Gain experience for your CV with the integrated placement year.
Sociology at Aston University was ranked 18th in the UK for ‘research quality’ (Complete University Guide, 2022).
Aston University was ranked top 20 in the UK for Sociology (Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2022).
Employed Aston University social science graduates earn £7,700 (31 per cent) more than the UK average, five years after graduating (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2021).
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. 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.
On the sociology strand of the course, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of social processes, organisational dynamics and inter-group relationships. We explore the social constraints we encounter in our everyday lives and how they are reinforced by class, race, religion and gender. To understand how these issues perpetuate existing inequalities and unequal life chances, we analyse how politics is intertwined with the profit-making aims pursued by big corporations and how their combined interests dominate our social imaginations. When learning about contemporary topics such as inequality, racism, health, migration, sexuality, identity, education, the media, crime and climate change, you will be taught by experts in these fields.
Sociology will equip you with the knowledge and analytical skills that will enable you to think critically and work independently. This includes how to design a research project, collect empirical data, handle complex datasets (e.g., through applying coding techniques) and, most importantly, develop an advanced analytical mindset. This training will be essential for your final-year dissertation during which you will carry out your own individual research project. This experience will provide you with a skillset that is highly desired in a wide range of industries and areas of work.
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.
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.
For International Students intending to do a foundation year, visit ONCAMPUS.
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.
- Year 1
- Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations
- Introduction to the European Union
- Introduction to Social Theory
- Becoming a Social Scientist
- The Making of the Modern World
- What’s Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations)
- Year 2
- International Relations: Theories
- Critical Approaches to Security Studies
- Research Methods
- Advanced Research Methods
- 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
- International Political Economy
- Social Theory for a Changing World
- Global Society
- Embodiment and Feminist Theory
- Media and Society
- Kith and Kin
- The Social Life of Stuff
- Crime, Subversion and Injustice
- Contested Cities
- Welfare States and Welfare Change
- Health and Society
- 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 (Sociology 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
- 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
- Political Communication
- 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
- Political Parties
- Work, Organisations and Society
- Bodies, Power and Resistance
- Contemporary Social Movements
- Pregnancy and Politics
- Education for the 21st Century
- Religion and Society
- Corporate Power in a Globalised World
- Migration, Borders and Belonging
- Health Policy
- The Challenges of Climate Change
- Community Engagement
- CSI: Crime, Subversion and Injustice
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 5 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
- Further requirements
GCSE Maths – grade C/4
GCSE English Language or English Literature – grade C/4
- Learn more about admission to this course
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 placement year is optional for students studying international relations and sociology 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 sociology 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.Find out more about the Aston placement year, and view the careers and placements page.
Dr Caroline Gray (International Relations)
Dr Tom Mills / Dr Sarah-Jane Page (Sociology)
Politics and International Relations Research
Fees and scholarships
UK students (2022/23)
Annual tuition fees: £9,250
During placement year: £1,250
International/EU students (2022/23)
Annual tuition fees: £16,300
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.
International Relations and Sociology 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 Aston social studies graduates earn £4,000 (23 per cent) more than the UK average, one year after graduation (Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2020).
Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Placements Service'.
The Careers and Placements 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.
Aston University embeds employability into 80% of subjects in the curriculum through their incredible relationships with academic staff, the university-wide commitment to employability sets the benchmark.
Frequently asked questions
- Why study International Relations and Sociology 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, giving you a great springboard for your future career.
- Why does Aston offer a placement year for International Relations and Sociology?
Aston is one of only a few UK universities to offer international relations and sociology 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 Sociology 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.
Chat with current students