Political Science BA

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.

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

Course fact file

UCAS code: L200

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 215 across the department

Applications in 2013: 1060

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 | 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 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

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:

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

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.

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.

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.

 

generic-university01Melissa Dumont, The European International Model United Nations, TEIMUN (2014)

TEIMUN takes place at The Hague every year. I had the great opportunity to represent Sweden in the European Council. It has been a long week in which we managed to successfully pass two resolutions and a crisis decision.


 

 generic-university01Melissa Dumont, The European International Model United Nations, TEIMUN (2014)

TEIMUN takes place at The Hague every year. I had the great opportunity to represent Sweden in the European Council. It has been a long week in which we managed to successfully pass two resolutions and a crisis decision.


 

generic-university01Melissa Dumont, The European International Model United Nations, TEIMUN (2014)

TEIMUN takes place at The Hague every year. I had the great opportunity to represent Sweden in the European Council. It has been a long week in which we managed to successfully pass two resolutions and a crisis decision.


 

 

 

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

The BA Political Science 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.

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.

Careers network

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.

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.

Professional development module

professional-development-module

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.