Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
A knowledge of politics helps you to understand and explain what governments do. It also teaches you a great deal about human nature. Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part.
Our Political Science and Philosophy joint honours degree will help you acquire important analytical skills. You will learn to find your way and articulate different arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations. You will also learn about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals.
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 consistently 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: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.
A knowledge of politics helps you to understand and explain what governments do. It also teaches you a great deal about human nature. Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part. The politics degree cousre at Birmingham enables all students to profit from a culture of learning that is aligned with our research ethos - based on critical enquiry, debate and self-motivation.
On this degree programme you will meet the great minds of history and of the present day on equal terms, not just learning what they thought, but engaging with them critically. Philosophy requires clarity and rigor of thought, imaginative flexibility and inventiveness. It also means learning to understand what others think and write, and being able to examine their arguments for weak spots and errors. This is an ability that carries over into your whole life. You will win more arguments, you will hear politician's speeches in a whole new way, and you will have a real edge in the jobs market.
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.
The Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) is one of the largest and best of its type in the UK. It consistently scores high in the National Student Survey and has consistently been viewed as one of the best departments in the country since the Guardian started publishing their League Tables in 2000.
Our expertise covers all areas of the discipline allowing you to learn from true specialists, with long-established strengths in the fields of political theory, European politics, international relations theory, security studies, diplomatic studies, political sociology, political economy, environmental politics, Pacific Asian 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
Contact the admissions tutor for more module information for this course.
Modules in the first year
Compulsory core modules
Choose one of the following:
- 10 credits - Formal Logic
- 10 credits - Informal Logic
Choose two of the following:
- 10 credits - Ancient Philosophy: Plato and Aristotle
- 10 credits - Epistemology: What and How do We Know?
- 10 credits - Ethics: How Should We Live?
- 10 credits - Moral Problems: An Introduction to Applied Ethics
- 10 credits - Philosophical Traditions
- 10 credits - Philosophy of Science: Methods, Ethics, and Limits of Science
- 20 credits - Problems of Philosophy
- 10 credits - The Philosophy of Religion
Modules in the second year
As a result of enhancements to the University's Joint Honours provision, students in their second and final year may choose either 80, 60 or 40 credits in each subject of their Joint Honours degree (subject to a combined total of 120 credits in each year). The programme requirements set out below are based upon a choice of 60 credits in each subject; the number of optional modules available to you (if any) will therefore vary depending on the precise number of credits you are taking in each subject. The number of credits taken in each subject may also result in a change to your degree title, as detailed in the University's Regulations. Please consult your Programme Director if you have any queries.
Compulsory core modules
You have the opportunity to develop specialised knowledge in areas that you find of greatest interest, such as political theory and analysis, European integration, British politics, American politics, comparative European politics, and political economy.
Choose 40 credits from the following modules:
Philosophy: Choose at least 40 credits from the following list: OR (provided all Year 2 credits in the other Joint Honours subject are being taken at Level I) take 20 credits from the list of optional Level C modules listed above under Stage 1 (not including modules already taken at Stage 1).
- 20 credits - Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy
- 20 credits - Feminist Philosophy
- 20 credits - Logic: Its Limits + Scope
- 20 credits - Paradigms of Belief
- 20 credits - Sex, Ethics & Philosophy
- 20 credits - Speaking of Things
- 20 credits - The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change
- 20 credits - The Ethics of Killing
- 20 credits - The History of Analytic Philosophy
- 20 credits - The Mind-Body Problem
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.
In addition to choosing modules from a wide range of options, students undertake an independent research project on a topic of their own choosing.
If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.
Compulsory core modules
Political Science: Choose 20 credits from the following:
Philosophy: Choose 60 credits from the following list of options or up to 20 credits of Level I Department of Philosophy modules may be taken (see 21.5 above for list of available modules), provided that all 60 Year 3 credits in the other Joint Honours subject are being taken at Level H. This list of c. 25 modules which follows is indicative, but in any given year, only around 15 of these will run in the ordinary way (with lectures, seminars etc.) Most of the rest will be made available as a ‘Special Subject' to students whose Stage 2 marks averaged 60 or better and who elect to take (at most one) of these modules on a more independent basis.
- 20 credits - Global Bioethics
- 20 credits - Nietzche
- 20 credits - Philosophy of Language and the Linguistic Study of Meaning
- 20 credits - Philosophy of Mathematics
- 20 credits - Prejudice Race & Gender
- 20 credits - Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology
- 20 credits -The Puzzle of Existence: Why Is there Something Rather Than Nothing?
- 20 credits - Topics in Philosophy of Religion
- 20 credits - Philosophical Project
The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.
Standard fees apply.
Learn more about
fees and funding.
Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2016-17
Undergraduate (registered during or after 2012-13 AY)
Undergraduate (registered before 2012-13 AY)
Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Fee Band (Undergraduate)
Band D (Classroom)
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.
- Number of A levels required:
- Typical offer:
- General Studies:
- not accepted
Typical offer grades are for guidance only, and will depend on the subjects you are combining. Please read the entries for both subjects. Where there is a disparity between the typical offer for Subject A and the typical offer for Subject B, the higher offer should be taken as the usual offer for the combination of the two.
Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements
International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.
Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: LV25.
Learn more about applying.
University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.
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.
As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.
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.
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.
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.
Throughout your time on the Political Science and Philosophy with Year Abroad BA course, employability is a key area of focus. We help to make sure that you are employable through a range of department led and university wide initiatives which include:
Input from Professional Careers Advisers in your Curriculum
During the first year of your studies Careers Advisers from the University Careers Network team attend lectures in your course to support you with career planning from an early stage. The lectures will cover career planning, researching career and internship opportunities, developing the skills that graduate employers are looking for, and presenting yourself with impact to a potential employer.
Professional development module
You will have the unique opportunity to take advantage of a work placement as part of your final year by undertaking the
Professional Development Module as part of your optional module choices.
Careers Network is the University’s award winning careers service. The service has been shortlisted for a 2014 Times Higher Education Award for offering 'outstanding support for students' and has already been recognised by 'Ratemyplacement.co.uk' for being the best university careers service. A dedicated careers team for the College of Social Sciences will be able to support you with making career decisions and planning your career, while you are studying. They can provide you with guidance on writing application forms and CVs, and can arrange mock interviews and assessment centres.
An Employer Relations and Work Experience team leads on coordinating four major careers fairs each year, bringing a wide range of national and international graduate employers on to campus each year to meet with students. This team also manages a database of internships and graduate vacancies including
Global Challenge; a unique scheme to give ambitious students once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as interns in top global companies.
Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'Investing in your future'.
Your Birmingham degree
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.
The School of Government and Society is proud of all of its students and alumni. Via the University's Development and Alumni Office, we hope to keep in touch with all of our alumni post-graduation, to learn of their many successes and to continue to share our research successes and campus developments.
BA Political Science and Sociology (2008)
I now manage a Non-Governmental Organisation in rural Cambodia focusing on education, agriculture and nutrition in a community-led way, spending my days amongst rice fields and coconut palms overseeing the different programs which we run.
BA International Relations with Political Science (2012)
Studying International Relations with Political Science gives a brilliant insight into how the world works; it shows you how politics, history, geography, economics, ethics and law are all interconnected at an international level, and the course allows you to look in close detail at all of these topics.
View our undergraduate alumni profiles throughout the School and Government and Society.