BSc International Relations & Social Policy

Why choose this course?

  • Social Policy at Aston has been ranked 6th in the country in the Times Good University Guide 2013
  • Social Policy at Aston is ranked joint 5th for Graduate prospects (70%) out of 58 universities in the Complete University Guide 2014
  • Politics & International Relations at Aston has been rated between 101-150 institutions globally for 2012-13, in the QS World University Rankings
  • Internationally recognised research, backed by the Aston Centre for Europe (ACE)

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code:

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

If your predicted grades are close to those stated in Aston's typical offers and if you are interested in Aston University and the courses we offer we encourage you to apply to us as one of your 5 UCAS choices. In addition to your predicted grades, when making offers we also consider your previous academic performance (eg AS grades, 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.

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 2015/16: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU 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.

Click on the module titles to find out more.

Year 1
Core modules:
Europe and the Making of the Modern World     LP1016 
Information Skills     LP1012 
Introduction to International Relations     LP1021 
Introduction to the European Union     LP1065 

Social Problems and Public Policies A     LK1012 
Social Problems and Public Policies B     LK1013 
Becoming a Social Scientist     LK1011  

Year 2
Core modules:
International Relations: Theories and Issues     LP2014 
Research Methods in Political and Social Science     LP2006 
The Politics and Policies of the European Union     LP2020 

Crime Subversion and Injustice  LK2006
Welfare States and Welfare Change  LK2015
Government and Globalisation  LB2010 
Comparing and Evaluating Public Policies  LK2016

One of the following optional modules:
Introduction to Political Economy     LP 2022 
Security Studies in a Changing World     LP2021

And choice of options to total 30 credits:
Environmental Policy     LK2014 
Government and Management     LK2011 
Embodiment and Feminist Theory     LK2005 
The Social Life of Stuff    LK2018
Global Society     LK2004 
Media and Society     LK2007 
Kith and Kin: Family in a Social Context    LK2017

Year 3

Optional Placement

Final Year
International Relations Research Dissertation     LP3009 

International Migration and Policy  LK3018
Health Policy  LK3019 
Ageing, Society, and Policy     LK3006 

Choose four of the following optional modules:
The International Relations of East Asia     LP3015 
Religion and Politics of Contemporary Europe LP3016
Political Communication     LP3018 
The American Presidency     LP3019 
Nationalism & Political Power     LP3020 
Political Parties and Party Systems     LP3024 
Conflict and Politics in Contemporary Balkans     LP3025 
Contemporary Conflict     LP3028 
Diplomacy and Soft Power    LP3029
The Far Right in Europe     LP3030 
The Challenges of Climate Change    LY3031
Understanding Foreign Policy    LP3033
Northeast Asia: From Conflict to Cooperation    LP3034
Gender and Politics    LP3035
Interest groups and lobbying    LP3036
Regions and Regionalism in Europe     LP3412 
Contemporary Political Theory     LP3416 
Political Leaders: Case Studies and Comparative Perspectives     LP3415 

Choice of options to total 30 credits:
Corporate Power in a Globalised World     LK3004 
Dissertation     LK3001 
Work, Organisations and Society     LK3008 
Racism, class and gender     LK3010 
Contemporary social movements     LK3011 
Learning to Labour? Education and Society     LK3007 
Religion and Society     LK3014 
Sport and Society     LK3012 
Pregancy and Politics: Cultural Norms and Family Policy     LK3013 
Kith and Kin: Family in a Social Context    LK3020
Popular Music and Society    LK3016
The Challenge of Climate Change     LY3031   

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers who value their understanding of different cultures and societies, their communication skills and motivation for team work. Recent destinations for our International Relations and Social Policy graduates include:   

  • Ministerial Support Officer, Department of Work and Pensions
  • Campaign Assistant, Conservative Party
  • Graduate Trainee, Tesco
  • Research Executive, Info Group / Orc International
  • PR Graduate Trainee, Lidl
  • Project Coordinator, International Bridges to Justice
  • Junior Publicist, Warner Bros Pictures
  • Worcestershire County Council, Project Support Manager
  • Graduate Trainee, BAE Systems
  • Project Assistant, Birmingham City Council
  • Orphan Support Officer, Islamic Relief
  • Trainee Probation Officer, National Probation Service
  • Political Group Assistant, Warwickshire County Council
  • Program Policy Officer, Department of Health 
  • Economic Development Support Officer
  • Customer Logistics Executive, Beiersdorf
  • Graduate Trainee Buyer, Tesco
  • Management Trainee, Bexley Council
  • Events Coordinator, BMW
  • Geographic Buying Analyst, Intel
  • HR Administrator, Warwickshire County Council
  • Graduate Management, NHS
  • Policy and Planning Officer, London Borough of Bexley.

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.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777
Email: lss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk

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