Political Economy with Year Abroad BA

students at event

The Political Economy degree at Birmingham provides you with a specialist social science understanding of political economy (i.e. the economic dimension of everyday life and how we construct our political identities, from the decisions that we make as consumers to our need to adapt to changing and ever more flexible patterns of work.

You'll benefit from the international reputation of our academic staff for research in the area of political economy, and our commitment to facilitating the highest quality learning environments.

On our four-year Year Abroad programmes, you will undertake a year abroad between your second and fourth years at a partner HE institution. This will give you the opportunity to experience a different academic environment and way of teaching (and even different approaches to the subject).

The year abroad will also enhance your employability prospects through a proven ability to succeed in a foreign setting, and will provide an additional opportunity to develop relevant, marketable skills in terms of organisation, communication, and intercultural awareness.

Students applying for this degree will join the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), a department that scores high in the National Student Survey (NSS) and is consistently viewed as one of the best departments in the country.

Our students particularly enjoy the opportunities to hear from influential guest speakers about their lives in politics. Recent speakers have included Alistair Darling, David Miliband and John Bercow. Learn more about your student experience.

Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

Course fact file

UCAS code: L15A

Duration: 4 years

Places Available: 215 across the department

Applications in 2012: 874

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

Course details: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

The Political Economy degree at Birmingham provides you with a specialist social science understanding of political economy (i.e. the economic dimension of everyday life and how we construct our political identities, from the decisions that we make as consumers to our need to adapt to changing and ever more flexible patterns of work.

Where can I go?

A lot of our European partner universities teach in the native language and so, if you wish to apply to one of them, it is usually a requirement that you have a good working knowledge of the respective language.

Outside of Europe, we have exchange partners in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA, Uruguay, and the West Indies.

For more specific details on the names and locations of our partner universities, you should consult our study abroad - outgoing students webpage.

Recent international universities include:

  • University of Minnesota Duluth - USA
  • Loyola University, New Orleans - USA
  • New Mexico State University - USA
  • University of Melbourne - Australia
  • University of Lund - Sweden
  • University of Maine - USA
  • University of Queensland - Australia
  • Western University - Canada
  • Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina - Argentina
  • National University of Singapore - Singapore
  • University van Amsterdam - Netherlands

For more information about the year abroad visit our Year abroad and student exchange page.

You may also be interested in:

Why study this course

Students applying for this degree will join the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), a department that scores high in the National Student Survey (NSS) and is consistently viewed as one of the best departments in the country.

The Department also has an excellent record in the Guardian League Table for Politics. We are consistently viewed as one of the best departments in the country since the Guardian started publishing their League Tables in 2000.

The Department has a balance of expertise that covers all areas of the discipline and has long-established strengths in the fields of political theory, European politics, international relations theory, security studies, diplomatic studies, political sociology, political economy, Pacific Asian politics, environmental politics and British politics.

As well as benefiting from our world-leading expertise, you’ll also get the chance to take part in a range of in-house activities that vary by year and are designed to complement your curriculum and enrich your time at Birmingham. These have included:

  • Annual Student Conference
  • Research Assistance Scheme, where students are paired with a member of staff to help them in specific research tasks
  • Simulation exercises using real case examples
  • Simulation events and research visits to local and national places of interest

Learn more about our student experience activities and the work of the Department.

Modules

Modules in the first year

The first year consists of introductory modules designed to place the discipline of political economy within the broader context of the social sciences. You learn about the varied foundations of political economy from the perspectives of political science, international relations, economics and the history of economic thought.

Compulsory core modules

Choose a module from the following:

Optional modules

Choose one of the following 20 credit from the lists of modules

Modules in the second year

In the second year you build upon these foundations in the second year, and you have the opportunity to specialise in areas that complement your particular concerns. Our staff teach modules that relate to, and build upon, their own research interests. Outstanding features of this degree include the wide range of options available and the interdisciplinary nature of the teaching.

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules

Choose 60 credits from the following modules (where linked, both elements must be chosen), or choose 40 credits plus 20 credits of MOMDs.

Year Abroad

In your third year you will register for the equivalent of 120 credits at the host institution. You will have to undertake and pass the assessment for 60 credits of the modules for which you are registered at the host institution. A Pass is required for progression to the 4th year of the programme. These credits will not contribute to the overall degree classification.

Modules in the final year

Third year In addition to choosing modules from a wide range of options, students undertake an independent research project on a topic of their own choosing.

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules

Choose 60 credits from the following (where linked, both elements must be taken), or choose 20 credits from the following plus 20 credits of MOMDs only with the permission of the Undergraduate Director:

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply.
Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2015-16
Fee Band Full-time Part-time
Undergraduate (registered during or after 2012-13 AY) £9,000 £4,500
Undergraduate (registered before 2012-13 AY) £3,465 £1,725

Overseas students entering in 2015-16

Overseas students entering in 2015-16
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band D (Classroom) £13,195
Birmingham Foundation Academy £13,500

Scholarships

At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards. 

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34 points

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: L15A.
Learn more about applying.

University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.

UCAS

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

How will I be taught?

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Teaching and learning in the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) is based around three principles: student-centred, responding to individual needs, developing transferable skills and encouraging preparation for future careers; research-led, ensuring students are taught by experts in their field and prioritising 'learning by doing' to foster critical thinking and active enquiry; committed to social justice, concerned with issues of equality, inclusion, responsibility and reflexive awareness, and committed to an ideal of democratic decision-making – consulting all students about their learning experience.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we’ll enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre’s aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

More about student experience at POLSIS.

Personal Tutor

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

Contact hours

As well as time with your lecturers and personal tutor, academic and professional services staff (like our dedicated Careers Network team) will be avialable to offer individual and group support throughout your time here at Birmingham.

Learning settings

This degree is taught by our internationally renowned Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) which is located in Muirhead Tower on own main Edgbaston campus.

Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.

Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.

The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.

Your lectures and teaching will take place in a variety of versatile lecture theatres and breakout rooms which have moved on a lot since the traditional whiteboard and pen. Our rooms are all equipped with wireless connection and constantly updated technology including all the audio-visual equipment that you would expect from one of the UK's premier insitutions.

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Self study is an essential part of the programme and requires self motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations, laboratory-based work (depending on your chosen degree) and formal exams.

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You’ll be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future.

Employability

Employers are well aware of the value of our politics degrees. Our students have little difficulty in finding interesting jobs in a variety of fields; some in local government and the Civil Service, others in commerce, finance and the law. There are also opportunities in specialist journalism and the media.

In the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), we see employability as a broad-based set of individual strengths that students can build on and enhance during their time at the University of Birmingham. We recognise the talents and skills that you already have when you begin your programme of study, and seek to empower and enable you to identify and enhance your strengths.

Our understanding of employability underpins our principles of learning and we design our modules and programmes in consultation with the University's dedicated Careers Network team to ensure maximum relevance to the working world.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

How can the POLSIS Graduate add even more to their experience?

POLSIS runs a range of in-house activities that vary by year and are designed to complement the curriculum including an Annual Student Conference a Research Assistance Scheme (where students are paired with a member of staff to help them in specific research tasks); the opportunity to participate in simulation exercises using real case examples; and an annual Undergraduate Conference. Other activities have included simulation events and research visits to local and national places of interest. The Department is committed to enhancing these extra dimensions to the student experience in the years to come cooperating with elected student societies to find new ways of enriching students time at Birmingham.

Previous POLSIS student have also accessed "The Honey Pot" fund which provides financial support to undergraduate students at the University of Birmingham to undertake work experience over the summer vacation period. Students can apply for up to £800 to support low or unpaid work experience placements.