Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

BA International Relations

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In this Section:

Do you want to ...

  • understand UN responses to mass violence in Libya, Syria and the DRC?
  • analyse the rise of China in relation to the potential decline of the United States?
  • develop a regional expertise in the EU, the Middle East, and South-East Asia?
  • understand contemporary trends in terrorism at the local, national and international level?
  • investigate competing theoretical views including Feminism, Liberalism, Realism and Marxism?

If you do, then choose BA International Relations.


BA International Relations explores how states interact.

This course aims to give you a historical understanding of how the 'society of states' has evolved, and how it may be changing today. You will examine the way states behave and what obligations they may have to wider conceptions of international society.

You will explore the political dynamics that influence interstate cooperation, and assess the specific role that international organisations, such as the United Nations, play in promoting international peace and security. You also have the option to study terrorism, strategic studies, international political economy and conflict in the Middle East.

BA in International Relations is a successful and established degree programme that has been running for many years. A dedicated team of experts in the field of international relations teach the course and use their highly specialised and general knowledge of the international system to provide a thorough grounding in the one of the most important areas of political life.

In the first year, you study international politics, international relations, international history and globalisation.

In the second year, you explore international organisations and world order, security studies and examine the theoretical tools of foreign policy.

In the third year, you produce a dissertation on an International Relations subject of your choice, and choose specialist modules that focus on politics and political theory. 

It is also possible to study this programme through a part-time route, the programme content is the same but you will study at a lesser intensity.    For more information about how to apply, support available and the part-time student experience, please visit the Lifelong Learning Centre’s website.


Year One

Year one introduces you to key concepts and debates within politics.

Compulsory modules

Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introducation to Political Ideas is an introduction to political theory and an invitation for you to subject your own political views to critical examination, to work out what you think and why you think it.

Making of the Modern World examines the current divide between the global North and South, and considers the impact of colonialism, capitalist industrialisation and the slave trade upon the contemporary situation. You will analyse the history of resistance to colonial rule, the attraction of socialism to post-independent governments, and examine the legacies of colonial rule across the Americas, Africa and Asia.

International Politics introduces you to the complex changes currently underway in the international system and their political implications across the globe. We discuss the main ideas, concepts and philosophies that inform the contemporary world order.

Comparative Politics involves the systematic study and comparison of political systems. In this module you will examine the political systems of 3 different nations from across the globe, focusing on their respective political histories, political economies, party systems, social movements and foreign policies.

Studying and Researching in POLIS will equip you with the necessary study and research skills to enable them to effectively engage with the studying in the department. It will help you to idenitfy the link between the development of your own research and study skills.

Studying in the Digital Age

Optional modules

You will also take one optional module from the following list:

  • British Politics
  • Global Development Challenges

Discovery modules

You will choose one discovery module from across the university.

Year Two

In Year two, you have more flexibility in your study and can direct your degree towards the areas that interest you most.

Compulsory modules

Approaches to Analysis introduces students to the ways in which research is conducted in the social sciences, with particular emphasis on approaches commonly used in the fields of politics, international development and international relations. Students will engage with key methodologies, theoretical frameworks and methods used in practical research.

Security Studies provides an introduction to the debates on security in international relations, examining  the concept, role and making of security in the contemporary international system. It outlines the main theoretical approaches and conceptualizations used in security studies and analyses a selection of important challenges that have been framed as security threats.

Theories of International Relations offers students advanced training in International Relations Theory (IR) by critically analysing rival theories. As part of which, students will develop critical thinking through assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

Optional modules

You will then choose two or three optional modules from the following list:

  • British Central Government
  • United States Politics
  • Politics and Policy in the EU
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • State and Politics in Africa

You then choose another optional module from the following list:

  • North-South Linkages
  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century
  • Spin Doctors and Electioneering
  • Developmental Approaches
  • Comparative Public Policy
  • Beliefs and Attitudes in Politics
  • The Conservative Party from Churchill to Cameron
  • Justice, Community and Conflict
  • Career Planning for POLIS Students

Discovery modules

You will choose one discovery module from across the university.

Year Three

Compulsory module

The only compulsory module in Year three is your Dissertation. This is a piece of written work of 12,000 words, and can be researched on a topic of your own choice. It is designed to allow you to produce an extended piece of written work on a topic of special interest to you.

Optional modules

You will choose two to four optional modules from the following list:

  • British Foreign Policy
  • Europe in the World
  • Israel: Politics and Society
  • The Responsibility to Protect and to Prosecute
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Politics of Islamism
  • Analysing Data in Politics
  • Development and International Relations
  • Dirty War: Insurgency, the State and Cities
  • Terrorism: Concepts, Debates, Cases

You will then choose up to two optional modules from the following list:

  • British Political Parties
  • Prime Ministers and British Politics
  • Elections and Voters
  • The Politics of Aid
  • Extreme Right Parties in Contemporary Europe
  • Britain and the EU
  • Exploring Political Theory
  • Political Psychology
  • Culture and Community
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Machiavelli and the Making of Modernity
  • Feminist Challenges to Political Theory
  • Video Games: Politics, Society and Culture
  • The End of British Politics?
  • Land, Fuel and Agriculture
  • Gender and Violence
  • Violence and Reconciliation in Africa

Discovery Modules

You will choose a discovery module from across the university.

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