Political Science and Philosophy with Year Abroad BA

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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.


Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

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.

Why study this course

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

Modules

Contact the admissions tutor for more module information for this course.

Modules in the first year

You are provided with the basic knowledge and skills to study politics. You also have the opportunity to take other introductory social science courses.

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules

Choose two of the following:

  • 10 credits - Ancient Philosophy
  • 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 - Philosophy of Religion
  • 10 credits - Philosophical Traditions: Existentialism
  • 10 credits - Political Philosophy: Can power be legitimate?

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.

Optional modules

Choose 40 credits from the following modules:  

Philosophy: Choose at least 40 credits from the following list:

  • 20 credits - Elements of Logic and Metaphysics
  • 20 credits - Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy
  • 20 credits - Feminist Philosophy
  • 20 credits - History of Analytic Philosophy
  • 20 credits - Logic: Its limits and scope
  • 20 credits - Sex, Ethics and Philosophy
  • 20 credits - Speaking of Things
  • 20 credits - The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change
  • 20 credits - The Ethics of Killing
  • 20 credits - The Mind-Body Problem

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

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

Optional modules

Political Science: Choose 20 credits from the following:

Philosophy: Choose 60 credits from the following list of options:

  • 20 credits – Philosophical Project
  • 20 credits - Being Good and Doing Right
  • 20 credits - Global Bioethics
  • 20 credits - Minds, Brains and Computers
  • 20 credits - Nietzsche
  • 20 credits - Philosophy of Language
  • 20 credits - Philosophy of Mathematics
  • 20 credits - Philosophy of Time Travel
  • 20 credits - Prejudice, Race and Gender
  • 20 credits- Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology
  • 20 credits - Science and Nature
  • 20 credits - Topics in Philosophy of Religion
  • 20 credits - What There Is: Issues in Ontology

The range of optional Philosophy modules on offer may differ a little from year to year, but those listed above are currently available. You can read detailed descriptions of Philosophy modules.


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.

Fees and funding

The Government has announced that it will raise the cap for undergraduate fees in line with inflation. Assuming that the relevant regulations are passed by Parliament, which is expected to happen in Autumn 2016, the University of Birmingham will increase fees to the revised amount, expected to be £9,250 for home/EU students. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2017-18
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250 - TBC

Overseas students entering in 2016-17

Overseas students entering in 2016-17
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £13,860

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:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis. Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their course finder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: LV25.
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.

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the programme of study we offer, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.

To help you develop the above-mentioned skills, we adopt a range of teaching methods. They may include:

  • Lectures - listening to experts sharing their knowledge and discoveries in challenging and provocative ways. Students are expected to 'read-around' the subject matter of their lectures, adding to their understanding and developing their critical faculties and analytical skills.
  • Seminars - where you present and discuss your ideas and knowledge in smaller groups and debate interpretations and opinions with other students.
  • Tutorials - are your opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor, usually in small groups.
  • Workshops - are problem solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Our lecturers and tutors will ensure you have all the resources you need to make the transition from A levels to the more rigorous demands of a degree.

More about student experience at POLSIS.

Contact hours

For all undergraduate modules students attend 1 lecture and 1 seminar per week. In total, this will comprise 20 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminar for each module during the course of the year. As well as time with your lecturers and personal tutor, academic and professional services staff (like our dedicated Careers Network team) will be available to offer individual and group support throughout your time here at Birmingham.

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.

Seminars and tutorials

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.

Lecturers and world leading researchers

Throughout the course you will be taught by lecturers who have worked in the field of political science and international relations as well as world leading researchers. You can learn more about the School by visiting the School of Government and Society staff pages.

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 Muirhead Tower. 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. 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 institutions.

More about our approach to teaching.

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

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.


Alumni profiles

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.

lisa-morris-cambodia Lisa Morris
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. 

Riona Mulherin Riona Mulherin
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.