BA International Development and Politics

with Year Abroad

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours

For 2020/21:
£9,250 (Home/EU students)
£18,120 (International Students)
More Fees and funding details.

This programme explores some of the world’s most pressing development challenges, from poverty and inequality, to migration, conflict and climate change.

In our increasingly globalised world, these problems are growing in complexity and significance. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to tackle these challenges by 2030, but this will require global effort, co-ordination and vision. 

Students apply a political lens to understanding and addressing the challenges of global development. They learn how development is affected by politics at all levels, from the political economy of international assistance, to domestic politics and local power dynamics. They explore the implications of politics for poverty, conflict and inequality through a range of case studies and practical exercises.

This programme combines a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of international development with core disciplinary training in politics, power and political economy. You will examine contested debates on democracy and development, the role of patronage in development, and the politics of social exclusion. You will apply political theories to a variety of examples of development and change from across the world, and critically examine different forms of development assistance.

The programme uses real-world puzzles to bring to life the complex challenges of doing development in practice. It includes a specially designed Working in Development module, which will provide hands-on experience of common tools used in development projects and programmes.

During that module, you will have the opportunity to participate in a study visit to a low- or middle-income country, allowing you to meet and learn from a range of actors working in a development context.

All our students have an opportunity to undertake a work placement through our integrated Professional Development Module. This aims to help you to identify your personal and professional strengths, and reflect on the skills you may need to prepare you for the world of work.

The programme is co-delivered with the Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) department.

Further information on the Year Abroad

This option is available to students who wish to spend a year studying abroad as part of their degree. You can apply directly to this programme or transfer during your second year. Please note, you must achieve a 2:1 (60%) in your first year at Birmingham to be eligible to study abroad in your second year. You will be required to pay 15% of the University of Birmingham’s full tuition fee during your year abroad. Find out more 

What to expect from your degree

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of key global challenges, and explore a variety of real-world examples of development and change.
  • An opportunity to see development in practice, through a study visit to a low or middle-income country.
  • A focus on your professional development, through practical exercises and projects and the option of taking up a work placement in your second year.
  • Teaching by world-class academics engaged in cutting-edge research on a range of global challenges and impacting international policies and debates in their field.
  • An enquiry-based learning approach, designed to develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills essential for working in development.


Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Understanding Politics
  • Understanding Political Economy
  • Introduction to International Development 
  • Politics of Development
  • Pathways to Political Research 1 and 2
  • Global Development Challenges 1 and 2

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Understanding development assistance
  • Working in development
  • International political economy

Optional modules

Three second-year optional modules from  IDD and POLSIS

  • Economic perspectives on development (IDD)
  • Governing states and societies (IDD)
  • The international politics of East Asia (POLSIS)
  • International Security (POLSIS)
  • America and the Middle East through politics and film (POLSIS)
  • International relations of the middle east (POLSIS)
  • Feminist political ideas (POLSIS)
  • International politics and security in Russia and Eurasia (POLSIS)
  • Global governance (POLSIS)
  • Rebels and revolutionaries: The politics of non-state armed groups (POLSIS)
  • War and peace: Theory and practice (POLSIS)
  • Controversies in contemporary democracies: Comparative perspectives (POLSIS)
  • The political economy of energy and energy security (POLSIS)

Year 3

  • Year abroad

Year 4

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation

Optional modules

Four final-year modules from below. A 50/50 split of credits between IDD and POLSIS.

  • Development: The environmental challenge (IDD)
  • Identity, inequality and inclusive development (IDD)
  • African politics (IDD)
  • Human rights and development (IDD)
  • Global uprisings: Critique and radical politics (POLSIS)
  • War-torn states and post-conflict reconstruction in the South (POLSIS)
  • Critical approaches to security (POLSIS)
  • Advanced modern Asia (POLSIS)
  • Gender in world politics (POLSIS)
  • Varieties of capitalism and welfare state models (POLSIS)
  • Law, politics and the international system: Mediating power beyond the state (POLSIS)
  • New media, social media and international politics (POLSIS)
  • Conflict, statehood and sovereignty in world politics
  • Politics of migrants, refugees and diasporas in the Middle East (POLSIS)
  • Environment, politics and society (POLSIS)
  • The diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli conflict (POLSIS)
  • Populism in contemporary politics (POLSIS)

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 2020. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


For UK students beginning their studies in September 2020, 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.

Learn more about fees and funding.

Home/EU students

Undergraduate Home/EU student fees 2020-21
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2020-21
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £18,120


At Birmingham we ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students from considering university and that excellence is rewarded.

The University offers a range of additional financial support for students studying at Birmingham in the form of bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Learn more about our scholarships and awards .

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the website.

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at using code: L92A.
Learn more about applying.

University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

UK, EU and international students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

You submit an application via the UCAS website with a list of up to five courses. All choices are confidential during the application process so universities and colleges considering an application cannot see your other choices. Applications must be completed by mid-January of the year that you wish to start university.

You can monitor the progress of your application using the UCAS Apply system.

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
General Studies:
not accepted

Typical offer AAB

International students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 32 overall with 6, 6, 5, at higher level

Standard English language requirements apply. For more information, please visit



International Students

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.

Assessment Methods

IDD brings its research directly into the classroom. You can expect a range of teaching approaches designed to give you a varied learning experience. We are committed to encouraging an inclusive learning environment, by stimulating discussion and debate inside and outside of class. To ensure you are gaining skills fit for the real world, we use forms of assessment beyond essays and exams, such as blogging, report writing, learning logs, and group and individual presentations.

Through our interactive and student-focused teaching, and innovative approach to learning and assessment, you will develop core skills in:

  • Research
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Time management
  • Global, local and cross-cultural awareness
  • A wide range of communications, from oral, to a variety of written formats (blogs, reports, essays)

As a University of Birmingham graduate, we provide you with the tools and skills to operate in an ever growing global environment.

Careers Events

In addition to the extensive careers support that Birmingham University offers all of its students, we offer bespoke employability and careers workshops to all students on our International Relations degree. These workshops run in each year of your programme and are tailored to support you with the information you need to plan should you wish to pursue employment or postgraduate study.

Professional development module

In the final year of your studies of our International Relations degree you will have the opportunity to take our Professional Development module. This module is based around a work placement and will help you bridge the gap between your academic studies and your future career.

Year Abroad

Even if you haven’t applied for our 4-Year Study Abroad International Relations degree you can transfer onto this track during your time at Birmingham (grades depending) and benefit from the increased confidence and different academic perspective gained by studying in a foreign country. We have exchange partners across Europe, as well as in Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Vietnam and Uruguay.

International Model NATO Conference in Washington DC

All third-year students on this Political Science degree programme, are eligible to apply to be part of a delegation to the annual International Model NATO Conference, held in Washington DC in the Spring Term. This experience provides students with a unique opportunity to participate in a role-play exercise of decision-making at NATO, working with delegates from universities and institutions across the globe. Students selected for this Conference will be provided with bursaries that cover the cost of Conference registration, accommodation and subsistence.

On-campus UN modelling event

Each year we work with the Guild UN Modelling Society to put on a Model UN event. This is open to all students on this Political Science degree and attracts students from all around the world.

Learn more about our student experience activities

Throughout your time on the Political Science with Year Abroad BA course, employability is a key area of focus. We help to make sure that you are employable through a range of department led and university wide initiatives which include:

Input from Professional Careers Advisers in your Curriculum

During the first year of your studies Careers Advisers from the University Careers Network team attend lectures in your course to support you with career planning from an early stage. The lectures will cover career planning, researching career and internship opportunities, developing the skills that graduate employers are looking for, and presenting yourself with impact to a potential employer.

Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'Investing in your future'.

Professional development module

You will have the unique opportunity to take advantage of a work placement as part of your final year by undertaking the Professional Development Module as part of your optional module choices.

Visit the University of Birmingham Careers pages for further information on how we are 'Investing in your future'.

Your Birmingham degree

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.

A pathway to a career in international development

Globally, a huge range of organisations are working for inclusive development, opening up a variety of opportunities to pursue a career in the sector. This includes international agencies such as the United Nations, national aid agencies like the UK’s Department for International Development, and local civil society organisations operating all over the world.

Our degrees are carefully designed to provide the knowledge and skills these kinds of employers value - from critical thinking and problem-solving, to practical experience of frameworks for designing, monitoring and evaluating development. While our degrees are tailored for a career in development, these skills are also highly transferable to a range of government or non-governmental sectors.