History and International Relations BSc

Study a BSc (Hons) History and International Relations degree course at Aston University to grow your understanding of the world we live in and learn about the past to build a better future for all. Make the most of your potential by combining your studies in global contemporary history with international relations, and completing an integrated placement year for a flying start to your career.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time (Hons)

Course format

Placement year (UK/abroad)


4 years with integrated placement year /

3 years without integrated placement year (option only available for international/EU students)

UCAS code(s)


Start date

Explore History and International Relations at Aston University

BSc (Hons) History and International Relations graduate Bart Stawera, goes from Aston University to working at HMRC as a Tax Specialist. This is his story.

Study now, change tomorrow.

Discover history at Aston University; hear directly from our academic staff and current students.


The history of our future

Dr Brian Sudlow explores the history of our future in this three-minute lecture.

NUE careers award

The Careers and Placements team at Aston University has been voted ‘best university placement team’ in the National University Employability (NUE) Awards 2022.

Society matters podcast

Whatever the matter,
Society matters.

Hear about some of the fascinating academic research taking place into current issues facing our society.

Click here to listen now.

Course outline and modules

What you’ll learn

Working closely with experienced historians, you’ll have opportunities to study topics such as nationalism, state-building and inter-state relations; the history of war and peace; religious and ethnic conflict; trauma and memory; and issues of globalisation in the present that can only be understood by looking to the past. For example, you’ll learn how the British Empire helped to create the NHS, why Britain voted to stay in the EU in 1975 and why Margaret Thatcher became the first pop star of British international relations.

With a global outlook, our teaching is informed by exciting historical research. As part of the course, you’ll participate in field trips to historical sites and get your hands dirty by digging into local archives, as well as conducting original research on a topic of your choosing. Studying cutting-edge techniques such as digital and oral history will give you new insights and further boost your employment prospects.

Combine your passion for history with study of international relations to broaden your horizons and boost your employability.

In your third year, you will spend an integrated placement year either working or studying in the UK or abroad, to add further value to your degree. Unlike some other universities, the placement year at Aston is not a ‘bolt-on’ year, it is an integral part of your degree and in your second year we’ll make sure you’re ready to get the most from this opportunity.

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 Careers and 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 benefits of a history degree.

International students

Information for international applicants

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students. Students from over 120 different countries chose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

For more information on applying as an international student, visit our webpage: www.aston.ac.uk/international/students-applying


Post-study work visa

Graduate Immigration Route

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Find out more information about the Graduate Immigration Route.

Foundation programme

Choosing to start your Aston journey with our foundation programme in social science will help you develop specialist knowledge to ensure that you are fully prepared to study your chosen undergraduate course. During your foundation year, you’ll have excellent support from academics while group projects will give you the chance to meet new people, make new friends and build a network of peers who will share your university journey. We also have a Learning Development Centre that can provide additional support and offer pre-sessional English language programmes.

For International Students intending to do a foundation year, visit ONCAMPUS


Year 1

Core modules:

Global History in Perspective (15 credits)

This module introduces students to important aspects of political, social, cultural, and economic world history from the eighteenth century to the present. Key themes include colonialism and its consequences, the rise of the state, industrialization, key political ideologies, nationalism, the two World Wars, the Cold War, the resurgence of nationalism after 1989, and the emergence of terrorism as a set of ideas and practices. 

Assessment methods: examination

Making Histories I: Methods, Theories, Controversies (30 credits)

Modern historians adopt a wide variety of different theoretical and methodological approaches to their studies. Following a loose chronological structure, it will offer specific case studies which enable students to explore complex themes such as memory and societal change. By the end of the module, students will have acquired a sound understanding of the multiple ways in which we can think about the past.

Assessment methods: essay, presentation, portfolio

Contemporary Britain: from the Boer War to Brexit (15 credits)

This module introduces students to the principal events, themes, and debates around British twentieth century history. Reviewing the key episodes of British history between the Boer War in 1902 and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016, we will investigate why Britain lost its position of global dominance in this period and how it coped with the decline of its empire. Throughout the module, we will engage in debates on the ‘master narrative’ of the twentieth century for Britain: was this a century of decline, of transformation, of reinvention, or something different entirely?

Assessment methods: open book examination

Introduction to Concepts and Methods of International Relations (30 credits)


Introduction to the European Union (15 credits)


Optional modules:

Choose 15 credits from the following option modules:

The Making of the Modern World (15 credits)


What's Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations) (15 credits)


Year 2

Core modules:

Case Studies in Global History (30 credits)

This module familiarises students with history as an international and global discipline. We begin with a comparison of traditional and more recent historiographical approaches to 'global', 'universal', 'world', 'transnational', and 'international' (or 'diplomatic') history. We then examine a number of case studies of global history, covering topics such as the USA on the world stage, Latin America and the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Japanese Empire, War in Europe, and colonial entanglements in Africa.

Assessment methods: group presentation, literature review, essay

Making Histories II: Oral and Digital Methods (15 credits)

This module introduces students to new methods and practices for researching and communicating history in the digital age. Making use of some of the most up-to-date transdisciplinary and computational techniques, students will be encouraged to reflect upon the impact of new technologies on traditional ways of studying and presenting the past.

Assessment methods: continuous assessment, project

International Relations: Theories (15 credits)


Critical Approaches to Security Studies (15 credits)


Optional modules:

Choose 15 credits from the following history option modules:

Humanitarian Action and Foreign Intervention, 1915 – today (15 credits)

This module traces two key developments of modern international politics: humanitarian action and foreign intervention. We will investigate humanitarian politics in the context of genocide, discussing why the international community has time and again failed to anticipate, prevent, or even merely to effectively stop large-scale crimes against humanity. We will also discuss the more recent doctrine of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and future perspectives for cross-border humanitarian action.

Assessment methods: literature review, research proposal

The Atlantic World: Slavery and Emancipation (15 credits)

This module investigates the history of slavery and emancipation across the Atlantic World. It follows the slave trade from its origins in the time of Columbus through its slow demise in the nineteenth century and its continuing impact and legacies today. Students will analyse and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources. Special emphasis is placed on resistance to enslavement, including runaways, rebellions and the abolitionist movement.

Assessment methods: presentation, research project

History of Internationalism: From Karl Marx to Greta Thunberg (15 credits)

What do Karl Marx, Malcolm X, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Greta Thunberg have in common? All of these landmark historical figures believed in internationalism and thought that the success of their cause—whatever this was—depended on being able to include and engage people in other countries and/or the entire world. This seminar will explore the history of internationalism as a set of ideas and practices. Particular attention will be devoted to cases, ranging from communist internationalism, liberal/conservative internationalism, feminist internationalism, ecological internationalism, and the history of international organisations.

Assessment methods: literature review, essay

Choose 15 credits from the following regional politics and society option modules:

West European Politics and Society (15 credits)


North American Politics and Society (15 credits)


East Asian Politics and Society: China and Japan (15 credits)


South Asian Politics and Society (15 credits)


Choose 15 credits from the following international relations option modules:

International Relations in Political Thought (15 credits)


Security Studies: Theories and Issues (15 credits)


The Politics and Policies of the European Union (15 credits)


International Political Economy (15 credits)


Year 3

The Aston placement year forms an integral part of your educational journey and is compulsory for all home students. International/EU students can request permission to opt out of the placement year, but we strongly recommend that it is completed where possible.

Find out more about the Aston placement year.

Final Year 

Core modules:

History Workshop (30 credits)

In the History Workshop, students will study and practice different styles of researching, writing, and presenting history to diverse audiences. We will explore growing and comparatively new fields such as public history and different types of online history platforms, but we will also focus on more traditional outlets and publications formats, including monographs, journal articles, and reviews. Practising and experimenting with these different styles, you will develop your skills in historical research, writing, and presentation across a variety of fields, and you are encouraged to reflect on and find your own voice as a researcher, writer, and presenter of history.

Assessment methods: two essays, presentation

Dissertation (International Relations or History) (30 credits)

This module aims to support you to develop, present, and complete a substantial piece of independent research. You will choose and develop your own topic through consultation with and guidance from an academic supervisor. The aim of the module is both to guide you and to provide you with the freedom to pursue a topic of your choice in great depth, thus producing a substantial piece of independent research that will prepare you for postgraduate study.

Assessment methods: presentation, dissertation (8,000 words)

Optional modules:

Choose 30 credits (if completing international relations dissertation) from the following history option modules. 

Twin Periods: The Interwar Years and post-1989 History (15 credits)

In this module, we will explore similarities, resemblances, and parallels between the interwar years (1919–1939) and the post-1989 period. We will examine the beginnings of both eras, which were marked by major victories of Western liberal powers over central and eastern European authoritarian regimes. We will then investigate why the initial enthusiasm following victory did not hold but instead gave rise to years marked by economic crisis (Wall Street crash in 1929 and the global financial crisis in 2008/9). Finally, we will discuss similarities between the nationalist turn of international politics from the late 1920s and the rise of right-wing and populist political movements in the past decade.

Assessment methods: presentation, essay

Bullets, Bombs and Bitcoin: History and Technology since 1990 (15 credits)

This module aims to enable students to deepen their knowledge and understanding of history through the lens of technological development and its interactions with the world around us. Case studies will include the evolution of the internet, the history of smart cities, industrial revolutions, the development of technological modernity and how people reacted to it.

Assessment methods: fixed time window examination

Rage, Shame, and Hope: Emotions and Politics from the 19th to the 21st Century (15 credits)

How can one understand the history of revolutions and wars without thinking about rage and honour? How can one describe discrimination without discussing shame? This course explores the field of “history of emotions,” analysing how these can be used as a category of historical analysis. It also investigates how emotions are defined; how they changed over time; how they varied depending on constructed notions of gender, class, race, and space; and how they affected historical developments.

Assessment methods: coursework, presentation

Teaching History in the 21st Century (15 credits)

“Who controls the past controls the future,” says George Orwell. But who controls the past? This module explores the past, present and future of history education. It looks at a wide range of teaching practices, including schools, universities, museums and public history, in both local and international context. Students’ individual interests will determine the module content. Whether you are considering a career in teaching, want to build skills for educational outreach and lifelong learning, or if you are just curious about the subject, everyone is welcome.

Assessment methods: practical teaching session, teaching observations

Choose 30 credits (if completing international relations dissertation), or choose 60 credits (if completing history dissertation) from the following international relations option modules . 

African Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present Day (15 credits)


America in the World (15 credits)


The American Presidency (15 credits)


Chinese Politics and Society (15 credits)


Conflict and Intervention (15 credits)


Diplomacy and Soft Power (15 credits)


EuroSim: Learning Negotiation through Simulation Games (15 credits)

Find out more

Gender and Politics (15 credits)


Interest Groups and Lobbying (15 credits)


Politics and Islam: Past and Present (15 credits)


Politics and Protest in a Globalised World (15 credits)


Politics of Development (15 credits)


Religion and Politics in Contemporary Europe (15 credits)


Sport and Politics (15 credits)


Technology and Digital Politics (15 credits)


The International Relations of East Asia (15 credits)


The Populist Radical Right in Europe (15 credits)


Debates in Contemporary British Politics (15 credits)


Political Parties (15 credits)



Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Entry requirements

Typical offers:

A Levels

BBC (standard offer)

BCC (with EPQ or Core Maths minimum grade B)

BCC (contextual offer*)


29 points overall with grades 5, 5, 4 in 3 higher level subjects.

Standard level Maths and English grade 4 required in lieu of GCSE English and Maths grade C/4.

BTEC, Access & other

BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM (standard offer)

The University also accepts the BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate/BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma and BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/BTEC Level 3 Diploma for entry onto degree programmes, provided that they are studied in combination with other qualifications that are equivalent to three full A2 Levels.

We accept the QAA-recognised Access Diploma which must consist of 45 credits at Level 3. You must obtain a minimum of 30 distinction and the rest must be at merit or distinction. Please note that we do not accept the English and Maths components within the Access qualification and you must meet the GCSE entry requirement.

T Levels

The following T levels are accepted qualifications for this course:

  • T-Level - Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction Grade D
  • T-Level - Digital Production, Design and Production Grade D
  • T-Level – Education and Childcare Grade D
  • T-Level – Onsite Construction Grade D
  • T-Level – Building Services Engineering for Construction Grade D
  • T-Level – Digital Business Services Grade D
  • T-Level – Digital Support Services Grade D
  • T-Level – Health Grade D
  • T-Level – Healthcare Science Grade D
  • T-Level – Science Grade D

GCSE Maths – grade C/4

GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4

Learn more about admission to this course

View our Admissions Policy.

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, initial offers will not be lower than stated above).

Entry onto our Foundation Programme may be offered as an alternative to the degree course if lower entry grades are achieved. Aston University welcomes applications from students with a wide range of qualifications from the UK and overseas, including combinations of qualifications. If your qualifications are not listed here and you wish to check whether they meet the entry requirements for this course, please contact the university.

Please note that General Studies does not contribute towards the UCAS points requirement but is welcomed as an additional qualification.

International students

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.

For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your country webpage. 

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston. Find out more.

*For details on our Aston Ready contextual offer scheme, please see here.  

Learning, teaching and assessment

What you’ll learn

You will be involved in lectures, tutorials, seminars, e-seminars, small-group work, project work and independent study. Many of your modules will be in a 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 for group and collaborative work. Students undertake a major piece of independent research in the final year.

During your final year, you will get the opportunity to select the EuroSim optional module. EuroSim is an annual international intercollegiate simulation of the European Union (EU). The purpose of this module is to educate you about the inner workings of the European Union, which will provide you with a great experience of how to use politics in a real-world setting. Find out more about the module here.

Study skills

There is a much stronger emphasis on reading and on your own private, independent study than at pre-degree level. The University offers training courses in study skills, and the Library’s Learning Development Centre provides one-to-one instruction, workshops and study guides for academic research and writing. 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. To help you manage your learning, we set out your work for the year in online student guides and module handouts, which include full details of all modules including week-by-week lecture breakdowns, reading lists and all coursework assignments for the year.


Assessment is through a combination of written and oral exams, coursework, essays, presentations and an extended dissertation during your final year. Exams take place in January and May/June. The placement year is an integral and assessed part of your studies at Aston, fully supported by us, and of direct relevance to your degree.

Personal development

You will develop a range of skills that transfer to the workplace, such as critical thinking, team working and communication skills.

The integrated placement year gives you skills, knowledge and experience that cannot be replicated in the lecture room.

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies to find work. The new post-study work visa will apply to international students starting undergraduate and postgraduate courses from 2020 at universities with a track record of compliance with immigration policy. Click here for more information on post-work visas.

Programme Director(s)

Dr Volker Prott (History)

Dr Caroline Gray (International Relations)

9/11 as Global History: Memories from New York, Birmingham, and Ghazni

More than twenty years ago, the terror attacks on the USA on 9/11 sent ripples throughout the world, reshaping events and changing lives on several continents. Aston History looks back on the traumatic events of the day and discusses its aftereffects across the globe, from New York to Birmingham (UK) and Ghazni (Afghanistan).

Hidden Voices: Black Healthcare Workers in the Midlands

An hour-long online presentation and Q&A related to a pilot project: Oral Histories of Black Healthcare Workers in the Midlands

Doing Black History during lockdown

During lockdown, final-year students Kiranpreet Kaur and Hinna Awan were on a mission to dig into Birmingham’s Industrial Heritage.

Holocaust Memorial Day: A survivor remembers

Survivor Dorit Oliver-Wolff shares her traumatic experiences as a child under the Nazi regime.

Germany’s new government: what the world can expect in a post-Merkel era

Leaders of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Liberals (FDP) have reached a deal on their coalition agreement for government, paving the way for a new administration to replace that of Angela Merkel.

Fees and scholarships

UK students (2024/25)

Annual tuition fees: £9,250

During placement year: £1,250

International/EU students (2024/25)

Annual tuition fees: TBC

During placement year: £2,500

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as home students. Further information can be found here.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.

More information on fees and funding


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.

Career prospects

History graduates go on to a range of professions with recent roles including Academic Librarian, Archivist, Broadcast Journalist, Conservation Officer, Editorial assistant, Civil Service Administrator, Heritage Manager, Human Resources Officer, Marketing Trainee, Museum Education Officer, Museum/Gallery Curator, Policy Officer, Research Assistant, Solicitor and School Teacher.

Potential employers include IBM, Interserve, Capgemini, Virgin Active, and the BBC.


Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Placement Service'.

The Careers and Placements team at Aston University won the 'Best University Placement Service' category at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2022. This was achieved by launching Virtual Employability Festivals and recognising the power of peer-to-peer communication by pairing 500 students looking for placements with 500 students who had completed placements.

Frequently asked questions

Why study History at Aston University?

A versatile joint honours History degree programme at Aston gives you the chance to study contemporary history alongside a range of other subjects, taking your career prospects to the next level.

Dr Brian Sudlow, a history lecturer at Aston University, explains the benefits of studying history in this blog. Click here to read more

What jobs can I get with a history degree?

Aston History graduates develop a range of skills that are in high demand in a competitive and rapidly evolving global job market: complex problem solving, fact checking, critical and creative thinking, digital literacy, effectively engaging with cultural diversity, and project management. These skills qualify history graduates for a range of careers: public administration, teaching, creative companies, museums, and archives, but also journalism and media, public relations, HR, think tanks, business, management positions, and further qualifications in law, among many others.

Why do a placement year at Aston?

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 - 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 Careers and Placements Team who will give you plenty of individual help and advice, and even come and visit you during your time away.

Why should international students choose Aston University?

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 different countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study, it’s also a great place to live.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career.

Choosing to start your Aston journey with our foundation programme in social science will help you develop specialist knowledge to ensure that you are fully prepared to study your chosen undergraduate course.


Chat with current students

Register your interest
Register your interest form