Politics with International Relations

BSc (Hons)

Ready to become a critical-thinker and unlock global insights to help shape the world's future?

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type
Full-time
Entry requirements

BBC (standard offer)

BCC (contextual offer)

Duration

3 or 4 years

UCAS code(s)

L290

Start date

Course overview

Studying BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations at Aston University will equip you with a profound understanding of global politics and international dynamics, fostering critical thinking and practical skills.

You will have the opportunity to explore major political topics going beyond the UK and Europe, covering Africa, Asia and North America. You will not only study the traditional subjects of the discipline, including security, political economy or democracy, but also have the chance to investigate exciting topics such as gender, religion, sports or technology.

You will delve into international politics, analysing the dynamic political, economic and social forces that shape policies, cause conflicts and facilitate cooperation. This exploration will deepen your understanding of complex global interactions and prepare you for informed decision-making in a rapidly evolving world.

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

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.

Poppy Eccles

“The support I received from my lecturers, the Careers and Placements team and the Students’ Union helped me to settle in as a fresher, succeed in my course, and provided me with the tools I need to secure a placement within the Civil Service. One of the best bits of being a student for me has to be the diverse student population and I have made friends from across the world of all ages and different walks of life.”

Poppy Eccles
BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations
Account executive – political and stakeholder engagement, Redwood Consulting

Why Politics with International Relations at Aston University?

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Our academics are clear
100% of students felt that teaching staff were good or very good at explaining things (Politics with International Relations; National Student Survey, 2023)
9th in the UK icon
Safe in our hands
Aston University was ranked 9th overall in the UK for International Relations (Guardian, 2024)
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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
We were ranked 5th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (International Relations; Guardian, 2024)

Course description

BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations

Our BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations degree at Aston University will equip you with a deep understanding of global dynamics, advanced analytical skills, and real-world insights, preparing you for impactful roles in the international arena.

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

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

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

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What skills we teach
In addition to fostering your global perspective, you will acquire essential analytical and critical thinking abilities, enabling you to navigate intricate international issues. Our programme cultivates graduates with empathy, cultural acumen, and the practical skills needed to effect positive change in various professional avenues.

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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) Politics with International Relations 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 Politics with 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: the Civil Service, Aldi, Jaguar Land Rover, IBM, Microsoft and West Midlands Police.

Hear from one of our graduates, Gabriella Bossman, in this episode of the After Aston I... podcast:

How you will learn

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

You'll also 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 apply politics and international relations theories to real-world problems, it 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.

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.

bridiging and shaping minds

Bridging continents and shaping minds: insights from EuroSim 2024

Hear directly from some of our politics and international relations students on their experience of EuroSim 2024 in Brockport, USA.

What you will learn

Driven by the needs of society and future employers, our course provides you with a comprehensive understanding of global political dynamics and the 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 build a strong foundation in politics and international relations. You will discover introductory concepts and research methods, investigate contemporary British politics, delve into the dynamics of the European Union, explore how today’s political landscape was formed, and engage with examples of current political affairs.

Second year

Building upon the foundations acquired in your first year, in your second year you will delve deeper into concepts and theories of politics and international relations. You will analyse political ideas and issues of security and political economy, and you will grow your understanding of regional power dynamics whilst developing your analytical and communication skills.

Placement year

The placement year is optional for BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations 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 politics or international relations topic of your choice, showcasing your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods. You will specialise in topics you enjoy most by choosing from a range of optional modules.

Anousha Jamshid Politics with International Relations student

My graduate role in the Civil Service

After graduating with a degree in Politics with International Relations, Anousha Jamshid secured a position on the highly competitive Civil Service Fast Stream. 

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with an excellent learning experience that draws on the research and other expertise of Aston University academic staff.
  2. Equips you as a well-qualified and highly employable graduate with key skills for lifelong learning.
  3. Develops your understanding of the theories, values, structures, relationships and decision-making procedures of government and society at local, 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. Encourages you to think critically about events and ideas, particularly with a national, international or supranational dimension.
  6. Provides you with a gamut of intellectual tools for addressing a wide range of questions of public concern.

Modules

Modules and learning outcomes

Year 1 modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Introduction to Studying and Researching Politics30
Introduction to the Concepts and Methods of International Relations30
British Politics since 199015
Introduction to the European Union15
The Making of the Modern World15
What’s Trending (Current Affairs in Politics and International Relations)15
Total120

Year 1 outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate understanding of the nature and significance of politics and international relations as human activities in national, regional/European and international or global frameworks.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic theories and methods used in the study of politics and international relations as applied to the analysis of political ideas, institutions and practices.
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the extensive nature of politic and international relations as disciplines ranging from quantitative methods of analysis to philosophical and historical approaches.
  • 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 politics and international relations.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving political problems, including European, international and global ones.
  • Compare commentaries and views on politics and international relations from different language sources.
  • Communicate the results of your study/work accurately and reliably, with structured and coherent arguments.
  • Collaborate with others effectively to achieve common goals.
  • Demonstrate experience in working independently and managing time.

Year 2 modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Political Theories and Ideologies15
Comparative Government and Politics15
International Relations: Theories15
Critical Approaches to Security Studies15
Total60

You will choose one of the following optional modules:*

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

You will choose three 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
Introduction to Political Economy: Institutions and Rational Choice15
International Political Economy15

*Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Year 2 outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate knowledge and a critical understanding of the theories of politics and international relations as applied to the analysis of political ideas, institutions and practices.
  • Demonstrate understanding of different national, regional/European and international political systems; the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate, and the relationships between them.
  • Apply the concepts and principles of politics and 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.
  • Communicate information, arguments and analysis effectively in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences and deploy key techniques of the politics and international relations effectively.
  • Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management skills.

Placement year modules

The placement year is optional for BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations 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 your knowledge, skills and competencies within a real work-based situation, or in a foreign context.
  • Manage your future learning and reflect upon your own learning and development.
  • Reflect on the practical applications of subject knowledge.

Final year modules

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

Module TitleCredits
Research Skills and Extended Dissertation (Politics or International Relations)45

You will choose five 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

*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 political science and international relations.
  • Identify a research question and design, execute and report an extensive, empirically based research project.
  • Evaluate critically and comment on advanced political science and 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.

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.


 

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

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

Career prospects

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

  • Research officer
  • Senior economic analyst
  • Account manager
  • Sales manager
  • Finance executive
  • Data insight consultant
  • Strategy analyst
  • Marketing executive
  • Business operations executive
  • Project manager
  • Teacher
  • Financial analyst
  • Area manager
  • Policy officer
  • Data protection officer

Our graduates have gone on to work at companies such as the Civil Service, Airbus, Dell Technologies, Jaguar Land Rover, Highways England, BT, IBM, Aldi, West Midlands Police, PwC, HS2, Samsung, Sheffield City Council and Microsoft.

L'myah Sherae - Politics and Sociology graduate

One of the best decisions I made

L’myah Sherae knew she wanted to work in race relations and politics from a young age. She completed her placement year at the Houses of Parliament and now runs her own political campaigns company.

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

Hear from our graduates

Alumni

Be part of our community

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

Frequently asked questions

Why study politics and 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

What is EuroSim?

EuroSim is an annual international intercollegiate simulation of the European Union (EU). The purpose of EuroSim is to provide a framework for a partial simulation of a major EU issue. More than two hundred students, from universities in North America and Europe, participate in the simulation. All students are assigned roles, including Members of the European Parliament, members of the European Commission, heads of government, and national ministers.

EuroSim is offered as part of a module for any undergraduate and postgraduate student that studies either politics or international Relations as part of their degree. Students who perform the best in the module are invited to take part in the Aston University EuroSim team.

EuroSim

Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, module leader, shares her thoughts on how Aston University's innovative EuroSim module helps to prepare students for a future in international diplomacy.

Patrycja's blog: exploring EuroSim

You can also find out more about what the EuroSim experience is like from our students who attended EuroSim 2024 in Brockport, USA.

EuroSim 2024: student insights

 

Register your interest