Level
- Scottish Highers
- 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
GCSE Maths grade 4/C
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
- A Levels + additional qualifications
- ABB + B in the EPQ; ABB + B in Core Maths
- International Baccalaureate
- BTEC Extended Diploma
- DDD in a relevant subject
- BTEC Diploma
- DD + B at A Level
- Scottish Highers
- 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
GCSE Maths grade 4/C
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
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
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.
Department of Politics and International Relations
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.
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
Research Excellence Framework 2021
Guardian University Guide 2023
Guardian University Guide 2023
Fees and funding
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.
Placements and study abroad
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.