Aston University was ranked overall among the top 25 UK universities (Guardian, 2022).
Politics at Aston University was ranked 9th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (Guardian, 2023).
Aston University was ranked 6th overall in the UK for International Relations (Guardian, 2023).
Politics at Aston University was ranked 11th in the UK for ‘career after 15 months’ (Guardian, 2023)
Course outline and modules
What you’ll learn
You’ll have the opportunity to explore major political topics going beyond the UK and Europe, covering North America, South Asia, China, Japan or the emerging global powers. You will not only study the traditional subjects of the discipline, such as security, political economy or democratisation but also have the chance to delve into ethics, sports, gender, protests or religion.
You will also learn about international politics, as well as investigating the forces which influence policy and give rise to conflicts between the achievement of economic, environmental and social objectives.
An optional placement year offers the chance to apply your learning in a work or study placement in the UK or overseas. Whether you choose to study abroad, work for a company or to teach, Aston’s links with employers, schools and universities around the world mean you will have a wide range of options to boost your employability and explore the world of work.
If you choose to take a placement year, this will take place during your third year at Aston and is worth 10 per cent 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 and in your second year we’ll make sure you’re ready to get the most from this opportunity.
You will also have the opportunity to produce a substantial piece of individual work in the form of a dissertation on an agreed topic of your choice.
- Information for international applicants
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.
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
- Introduction to Studying and Researching Politics
- Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations
- British Politics since 1990
- Introduction to the European Union
- The Making of the Modern World
- What’s Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations)
- Year 2
- Political Theories and Ideologies
- Comparative Government and Politics
- International Relations: Theories
- Critical Approaches to Security Studies
- Politics and Society of the Middle East
- West European Politics and Society
- North American Politics and Society
- East Asian Politics and Society: China and Japan
- South Asian Politics and Society
- International Relations in Political Thought
- Security Studies: Theories and Issues
- The Politics and Policies of the European Union
- Introduction to Political Economy: Institutions and Rational Choice
- International Political Economy
- Year 3
This course is available as a 3 year BSc without a placement, or a 4 year BSc with an integrated sandwich placement. Both options are available to home, EU, and international students.
- Final Year
- Dissertation (Politics or International Relations)
- African Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present Day
- America in the World
- The American Presidency
- Chinese Politics and Society
- Conflict and Intervention
- Diplomacy and Soft Power
- EuroSim: Learning Negotiation through Simulation Games
- Gender and Politics
- Interest Groups and Lobbying
- Politics and Islam: Past and Present
- Politics and Protest in a Globalised World
- Politics of Development
- Religion and Politics in Contemporary Europe
- Sport and Politics
- Technology and Digital Politics
- The International Relations of East Asia
- The Populist Radical Right in Europe
- Debates in Contemporary British Politics
- Political Parties
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.
- 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
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.
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
Learning and teaching
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.
The scheduled contact hours are only part of your learning and development journey. 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 to help you with your final year dissertation 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, individual and group projects, presentations, class tests, research reports and an extended dissertation during your final year. Exams take place in January and May/June.
Our degrees are designed to also give you a range of transferable and practical skills to succeed within your chosen career. The programme enables students to develop a set of analytical skills and an aptitude for domestic and international employment, important at a time when Britain is reconfiguring its global position. We make extensive use of group working and presentations to prepare you for the reality of working life. This experience will develop your team working and negotiating skills.
The optional placement year can give you genuine practical work experience to add to your CV, which will further boost your employability.
The integrated placement year gives you the genuine, practical work experience that is invaluable in developing an appreciation of issues such as office politics, which cannot be replicated in the lecture room.
We have a dedicated Employer Team within our Careers and Placements department who have links with local, national and international organisations and advertise vacancies to students through an online platform exclusively for Aston students and graduates.
Dr Caroline Gray (Politics and International Relations)
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.
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.
Politics and Sociology graduates go on to a range of professions with recent roles including Broadcast Journalist, Editorial Assistant, Civil Service Administrator, Human Resources Officer, Marketing Trainee, Policy Officer, Research Assistant, Solicitor, Languages Teacher, Account Manager, Analyst, Business Analyst, Corporate Engagement Executive, Public Policy and Strategic Relationships Intern.
Potential employers include Morgan Stanley, the Department for International Development, HSBC, Bosch, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Economic Commission.
Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Placement Service'.
The Careers and Placement team at Aston University won the 'Best University Placements 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 should I do a placement year with Aston University?
Aston is one of the leading universities for professional placements abroad. A placement year at home or abroad gives you the opportunity to apply what you have learnt on your course while gaining valuable professional and paid experience. It can enhance your graduate employment prospects and help you to make more informed career decisions. Around one in five of our placement students are offered graduate jobs by their placement employer.
- 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.