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BSc International Relations & Social Policy

Radhika Madlani - Politics and IR

One main reason Aston stands out is the the placement year. It can be life changing."

Radhika Madlani 
Parliamentary Affairs Officer, Industry and Parliament Trust

Entry requirements

ABB from 3 A-levels. General Studies accepted. 

International Relations and Social Policy examines the major political and social issues faced by governments across the world.
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Social Policy at Aston is ranked 3rd in the UK for Graduate Prospects (Complete University Guide, 2017).
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Politics & International Relations as Aston is ranked 13th in the UK by the Sunday Times League Table, 2016.
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Politics & International Relations is ranked Top 20 in the UK for Student Satisfaction (Complete University Guide, 2017).
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Aston is ranked 3rd in the UK for Area Studies Research (REF 2014).

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code:
LL2K

Typical Offers
A-levels
: ABB from 3 A-levels. General Studies accepted. 

Whilst the grades listed here are our entry requirements, we understand that predicted grades are only an estimate. We will therefore consider applicants with predicted grades that fall below these entry requirements if the application is of a high standard. However, any offer made will not be lower than stated above.  In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg GCSEs), your school/college reference and the commitment and motivation you demonstrate for your chosen course via the personal statement. Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk.  If you already have your grades and would like to check your suitability for one of our courses please contact us via e-mail.  Applicants and their teachers/advisers are welcome to contact us with individual queries about entry qualifications via lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk. 

View our Admissions Policy. 

IB: 33 points in the IB diploma including TOK/Bonus points. Standard level Maths and English 5 required.
Access: Pass Access to HE Diploma with Merit in each module.  Humanities or Social Sciences Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis.
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.  Mix of Diploma/ Subsidiary Diploma/A-levels acceptable.

We accept a wide range of UK, EU and International qualifications: please contact us for further advice.

Specific subject requirements:
GCSE English Language and Maths Grade C.

Tuition fees 2017/18: £9,250 (£1,250 during placement year) for UK/EU students. £14,000 (£2,500 during placement year) for overseas students. More on fees. 

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements. 

International Relations and Social Policy examines the major political and social issues faced by governments across the world. You will develop a knowledge and understanding of the nature between states and also of the roles played by international institutions, other intergovernmental organisations, multinational corporations and NGOs. You will also investigate the economic, social and political forces which influence policy and give rise to conflicts between the achievement of economic, environmental and social objectives. 

Important strengths of the programme include its focus on key contemporary issues in international relations and policy, such as global economic change and the environment as well as international comparisons of government policies. The professional placement year is an optional feature of the programme and is designed to give our students a distinct advantage on the graduate labour market. 

The programme is strongly geared towards increasing your employability since it is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills relevant to careers involving partnerships in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Sample module options: The modules below are indicative only. When an offer is made, students will receive a detailed programme specification which forms part of our terms and conditions.


Year 1

Core modules:
Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations
The Making of the Modern World
Introduction to the European Union
What’s trending? (Current affairs in International Relations and Politics)

Social Issues
From Social Problems to Public Policies
Becoming a Social Scientist


Year 2

Core modules:
International Relations: Theories and Issues
Regional Politics and Society

Welfare States and Welfare
Change
Research Methods

Optional modules:
Introduction to Political Economy
Security Studies in a Changing World

Environmental Policy
Government and Management
Global Society
Advanced Research Methods
CSI: Crime Subversion and Injustice
Health Matters


Year 3

Integrated placement year


Final Year

Core modules:
Dissertation
Research and Dissertation Skills

International Migration and Policy
Health Policy
Ageing, Society and Policy
The Challenges of Climate Change
The Citizen and the State
Corporate Power in a Globalised World

Optional modules:
EuroSim: Learning Negotiation through Simulation Games
The International Relations of East Asia
Religion and Politics in Contemporary Europe
Political Communication
The American Presidency
Nationalism & Political Power
Political Parties and Party Systems
Conflict and Politics in Contemporary Balkans
Contemporary Conflict
Diplomacy and Soft Power
The Far Right in Europe
The Politics of Climate Change
Understanding Foreign Policy
Northeast Asia: From Conflict to Cooperation
Gender and Politics
Interest groups and lobbying
Regions and Regionalism in Europe
Contemporary Political Theory
Political Leaders: Case Studies and Comparative Perspectives
Intellectuals and Politics
Power and Parliamentary Decision-Making
Ethics and International Politics

Work, Organisations and Society
Racism, class and gender
Contemporary Social Movements
Learning to Labour? Education and Society
Religion and Society
Sport, Culture and Society
Pregnancy and Politics: Cultural Norms and Family Policy
Popular Music and Society
Food and Society in a Global Context

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different organisations, their communication skills and motivation for team work.  

For information on graduate destinations please see the careers service:  http://www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/careers-centre/graduate-destinations/lss/

You will be involved in lectures and seminars, small group work projects and independent study. Many of your modules will be in workshop format, alternating theoretical input with practical analysis, and allowing you to test out your understanding in discussion with other students and your tutor. There are also opportunities fro group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in Final Year. You will be allocated an academic supervisor for this work and a Personal Tutor who can provide you with help and advice throughout your studies.

Assessment is through a combination of exams, project-based course work, essays, presentations and an extended dissertation during your Final Year.

For further information, see the International Relations Joint Honours programme specification and the Social Policy Joint Honours programme specification.

Dr Jelena Obradovic-WochnikLecturer in Politics and International Relations 

Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik

“My research focuses on post-conflict societies and their democratisation and reconciliation, drawing on Serbia and Kosovo as specific cases. Throughout my research, I also collaborate with other scholars, and therefore the issues that I look at can be quite wide ranging. For instance, I’ve recently investigated how Serbia as a society deals with war crimes and legacies of the past, but also how Serbia and Kosovo – previously at war – interact in peacetime. Much of this feeds directly into my teaching. I teach a module called ‘Conflict and Politics in Contemporary Balkans’, where I include insights from my research and trips to the region. On a module called ‘Conflict, Intervention and Reconciliation’, there are sessions dedicated to post-conflict justice and prosecuting of war crimes, so Serbia and Kosovo often feature as examples which we compare to other parts of the world. Most recently, I spent some time at the Centre for European Studies, Harvard, as a visiting scholar, where I worked on a new research project on social movements in Serbia. There is a rich tradition of protest and social movements in the Western Balkans more generally, so this will be the basis of one of the lectures I will teach next semester.”

Dr Karen West - Senior Lecturer in Public Policy 

Karen West

''For the last five or six years I’ve been involved in a number of research projects that deal with older people and the needs of an ageing population. For example, I’m working on three projects at the moment. The first is concerned with the kind of housing arrangements that older people want and need in later life; in particular housing arrangements that are integrated with care and support. The second is about how the organisations of the national health service and local authorities are trying to work better with each other to meet older people’s health and social care needs and how, sometimes, government policies that appear to support this aim can actually prevent it from happening! The third concerns the way in which older and younger people get jobs and stay employed in difficult financial and economic times and, importantly, how they understand and misunderstand each others’ motivations and needs. As I teach courses in social policy and public policy making, I find that these kinds of projects help me to understand better (and teach better) how welfare systems address the needs of older people; how scarce public resources are distributed between the generations; and how ideas in general, like the idea of an ageing population, come to frame and justify different policies and initiatives and with what consequences for society. I also find that I learn a lot about these issues from my students: their life experiences and general impressions.”

The placement year is optional for students studying International Relations and Social Policy. If you choose to take a placement year, this will take place during your third year at Aston and is worth 10% of the final degree result. Unlike some other universities, the placement year at Aston is not a ''bolt-on'' year it is an integral part of your degree for which you are prepared in your second year. 

A distinctive feature of our placement year is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company or working as a teaching assistant in a school (either in the UK or abroad) - you might even choose to combine two of these options.  

We are extremely proud of the high level of preparation, orientation and support that we provide before and during your year abroad. We have a full-time Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away.

Find out more about the placement year.


"Interested? I'd love to hear from you."

Balazs Szent_Ivanyi

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