Politics in Combined Honours - information for current students

Key benefits

  • A good grounding in the European Union, British Politics, European Comparative Politics, as well as Women, Politics and Policies.
  • The chance to specialise in the final year in areas of particular interest and relevance to your chosen career path.
  • Information Technology skills through Aston's £4 million Local Area Network and other extensive I.T facilities. 
  • Sandwich Placement. The opportunity to develop professional skills by spending a year in paid employment with an industrial, commercial or public sector organisation. It is strongly recommended that students choose a sandwich programme including a placement. 
  • Politics at Aston ranked in the UK’s top 10 in the Guardian University Guide 2006-7

Politics will deepen your understanding of the world. You will gain knowledge about the institutions, processes and concepts of politics as well as general insight into how these affect society, both in the UK and overseas. An understanding and awareness of politics is vital for many of today’s graduates and can open many doors in the job market . It will provide you with a range of desirable skills that employers often struggle to find in a graduate, such as communication skills and critical thinking and the ability to question and evaluate data from many sources. The course will allow you to develop understanding and perspective that can be applied in many careers.

After a common and broadly based first and second year you will choose topics for specialisation in your final year.

Subject guide & modules

First Year- Core modules

Introduction to Politics: This course aims to enable students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of political science, and with key concepts used in the analysis of political institutions and processes.

British Politics since 1945: The module provides an introduction to the changing ways in which British governments and political parties have responded to the changing domestic and international environment, from the post-war period to date.

Information Skills: Students will learn to formulate and analyze research questions and present their sources in an academically relevant way

Intoduction to European Union: Understanding of the political and historical context in which European integration has taken place as well as some major contemporary issues (for instance, EU enlargement, the euro, common defence). 

Optional Modules:

Political culture in the European Context; Women, Politics and Policies; Political Leadership and Power in France; A brief history of the French Far Right; Introduction to the study of German political institutions.

Second Year core modules:

  • History of Political ThoughtThis course introduces students to the major issues and thinkers in Western political thought, from Scorates’ Athens to the twentieth century.  The contributions of individual thinkers will be presented one after the other in successive weeks and comparisons will be pursued more and more every week as new thinkers are introduced.

  • Comparative Government and Politics: Analyse the principal features of key political systems found in Europe, the nature and distribution of power within these systems and their differences and similarities

  • The Politics and Policies of the European UnionUnderstanding the way in which the European Union functions, who are the key decision makers, what kind of decisions can they take and how is policy decided?

  • Research Methods in Political and social Studies: This course aims to enable students to research in significant depth a topic in Politics, and address and elaborate key concepts used in the analysis of historical, political, social and cultural institutions and processes.

Sandwich Year(Optional)

Our placement office is one of the largest Business Schools in Europe and has extensive contacts to enable us to introduce you to organisations of the type with which you wish to develop your career. This is usually paid employment. The Business School encourages as many students as possible to undertake a placement as it is a definite advantage in gaining a job.

Final Year- Core modules

Politics Research Dissertation & Oral: This course aims to enable students to research in significant depth a topic in Politics, and address and elaborate key concepts used in the analysis of historical, political, social and cultural institutions and processes.

Optional modules- Teaching Period One

  • Political Communication: This module explores the role of political communication in the modern political process. It examines various aspects of government information policy and the relationship between government, the media and the public. It assesses the relationship between media, political actors and the public, and considers the extent to which mediated activity has influenced politics and the distribution of power.

  • Political Parties and Part Systems: This module is intended to introduce students to the significant body of research in Political Science into political parties and party systems, broadly conceived.

  • Intellectuals and Politics:This course aims to enable students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of political and philosophical ideas about regime and about political thought, commitment, and action, and their study in political science.

  • Law and Politics: Many areas of daily life, often the most controversial areas, are governed by legislation which is a compromise between the law courts and politicians. Abortion, euthanasia, immigration, international relations; legislation in all these areas has been shaped through the struggle for dominance between courts and politicians

  • Conflict & Politics in Contemporary Balkans*:  This module considers the countries of the Western Balkans (Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo) on their path to European integration and efforts in dealing with legacies of ethnic conflict and/or political and economic collapse.

*LP3025, LP3007, LP3028 are timetables outside Combined Honours PIR block. They may clash with your other subject.

Options will be allocated on a 'first come-first served' basis

Optional modules- Teaching Period Two

  • Nationalism and Political Power:The module provides a detailed overview of the emergence of nation-states in relation to political power in modern European history.

  • Political Leaders: Case studies & comparative perspectives:This course aims to enable students to acquire familiarity with main areas and problems of the study of political leaders and leadership,  and with key concepts used in their analysis.

  • The American Presidency:The module will look at the US Presidency in its constitutional, political and socio-economic context, as well as investigating Presidential action at key periods, drawing on both historical and current examples

  • The International Relations of East Asia:This module will examine the international politics of East Asia from an International Relations (IR) perspective. Due to the huge geographical, economic, social and cultural diversity of the Asia-Pacific region, the module will limit itself to the geographical region of East Asia.

  • Central and East European Politics: The module offers an introduction to central and east European politics. It begins with an overview of the events that led up to the collapse of communism, before considering the key themes that have dominated politics in this region since 1989.

  • Conflict, Intervention and Reconciliation: This module considers some of the most complex questions in International Relations – what causes conflicts, and can anything be done to prevent them? Students will be introduced to the key disciplines dealing with these questions, i.e. Conflict and Peace Studies. We will take a look at how these interpretative paradigms define and understand conflict, peace, intervention and reconciliation.

Learning, teaching & assessment

You will be involved in: lectures and seminars, small-group work, project work and independent study.  Studies generally revolve around lecture classes in the first two years, and there are opportunities for group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in final year.You will be allocated a personal tutor who can provide you with help and advice.Assessment is through a combination of exams, coursework, essays, presentations and an extended dissertation during your final year.

Placement year

The optional year of employment can provide you with experience of the area you are looking to go into to lay the foundations for your final year of study. It is highly attractive to potential employers and around 30% of students are offered a job upon graduation by their placement year employer. You have the option to apply for a placement either in the UK or doing a placement abroad. You can do this either by searching and applying for one yourself or looking through our comprehensive database on place-ments available (between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs are advertised every year). You will be required to attend a programme of preparation, support and advice to increase the likelihood of getting the placement you desire.

Career prospects

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers where a sound understanding of societies, team – work and communication skills are required.  Recent graduate destinations  include: 

  • Islamic Relief – Orphan Support Officer

  • PRO – Recruitment Consultant

  • Serious Fraud Office – Assistant Financial Investigator

  • Warner Bros Pictures – Junior Publicist

  • West Midlands Police – Recruitment Adviser

  • Worcestershire County Council – Project Support Manager

  • MA Political Thought & Theory

  • BAE Systems – Graduate Trainee (Finance)

  • Birmingham City Council – Project Assistant

  • Copper Alloys Ltd – Marketing & Sales Manager

  • De‐Dietrich – Cross Team Communicator

  • Department of Constitutional Defence – Administrative Officer

  • Diageo – Assistant Brand Manager

  • Fed Ex – Financial Data Analyst

  • HSE Recruitment Network – Office Manager

  • National Probation Service – Training Probation Officer

  • Royal Air Force – Administrative Secretary

  • Warwickshire County Council , Political Group Assistant

  • Wokingham District Council – Policy Officer

Personal development

This course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills. Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished e-learning language centre.The Placement Year will develop your initiative, confidence and independence, as well as giving you invaluable professional experience.  In your final year you complete an individual research dissertation which improves your independent research skills and report writing skills. All students are encouraged to undertake Personal Development Planning (PDP.)

Facilities & equipment

The School of Languages and Social Sciences has a dedicated e-learning centre for the exclusive use of its students.  The e-learning centre is supported by a dedicated team and has all of the standard software that you will need (e.g. Microsoft Office etc). Extensive use is also made of our Virtual Learning Environment to help support your studies. Our newly refurbished “Cadbury Room” contains social seating areas, study stations and meeting tables as well as networked printing facilities and wireless internet access.

Further information

Tel: 0121 204 4283; Email: ids@aston.ac.uk

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