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BA Politics and International Relations

Start date
3 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Joint Honours combined, Single Honours

For 2021/22:
£9,250 (UK students)
£19,320 (International Students)
More Fees and funding details.

Student Alifia discusses her experience as an undergraduate Politics and International Relations student at Birmingham.

Our BA Politics and International Relations degree combines two major fields offered by POLSIS. It allows students with an interest in other societies, cultures and states to combine their study with political theory and practice.


Please rest assured that we will make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption, for example in response to COVID-19.

Information for future students and applicants

Throughout this course you will gain the all-round skills needed for a modern working world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and creativity.

Politics looks at how power is exercised, how political decisions are made, and who these decisions are made by. On this programme you will learn about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals. You will explore different political arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations, whilst developing your skills in analytical and critical enquiry, debating and self-motivation.

International Relations looks at how politics, economics and law are interconnected throughout the world, analysing the foreign policies of countries and states. Throughout this course you will gain the skills needed for a modern working world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and creativity.

There are plenty of reasons to study BA Politics and International Relations at Birmingham:

  • You will have the opportunity to undertake a work placement through our integrated Professional Development Module.
  • You will have the opportunity to spend a year abroad at one of our many international exchange partners.
  • You will have the chance to take part in an International Model NATO Conference in Washington DC. This experience provides you 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.
  • We have an on-campus UN modelling event. This is open to all students in POLSIS and attracts students from all around the world.

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. Find out more about studying as an international student.

It’s incredibly important, especially in the world that we live in today, to be aware of the various developments going on across the globe, and the modules here have really enabled me to enhance my global citizenship, as well as allowing me to have a solid grounding in approaching Politics and International Relations from an academic perspective.

Samuel, 2019 Graduate

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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Modules in the first year

In this year you take required foundation modules in international relations and diplomatic history:

  • Understanding Politics
  • Introduction to Political Theory
  • Politics as a Vocation I and II
  • Pathways to Political Research I and II
  • Understanding International Relations
  • Global History

Modules in the second year

You build upon this foundation in the second year. An outstanding feature of the programme is the wide range of options available, as well as the interdisciplinary nature of the course. You will take International Relations Theory and either:

  • Britain in Europe and the World, or
  • Race, Empire and Modern Political Theory

Optional modules in the second year

  • Analysing Political Worlds
  • International Political Economy
  • Diplomatic History post 1945
  • British Politics
  • International Politics of East Asia
  • Introduction to US Domestic Politics
  • International Security
  • Public Choice Theory
  • Global Governance
  • Understanding Foreign Policy
  • America and the Middle East through Politics and Film
  • International Relations of the Middle East
  • Feminist Political Ideas
  • Exploring Europe: Politics, Economics and Culture
  • International Politics and Security in Russia and Eurasia
  • Elections and Voting in Britain
  • Soviet Politics: Rise and Fall of a Superpower
  • Controversies in Contemporary Democracies: Comparative Perspectives
  • Public Policy Blunders and Bad Decision-Making
  • Rebels and Revolutionaries: The Politics on Non-State Armed Groups
  • War and Peace in Theory and Practice
  • Quantitative Political Analysis
  • Political Economy of Energy and Energy Security
  • Trust-Building for Global Security
  • The Politics of Sex and Sexuality
  • Britain in Europe and the World
  • Race, Empire and Modern Political Theory

Year Abroad option

If you have not applied for the four year, study abroad degree you can still apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world if you have achieved a grade of 2.1. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. 

Modules in the final year

In the final year of your degree you will undertake an independent study project and up to five optional modules. Modules in the final year are advanced, research led modules taught by experts in the subject area.

You will write a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of your choice. You will be guided and supported by a supervisor who is an expert in your area of interest. In addition to writing the dissertation you will be able to take four optional modules.

Optional modules in the final year

  • Power in Britain
  • Contemporary US Foreign and Security Policy
  • Contemporary International Political Economy
  • Topics in British Politics
  • Global Uprisings: Critique and Radical Politics
  • Security in Europe: Actors, Crises and Threats
  • Democracy and Authoritarianism in Europe
  • Rebuilding War Torn States: Confronting Legacies of Conflict
  • The EU in a Globalised World
  • Left Parties and Protest Movements
  • The Diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Gender in World Politics
  • Issues in US Domestic Politics
  • Globalisation, Capitalism and Welfare
  • Law, Politics and the International System: Mediating Power Beyond the State
  • New Media, Social Media and International Politics
  • Strategy and Decision-Making
  • Conflict, Statehood and Sovereignty in World Politics
  • Parties, Voter and Elections
  • Migration and Refugee Politics in the Global South
  • Environment, Politics and Security
  • Politics, Music and the Arts
  • The Political Economy of Russia
  • Global Capitalism and Migration
  • Russian Foreign Policy
  • Understanding Brexit: Identity and Euroscepticism in Europe
  • Body Politics: Security, Economy, Violence
  • Populism in Contemporary Politics
  • Climate Change in Asia
  • Global Security: Militancy, Movements and Militaries
  • Identity in Middle East International Politics
  • Politics of Regional Integration
  • Rethinking Borders, Citizenship and Statelessness

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 2021. 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.


Fees for students starting in 2021-22

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2021, 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.

Learn more about fees and funding.

International students

Full-time, Band 1 (Classroom) £19,320


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 .

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at using code: L256.
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

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma

For students starting their course in 2019 the entry requirements are 6,6,5 at Higher Level with a minimum of 32 points overall.

Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements.

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.

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the Politics and International Relations programme, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.

To help you develop the above-mentioned skills, we adopt a range of teaching methods. They may include:

  • Lectures - listening to experts sharing their knowledge and discoveries in challenging and provocative ways. Students on the Politics and International Relations programme are expected to 'read-around' the subject matter of their lectures, adding to their understanding and developing their critical faculties and analytical skills.
  • Seminars - where you present and discuss your ideas and knowledge in smaller groups and debate interpretations and opinions with other students.
  • Tutorials - are your opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor, usually in small groups.
  • Workshops - are problem-solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Our lecturers and tutors will ensure you have all the resources you need to make the transition from A levels to the more rigorous demands of a Politics and International Relations degree.

More about student experience at POLSIS.

Contact hours

For all undergraduate modules students attend lectures and seminars regularly throughout the term. Contact hours vary dependent on module choice. As well as time with your lecturers and personal tutor, academic and professional services staff (like our dedicated Careers Network team) will be available to offer individual and group support throughout your time here at Birmingham.

Personal Tutor

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.

Seminars and tutorials

Small-group tutorials/personal tutorials run alongside our lectures, addressing any individual problems you may have and allowing you to consolidate lecture material, as well as test your understanding through problem-solving exercises.

Self-study is an essential part of the Politics and International Relations programme and requires self-motivation and enthusiasm for your subject. It also allows you to pursue your own lines of enquiry and become an independent thinker.

Lecturers and world leading researchers

Throughout the course you will be taught by lecturers who have worked in the field of political science and international relations as well as world-leading researchers. You can learn more about the School by visiting the School of Government staff pages

Learning settings

The Politics and International Relations degree is taught by our internationally renowned Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) which is located in Muirhead Tower on own main Edgbaston campus.

Departments from across the School of Government are all based within Muirhead Tower. The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.

Your lectures and teaching will take place in a variety of versatile lecture theatres and breakout rooms. Our rooms are all equipped with wireless connection and constantly updated technology including all the audio-visual equipment that you would expect from one of the UK's premier institutions.

Throughout your time on the Politics and International Relations 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.

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.

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.

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

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