Business and International Relations

BSc (Hons)

Are you ready to understand what it takes to be a successful business leader on the world stage?

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements

BBC (standard offer)

BCC (contextual offer)

Duration

4 years with integrated placement year (international students may opt out of the placement year)

UCAS code(s)

LN21

Start date

Course overview

The BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations course provides a comprehensive understanding of business and management alongside a profound understanding of global politics. You will gain a strong foundation in management principles and business concepts, including strategic decision-making. You will also explore major issues in international affairs such as concepts and theories of international relations, approaches to security studies or international political economy. Understanding how business and politics intersect on a global scale will provide you with a solid starting point for your future career.

You will be taught by research-active staff who are experts in their respective fields and who constantly update their teaching based on the newest research findings.

The integrated placement year will bridge the gap between theory and practice, and provide you with invaluable real-world experiences in the UK or abroad, equipping you with the skills and insights you need for a range of professional roles within business, government or advocacy.

Astou Camara

“A placement year gives you an idea of what you want to do as a career, especially if you are unsure of your future career path. I would also recommend registering for Aston’s societies as you can use them to sell yourself as well. I was vice president of UNICEF on campus, which was something I used to sell myself in interviews and which helped me to secure my placement.”

Astou Camara
BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations
Service consultant and project support officer, Airswift

Why Business and International Relations at Aston University?

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Safe in our hands
Aston University was ranked 9th overall in the UK for International Relations (Guardian, 2024)
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Recognised for quality
Aston Business School is proud to be among 1% of business schools worldwide with triple accreditation
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Earn more
Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, earning on average £36,100 five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2023)
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Gold standard teaching
Aston University was awarded Gold - the highest possible rating for the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2023)
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Our academics are clear
92% of students felt that teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things (Business and International Relations; National Student Survey, 2023)

Course description

BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations

Our BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations degree at Aston University focuses on key contemporary issues in international relations and policy, such as security and globalisation of the international political economy. It is strongly geared towards increasing your employability.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK’s second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you. You will benefit from applied learning, research-informed teaching and authentic assessment. As a student on this programme, you will be one of the first to know about advancements in topical research by staff across the department, even before it is published.

We are also an Adobe Creative Campus meaning you will have access to top-notch software licenses, including Adobe and Solidworks, commonly used in industry.

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies – understanding that intelligence and success come from applying yourself, a willingness to learn and an ambition and drive to excel. 

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What skills we teach
In addition to acquiring essential skills in business and management, your will gain an in-dept knowledge of contemporary politics in a global context. You will have the opportunity to produce a substantial piece of individual work in the form of a dissertation on an agreed topic of your choice.

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Placement year
We all know that taking a placement year will boost your employability – it’s what makes Aston University graduates some of the most employable in the country. It’s for this reason that we encourage every student to take one. The placement year gives you the chance to put theory into practice, gain relevant work experience, and develop professional and transferable skills.

The placement year is compulsory for BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations students. International students can request permission to opt out of the placement year, but we strongly recommend that it is completed where possible.

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Career prospects
As an Aston University Business and International Relations graduate, you will be equipped for a range of different career options. Our recent graduates have gone on to work across the public, private and third sectors for organisations including: Sainsburys, Jaguar Land Rover, Highways England, Lloyds Banking Group and the Civil Service.

How you will learn

Our teaching approach is innovative, comprehensive, and practical, emphasising real-world application. The BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations programme employs diverse teaching methods, including lectures, tutorials, seminars, project work and independent study. At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who can offer individual study advice and guidance.

Our emphasis is on practical knowledge application, with guest lectures from prominent business leaders and mentoring programs offering unique insights. Our renowned Visiting Professors, top UK business figures, share their expertise and expectations from students and graduates.

Complementing traditional teaching, our virtual learning environment provides electronic support materials. You'll have access to the University Library's extensive collection of over 25,000 books and electronic journals. University-wide services like the careers service, Jobshop, counselling and advice services, sports facilities, and Chaplaincy enhance your overall university experience and prepare you for your professional career.

In your final year, you will undertake a major piece of independent research in the form of a dissertation. You will have the opportunity to choose from a range of optional modules including EuroSim, where students compete in an international intercollegiate negotiation simulation.

What you will learn

Driven by the needs of society and future employers, our course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of key business, management and international relations theories and concepts and an ability to critically analyse these, alongside the opportunity to specialise in areas of business and international relations that interest you. 

First year

In your first year, you will develop a fundamental knowledge of business and international relations. You will explore basic theories and methods for analysing management, business and international affairs. You will also gain data analysis, problem solving and communication skills while fostering collaboration, time management and independence.

Second year

In your second year, you will delve deeper into international relations and management theories, applying them to real-world scenarios. You will acquire knowledge in strategic decision-making within companies and comprehend diverse political systems, power dynamics and contextual factors. Additionally, you will develop independence, versatile communication and critical thinking skills.

Placement year

The Aston University placement year forms an integral part of your educational journey and gives you the chance to put theory into practice, gain relevant work experience, and develop professional and transferable skills. Our award-winning careers and placements team are on hand to support you through every step of your placement journey.

Final year

In your final year, you will complete a research dissertation on an international relations topic of your choice, showcasing your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods. You will specialise in topics you enjoy most by choosing from a range of optional modules.

Lauren

My placement year in the Netherlands

Lauren Shipstone completed her placement year abroad at Dremel - a multinational brand of power tools and division of Bosch. Her placement year "massively improved" her confidence and communication skills.

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with an intellectually rigorous and up-to-date education in international relations and business administration which will help you to identify and achieve your personal, academic and professional goals.
  2. Provides you with the ability to analyse and understand international relations problems, socio-cultural change and international political institutions and structures.
  3. Develops the ability to recognise and analyse the economic, technical, financial, social and organisational parameters within which modern managers make decisions.
  4. Offers you the opportunity to obtain relevant industrial experience or study abroad through a placement year.
  5. Produces graduates who have the knowledge and skills to find employment in a range of business and management roles, in both the public and private sectors, especially in internationally focused roles.
  6. Provides you with an excellent learning experience that draws on the research and consultancy of Aston University academic staff.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

In your first year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations30
Introduction to the European Union15
Introductory Accounting for Business15
Economic Environment of Business15
Law for Business15
Introduction to Marketing Management15
Total105

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
The Making of the Modern World15
What’s Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations)15

*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.

Year 1 outcomes

On successful completion of the first year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nature and significance of international relations and human activities in regional/European and international or global frameworks.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic theories and methods used in the study of management and international relations as applied to the analysis of management and international political ideas, companies, institutions and practices.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the main functions of business and management.
  • Present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of management and international relations.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving international relations and management problems.
  • Communicate the results of your study/work accurately and reliably, with structured and coherent arguments.
  • Collaborate effectively with others to achieve common goals.

Year 2 modules

In your second year you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
International Relations: Theories15
Critical Approaches to Security Studies15
Fundamental Strategy15
Strategic Finance15
Operations Management15
Virtual Business Simulation15
Total90

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Politics and Society of the Middle East15
West European Politics and Society15
North American Politics and Society15
East Asian Politics and Society: China and Japan15
South Asian Politics and Society15

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
International Relations in Political Thought15
Security Studies: Theories and Issues15
The Politics and Policies of the European Union15
International Political Economy15

*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.

Year 2 outcomes

On successful completion of the second year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and a critical understanding of the theories of international relations and management as applied to the analysis of management and international political ideas, companies, institutions and practices.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of strategic decision making within companies.
  • Demonstrate understanding of different regional and international political systems; the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate.
  • Apply the concepts and principles of international relations and management in contexts outside of which they were first studied, including an employment context.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the roles of various corporate functions in theory and practice.
  • Use established techniques to construct reasoned argument, gather and synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement.
  • Communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences and deploy key techniques of management and international relations effectively.
  • Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management skills.

Placement year modules

You will spend your third year on placement. You will be fully supported throughout the process by our award-winning Careers and Placements team.

Placement year

Module TitleCredits
Integrated Placement Year120

Placement year outcomes

On successful completion of the placement year, you will be able to:

  • Apply your knowledge, skills and competencies within a real work-based situation, or in a foreign context.
  • Manage your future learning and reflect upon your own learning and development.
  • Reflect on the practical applications of subject knowledge.

Final year modules

In your final year you will study the following core module:

Module TitleCredits
Research Skills and International Relations Dissertation30
Theories and Practice of Leadership15
Business Ethics15
Total60

You will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
African Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present Day15
America in the World15
The American Presidency15
Chinese Politics and Society15
Conflict and Intervention15
Diplomacy and Soft Power15
EuroSim: Learning Negotiation through Simulation Games15
Gender and Politics15
Interest Groups and Lobbying15
Politics and Islam: Past and Present15
Politics and Protest in a Globalised World15
Politics of Development15
Religion and Politics in Contemporary Europe15
Sport and Politics15
Technology and Digital Politics15
The International Relations of East Asia15
The Populist Radical Right in Europe15
Debates in Contemporary British Politics15
Political Parties15

You will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
International Marketing15
Sustainable Operations Management15
Strategic Human Resource Management15
Ethics in a Crisis15
Innovation & New Product & Service Development15
Global Working15

*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.

Final year outcomes

On successful completion of the final year, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a systematic and critical knowledge of the key theories, methods, and applications of international relations and management.
  • Identify a research question and design, execute and report an extensive, empirically-based research project.
  • Evaluate critically and comment on advanced management and international relations scholarship.
  • Develop quantitative and qualitative skills required to make assessments of the business and international political environment.
  • Exercise personal initiative and responsibility and make informed decisions in complex and unpredictable contexts.
  • Communicate ideas, problems, solutions and research results effectively to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Entry requirements

  • A Levels

    BBC (standard offer)
    BCC (with EPQ or Core Maths minimum grade B)
    BCC (contextual offer)

  • Contextual offers

    Aston Ready is our contextual offer scheme that could reduce your undergraduate offer by one or two grades. Assessed at the point of application, there are no additional forms to fill in.

Contextual offer criteria

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.

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

You must also have Standard Level grade 4 in Mathematics and grade 5 in English Language.

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.

 

The following T Levels are accepted qualifications for this course:

  • Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Production, Design and Production - grade D
  • Education and Childcare - grade D
  • Onsite Construction - grade D
  • Building Services Engineering for Construction - grade D
  • Digital Business Services - grade D
  • Digital Support Services - grade D
  • Health - grade D
  • Healthcare Science - grade D
  • Science - grade D
  • Accounting - grade D
  • Finance - grade D
  • Management and administration - grade D
  • Design and development for engineering and manufacturing - grade D 
  • Maintenance, installation and repair for engineering and manufacturing - grade D
  • Legal Services - grade D 

5 GCSE grades A*/9 - C/4 to include:

  • GCSE Maths – grade C/4
  • GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4
Year 1 entry: We may consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a first year degree elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 2 entry: Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up to the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A Level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have successfully passed (or be expected to pass) your first year with 120 credits on an equivalent programme at another recognised university with very similar module content. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.
Year 3 entry onwards: We will not be able to consider any application for Year 3 or final year. 

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our undergraduate programmes. Students from over 120 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.

Qualifications in your country

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

International students can enter at Year 2 of this course having completed an undergraduate year one programme at the required academic level with approved teaching partners ONCAMPUS Aston or NCUK.

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.

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.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

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.

Graduate Immigration Route

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£9,250
During placement year:£1,250

International students
(2024/25)

Annual tuition fees:£18,250
During placement year:£2,500

More information on fees

For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy.

For International students: The International students fee is a fixed annual fee for the duration of the Programme, except whilst on placement when a placement year fee applies.

Scholarships

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.

Explore our scholarships 

Assessment

You will be assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments. Special emphasis will be placed on authentic assessment.

Career prospects

Our BSc (Hons) Business and International Relations programme will prepare you for a range of careers across the public, private and third sectors. Our graduates are among the highest paid in the country, according to the 2023 Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO). This data shows that five years after graduation, employed Aston University graduates have the 15th highest median salary among all UK Higher Education Institutions, with a median salary of £36,100.

The transferable skills that our business and international relations programmes provide mean that our graduates are successful in finding employment in a wide range of roles such as:

  • Finance executive
  • Data insight consultant 
  • Internal auditor
  • Sales executive
  • Graduate content specialist
  • Marketing executive
  • Commercial trading executive
  • International project manager
  • Policy officer
  • Business engagement executive
  • Product analyst

Our graduates have gone on to work at companies such as Sainsburys, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Softcat, Highways England, Lloyds Banking, National Express, BT, O2, IBM, J.P.Morgan, Microsoft and the Civil Service.

maggie

Dreams do come true

Maggie Krasteva had always dreamt of working in New York City. Aston University supported her to achieve this ambition.

Our students achieve some amazing things during their time with us and after they graduate - whether it's setting up their own businesses, landing competitive graduate schemes, or making real differences within their communities.

Hear from our graduates

Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.
 

Frequently asked questions

Why study politics or international relations?

Why study politics and international relations? Dr Laura Southgate, a lecturer at Aston University, explains the benefits of studying this discipline.

Read more

How will a placement year benefit me?

Whether you choose to study abroad or do a work placement, Aston University’s links with employers and universities around the world mean you will have a wide range of options to boost your employability and explore the world of work.

Our work placements give 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.

Find out more

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

 

Register your interest