History and International Relations

BSc (Hons)

Ready to grow your understanding of the world we live in and learn about our past to build a better future? 

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)

VL12

Start date

Course overview

The BSc (Hons) History and International Relations programme is an excellent choice for those looking to broaden their horizons and make the most of their potential. It perfectly balances contemporary history with international relations to introduce you to topics such as nationalism, state-building and inter-state relations.

You will delve into topics such as the history of war and peace along with religious and ethnic conflict. The programme offers plenty of opportunity to gain practical experience through field trips and the integrated placement year. You will dig through local archives to practice first-hand research to provide you with a flying start to your career.

History and International Relations student, Aiyesha Swarnn

“My course was amazing. I learnt a lot of skills ranging from research to analytical skills. I made great friends who supported me throughout my time at Aston, and the lectures also provided me with great help and support. I was excited to graduate as I had learnt so much and was ready to apply what I had learnt to the real world!”

Aiyesha Swarnn
BSc (Hons) History and International Relations
Co-editor, Journal of Intersectional Social Justice

Why History 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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Opportunity to grow
100% of students felt positive about the learning opportunities available to them (History programmes; National Student Survey, 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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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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Our full attention
International Relations at Aston University was ranked 5th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (Guardian, 2024)

Course description

BSc (Hons) History and International Relations

Our BSc (Hons) History and International Relations degree will equip you the fundamental knowledge and transferable skills needed to excel in a wide range of careers.

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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 be taught by experienced historians and will benefit from research-led teaching. We will provide a teaching environment which enables open discussions and collaborative learning to develop and solidify your theoretical knowledge and practical analysis. 

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. You must have drive and be willing to grow as an independent learner to take advantage of our resources and truly accelerate your potential. 

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What skills we teach
Through a range of teaching methods, you will develop and perfect core skills such as your critical thinking and teamwork. You will become a great communicator and learn how to present your ideas effectively. Throughout your degree you will be encouraged to find your own voice as a researcher and writer of history – expertise which will prepare you for your final year and thereafter. 

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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) History 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 History 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: IBM, Interserve, Capgemini, Virgin Active and the BBC.

How you will learn

At Aston University, you will learn history and international relations through immersive experiences, not just textbooks. You will engage in lively discussions, analyse primary sources and explore diverse viewpoints. Study trips, digital tools and hands-on projects will bring history to life. Our interactive approach fosters deep understanding and critical thinking, making learning an exciting journey.

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.

Applied modules and the integrated placement year will provide hands-on experience and enable you to explore everyday issues, preparing you to tackle the complexities of a rapidly changing world. At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who can offer individual study advice and guidance. You will also benefit from access to the University Library's extensive collection of over 25,000 books and electronic journals.

What you will learn

Driven by the needs of industry and individuals, our course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the concepts surrounding history and international relations and an ability to critically analyse these, alongside the opportunity to specialise in areas of history and international relations that interest you.

First year

In your first year, you will gain a solid foundation into the concepts of history and international relations. Working with real-world material and case studies, you will explore and adopt different theoretical and methodological approaches to your studies. You will gain a sound understanding of the ways in which you can think about the past. 

Second year

In second year, you will delve further into the theories of international relations and explore the methods and practices needed for researching and communicating the past in the digital age. You will be able choose optional modules covering critical historical events including slavery and emancipation along with global politics from Europe to the Middle East. 

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 final year, you will take our flagship module History Workshop, learning about public exhibitions, history-based VR experiences and digital stories, alongside other genres. You will complete a research dissertation on a historical or international relations topic of your choice to showcase your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration for ethics, theory and methods.

Bart Stawera history and international relations student

My placement year at City Year UK

Bart Stawera spoke to us and reflected on his placement experience and his journey after graduating.

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with an excellent learning experience that draws on the research and other expertise of Aston University academic staff.
  2. Develops you into a well-qualified and highly employable graduates with key skills for lifelong learning.
  3. Imparts to you an understanding of the theories, values, structures, relationships and decision-making procedures of government and society at regional, national and international or global level. 
  4. Develops your ability to use different methods of political analysis drawing on history, political philosophy and the social sciences.
  5. Encourages you to think critically about events and ideas, particularly with an international or supranational dimension. 
  6. Provides you with a gamut of intellectual tools for addressing a wide range of questions of public concern.
  7. Develops your awareness, understanding and critical command of continuity and change over extended time periods, accessed through a range of primary data and secondary perspectives, and enables you to express the same in written or spoken forms.
  8. Achieves in-depth knowledge of contemporary and modern history since 1800 with special emphasis on British and Global History and a thematic diet encompassing global and transnational connections, nationalism, internationalism, and other topics in social, political, and cultural history. 
  9. Provides a grounding in a range of methods of data analysis, processing and interpretation, notably the approaches of digital history.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Global History in Perspective15
Making Histories I: Methods, Theories, Controversies30
Contemporary Britain: from the Boer War to Brexit15
Introduction to Concepts and Methods of International Relations30
Introduction to the European Union15
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:

  • Understand a substantial body of historical knowledge.
  • Understand the varieties of approaches to interpreting the past; and of concepts and theories derived from the humanities and social science.
  • Understand continuity and change over extended time spans.
  • Develop and sustain arguments in a variety of forms, formulating appropriate questions and analysis, and communicate the results of your study/work accurately and reliably, with structured and coherent arguments.
  • Interrogate, read, analyse and reflect critically and contextually upon a variety of primary and secondary sources.
  • Access a variety of audiovisual, paper and electronic resources, and use information and communication technologies (ICTs) appropriately for the retrieval and presentation of information.
  • Understand the nature and significance of international relations as inter-state and human activities regional/European and international or global frameworks.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic theories and methods, including philosophical and historical approaches used in the study of international relations as applied to the analysis of international political ideas, institutions and practices.
  • 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 international relations.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving international relations problems, including European, international and global ones.

Year 2 modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Case Studies in Global History30
Making Histories II15
International Relations: Theories15
Critical Approaches to Security Studies15
Total75

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Humanitarian Action and Foreign Intervention, 1915 - today15
The Atlantic World: Slavery and Emancipation15
History of Internationalism: From Karl Marx to Greta Thunberg15

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
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:

  • Understand the complexity of reconstructing the past, and the problematic and varied nature of historical evidence.
  • Understand the varieties of approaches to interpreting the past; and of concepts and theories derived from the humanities and social science.
  • Understand comparative and intercultural perspectives, including the ability to compare the histories of different countries, societies, or cultures.
  • Understand theories, methods and ethical standards used for the empirical analysis of modern societies.
  • Develop and sustain arguments in a variety of forms, formulating appropriate questions and analysis.
  • Interrogate, read, analyse and reflect critically and contextually upon a variety of secondary sources to apply them in new contexts.
  • Understand the theories of international relations as applied to the analysis of international political ideas, institutions and practices.
  • Understand 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 in contexts outside of which they were first studied, including an employment context.
  • Use established techniques to construct reasoned argument, gather and synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement in respect of political matters, especially in a European, international or global framework.
  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences and deploy key techniques of 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:

  • Increase your personal and professional development through a placement overseas in the target culture(s) and ability to articulate your application and potential transfer through applied reflection.
  • Apply your knowledge, skills and competencies within a real work-based situation, or in a foreign context.
  • Manage 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 modules:

Module TitleCredits
Dissertation (History or International Relations)30
History Workshop30
Total60

If you choose history as your dissertation subject, you will choose four of the following optional modules. If you choose international relations as your dissertation subject, 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

If you choose international relations as your dissertation subject, you will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Twin Periods? The Interwar Years and post-1989 History15
Bullets, Bombs and Bitcoin: History and Technology since 199015
Rage, Shame and Hope: Emotions and Politics from the 19th to the 21st Century15
Teaching History in the 21st Century15

*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:

  • Understand a substantial body of historical knowledge.
  • Engage in analytical and evaluative thinking.
  • Engage with and critically interpret layers of meaning within texts and other cultural products.
  • Design, research, and present a sustained and independently conceived piece of writing within the framework of a structured research project.
  • Gain a systematic and critical knowledge of the key theories, methods, and applications of international relations.
  • Identify a research question and design, execute and report an extensive, empirically based research project.
  • Evaluate critically and comment on advanced international relations scholarship.
  • 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 

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

Assessment is provided through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments. In addition, you will also be assessed on your portfolio that will be produced as part of your placement experience. You will reflect on your experience and evidence your analysis of a situation identified within the placement organisation which draws on learning from your previous studies.

Career prospects

Our BSc (Hons) History 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 history and international relations programmes provide mean that our graduates are successful in finding employment in a wide range of roles such as:

  • Academic librarian
  • Archivist
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Conservation officer
  • Editorial assistant
  • Civil service administrator
  • Human resources manager
  • Museum education officer
  • Policy officer
  • Solicitor
  • Teacher

Our graduates have gone on to work at companies such as IBM, Interserve, Capgemini, Virgin Active and the BBC.

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 history?

Why study history? Isn’t it a bit narrow? Dr Brian Sudlow, a history lecturer at Aston University, explains the benefits of studying history.

Read more

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

 

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