International Relations and Social Policy BSc 2021

Study the BSc International Relations and Social Policy degree course at Aston University to get a fascinating insight into the major political and sociological challenges facing governments across the world, and how the policies they develop impact on all our lives.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type

Full-time (Hons)

Course format

Placement year (UK/abroad)

Duration

4 years with integrated placement year /

3 years without integrated placement year

 

UCAS code(s)

LL2K

Start date

Overview
Explore International Relations and Social Policy at Aston University
Faith Olagbegi BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

“The highlight of my placement year was working at a German company and integrating into the German culture. I developed independence and discipline that supported me in my final year, and will definitely support me in my career.”

Faith Olagbegi

BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

Here's for the ones who do things differently and carve out their own path

Best University Careers Service Award

Here to support you.

Aston University recognised as the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service' at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2020.

Umaymah Iqbal BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

"If I hadn't chosen to study at Aston, I would not have the confidence needed for my future career. I've had the opportunity to research a topic of my choice in my final year with the support of my tutor - something which I've wanted to do from the beginning of my degree. The support from the community of lecturers and tutors has helped me to exceed my expectations, making my time at Aston valuable and enjoyable."

Umaymah Iqbal

BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

Umaymah Iqbal BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

"If I hadn't chosen to study at Aston, I would not have the confidence needed for my future career. I've had the opportunity to research a topic of my choice in my final year with the support of my tutor - something which I've wanted to do from the beginning of my degree. The support from the community of lecturers and tutors has helped me to exceed my expectations, making my time at Aston valuable and enjoyable."

Umaymah Iqbal

BSc (Hons) International Relations and Social Policy

Course outline and modules

What you’ll learn

On this programme, you’ll explore the major political and social issues faced by governments across the world. You will develop a knowledge and understanding of the international state system, the structure and purpose of international organisations, and the roles played by international institutions, other intergovernmental organisations, multinational corporations and NGOs.

You will also learn about ethics and international politics, as well as investigating the economic, social and political forces which influence policy and give rise to conflicts between the achievement of economic, environmental and social objectives.

Important strengths of the programme include its focus on key contemporary issues in international relations and policy, such as global economic change and the environment as well as international comparisons of government policies. During the final year, you will explore more specialised topics through the completion of an individual research dissertation and a range of modules covering topics such as the international relations of East Asia, US foreign policy, and the international relations between post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Social Policy

On the social policy strand of the course, you’ll examine why governments take particular decisions in key policy areas and develop a detailed understanding of processes of policy making at global, national and local levels of government.

Through our flagship ‘Becoming a Social Scientist’ module and beyond, you'll be equipped with the skills you need, such as research design, use of the comparative method and written and oral presentation skills, to research what matters to you.

You will also study the nature of policy delivery and management by various organisations, such as local governments, schools and businesses. Finally, and most importantly, the programme explores in depth the outcomes and consequences of various government policies on the economy and society in areas from education to the environment.

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 and our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

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 and 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.

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.

Modules

Year 1

Core modules:

  • Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations
  • Introduction to the European Union
  • Critical Debates in Society and Policy
  • From Social Problems to Public Policies
  • Becoming a Social Scientist

 

Optional modules:

  • The Making of the Modern World
  • What’s Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations)
Year 2

Core modules:

  • International Relations: Theories
  • Critical Approaches to Security Studies
  • Critical Policy Analysis
  • Research Methods

 

Optional modules:

  • West European Politics and Society
  • Russian and East European Politics and Society
  • North American Politics and Society
  • East Asian Politics and Society: China and Japan
  • South Asian Politics and Society
  • Environmental Policy
  • Welfare States and Welfare Change
  • Global Society
  • CSI: Crime Subversion and Injustice
  • Contested Cities
  • International Relations in Political Thought
  • Security Studies: Theories and Issues
  • The Politics and Policies of the European Union
  • International Political Economy
Year 3

Integrated placement year - find out more about the Aston placement year.

Final Year 

Core modules:

  • Dissertation (International Relations or Policy)

 

Optional modules:

  • A Great Misunderstanding: Britain and the EU
  • African Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present Day
  • America in the World
  • The American Presidency
  • BRICS and Emerging Power Shifts in World Politics
  • Chinese Politics and Society
  • Conflict and Intervention
  • Democracy, Authoritarianism and Regime Change
  • Diplomacy and Soft Power
  • Ethics and International Relations
  • EuroSim: Learning Negotiation through Simulation Games
  • Gender and Politics
  • Interest Groups and Lobbying
  • International Institutions
  • Nationalism and Political Power
  • Political Communication
  • Leaders and Leadership: Case Studies and Comparative Perspectives
  • 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
  • The International Relations of East Asia
  • The Populist Radical Right in Europe
  • Understanding Foreign Policy
  • Debates in Contemporary British Politics
  • Changing Patterns of Warfare
  • Intelligence Agencies and the Modern World – MI6, CIA and ISI
  • Political Parties
  • Migration, Borders and Belonging
  • Health Policy
  • The Challenges of Climate Change
  • Corporate Power in a Globalised World
  • Work, Organisations and Society
  • Bodies, Power and Resistance
  • Contemporary Social Movements
  • Education and Digital Society
  • Religion and Society
  • Pregnancy and Politics: Cultural Norms and Family Policy
  • Community Engagement

 

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)

CCC (contextual offer*)

IB

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

Standard level Maths and English grade 5 required in lieu of GCSE English and Maths grade C/4.

BTEC, Access & other

BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM (standard offer)

BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM (contextual 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.

Pass Access to HE Diploma with Distinction / Merit in each module. Humanities, Social Sciences or Business Access course preferred, but other courses considered on an individual basis.

Further requirements

5 GCSE grades A*/9 – C/4 to include:

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.

All applications are considered on an individual basis and the whole application is reviewed carefully, including previous and predicted qualifications, experience, reference and your motivation to study the 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, any offer made will not be lower than stated above.

*Click here for details on our Aston Ready contextual offer scheme.

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.

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.

Learning, teaching and assessment

What you’ll learn

On this programme, you’ll explore the major political and social issues faced by governments across the world. You will develop a knowledge and understanding of the international state system, the structure and purpose of international organisations and the roles played by international institutions, other intergovernmental organisations, multinational corporations and NGOs.

You will also learn about ethics and international politics, as well as investigating the economic, social and political forces which influence policy and give rise to conflicts between the achievement of economic, environmental and social objectives.

Important strengths of the programme include its focus on key contemporary issues in international relations and policy, such as global economic change and the environment as well as international comparisons of government policies. During the final year, you will explore more specialised topics through the completion of an individual research dissertation and a range of modules covering topics such as the international relations of East Asia, US foreign policy, and the international relations between post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

On the sociology strand of the course, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of social processes, inequalities, organisational dynamics and inter-group relationships.

You’ll cover pressing social issues such as migration, climate change, welfare, crime, health and sexuality. In class, we explore the inequalities, injustices and dependencies that pattern our social lives. Through reflective learning, you'll explore the social structures, such as class, gender, ethnicity, religion and identity, that have shaped your own life, and you'll have the chance to do your own research into city life in the neighbourhoods of Birmingham.

Through our flagship ‘Becoming a Social Scientist’ module and beyond, you'll be equipped with the skills you need, such as research design, use of the comparative method and written and oral presentation skills, to research what matters to you.

Placement year

The placement year is optional for students studying international relations and social policy and is designed to give you real-life experience and to act as a springboard for your future career.

You can choose whether your placement has an international relations or a social policy focus and it may be in the UK or abroad. Placements taken by Aston students are generally paid, with the average salary being around £16,000. In recent years, Aston students have undertaken placements in a variety of organisations including the Home Office, British Energy, the House of Lords, Marks and Spencer, the British High Commission in Ghana and the Ford Motor Company.

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 for which you are prepared in your second year.

Programme Director(s)

Dr Yaprak Gursoy (International Relations)

Dr Tom Mills (Social Policy)

Fees and scholarships

UK students (2021/22)

Annual tuition fees: £9,250

During placement year: £1,250

International/EU students (2021/22)

Annual tuition fees: £15,950

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

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. Find out more about our scholarships here.

Career prospects

International Relations and Social Policy graduates go on to a range of professions with recent roles including Account Manager, Analyst, Business Analyst, Corporate Banking Trainee, Corporate Engagement Executive, Corporate Finance Intern, Graduate Intern, Public Policy and Strategic Relationships Intern, Engagement Executive, Insurance Broker, Mental Health Support Worker, National Project Coordinator, Person Centred Support Worker and Procurement Manager.

Potential employers include Morgan Stanley, the Department for International Development, HSBC, Bosch, the Ministry of Defence, the United Nations Economic Commission, IBM, Capgemini, Virgin Active, Hays, British Gas, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Interserve, Airbus, Solihull Care Housing Association and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We’ll make sure you’re career ready. Employed Social Studies graduates earn £5,800 (28 per cent) more than the UK average three years after graduation (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2019).

Best University Careers Service Award

Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service'.

The Careers and Placements team at Aston University won the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service' category at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2020 for its use of innovative ideas to engage a high number of students with the service in order to support them with their career planning.

Aston University has strong links with national and international organisations with over 200 employers interacting with students on campus each year.

Frequently asked questions

Why should I study International Relations and Social Policy at Aston?

Our versatile joint honours programme will offer you a fascinating insight into the political and sociological challenges facing our global society in the 21st century and we’ll give you a head start on your future career. Social Policy is ranked 7th in the UK for Graduate Prospects (Complete University Guide, 2020).

Why does Aston offer a placement year for international relations and social policy?

Aston is one of only a few UK universities to offer international relations and social policy with a fully integrated placement year. The distinctive placement year is an optional feature of the programme and is designed to give our students an advantage in the graduate labour market.

What careers does a degree in International Relations and Social Policy lead to?

Our graduates are in demand from a wide range of employers in the public, private and voluntary sectors where a sound understanding of societies, organisations, institutions and communication skills are required.

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.

 

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