BA Russian Studies and International Relations

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This is a diverse programme allowing you to combine the study of Russian with International Relations. International Relations covers such topics as politics, economics and the diplomatic history of the 20th century. Combined with the opportunity to study at a European university, this course offers a unique opportunity to learn in a truly international and interdisciplinary way.

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.

Student satisfaction in BA Russian Studies and International Relations is high. 95% of students report that staff are good at explaining things.

Course fact file

UCAS code: RL72

Duration: 4 Years

Typical Offer: AAB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

In this programme, you study half of your modules (60 credits) in Russian and half in International Relations (60 credits)

First year

Russian: No prior knowledge of the Russian language is necessary to enter our programmes. In the first and second years, students are divided into groups according to whether they are beginners or have an A level or equivalent in Russian. Students with AS level Russian are placed in the advanced group and given extra tutorial support to catch up, while students with GCSE Russian will normally be placed in the beginners’ group.

At the end of the first year, beginners travel to the city of Petrozavodsk in Russia for an intensive four week language programme, for which many of the costs are covered by the University.

In addition, students choose from a variety of Russian Studies modules including:

  • Outlines of Russian History
  • Nineteenth or Twentieth Century Russian Literature
  • Twentieth Century Russian Politics.

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 also take a number of complementary courses in the Department of Political Science and International Studies, and options offered elsewhere.

Second year

Russian: In addition to more advanced language classes you can choose from a variety of Russian Studies modules including:

  • Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe,
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Politics
  • Russia in Revolution 1900–1936
  • International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia,
  • Nineteenth or Twentieth Century Russian Literature.

You also have the option of studying Beginner’s Polish.

International Relations: The second-year core course 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.

Third year

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. If you are studying Russian with another language, your year abroad can be split between Russia and a country where they speak the other language being studied. There is also the opportunity to spend a semester in Krakow, Poland under the ERASMUS scheme.

Fourth year

Russian: In addition to core modules, you can choose from a variety of modules including:

  • Advanced Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Advanced Contemporary Russian and East European Politics
  • Business Russian
  • Additional Russian (English-Russian translation and Russian-English aural translation)
  • The Russian Economy: from Plan to Market
  • Russian Political and Intellectual Thought from 1950 to 1989
  • Advanced International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia
  • Russia in the Modern World.

You also write an extended essay or dissertation on a Russian Studies topic of your choosing. In addition, modules in Ukrainian and Polish languages are offered.

International Relations: In the final year you may take a range of options. These include:

  •  Power in Britain
  •  Twentieth Century Political Thought
  •  Political Economy of the EU
  •  Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy
  •  International Ethics
  •  Contemporary IPE
  •  Topics in British Politics
  •  Modern European Political Thought
  •  European Security
  •  Critical Security Studies
  •  International Organisations
  •  Advanced Modern Asia
  •  War-torn States and Post-conflict Reconstruction in the South

Why study this course

Why study Russian? Because Russia is an important player on the global scene. It is a country that has undergone fascinating and tumultuous changes in the past century. Western businesses are spending billions of pounds 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 country and region.

  • The Department of Modern Languages at the University of Birmingham is the only one in the country to offer the full range of languages from the Iberian Peninsula (Basque, Catalan, Galician and Portuguese) in addition to our seven principal languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, and Spanish). All programmes last four years, with the third year spent studying abroad. You can concentrate on a single language, study two or more languages or combine language study with some other subject.
  • Birmingham is one of the top four universities for language provision in the judgement of employers, according to the Guardian.
  • Our students are extremely satisfied with the experience they receive here at the University of Birmingham, which is reflected in our excellent returns in the National Student Survey over recent years. Our different language sections frequently achieve scores in excess of 80% or 90% for overall satisfaction.
  • There are a wide range of Joint Honours with Languages subjects available at Birmingham.
  • Read our ten reasons to study Modern Languages at Birmingham.

You do not have to look too far to find examples of how international relations impinge on our everyday lives. For example, international conventions on human rights or environmental issues increasingly shape domestic legislation in individual countries, while the prospect of military intervention in specific regions can have an adverse impact on the global economy that reverberates around the world.

This degree addresses a wide range of problems and concerns that have a global dimension or impact, and which require international co-operation if they are to be resolved or managed effectively. While International Relations is a distinct academic discipline, it is by its nature interdisciplinary, requiring you to acquire some knowledge of politics, history, geography, economics and law.

Joint honours open day talk

Dr Craig Blunt delivers an undergraduate open day talk about studying Joint Honours at the university.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Typical offer: AAB

Required subjects and grades: No A level in Russian required but evidence of language learning ability required such as a grade A in a Modern Language at GCSE.

Additional information: Other qualifications are considered - learn more about entry requirements

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 36 points. Applicants should normally be able to demonstrate some previous experience in learning a modern language.

International students:

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 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

Learn more about applying

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

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. 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).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will 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 to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

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.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

 

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

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 will 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 and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

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 will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will 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

Russian Studies

[Video above - Dr Emma Tyler discusses careers and employability during the Modern Languages open day presentation]

Modern Languages graduates have a range of skills that are highly prized by graduate employers: oral and written communication in one or more foreign languages, critical thinking,  intercultural awareness and understanding. You will also develop leadership, teamwork and organisational skills through activities such as group projects and your year abroad.

90% of our Modern Language graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. 50% of vacancies advertised for new and recent graduates don’t specify a degree subject, and our graduates enter a wide range of careers similar to other arts and humanities graduates but with much greater scope in international settings. This includes business, government, journalism, the creative arts, teaching and law. Some go abroad to develop their language skills while working as TEFL teachers and university language tutors.

Modern Languages graduates from the University of Birmingham have excellent prospects after graduation. An impressive 80% of our graduates go into professional or managerial jobs within six months of graduation. Our graduates have started careers with employers including British Airways, Deloitte, HSBC, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the British Council, NATO, BP, central and local government, and universities in the UK and abroad.

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. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and talks and events, including ‘Careers with Languages’, to provide insight into careers of interest to our students. Many languages students will also find our events about careers such as teaching, law, marketing, journalism and advertising of interest.

We work hard to help students identify how the year abroad may help their future career. We also encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can even apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Modern Languages alumni profiles

International Relations

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 and Employability Service 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.

If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. 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.

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 the College's 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.

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 are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

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.

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.