BA Russian Studies and International Relations

The key to understanding another society is mastering its language. From this starting point, you can examine a country's history, its literature and culture; and by comparison you can learn more about our own society.

Russia is an important player on the global scene, having undergone fascinating changes. Western businesses are spending billions investing in Russia and other former Soviet markets, and need employees who can both speak the language and understand the history, politics and culture of the region.

The University of Birmingham is in the Top 5 for Russian Studies (the Complete University Guide 2018), and combining it with International Relations is highly complementary. Including a Year Abroad, this course offers a unique opportunity to learn in a truly international and interdisciplinary way, and will prepare you for a huge range of careers.

EU referendum

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

Eliana Bellano

Eliana Bellano

“Studying here has definitely been the best decision for me. Russia has always fascinated me and I’ve been very interested in international affairs: here I am able to learn from experts both in Russian language, cultural and international political studies. The university’s multicultural environment is beneficial for those interested in languages. The university has a beautiful campus, not far from the city centre. Studying in Russia for a month after first year has been a great language learning, cultural and life experience.”

Our degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development – a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and professional industries.

Within your home Department of Modern Languages, Russian Studies is a small team of dedicated and experienced teaching and research staff (including native-speakers). This friendly community allows staff and students to work together to create an intellectually stimulating and enjoyable environment in which you can achieve your full potential. Beginners study in Russia for four weeks in Year 1 to rapidly progress their language skills. This flexible programme allows you to specialise as you progress, and you will spend your Year Abroad at a Russian university.

In addition, you will join the highly regarded Department of Political Science and International Studies which has long-established strengths in all areas of the discipline. As well as benefiting from world-leading expertise, you can join activities designed to complement and enrich your studies such as; student conferences, Research Assistance Scheme (students are paired with staff to assist in specific research tasks), exercises using real cases and research visits to local and national places of interest.

Why study this course

  • Outstanding student experience - Our students gave the course an overall satisfaction rating of over 86% in the National Student Survey 2016.
  • Excellent employability - 90% of our Modern Languages students enter work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015). By choosing Modern Languages, you are entering an excellent field with almost limitless opportunities and benefits. The new curriculum also has an increased focus on professional development in areas such as; presenting, CV-building, debating, and developing digital projects in the target language. In addition, the Department’s ‘Modern Languages Professionals Week’ in the second year features workshops and talks from former students who are using their languages for a 21st century global workplace in business, the not-for-profit sector, the arts, translation and interpreting, and education.
  • Travel opportunities - Many students remember their Year Abroad as the most exciting and formative part of their degree. Their Russian language skills truly matured and they gained a real in-depth understanding of the culture and society of this fascinating country. Beginners to the language also study in Russia for four weeks in Year 1 to rapidly progress their language skills. 
  • Enhanced curriculum and contact hours  - We have doubled the content hours for the new target-language core module, to 6 hours per week if you take advanced Russian, and 8 hours per week if you take beginner's Russian. In addition to your linguistic fluency, Birmingham fosters your cultural fluency and awareness of your target culture. The target-language core module pioneers a blended approach to your linguistic development; as your cultural knowledge is developed through the medium of your target language.
  • Extra-curricular opportunities - Join one of our politics or languages student societies, or even our student magazine The UoB Linguist. As well as making new friends who share your passion for languages and politics, you will attend diverse extra-curricular events and develop skills to become a better linguist and political-analyst. The Russian and Eastern European Society (REES) is a society popular amongst students on this programme; where members can meet, socialise and learn more about the Russian and East European language, film and culture.

Open day talks

Modules

Please note: 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 2018. 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.

First year

Russian: During your first year you will study two compulsory language modules 'Russian Core Advanced or Beginners I and II' and one optional module. You can choose between a range of optional modules including: 'Contemporary Russian and East European Politics', 'Cultural Politics of Russia and East Europe', 19th Century Russian Literature', and 'International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia'.

International Relations: You receive a thorough grounding in the study of international relations, with particular emphasis on the major approaches to the discipline and core issues such as conflict, war, peace, security, international and regional organisations, and international law. You will study three compulsory courses:

Second year

Russian: In addition to a compulsory language module 'Russian Language 2', you can choose from a variety of Russian Studies modules.

International Relations: The second-year compulsory module 'International Relations Theory' further develops your understanding of the discipline, introducing many new perspectives on international relations. As such, it is designed to develop your knowledge and theoretical understanding of this dynamic and changing field. In the second year you can also take a number of related courses within the Department of Political Science and International Studies.

Year Abroad

You can choose to spend your year abroad in various locations including Moscow, St Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Petrozavodsk, Tver and Volgograd, spending either two semesters in one place or splitting them between two different places, for instance a semester in Moscow and a semester in Tver. There may also be the opportunity to spend a semester in Krakow, Poland.

Final year

Russian: In addition to a compulsory language module 'Russian Language 4', you can choose from a variety of optional modules. You also write an extended essay or dissertation on a Russian Studies topic of your choosing.

International Relations: In the final year you may take a range of options. These include subjects such as Power in Britain, Twentieth Century Political Thought, Political Economy of the EU, Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy, International Ethics, European Security, Critical Security Studies and Advanced Modern Asia.

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.

Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • 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:
AAB. A level in Russian at grade B or above to take it from advanced level, No A level in Russian is required to take the language from beginners level, but evidence of language learning ability is essential, such as a grade B in a Modern Language at GCSE.

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.

 

Language laboratory sessions allow you to practise your listening and spoken skills and are an essential part of all our language programmes.

Contact hours

On the Russian Studies side of your degree, you will typically study 6-12 hours per week in lectures, seminars and small group teaching.

On the International Relations side of your degree, you can expect approximately 6 hours per week in your first and second year, with 1 lecture and 1 seminar for each of your 3 modules. In final year, you can expect roughly 2 contact hours per module, not including the 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.

 

Modern Languages / Russian and International Relations graduates have a range of knowledge and skills that are valued by graduate employers:

  • Strong communication skills in English and Russian;
  • A deep understanding and appreciation of other cultures;
  • Critical thinking skills, alongside the ability to research, analyse and interpret information;
  • Independence and experience of living abroad;
  • Leadership and teamwork;
  • Handling complex information;
  • The ability to form concise and articulate arguments;
  • Managing your time and prioritising your workload;

90% of our Modern Languages and 79% of our Politics graduates entered work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015). 

Employers include:

  • Amazon.fr
  • Capita
  • Eurocity Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • IQD Frequency Products
  • Aura Financial
  • JC Decaux
  • Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham
  • British Airways
  • Deloiette
  • HSBC
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers
  • The British Council
  • French Connection
  • NATO
  • BP
  • Ministry of Justice
  • House of Commons
  • Local and central government

Graduate roles include:

  • Editorial Project Leader
  • English Teacher
  • International Sales Coordinator
  • Investigation Specialist
  • Operations Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Marketing Officer
  • Account Executive
  • Account Planner

Examples of further study include:

  • PgDip Education
  • MA Social Work
  • PGCE (various)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law
  • MA Hispanic Studies
  • MA Translation Studies
  • PGCE Primary languages specialism
  • MA International Relations
  • MA Political Science
  • MA International Relations, Terrorism and Political Violence

Modern Languages and International Relations graduates enter the wide range of careers similar to other arts, humanities and social sciences graduates but with much greater scope in international settings.

You will benefit from organised events in both departments whereby graduates return to campus to talk to current students about their careers, how to find opportunities and the variety of roles available.

Read more about why studying languages is great for your career.

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.