International Relations and Sociology

BSc (Hons)

Are you ready to see the world differently and critically explore how societal structures influence global dynamics?

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements

BBC (standard offer)

BCC (contextual offer)

Duration

3 or 4 years

UCAS code(s)

LL2H

Start date

Course overview

Our BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology at Aston University provides a comprehensive understanding of the major political and social issues faced by governments across the world. You will become an expert critical thinker, equipped with the skills and knowledge to understand and address inequalities, social constraints, societal dynamics and global issues.

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

Opting for the placement year will provide you with invaluable real-world experience, boosting your employability. Whether you choose to work, teach or study abroad, you will benefit from Aston University’s extensive global connections with employers, schools and universities.

Katie Yang International Relations and Sociology student

"Aston University was one of the only universities in the UK to offer a degree in International Relations and Sociology. These two subjects particularly interested me as I enjoyed the idea of furthering my knowledge of social research alongside learning about our international political systems."

Katie Yang
BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology

Why International Relations and Sociology at Aston University?

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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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We know our stuff
Aston University was ranked 9th overall in the UK for International Relations (Guardian, 2024)
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Safe in our hands
Sociology at Aston University was ranked 14th in the UK for ‘graduate prospects – on track’ (Complete University Guide, 2024)
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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
We were ranked 5th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (International Relations; Guardian, 2024)

Course description

BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology

Our BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology degree at Aston University will equip you with the expertise and practical insights needed to understand and address real-life political and sociological challenges facing our society in the 21st century.

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What we will provide
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
Alongside cultivating your sociological imagination, you will develop key analytical and critical thinking skills, enabling you to address big questions around how society is organised within local, national and international contexts. Our graduates are empathetic, culturally aware changemakers who are equipped with the right skills to make an impact in their chosen careers.

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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 optional for BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology students. Even if you choose not to opt for the placement year, you will still benefit from some of the employability-focused modules within your second and final year.
 

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Career prospects
As an Aston University International Relations and Sociology 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: Birmingham City Council, Department for Education, Deloitte, Allianz, Refugee and Migrant Centre, IBM, West Midlands Police.

How you will learn

Our programme is designed to give you a dynamic learning experience, equipping you with the skills for a successful career in understanding and analysing global dynamics. Through practical teaching methods, including interactive lectures, group seminars, and workshops led by experienced academic staff, you'll engage in lively discussions and explore diverse viewpoints. 

You will gain hands-on experience through applied modules, study trips and the optional placement year, preparing you to tackle real-world challenges in an ever-changing global context. This practical approach not only helps you grasp international relations theories but also nurtures critical thinking and research skills essential in today's world.

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 industry and individuals, our course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of key sociological concepts, international relations theories, and an ability to critically analyse complex issues. You will be equipped to tackle the challenges of a diverse and evolving world.

First year

In your first year, you will grasp the foundational principles and concepts associated with sociology and international relations, including key theoretical and ethical issues. You will cultivate critical thinking in alignment with social and political scientific theories, and you will develop different approaches to solving issues in the global arena.

Second year

With the fundamentals mastered in the first year, you will be equipped with skills to expand your knowledge with more complex concepts and theories. You will develop an ability to critically assess the suitability of different investigative methods, and you will learn to analyse large datasets and conduct ethnographic research.

Placement year

The placement year is optional for BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology students. While we recognise the significant employability benefits that come with opting for a placement year, it's important to highlight that for this programme it's entirely your choice. Aston University graduates are renowned for their employability, and we highly recommend considering a placement year. 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 a topic of your choice relating to sociology or international relations, showcasing your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods. You will have the opportunity to 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 excellent learning experience that draws on the research and expertise of Aston University academic staff.
  2. Provides you with key skills for lifelong learning.
  3. Provides you with 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 use of different methods of political analysis drawing on history, political philosophy and the social sciences.
  5. Enables 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. Provides you with a good understanding of the history of sociological thought, and sociological theories and methods.
  8. Provides you with the ability to analyse and understand social problems, social change and social structures.
  9. Develops your familiarity with key concepts in sociological theories.
  10. Develops your familiarity with key issues in contemporary societies.

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
Introduction to Social Theory30
Becoming a Social Scientist30
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 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 research design, and qualitative and quantitative data and methods, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of social policy and international relations.
  • Think critically and to develop lines of argument and analysis in accordance with basic social and political scientific theories and concepts.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving international relations problems, including European, international and global ones.
  • Experience working independently and managing time.
  • Understand the underlying concepts and principles associated with international relations and sociology as academic disciplines, including key theoretical and ethical issues.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of information technology for word processing, data handling, communication, and information gathering.
  • Communicate accurately, effectively, and appropriately, presenting structured and coherent arguments, demonstrating awareness of professional norms.
  • Demonstrate a range of transferrable academic skills, including an ability to reflect on own learning and development, to engage effectively with feedback, and to work effectively and collaboratively with peers.
  • Demonstrate awareness of a range of possible career pathways that graduates of the programme might pursue, and articulate the employability skills and attributes required in these careers.

Year 2 modules

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

Module TitleCredits
International Relations: Theories15
Critical Approaches to Security Studies15
Research Methods15
Advanced Research Methods15
Total60

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

You will choose two of the following optional modules:*

Module TitleCredits
Social Theory for a Changing World15
Global Society15
Embodiment and Feminist Theory15
Media and Society  15
Kith and Kin: Family Lives in a Social Context 15
Material Worlds: Culture, Objects and Practices 15
CSI: Crime, Subversion and Injustice15
Racisms15
Welfare15
Health and Society15

*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 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 evaluate different concepts, theories, and evidence and exercise critical judgement to form compelling arguments.
  • Communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences and deploy key techniques effectively.
  • Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management skills.
  • Understand the main methods of enquiry in sociology and international relations as academic disciplines and have an ability to critically evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches.
  • Synthesise, explain, and evaluate different concepts, theories, and evidence to form compelling arguments.
  • Understand a range of basic descriptive and inferential statistics used in data analysis and key methods used in qualitative research.
  • Think critically and have an understanding of different epistemological approaches and how they influence analyses and interpretations.
  • Apply the basic tools of policy analysis to appraise the strengths and weaknesses of specific policies.

Placement year modules

The placement year is optional for BSc (Hons) International Relations and Sociology students.

If you opt for an integrated placement year, 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 knowledge, skills and competencies within a real work-based situation, and/or in a foreign context.
  • Demonstrate increasing personal and professional development through a placement.
  • Articulate key personal, cultural, professional and disciplinary knowledge and skills relevant to the placement experience and reflect on performance and on the practical applications of subject knowledge.
  • Communicate the ways in which placement-related skills can be transferred to support ongoing personal, professional and academic development.

Final year modules

In your final year you will study at least one of the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Dissertation (Sociology)30
Research Skills and International Relations Dissertation30

If you take the international relations dissertation, or both dissertations, you will choose two of the following optional modules. If you take the sociology dissertation only, you will choose four 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 Power 15
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 World 15
Religion and Politics in Contemporary Europe 15
Sport and Politics 15
Technology and Digital Politics 15
The International Relations of East Asia 15
The Populist Radical Right in Europe15
Debates in Contemporary British Politics 15
Political Parties15

If you take the sociology dissertation, or both dissertations, you will choose two of the following optional modules. If you take the international relations dissertation only, you will choose four of the following optional modules*:

Module TitleCredits
Work, Organisations and Society  15
Bodies, Power and Resistance 15
Contemporary Social Movements 15
Pregnancy and Politics15
Education for the 21st Century15
Religion and Society15
Corporate Power in a Globalised World15
Migration, Borders and Belonging15
Health Policy15
The Challenges of Climate Change15
Community Engagement15
Elites 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.

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 social policy.
  • Identify a research question and design, execute and report an extensive, empirically-based research project.
  • Design, undertake, and report independent research with a clear consideration of theory, methods and ethical considerations.
  • Synthesise and critically evaluate the concepts, theories and methods used, and findings of, social scientific and international relations research.
  • Demonstrate systematic understanding of key aspects of sociology and international relations as academic disciplines.
  • Create and present sustained arguments backed up with evidence that reflects contemporary understanding of sociology and international relations as academic disciplines.

We regularly review our modules to provide the best possible teaching and learning experience, incorporating academic developments, student feedback and employer feedback.

There may be some change to some of the modules on this course for 2025/26 entry.

We’ll make sure to let you know of any changes to modules at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. 
 
We’ll do our best to provide as much optional choice as we can, but timetabling constraints may mean it isn’t possible to take some module combinations. The structure of some courses means that the order of modules or the streams you choose may determine whether modules are core or optional. This means that your core modules or options may differ from what’s shown here.


 

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

Fees listed are for 2024 entry. For Sandwich courses the placement fee is £1250 for Home/UK students and £2,500 for International students. For Home students: Tuition fees for UK/Home students may change in line with government policy. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies. 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.

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.

Career prospects

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

  • Account manager
  • Business development consultant
  • Communications officer
  • Domestic abuse support worker
  • Governance support officer
  • Graduate buyer
  • HR senior associate
  • Intensive family support worker
  • Management trainee
  • Paralegal
  • Police officer
  • Probation officer
  • Project manager
  • Research officer
  • Teacher

Our graduates have gone on to work at companies such as Allianz, Birmingham City Council, Department for Education, Deloitte, IBM, Refugee and Migrant Centre, and West Midlands Police.

Our graduates work all over the world. Find out where their Aston University journey took them.

Alaia Ateeq being interviewed

Step out of your comfort zone

BSc (Hons) Sociology graduate Alaïa Atteeq proves the key to success is stepping out of your comfort zone. 
 

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 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.

 

Register your interest