Political Science BA

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

The study of politics works on two fascinating levels. First, it helps you to understand and explain what governments do. Second, it teaches you a huge amount about human nature. As you progress through this degree you will learn about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals. You'll also explore different arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations, as well as building up the analytical skills that are so important in the jobs market.

90% of students say our staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching (NSS 2014). The degree at Birmingham is ranked 1st out of the Russell Group of UK universities. The Russell Group is committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector.

Political Science graduates are highly valued by employers and tend to have little difficulty finding interesting careers in all sorts of fields Local Government, the Civil Service, commerce, finance or law, or even specialist journalism or the media.


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 | Joint honours combinations.

Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part. The BA Political Science degree course 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.

The BA Political Science undergraduate degree is taught by the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) - one of the largest and highly regarded departments of its kind in the UK.

We offer much more than a degree and your student experience lies at the heart of everything we do in POLSIS. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events - some of these are targeted to help you build skills and experience for your CV, others are more open events designed to expose you to high-level speakers on current debates relevant to all POLSIS students.

Our guest speakers are always topical and leaders in their field. Other opportunities include our popular Model Unitied Nations; Harvard National Model United Nations Trip and our annual Undergraduate Conference - designed for, and organised and run by fellow undergraduate students from our School of Government and Society. You will have the opportunity to choose speakers; organise panels; to designing the marketing and promotion strategy - this is a conference by students and for students, supported and guided by staff.

POLSIS also works closely with a number of student societies including The Politics Society (POLSOC) - the student-run society for all those interested in politics at the University of Birmingham.

In addition to our Single Honours programme, Political Science can also be studied as part of a range of Joint Honours options including African Studies; Anthropology; Economics; History; Philosophy; Russian Studies; and Sociology.

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.

You may also be interested in:

Why study this course

The Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) is a large and friendly department and is widely regarded as one of the fastest growing, most dynamic and forward-looking departments in the country.

High-quality teaching

Here at POLSIS, we are committed to delivering inspiring and challenging programmes of study which allow you to develop fully your ideas and potential. Indeed, we are able to offer you a high level of 'added value' in terms of teaching quality. This means that, as a department, we are not only successful at attracting very good students, but also excel in helping them to achieve levels of performance higher than they might expect in other comparable institutions. This is reflected in the fact that our student achievement rates have consistently been above national averages over a number of years. Our excellent teaching has been recognised many times by awards from the University or the student community.

Teaching and learning at the School of Government and Society.

Enhancing your student experience

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.

Cutting-edge research

POLSIS is home to some of the most respected academics in the UK and beyond. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Politics and International Studies at Birmingham was ranked the sixth best department in the country in terms of research power, highlighting the large number of staff in POLSIS producing world-leading and internationally excellent research. We have a wide range of research specialisms in the department, including Security Studies, British Politics, Political Theory, Gender Studies, Political Economy, European Politics, Sociology and Russian and East European Studies. Further information about our staff research interests.

Employability

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 dedicated Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team 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.

More information about Careers and employability at POLSIS.

Modules

Modules in the first year

You'll focus on building up the basic knowledge and skills you need to study politics by taking a number of core modules. You’ll also have the opportunity to take other introductory social science courses.

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules

Choose one of the following 40 credit lists of modules


Modules in the second year

You'll 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.

Compulsory core modules

Optional modules

Choose 60 credits from the following, or choose 20 credits from the following and 20 credits of modules outside the main discipline:


Modules in the third year

Alongside studying your choice of modules from a wide range of options, you will undertake an independent research project (a dissertation), again on a topic of you 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

Choose 80 credits from the following

Choose 60 credits from the following, or choose 40 credits from the following and 20 credits of modules outside the main discipline with permission from the Undergraduate Director:


The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2017. We aim to publish any changes to compulsory modules and programme structure for 2018 entry by 01 September 2017 and recommend you refer back to this page shortly after that date for any changes. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. 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

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2017-18
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £15,570

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 accepted but subjects are considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

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: L200.
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.

Joint Honours combinations

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 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.