International Politics and Languages (IPL)

Why choose this course?

  • Politics at Aston is currently ranked Top 20 in the UK for Employability in the latest Guardian University Guide and Sunday Times University Guide.
  • Politics at Aston achieved 95% Overall Satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey.
  • 6th for Languages Graduate Level Destinations sixth months after Graduation - Guardian 2013 
  • Internationally recognised research, backed by the Aston Centre for Europe (ACE)

4 years full-time with integrated year abroad

UCAS Code: RL92

Typical Offers
A Levels
: ABB from 3 A-levels, including at least one of French, German or Spanish Grade B.  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 and 6 in Higher Level French, German or Spanish.
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.  A-level grade B in French, German or Spanish or equivalent.
BTEC: National Extended Diploma DDD.   A-level grade B in French, German, Spanish or equivalent.  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.

Taught within the School of Languages and Social Sciences, our IPL degree is designed as an integrated degree so that the language knowledge gained will enhance your understanding of international politics. 

The course combines modules in your chosen language(s) – language skills, media, politics, cultural studies and linguistics – with an emphasis on European politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and modern European history. 

Sample module options

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

Core modules:

Number of credits: 20

Module content: 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.

Method of learning and teaching: Students are expected to familiarise themselves quickly with the general literature, and then go on to more specialised reading in preparation of the debates and the Class Test. In weeks 1-10 there will be a lecture, followed by either group work, discussions and debates. Week 11 is reserved for Guided Study and individual Consultations (appointments on demand during normal session hours), followed by the Class Test in the January Assessment Period.

In semester 2, after an introductory session, students will be grouped into research and seminar groups to develop projects (individual projects will also be permitted) that will be submitted as a research dossier. The research projects will be related to semester 1 work (all research dossiers will be subject to agreement with convenor). All groups will present their work in seminars. There will be group seminars and presentations, and consultations throughout.  

Method of assessment: Class test (50%),  research dossier (50%).

Number of credits: 20

Module content: 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.

Method of learning and teaching: There are weekly lectures and lecture reviews. The lecture review consists of discussions and debates it will also review the main themes of the weekly sessions as they progress. 

Assessment method: Exams (100%)

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module provides students with a basic introduction to the history and politics of the European Union and the process of European integration.  It assumes no prior knowledge of the topic.  By the end of the course students will have knowledge of the basic historical background leading up to the present EU; the institutions that comprise the EU-level; the main political issues facing the EU at the present; and of current policy debates.

Method of learning and teaching: The module is taught using a combination of lectures, in-class discussion, and private study.  The purpose of the lectures is to provide students with an overview of the main learning points for each week. The in-class discussion provides students with an opportunity to develop their understanding of these points, and to raise matters of concern or issues requiring further clarification.  Private study allows students to acquire a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the topic. 

Assessment method: Exam (100%)

Number of credits: 10

Module content: 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.

Method of learning and teaching: 1-hour plenary lecture complemented by preparatory exercises.

Assessment method: Exam.


Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French

Module Content:

  • Revision of French grammar;
  • Practice of the following text types: résumé, dissertation.
  • Reading comprehension;
  • Aural comprehension.

Method of Learning and Teaching: Textual and Grammatical Skills classes will consist of lectures, discussions of reading and personal research, interactive workshops and exercises in class as well as in the computer lab.

Assessment method: Exam (90%), oral presentation (10%).

Number of credits: 10

Module content: This module introduces students to translation as a professional activity. They will be familiarised with key theoretical concepts of translation and their application in practice, so as to develop skills in translating. They will learn to produce translations into English that are appropriate for their specified purpose and readers, and learn to explain their own translation decisions.

Assessment method: group work (20%), coursework (40%) and examination (40%).

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: French

Module content: This course aims to give students a basic knowledge of French culture, starting with an attempt at definition and focusing on contemporary literature and text analysis. Rather than attempt to give a very general introduction to French culture, the course will aim to provide students with the tools to analyse, discuss and enjoy aspects of contemporary culture.

In teaching period one, it will focus mainly on 2 texts, L’Etranger by Albert Camus and La Place by Annie Ernaux. These texts will be complemented by a number of extracts from 20th century novels. The focus of group activities during the term will be text analysis and discussion, with a particular emphasis on the themes of alienation and protest or contestation. The course will provide students with the tools required for text analysis, not only of literary texts but also of texts in general.

Other cultural aspects will be studied, in particular the cinema of ‘La Nouvelle Vague’. Students will be given the tools to analyse cinematographic production, and will be expected to view at least 5 films from the period studied.

Teaching period two will be structured around student led sessions, in small groups. These will meet on a rota basis, every 3 weeks. The groups will be expected to concentrate on one aspect of culture, either literature or cinema. 

Method of Learning and Teaching: There will be a weekly lecture in French followed by an hour of group work, discussion and presentations in French in Term 1. Discussion and presentations will be led by students, often in groups of 2 or 3, on topics and texts distributed the week before to give students maximum time to prepare and to read. In teaching period two, there will be student led structured seminars, in 3 groups, each presenting a chosen aspect of French culture in turn. (Each group will therefore meet once in 3 weeks).

Assessment method: Group presentation (20%), exam (30%) and essay (50%).


Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: German

Module content: This is the core language skills module for first-year students which provides a solid linguistic basis for the coming years of study. The module consists of three parts: a) grammar lecture, revising the major topics of German grammar; b) communication skills seminars, practising written and oral language skills with group work, whole-class work and individual study; and c) an e-learning component comprising listening skills, vocabulary and general knowledge of the German-speaking areas.

Method of learning and teaching: Seminar, group work, individual work, role-play, presentations, self-access learning

Assessment method: Exam (70%), class assignments (20%)

Number of credits: 20

Language of delivery: 20

Module content: The module provides students with knowledge of nineteenth- and twentieth-century history and area studies as an essential intellectual basis for the modules in the Second and Final years. Landeskunde lectures give students a basic knowledge of the German speaking countries, including geography, political systems, education systems, and aspects of the economy. In the second half of the module students are introduced to major events in German history from the late nineteenth century to the end of National Socialism, and their lasting effects on modern Germany are examined.

Method of learning and teaching: 

2 contact hours per week throughout the academic year.  

Students are taught through task-oriented work; seminar work; lectures; presentations; interpretation of pre-selected source texts; guidance for independent research and focussed academic study skills elements.

Assessment method
: Exam (25%), oral presentation (25%), essay (50%), research skills portfolio (pass/fail).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: German

Module content: The course deals with the following topics: spoken and written language; standard language; the development of a German standard language; the difference between language and dialect; language policy and language planning; German minority languages and linguistic minorities in Germany; language contact: the example of English borrowings into German.

Assessment method: oral poster presentation (20%), exam (80%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: German

Module content: The topical content areas are determined by respective current events reported in the German news media. These serve as a platform to discuss wider issues in German politics, society, economy and culture. Examples can include elections, public debates, or major events. Students will also be made familiar with the nature and political affiliations of different newspapers and other media.

Method of learning and teaching: Two contact hours per week, to include lecture, seminar, structured discussions, group work, oral presentations, supervision of independent research. 

Assessment method: speech (25%); group discussion (25%; two letters to the editor (50%).

Number of Credits: 20

Language of delivery:

Module content: In this module students will work on different skills involved in language learning: from listening and speaking, to reading, writing, and translating. Relevant texts will be used in order to increase students’ awareness of Hispanic culture, economy, history and society in an attempt to learn the language in the context in which it is produced. Students will have two hours per week of scheduled interactive seminars and one hour of oral classes.

Methods of learning and teaching: Two hours per week will consist of reading comprehension, grammar consolidation, translation, debates, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary exercises. The third hour will be devoted to oral skills. Attending textual and oral skills is mandatory.

Assessment method: Oral tasks (30%), portfolio on independent learning tasks (20%), final exam (50%).

Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: English and Spanish

Module content: This module provides a general introduction to film studies as an academic discipline for students of Spanish, covering analytical aspects such as mise-en-scène, use of sound and montage as well as the history of film and European cinema. Bi-weekly lectures in English introduce students to film as a medium for both artistic expression and social critique. Bi-weekly seminars allow students to maintain a strong focus on working in their chosen foreign language.

Method of learning and teaching: Bi-weekly lectures and seminars, complemented by self-study portfolio tasks in the target language. Students are provided with glossaries to familiarise them with film studies terminology in both English and the target language. These projects are supervised in Spanish and guidance for independent research is given.   

Method of assessment: portfolio of 3 film analysis tasks in Spanish (30%), essay (70%).


Number of credits: 10

Language of delivery: Spanish

Module content: The module aims to chart the trajectory of Spanish politics, economy, society and art since 1975. We will study the political process which led Spain to become a Parliamentary Monarchy after a military dictatorship in a reasonably non-violent atmosphere. We will pay particular attention to the role of democratic Spain in the European Union but will also look at other international connections.

Method of learning and teaching: The method will consist of a lecture and a seminar. The lecture will be an introduction to political, economic, social and artistic issues, providing a context for more specific studies. The seminars will be dedicated to deepening students' understanding of issues presented in lectures, consolidating their familiarisation with the relevant vocabulary and developing oral skills. Seminars will provide a framework where students can express their opinions, interests, comments and conclusions about different topics in a very active way. So, discussions, team work and an open mind are essential requirements to make the most of each seminar.

Assessment method: Report (30%), exam (70%).


Aston is 6th for Languages Graduate Level Destinations sixth months after Graduation - Guardian 2013


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 Language and Translation Studies graduates include:   

  • English Teacher, Business Language Skills
  • PR Graduate Scheme, LIDL
  • French Customer Service Co-ordinator, CRP
  • Bilingual Sales Coordinator, Narrow Aisle Ltd
  • Language Assistant, British Council
  • Translator/Analytical Support, B&Q
  • Immigration Assistant, Australian Embassy UK
  • Marketing Analyst, Deutsche Bank
  • Graduate Trainee Managers for British Airways, Aldi Stores, John Lewis and Selfridges
  • Journalist, Tatler Magazine
  • Account Manager Interpreting, Smoby (French Toy Company)
  • Senior AdministratorMichelin
  • Public Relations Officers for a number of companies
  • European Union/European Parliament Officers/Assistants
  • PGCE Secondary Teaching Qualification at universities including King’s College London, Warwick University and Exeter
  • Marketing Assistant at Beiersdorf  


You will take part in interactive seminars, presentations and group work as well as attending lectures and tutorials. There are also opportunities for individual research and guided study. We teach our courses in the native language, which means that our students are at a real advantage when it comes to gaining maximum benefit and experience from the year abroad. 

You will be allocated a Personal Tutor when you join us and you will be encouraged to make regular contact with them throughout your studies. Personal Tutors are there to help discuss academic and, in some cases, personal issues. Personal Tutors can also often offer support by writing references for placement/graduate employment and academic research.

Assessment is through a combination of written and oral exams, coursework, essays, translation tasks, presentations and an extended dissertation during your Final Year. Exams take place in January and May/June.

For further information, see the International Politics and Languages 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!”


Campus accommodation guaranteed for First Year and Final Year students returning from year abroad.


The Third Year of your course is spent abroad in a French speaking country - increasing your fluency, enhancing your cultural awareness and adding value to your degree. The year abroad is an integral and assessed part of language studies at Aston University, fully supported by us, and of direct relevance to your degree. A distinctive feature of our year abroad is the flexibility that we offer. You will be able to choose between undertaking a paid work-experience placement with a company, working as a teaching assistant in a school or studying at one of our partner universities. 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 International 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 year abroad.

Contact Details

Tel: 0121 204 3777

Student Profile

Student Profile

Eliot Taylor

BSc Politics and German

Finding somewhere where I could study German and Politics together was one of my main priorities when searching for a University but the course Aston offered has surpassed my initial criteria. Both of my disciplines are integrated into the same school of study, the School of Languages and Social Sciences, and the course is taught fully in German.


Download the course brochure

Download the course brochure



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