BA History and Political Science

History and Political Science are two complementary subjects that can be studied alongside each other at degree level. If you want to understand the past to prepare for your future in a changing world, studying History is the way forward. 

A knowledge of politics helps you to understand what governments do, shedding light on how some of history’s pivotal events were motivated by the political leaders of the day. Both fields of study help you to acquire important analytical and research skills. You will be investigating unfamiliar territory questioning some of the prevailing myths, preconceptions and prejudices that surround history from the Middle Ages to the present day as well as learning about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideas. 

The Department of History has been ranked 1st in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and Politics and International Studies was ranked the 6th best in the power rankings of the Research Excellence Framework 2014. As a research-led University, this means that you will be taught by academic staff world-renowned for their teaching and research.

EU referendum

Answering your questions and concerns about the outcome of the EU referendum.

Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor

BA History and Political Science

“Birmingham is fantastic! It’s such a vibrant city with so many different things to see and do. Birmingham might seem like a daunting place, sure, it’s huge but I’ve always felt safe. You’ll be surrounded by like minded people, and you start to feel like you have a little family at uni! There’s so much help and support and this helps the transition to uni so much easier!”

We are one of the largest Departments of History in the country with 30+ full time academic staff operating on an international level. 

Whatever your interests - whether cultural, social, military, political, economic or religious history - there is someone in the department teaching your kind of history. Moreover, historians in other departments in the University expand the range of courses on offer, notably in the fields of Byzantine and African history.

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 Political Science 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.

Why study this course

  • Excellent learning environment - You will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you are a fully supported and active learner. Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that’s highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries.  
  • Outstanding student experience - Our students gave the course a 95% overall satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey 2016.
  • Strong employability - 90% of our students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).
  • Fantastic resources - You will have access to a wide variety of resources from the University's Main Library, and the Hilton and Styles Libraries in the Arts Building itself. 
  • Year Abroad - You can choose to study a year abroad between your second and final year.

Open day talks

Full videos on YouTube of recent open day talks relevant to this course:

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.

In the first year of a Joint Honours degree programme study is split equally between the two disciplines. Following this you have the option to alter the balance of your study, meaning that you could change to a major-minor weighting. In your final year you have the option to maintain your second-year balance, switch your major subject to your other discipline or revert to an equal balance. If you wish, you can maintain an equal balance throughout your degree. This flexibility allows you to tailor the course throughout your degree programme, once you have had the time and experience to consider where your strengths and interests lie. The list of modules below are based on studying half of your modules (60 credits) in History and half in Political Science (60 credits). 

First year

The first year is the foundational year in an academic process that will see you progress from being a dependent to an independent learner. You will study modules spanning the early medieval to late modern periods and be provided with the basic knowledge and skills to study politics. Within the choice of Politics modules, you have the opportunity to take other introductory social science courses. You can choose two out of five introductory survey modules in History which explore fundamental themes and issues focused on key periods and indicate the kinds of questions historians explore and some of the methods they employ in answering them. You will also study Practising History (A): Skills in History (Autumn term) and Practising History (B): Approaches to History (Spring term), which look more closely at the techniques of the historian and at the nature and evolution of key historical debates.  

Compulsory modules 

  • Practising History A: Skills in History
  • Practising History B: Approaches to History
  • Classical Political Thought
  • Understanding Politics

Choose two out of these five modules, one in the Autumn term and one in the Spring term  

  • Discovering the Middle Ages (Autumn)
  • Living in the Middle Ages (Spring)
  • Reformation, Rebellion and Revolution: the Making of the Modern World 1500-1800 (Autumn)
  • The Making of the Contemporary World 1800-2000 (Spring)
  • War and Society (Spring)

Optional Political Science modules can include:

  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Politics as a Vocation
  • Twentieth Century Russian Politics A & B
  • Introduction to the European Union: History, Politics and Institutions
  • Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination

Second year  

The second year is an intermediate year that builds on the foundations laid in the first year of study. You engage in Group Research and extend your historical knowledge through one (20 credit) subject-specific module chosen from a wide range of available from Option B. You also choose one of either History in Theory and Practice (20 credits) or Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) (20 credits) modules and may also be able to take the Professional Skills module (20 credits). 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.

Compulsory modules

  • Group Research
  • Option B
  • Analysing Political Worlds
  • Modern Political Thought

Choose from one of the following:-

  • History in Theory and Practice (20 credits)
  • Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation) (please note: this module must be studied if a History 40 credit dissertation is to be taken in the final year)

Students may also be able to take a Professional Skills Module (please note: places on this module are limited)

 Examples of Political Science Options: 

  • Contemporary Russian and East European Politics
  • The Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • British Politics
  • Comparative European Politics
  • Europeanization
  • Institutions, Politics and Policies of the European Union
  • International Political Economy
  • International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia
  • International Relations Theory
  • International Security
  • Introduction to American Politics
  • The International Politics of East Asia

Year abroad

This four year route offers you the additional educational benefit of a year of study in an approved University in Europe or in English speaking countries. Students with grades of 2.1 or above in their first year will be asked to apply for the Year Abroad in the first term of their second year and if successful, will go abroad in their third year. In addition to the tutor support given from the host University, students who choose to take a Year Abroad will be allocated a member of staff from the Department of History who will monitor their progress while overseas through regular contact.

Third year

The third year represents the culmination of undergraduate study and the final stage of your transition to an independent learner. You hone your historical skills in Advanced Option A or Advanced Option B (20 credits) and you also undertake an in-depth Special Subject module (20+20 credits), which is chosen from a variety of available subjects. Joint Honours students can choose to substitute one 20 credit Advanced Option with a Joint Honours History Dissertation (20 credits).  In Political Science, 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 modules

  • Advanced Option A or Advanced Option B 
  • Special Subject

Examples of Political Science options: 

  • "Returning to Europe": Nation, State and Europe in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe
  • Advanced Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe          
  • Advanced Contemporary Russian and East European Politics    
  • Advanced International Politics & Security in Russia & Eurasia
  • Advanced Modern Asia
  • Contemporary International Political Economy   
  • Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy   
  • Controversies in Contemporary Democracies
  • Critical Approaches to Security 
  • Democracy and Democratization in Contemporary Europe         
  • Europe in a Globalized World    
  • European Security        
  • Global Capitalism and Migration
  • Global Governance       
  • International Ethics       
  • Joint Honours Dissertation (Political Science)    
  • Left Parties and Protest Movements
  • Political History of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century
  • Power in Britain
  • The Diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • The Political Economy of Energy and Energy Security
  • Topics in British Politics
  • War-Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South  

 

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.

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250 - TBC
  • Overseas: £15,570

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB
Required subjects and grades:
A Level History, Medieval History or Ancient History at grade A.

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 Single Honours coursefinder 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: 6,6,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

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

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.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

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.

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 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.

Contact hours

On the History side of your degree, you can expect 4 contact hours per week in your first year, about 3.5 to 4 in your second year and about 3.5 to 4.5 in your final year depending on the focus of your dissertation.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

As a History and Political Science student you will have an excellent opportunity to develop skills that are attractive to employers, including:

  • Strong communication skills
  • A deep understanding of the past
  • The ability to research, analyse and interpret complex information
  • Independence and experience of living abroad (if Year Abroad chosen)
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Handling complex information
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload

These are key skills that will enable you to pursue either further study in History or Anthropology disciplines or move into employment in a wide range of other careers. 

90% of History and Political Science students are in work/study six months after graduation (DLHE 2015).  Our graduates have gone on to careers in: 

  • Accountancy
  • Charity work
  • Housing
  • Human Resources
  • International Development
  • Law
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Publishing
  • Politics
  • Retail Management
  • Teaching
  • Library and Archive work
  • Postgraduate study 

You will benefit from organised events in the department whereby our graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available to historians.  Many careers-orientated events are arranged in the department over the course of your time at Birmingham to enable you to gain skills so that you join the working world with confidence in your abilities.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - 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.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.