Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

BA Politics

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In this Section:

From 2017 entry all BA Politics students will have the opportunity to apply to a parliamentary pathway which includes a parliamentary placement. Check back in June for the latest information. This will replace the previously separate programme BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies.

If you want to …

  • understand the the mechanisms of power and influence in public life
  • develop career-oriented expertise in policy and public affairs
  • construct practical solutions to real political challenges
  • grasp the key dynamics of different political systems

 ... then choose BA Politics.


“The Politics programme offers a lively and comprehensive introduction to the study of public affairs, and a keen insight into the real politics behind the headlines.”
Dr Derek Edyvane, Associate Professor in Political Theory.


We live at a time of great social upheaval and dramatic political change. The rapid pace of globalisation has left old national boundaries more fragile than ever. And with the rise of new political actors, movements and institutions that transcend those boundaries, humanity faces an uncertain future. BA Politics in the School of Politics and International Studies will help you to grapple with this tremendously complex set of circumstances.

The unique range of country and conceptual expertise in our School will provide you with a comprehensive grounding in fundamental political ideas, structures and approaches. With that foundation in place, you will develop your own expertise and tailor your module selection in order to build a portfolio of in-depth study around your own interests and concerns.

You will receive foundational teaching in all of the core areas of the School’s expertise, including modules in political theory, comparative politics and British politics, in international relations and in development studies.

Among the skills learned at this time, you will also develop your ability to communicate, both orally and in writing. You will develop your time-management and team-working abilities as you work, both independently and in groups, to deliver a range of assessed outputs.

You will then build on your knowledge by studying more advanced modules in British Central Government, political systems, political theory and the methods of political analysis. As well as further developing the skills already introduced, you will learn new skills of political enquiry and research.

In your final year, you will produce an extended piece of individual research on a topic of your choosing in the politics dissertation, and complement that study by selecting from a wide range of specialised modules delivered by staff in areas of their own research expertise. These activities will foster your development of independent learning and research skills.

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.

Meet Fiona, a final year student studying BA Politics


Year One

Compulsory modules

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.

Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction 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.

British Politics provides an introduction to British Politics since 1945 focussing on key debates about the changing character and conduct of politics; the social and economic context of politics; political ideas and party alignments; Britain’s international position and constitutional developments.

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 a Digital Age

Discovery modules

You choose one discovery module from across the university.

Year Two

Compulsory module

Approaches to Analysis introduces you to the ways that we conduct research in the social sciences, with particular emphasis on approaches commonly used in the fields of politics, international development and international relations. You will engage with key methodologies, theoretical frameworks and methods used in practical research.

Optional modules

You will choose one or two optional modules from the following list.

  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century
  • Justice, Community and Conflict

You will the choose one to four optional modules from the following list.

  • British Central Government
  • The Conservative Party from Churchill to Cameron
  • Spin doctors and Electioneering
  • Politics and Policy in the EU
  • United States Politics
  • Comparative Politics of Pacific Asia
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • State and Politics in Africa
  • Comparative Public Policy

You then choose up to three optional modules from the following list.

  • Development Approaches
  • Beliefs and Attitudes in Politics
  • Development and Social Change
  • North-South Linkages
  • Theories of International Relations
  • Security Studies
  • Career Planning for POLIS Students

Discovery modules

You will choose up to two discovery modules 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 between three optional modules from a specialist list within the School.

Discovery modules

You will choose one discovery module from across the university.

Course structure, learning and assessment

You will usually take three modules in each semester. There are normally two weekly lectures and one weekly seminar for each module in the first year of the degree. Formal contact time in the first year is normally nine hours per week.

Contact time

We offer a range of opportunities for extra contact time with staff and other students in order to deliver a comprehensive learning programme.

First, all teaching staff hold three feedback hours per week during which you can drop in for one-to-one consultation and tutoring. Secondly, you will allocated a personal tutor with whom you will meet regularly throughout the year to discuss your progress and plans. Thirdly, we organise a lively programme of research seminars and lectures which all students are encouraged to attend. Finally, the School operates a student-led discussion programme in which you are able to discuss your work among your peers in an informal setting.

Teaching methods

We deliver our teaching through lectures and small group seminar and tutorial sessions. Independent learning is also a major part of degree-level study.

Lectures provide an introduction to module topics and a framework for further independent study. Comprehensive reading lists are available for all modules and you are expected to prepare thoroughly for seminars and tutorials by reading widely and engaging with essential texts.

Seminars and tutorials provide an opportunity for you to work through and discuss key issues, problems and difficulties among your peers and under the guidance of your tutors. The sessions involve some or all of the following teaching methods: question and answer, group work, individual or group presentations and open student and tutor-led discussions.

Finally, all modules have an on-line presence in the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE houses a variety of learning resources including lecture notes, presentation slides and audio podcasts, digitised readings and links to other web-based media.

Assessment

The course uses a variety of assessment methods including coursework essays, exams, group projects, critical reviews and reports. We offer you feedback on your work throughout the course of the degree; we provide this through direct comments on assessed work and also meetings with module tutors and personal tutors.

A range of special characteristics make studying Politics at Leeds an exceptional experience.

Taught by experts

Many members of our teaching team are also members of the Leadership, Parties and Institutions research group.

This group is acknowledged as one of the leading centres on Westminster research in the country. The group carries out internationally-esteemed research into the history and processes of Westminster and the role and functions of parties, including electoral analysis.

Our academics embed this research into their teaching materials, allowing you to draw on their academic expertise to inform and frame your work.

Staff also have wide-ranging networks with external organisations and stakeholders in the political process, giving you access not only to the highest level of applied knowledge, but also to those involved in the reality of international politics.

Commitment to innovative teaching

Our course offers you the opportunity to study with, and learn from, a team with a genuine commitment to quality and innovative teaching. Our team is committed to critical, engaged and accessible scholarship and teaching. There are opportunities to participate in School-organised ‘teach-ins’, public lectures and research seminars.

Wide range of modules

The University of Leeds offers one of the largest selection of optional and discovery module ranges in the country and, as an politics student, you have the opportunity to take modules offered by other schools and departments in the university.

Largest school of its kind

The School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds is also one of the largest departments of its kind in the UK. The size of our department means we can offer you a large range of various political and international studies modules. This allows you to tailor your module selection to develop your own personalised portfolio of knowledge, skills and abilities. 

Potential career pathways

A degree from the School of Politics and International Studies opens up a great variety of career paths. Graduates have an excellent chance to find employment with major companies in the United Kingdom across the whole spectrum of business and industry.

More specialised career choices for our graduates include politics, journalism, teaching, working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the civil service, employment at the European Commission and higher education.

Placement opportunities

You can apply to spend the third year of your degree on work placement before returning to Leeds for your final year.

Professional skills training

The course provides numerous opportunities for you to develop professional skills and enhance your employability. You will develop qualitative research skills, including interviewing skills. You will also develop quantitative research skills, including skills of statistical analysis and interpretation. More generally, BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies affords a range of opportunities for the development of transferable skills including team working, time-management and presentation skills.

Core career skills and knowledge

You will develop knowledge of political systems and processes: for example, of how a bill becomes law in British government. You will also learn details of specific forms of policy and legislation from across the globe, such as the UN declaration on Human Rights. You will develop ethical and cultural awareness through your study of diverse country contexts and of the theories and ideas that underpin political systems. Finally, you will also develop research skills and familiarity with handling, processing and interpreting datasets.

Aristotle called man a ‘political animal’ and argued that politics was the ‘master science’. Politics is essentially the study of government and governing, but it is also concerned with more immediately familiar human interests and challenges: war, poverty, the media, immigration, the economy, protest and revolution – conflict and cooperation in human life.

Politics tries to understand and explain how we live together under government in both a historical and contemporary perspective, and it tries also to discover how we should live together, how we might go about improving society.

Because the domain of politics is so very broad, the discipline embraces a variety of approaches: historical, social, economic and cultural, but, at its heart, it is the study of one thing: ourselves – the political animal.

© Copyright Leeds 2016