BA Politics, Religion and Philosophy

This distinctive programme allows you to explore significant dimensions of public and private life, such as political thinking, contemporary issues in religion and critical philosophical enquiry.  

While you will be free to develop your specific and separate interests and skills in these three areas, the overall programme will also nurture a critical discussion in-between the disciplines and address some of the most important issues of our time. You will enjoy a rich and engaging academic experience and students on this programme rate it extremely highly. We are also ranked 2nd among all Theology departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

EU referendum

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

Rachel Allison

Rachel Allison

“I enjoy meeting new people on the course, and different courses, and having really good debates. I’ve enjoyed all my lectures and the staff are really helpful. The course has opened my eyes to the things I could do in the future and has helped me develop useful skills, such as taking on board and reacting to other peoples’ opinions. It’s also helped me learn and grow as a person.”

This course seeks to nurture a debate and critical discussion in-between the three disciplines of Politics, Religion and Philosophy.

This will be facilitated through regular seminar discussion groups throughout the whole programme that seek to generate cross-disciplinary critical reflection.  You will reflect on the place of religion in wider society, the political theories, powers and practices that have formed communities, and the philosophical thinking that continues to challenge private and public assumptions and practices.

You will have the opportunity to tailor your programme so that you can focus on the areas of the discipline that interest you most. For example you can choose from modules such as:

  • Religion in Contemporary Society 
  • Modern Political Thought
  • Political Philosophy: Can power be legitimate? 

In the second semester of your second year of study, the Department has developed opportunities for students to study abroad. This is an excellent opportunity for CV building, career connections and life experience. We have relationships with many English-speaking universities in North America, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  We also have opportunities in a range of countries for those with strong language skills looking to study in a foreign language. The arrangements are made through University of Birmingham Study Abroad and Exchanges.

Why study this course

  • Highly-rated department – The Department of Theology and Religion is ranked in the Top 10 in all three major league tables: the Guardian University Guide 2017, the Complete University Guide 2017 and The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.
  • Excellent employability development – Boost your employability skills by completing the compulsory placement module where you have the opportunity to spend time in a school, charity or even abroad.
  • Taught by experts – You will study alongside some of the finest minds in Theology and Religion. We are ranked 2nd among all Theology departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – You will have a variety of opportunities to enhance your student experience from regular coffee mornings for staff and students, to visiting speakers and specialist lectures.
  • Friendly and relaxed atmosphere – Staff within the Department of Theology and Religion will know you by name and are always happy to talk you outside of lecture hours and provide additional feedback on academic performance. On average, 92% of students reported that they were satisfied with the quality of the course in the National Student Survey 2016.

Open day talk

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.

First year

This year is divided equally between core and optional elements. The core elements are selected from first year elements in each of the three departments: Politics, Theology & Religion and Philosophy. They introduce students to the broad foundational aspects.  You will attend special Politics, Religion and Philosophy Seminars that seek to generate cross-disciplinary critical reflection.

First year modules include:

Compulsory:

  • Introduction to the Study of Religion (20)
  • Problems of Philosophy (20)
  • Understanding Politics (20)

Options (A total of 20 credits should be chosen from each group of options below, 60 in total from A,B & C):

Group A: Theology and Religion (20)

  • Defining Jews, Jewishness and Judaism(s) (10)
  • Introduction to Islam (20)
  • Introduction to the Study of the Holocaust (10)
  • Themes in Christian Theology (20)

Group B: POLSIS (20)

  • Classical Political Thought (20)
  • Introduction to International Relations (20)
  • Introduction to Political Economy (20)
  • Social Worlds and Sociological Imagination (20)
  • Research Skills & Literacy: Philosophy and Methods in Social Sciences (20)
  • Social Divisions (20)
  • Sociology of the Self and Everyday Life (20)
  • Twentieth Century Russian Politics (20)
  • Introduction to the European Union (20)

Group C: Philosophy (20)

  • Ancient Philosophy (10)
  • Epistemology: What and how do we know? (10)
  • Ethics: How should we live? (10)
  • Logic (10)
  • Moral Problems: An introduction to Applied Ethics (10)
  • Philosophy of Religion (10)
  • Philosophical Traditions (10)
  • Political Philosophy: Can power be legitimate? (10)
  • Reasoning (10)

Second year

As with first year, the structure of second year is divided into two equal parts - compulsory and optional elements. However, the compulsory elements seek to go beyond the broad foundations of first year and focus on aspects that bring the three disciplines together: contemporary political, philosophical and social thought and the place of religion in the public sphere.

Compulsory:

  • Religion and the Public Sphere (20)
  • The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change (20)
  • Political Analysis (20)

Options (A total of 20 credits should be chosen from eachgroup of options below, 60 in total from A,B & C):

Group A: Theology and Religion (20)

  • Dissertation Preparation (20) (if taking a 40 credit dissertation in Theology)
  • Placement (20)
  • Religion in Contemporary Society (20)
  • Sikhism (10)
  • Theological Ethics (20) 

Group B: POLSIS (20)

  • British Politics (20)
  • Comparative European Politics (20)
  • Contemporary Russian and East European Politics (20)
  • Data Analysis and Research Design (20)
  • Diplomatic History Post-1945 (20)
  • Europeanization (20)
  • European Societies: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (20)
  • Gender and Sexuality (20)
  • Global Societies (20)
  • Institutions and Policies of the EU (20)
  • International Political Economy (20)
  • International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia (20)
  • International Relations Theory (20)
  • International Security (20)
  • Introduction to American Politics (20)
  • Modern Political Thought (20)
  • Modern Sociological Theory (20)
  • Politics and Policy (20)
  • Public Choice Theory (20)
  • Sociology of ‘Race’ and Ethnicity – A Global Perspective (20)
  • The Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe (20)
  • The International Politics of East Asia I and II (20)

Group C: Philosophy (20)

  • Elements of Logic and Metaphysics (20)
  • Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy (20)
  • Feminist Philosophy (20)
  • History of Analytic Philosophy (20) 
  • Logic: Its limits and its scope (20)
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy (20)
  • Speaking of Things (20)
  • The Ethics of Killing (20)
  • The Mind-Body Problem (20)

Final year

The compulsory element of your final year allows you to specialise and engage in your own independent study by choosing a dissertation or project module from one of the three disciplines. You will be encouraged to devise a topic that reflects the three disciplines of the programme. This stage also permits you greater optional choices, which allow you to focus on one of the disciplines more than the others if desired.

Compulsory:

  • Dissertation (20 or 40) or
  • Philosophical Project (20)

Options (Depending on the credit value of the compulsory module selected, you will choose optional modules that will bring your total for your final year to 120 credits.   You will choose at least 20 credits from each group, 60 in total from A, B & C):

Group A: Theology and Religion (20)

  • Believing in the City (10)
  • Bible and Sacred Space (10)
  • Islam in Britain (10)
  • Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust (10)
  • Politics in the Name of God (20)
  • Problems of Religious Diversity (10)
  • Queer Bibles and Theologies (10)
  • Radical Islam and Islam Radicalising (10)
  • Religion and the Arts (10)
  • Set Texts A (10)
  • Set Texts B (10)

Group B: POLSIS (20)

  • Advanced Cultural Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe (20)
  • Contemporary International Political Economy (20)
  • Contemporary Political Theory (20)
  • Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy (20)
  • Controversies in Contemporary Democracies: Comparative Perspectives (20)
  • Critical Approaches to Security (20)
  • Democracy and Democratisation in Contemporary Europe (20)
  • Diplomatic History of Arab-Israeli Conflict (20)
  • European Security (20)
  • Europe in a Globalised World (20)
  • Gender in World Politics (20)
  • Global Governance (20)
  • Left Parties and Protest Movements (20)
  • Topics in British Politics (20)
  • War Torn States and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in the South (20)

Group C: Philosophy (20)

  • Being Good and Doing Right: Issues in Contemporary Moral Theory (20)
  • Global Bioethics (20)
  • Minds, Brains and Computers: Issues in the Philosophy and Cognitive Science (20)
  • Nietzsche (20)
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender (20)
  • Philosophy of Language (20)
  • Philosophy of Mathematics (20)
  • Philosophy of Time Travel (20)
  • Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology (20)
  • Science and Nature (20)
  • Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20)
  • What There Is: Issues in Ontology (20)

Politics, Religion and Philosophy with a year abroad

Subject to satisfactory performance over your first two years, you may have the option of spending your third year studying at an overseas university. You will then come back to Birmingham for your fourth and final year. 

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 Religious Studies, Philosophy or Theology is desirable but not essential. If taken, it will be required at grade B or above.
General Studies:
Accepted.

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all 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: 6,6,5 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 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.

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.

 

Contact hours

You can expect approximately 10 contact hours each week throughout the course of your programme. Contact hours will vary across the years of the programme depending on the optional modules you take and as independent study becomes more of a focus.

Contact hours will be a combination of lectures and seminars and the independent research that you conduct in your final year will be supported by 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer.

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.

 

Graduates of Politics, Religion and Philosophy will be able to combine all the elements of the three subjects, and more.

You will be conversant with some of the emergent issues that will become increasingly important in our contemporary age – how the sheer complexity of human life in its multiple contexts and forms might be interpreted in public and private, in society and the workplace, in our homes and institutions. You will develop skills highly sought after by employers within the graduate job market. These skills include:

  • Understanding complex information
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Building a case to critically assess a particular point of view, strategy or course of action
  • Respecting the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Generally thinking for yourself

The University of Birmingham has been named University of the Year for Graduate Employment by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. On average, 88% of graduates from this course enter work and/or study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).

Department of Theology and Religion graduates go on to pursue highly successful careers in professions:

  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Management consultancy
  • Local government
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Charity administration
  • Social policy

Studying one of our Theology and Religion degrees opens the door to a wide range of careers. Some graduates choose to progress to further study, not just in theology and religion but in politics, international development, sociology and others.

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.