.

BSc Politics with International Relations

Why choose this course?

  • Regular conferences coordinated by the Aston Centre for Europe and open to all students involving MPs, MEPs, representatives of think tanks and civil servants looking at contemporary political issues
  • Politics & International Relations at Aston has been rated between 101-150 institutions globally for 2012-13, in the QS World University Rankings
  • Student debating and model United Nations society, hosting local MPs and other political figures
  • Internationally recognised research, backed by the Aston Centre for Europe (ACE)

3 years full time or 4 years with integrated placement year

UCAS Code: L290

Typical Offers
A-levels
: ABB from 3 A-levels. General Studies accepted.
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 2014/15: £9,000 (£1,000 during placement year) for UK/EU students. More on fees

Applicants receiving offers are invited to an open day.

Politics and International Relations – two closely related disciplines – are combined in this popular, single honours political science degree. The programme explores politics and international relations in British, European and global settings and examines theories about the nature of politics and international relations from the ancient to the modern world. You will explore the complex relationship between ethics and international action via co-operation or conflict. The history and present day functionality of the European Union and policy-making at international, national and regional levels is also explored. To prepare our graduates for careers in a global environment, there is a practical element of language learning via a module in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Japanese or Portuguese. The placement year is an optional feature of the programme and is designed to give you real life experience and to act as a springboard to your future career.

The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

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. Particular reference is made to the link between politics and economics, including industrial relations, and to British membership in international organizations. In Teaching Period 1 the main focus is on Domestic Politics, while in TP2 the main focus is on Britain’s Foreign Relations.

Assessment: 2 x 1,500 word essay (one for each Teaching Period, counting for 50% each).  

Introduction to Politics

This module seeks to provide you with a good introductory knowledge of politics. We concentrate upon some of the basic elements of political study:  Power and Authority, Legitimacy, The State, Nationalism, Democracy, Representation, and Voting Systems. During Teaching Period 1, the emphasis is upon understanding these key political concepts and issues, and some of the key political thinkers. During Teaching Period 2, the module’s focus changes significantly. Here, you form research groups, focusing on a mutually agreed topic: Feminism, Capital Punishment, The Labour Party, The Euro zone Crisis – these are just four examples. Over the term, you organise the group’s research, meet up, plan your project, research it, present draft findings to the whole group, and submit a full research dossier at the end of term.

Assessment: A 2-hour exam at the beginning of Teaching Period 2, and a (group) Research Dossier at the end of Teaching Period 2. (50 per cent each).

Introduction to International Relations

This module offers an introduction into world politics and international relations. We inhabit a world of rapid change and solid knowledge of the underlying structures, dynamics and processes of international relations will be essential for your future professional (and private) life. During Teaching Period 1, we will focus on the pillars of the state system, introduce some key concepts, the theoretical traditions of realism and liberalism and examine the causes of cooperation and conflict. During Teaching Period 2, our emphasis will be on international law and international organisations such as the UN and the EU. We will also look at the structure of the global political economy, analysing the global financial system, international trade and development. We will also investigate topics such as environmental issues, terrorism and religion in international relations.

Assessment: Two-Hour exam at the end of each Teaching Period (50% each)

Information and study skills

This module provides you with a good knowledge of formulating and analyzing research questions and presenting sources in an academically relevant way. Students will be able to learn to research, plan and structure an essay; acquire language specific features of essay writing; identify the research tools in the library; work into a virtual learning environment; and use electronic resources to polish their work.

Assessment: A Take Away Paper at the end of the Teaching Period.

Europe and the making of the modern world

This module provides an analytical and substantive overview of European history from 1789 to the present, with a focus on the post-1945 period. The module is structured thematically. Students will analyse and interrogate certain critical junctures in European history that have determined the shape of both the European continent and the contemporary world. The primary aim of the course is to provide an empirical background for students in the international history of Europe from the 19th to 21st centuries that will allow students to apply, contextualise and better understand the political science and international relations theories that form the focus of the other core modules.

Assessment: two examinations, 1x 2 hour (January), 1x 3 hour (May).


The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Research methods

This module seeks to provide you with a broad understanding of the design and conduct of research into political and social topics. Students learn about the basic concepts related to the design and conduct of research, such as ontology and epistemology. They also learn about the main schools of political and social enquiry and the tools that are utilised in social science research. There is analysis of the main traps and pitfalls in the way that data is collected, manipulated and presented, so that students avoid these traps and are alert to abuses by others.

Assessment: An assignment or assignments to the equivalent of 1,800 words in TP2.

Politics and Policies of the European Union

This module seeks to provide you with a strong understanding of the institutional configuration of the EU and how these institutions have been shaped by the relations between member states of the European Union. The module introduces you to the theories of European integration, and challenges you to assess competing views on the dynamics of the integration process over time. In the second part of the module, we explore a core set of policies areas of the EU, and students are asked to relate the politics and institutional make-up of the EU to developments in those policy fields.

Assessment: A 2-hour exam at the beginning of Teaching Period 2.

 

Security studies in a changing world

This module introduces students to key debates in security studies. The course is a mix of theoretical inquiry and empirical application. First, the module introduces students to the development of key theoretical perspectives in security studies., such as the traditional schools of realism and liberalism, through to critical security studies, constructivism and human security amongst others. After this, the module moves on to a range of traditional and non-traditional security challenges, and using the theoretical frameworks introduced, discusses issues including warfare, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking and the defence trade. 

Assessment: exam (50%) and 2,000 – 3,000 word group report (50%)

History of political thought

This course introduces students to a variety of texts in the canon of political philosophy.  It begins with an account of ancient political philosophy taking into account the writings of Greek and Roman philosophers (Plato, Aristotle and Cicero) before delving into significant pre-modern authors; namely, Aquinas and the scholastic movement.  The second half of the course examines enlightened and modern themes of political philosophy through a thematic investigation of the social contract tradition, utilitarianism and modern criticisms of these ideas. 

Students are expected to produce two research papers (one per teaching period) and sit a cumulative final two-hour exam.   

International Relations: theories and issues

Analysing  dynamics and events in world politics does not happen in a conceptual and theoretical vacuum. Theoretical approaches provide us with the tools to make sense of the complex and colourful reality that is contemporary international relations. In this 20-cr module we will look at the various competing theoretical frameworks of international relations. We will learn how international relations has developed as an academic discipline through the analysis of four theoretical debates that constitute international relations. We will also discuss how political philosophy has influenced the way we view contemporary world politics.

Assessment: Essay in Teaching Period 1 (50%), Exam in Teaching Period 2 (50%)

 

The placement year is optional for students studying Politics with International Relations. 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.

The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

The American Presidency

The Office of President of the United States is arguably the most powerful political office in the world. Its incumbents not only provide interesting case studies on strong Executive leadership within the constitutional framework of the USA, their actions (and inactions) also tend to have far-reaching consequences far beyond the US borders (“Leader of the Free World”). This 10-credit Final Year Elective module looks 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.

Assessment: 3,000 words essay (100%).  

Intellectuals and Politics

This module looks at the role of intellectuals in political life. It is historical and thematic, looking, for example, at intellectuals in the Dreyfus Affair, or during the 1920s and 30s, or today – their role in the Arab Spring, for example; or at specific individuals as expressions of the phenomenon: e.g. Orwell, and de Beauvoir. The module also examines the role of culture in the creation of intellectuals in a range of countries and epochs – why, for example, are intellectuals viewed so differently in different countries? The module also widens our focus to discuss whether other activities and roles should also be considered: artists, inventors, singers? Do these play a social and political role comparable to that of intellectuals? And what today is the role of celebrity culture in the creation of iconic individuals who affect the political process?

Assessment: 3, 000-word essay

Political Leaders: Case Studies and Comparative Perspectives

This module examines theories of leadership, and looks at the evolution of the phenomenon, in Europe and the United States, in Latin America, and beyond. We focus particularly upon the rhetoric and styles of particular leaders, and the ways in which they persuade and generate allegiance. How they ‘perform’ and what are the historical, cultural, and institutional conditions of their performance. We look at a range of leaders, often comparing them – Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, for example, or Churchill and de Gaulle. Some leaders we look at in minute detail: JFK’s press conferences, MLK’s March on Washington speech, X’s The Ballot or the Bullet, etc. We also look at particular issues, such as the changing conditions of leadership style, women in politics, political rhetoric, the role of culture, and the role of the media.

Assessment: 3, 000-word essay

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. These include economic reform, democratic transition, institutional design, nationalism, security questions, accession to Nato and the EU and so on.

Assessment: 1x 3000-word essay to be submitted at the end of the module.

Political Communication

This module is an introduction to the nature of the political communication process. It provides you with insights into the core dimensions of what constitutes “communication” in a democratic system, and the problems inherent in delivering effective communication to citizens. After studying a range of theoretical views on communication in politics, you then move on to focus on a range of aspects of communication in political life today, such as new media, public opinion, media effects and agenda setting. In groups, students devise a real-life communications campaign, and present this, along with a portfolio of explanatory documents, at the end of the module.

Assessment: A campaigns presentation and portfolio (25%) and a 2000-word essay at the end of Teaching Period 1 (75%).

Conflict and 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 conflict and transition.  The module begins by looking at the recent past of the area – the 1991 collapse of Yugoslavia, 1992-1999 conflicts – and how these events have influence the subsequent political development of the successor states.  The module then considers the region’s various challenges including  post-conflict governance, statehood, intervention, ethnic tensions, war crimes, Kosovo independence and EU integration.

Assessment: 3,000 word policy brief (100%)

Politics and International Relations Dissertation

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. This knowledge, and drawing upon previous modules studied in levels 1 and 2 form the conceptual, methodological and analytical bases for research into their topic. Students will produce an independently researched piece of work, supervised by a lecturer from Politics and International Relations.
Assessment 4,000-6,000 word dissertation (100%)
Extended Politics Dissertation (LP3006): 10,000 word dissertation (80%) and oral exam (20%)

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 Politics with International Relations programme specification.

Professor John Gaffney - Professor of Politics 

John Gaffney

“I became interested in politics because, when I was younger, I realised everything was political in some way – whether you could afford to go to university, for example – or whether you could afford not to! I became particularly interested in how leaders persuaded us of what we should do about injustices in the world, and how to make things better. All my teaching and research are about leadership and persuasion and how the world works politically. One really fascinating thing to do is to compare different countries to see similarities and differences between their histories and political cultures. My favourite place (outside the UK!) is France, and I often appear on British and French TV and radio, and I blog, and write in letters to The Guardian and do opinion pieces for New Statesman, Cnn.opinion, huffington post etc to try and persuade people I am right!”

Dr Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, Lecturer 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.”

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 Languages and Social Sciences graduates include:    
  • Ministerial Support Officer, Department of Work and Pensions
  • Campaign Assistant, Conservative Party
  • Events Coordinator, Financial Business News
  • Graduate Trainee, Tesco
  • Research Executive, Info Group / Orc International
  • Trainee in Business Relationship Management
  • PR Graduate Trainee, Lidl
  • Sales and Marketing Manager, Rapid English
  • Project Coordinator, International Bridges to Justice
  • Junior Publicist, Warner Bros Pictures
  • Recruitment Adviser, West Midlands Police
  • Worcestershire County Council, Project Support Manager
  • Graduate Trainee, BAE Systems
  • Project Assistant, Birmingham City Council
  • Marketing & Sales Manager, Copper Alloys Ltd
  • Orphan Support Officer, Islamic Relief
  • Assistant Brand Manager, Diageo
  • Trainee Probation Officer, National
  • Probation Service
  • Political Group Assistant, Warwickshire County Council
  • Postgraduate Degrees at a range of institutions (e.g. Aston, University of Birmingham, Warwick University, University of Durham, King’s College London, SOAS and LSE).

 

The placement year is optional for students studying Politics and International Relations. 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
Emaillss_ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk


Student Profile

Student Profile

Jasmin Sohi

BSc Politics with International Relations

Aston has enabled me to achieve my career aspirations as my degree programme has taught me a wide skill set. The ability to place high attention to detail when researching, sourcing and examining information and always having a cultural awareness to the global political trends can be invaluable in the workplace.

 

Student Profile

Student Profile

Katrina Rattu

BSc Politics with International Relations

The module that prepared me most for my Placement Year was 'Security Studies'. This helped me during my Placement Year, during which I witnessed with my own eyes events that i had studied and seen on the news especially when travelling to places like Egypt and Jordan, working in Palestine, West Bank and studying abroad in Turkey.

 

Download the course brochure

Accommodation

Accommodation

Accommodation

Accommodation

Outstanding graduate career prospects

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Visit our YouTube channel

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research