Political Science with Year Abroad BA

Course details: Details | Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

The study of politics works on two fascinating levels. First, it helps you to understand and explain what governments do. Second, it teaches you a huge amount about human nature. As you progress through this degree you will learn about campaigns, elections, protest movements, policy issues and political ideals. You'll also explore different arguments, rival theories and alternative explanations, as well as building up the analytical skills that are so important in the jobs market.

On our four-year Year Abroad programmes, you will undertake a year abroad between your second and fourth years at a partner HE institution. This will give you the opportunity to experience a different academic environment and way of teaching (and even different approaches to the subject).

The year abroad will also enhance your employability prospects through a proven ability to succeed in a foreign setting, and will provide an additional opportunity to develop relevant, marketable skills in terms of organisation, communication, and intercultural awareness.

Our 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. Learn more about your student experience.

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900. Find out more about studying as an international student

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Our undergraduate Political Science and International Studies courses have seen success in the 2018 National Student Survey, with an impressive 91% overall satisfaction rate, and a prestigious 2nd place ranking amongst Russell Group universities. The courses were also reviewed very highly indeed by students for teaching satisfaction, with 94% confirming that POLSIS lecturers explained course content informatively and accessibly.

Download our course brochure (PDF - 1MB)


Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and study abroad programmes. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Course details: Why study this course | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

Politics is not only what political scientists study, but also an activity in which professional politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens take part. The BA Political Science with Year Abroad degree course at Birmingham enables all students to profit from a culture of learning that is aligned with our research ethos - based on critical enquiry, debate and self-motivation.

The BA Political Science with Year Abroad undergraduate degree is taught by the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) - one of the largest and highly regarded departments of its kind in the UK.

Where can I go?

A lot of our European partner universities teach in the native language and so, if you wish to apply to one of them, it is usually a requirement that you have a good working knowledge of the respective language.

Outside of Europe, we have exchange partners in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA, Uruguay, and the West Indies.

For more specific details on the names and locations of our partner universities, you should consult our study abroad - outgoing students webpage.

For more information about the year abroad visit our Year abroad and student exchange page.

We offer much more than a degree and your student experience lies at the heart of everything we do in POLSIS. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events - some of these are targeted to help you build skills and experience for your CV, others are more open events designed to expose you to high-level speakers on current debates relevant to all POLSIS students.

Our guest speakers are always topical and leaders in their field. Other opportunities include our popular Model Unitied Nations; Harvard National Model United Nations Trip and our annual Undergraduate Conference - designed for, and organised and run by fellow undergraduate students from our School of Government and Society. You will have the opportunity to choose speakers; organise panels; to designing the marketing and promotion strategy - this is a conference by students and for students, supported and guided by staff.

POLSIS also works closely with a number of student societies including The Politics Society (POLSOC) - the student-run society for all those interested in politics at the University of Birmingham.

If you want to take advantage of a unique opportunity to be supported with a work placement opportunity as part of your final year, this course includes the opportunity to undertake a 'Professional Development' module as part of your optional module choices.

You may also be interested in:

Why study this course

Global Opportunities at Birmingham

At Birmingham, we are committed to providing students with a truly global learning experience. Students on this programme have access to a range of exciting opportunities to travel and study abroad during their degree.

Year Abroad

Even if you haven’t applied for a 4-Year Study Abroad 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 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.

Undergraduate Enhancement Activities

Student-led events committee

Each year students elect representatives from amongst themselves to work with our student engagement officer and academics from POLSIS to develop a series of events and activities that run alongside their studies. In recent years these have included: staff student debates and question-time events; a distinguished visiting speaker series; and a student conference. 

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 in POLSIS and attracts students from all around the world. 

Student Enhancement Fund

Students can apply as individuals or groups for funding up to £300.00 to support academic and employment related activities. In the past we have supported conference attendance international study trips, and professional training courses. 

Visiting lecturers

We are always keen to link the academic study of international relations and politics with real world practice. One way we do this is to bring leading practitioners in the fields of politics, international relations and commerce into our lecturers and seminars to share their experience and expertise with students. Recent Visiting Lecturers have included General Sir Richard Shirreff, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), Sir Francis Richards, Former Director, GCHQ, Ann Don Bosco, Head of Strategy, Public Health England, Sarah Cox, Chief Operating Officer, OFGEM and General Sir Mike Jackson, former Head of the British Army. 

Employability

Student Research Internships

Each year we offer up to 10 research internships to undergraduates in POLSIS. These are open on a competitive basis to all second year students. These are fully supported, paid internships that give students the opportunity to work on a one-to-one basis with a member of academic staff in POLSIS on a research project.  

Employability 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 in POLSIS. These workshops run in each year of your programme and are tailored to support you with the information you need to plan for your postgraduate study or employment.

Professional development module

In the final year of your studies in POLSIS 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. 

High-quality teaching

Research Led Teaching

We are committed to delivering inspiring and challenging programmes of study which allow you to fully develop your ideas and potential. We are able to offer you a high level of 'added value' in terms of teaching quality because our staff are leading researchers in their subject areas and they bring their research expertise into their lectures and seminars. This means that, as a department, we are not only successful at attracting very good students, but are able to offer also excel in helping them to achieve levels of performance higher than they might expect in other comparable institutions. Our excellent teaching has been recognised many times by awards from the University and our student community.

Academic tutor

All students are assigned a personal tutor who is a member of academic staff in POLSIS.  The role of the academic tutor is to support and guide you during time in POLSIS. You will be expected to meet regularly with your tutor who will guide you on how to make the transition from school to university, advise you on your study choices and support your academic development. 

Cutting-edge research

POLSIS is home to some of the most respected academics in the UK and beyond. In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Politics and International Studies at Birmingham was ranked the sixth best department in the country in terms of research power, highlighting the large number of staff in POLSIS producing world-leading and internationally excellent research. We have a wide range of research specialisms in the department, including Security Studies and Terrorism, Post-Conflict Studies, International Relations, British and European Politics, American Politics, Middle Eastern Politics, Asian Politics, Political Theory, Gender Studies, Political Economy and Russian and East European Studies.

Modules

Modules in the first year

In the first year of your degree you receive a thorough grounding in the study of politics, with particular emphasis on the major approaches to the discipline and key ideas such as leadership, ideology, power, populism, democracy, justice, and human rights. Each of the modules you take in the first year is designed to introduce you to the theory and practice of politics and to provide you with a foundation for more advanced, specialised study in the second and third years of your degree. 

The modules that you will study include Understanding Politics which will introduce you to the study of politics and government, Classical Political Thought which will provide you with an overview of historical and theoretical approaches to thinking about political problems, and Politics as a Vocation which will introduce you to introduces students to a wide range of political vocations and real world political practices. You will also undertake a module in Research Skills that will provide you with the research skills you need to succeed in your studies.

In addition to these modules you will also have the opportunity to take an optional module of your choice from within POLSIS and a widening horizons module in a subject outside of your discipline (e.g. history, psychology, modern languages or law). The widening horizons module is part of our commitment at Birmingham University to foster breadth as well as depth of knowledge by encouraging all first year students to study subjects outside of their chosen subject area. This is an excellent opportunity to continue a subject you enjoyed at A-Level or to pursue a brand new interest. 

Modules in the second year

The second-year of your degree course further develops your understanding of the discipline and introduces new perspectives on politics and governance. It is designed to develop your knowledge and theoretical understanding of this dynamic and changing field. You will take two compulsory modules. First, you will take either Analysing Political Worlds, which examines the nature and distribution of power in politics and society or Comparative Politics, which compare key features of political systems across the globe. You are then asked to take one of either Modern Political Thought,  which focuses on the development of political ideas and ideologies in the period from the French Revolution to the Second World War or  Feminist Political Ideas, which examines the historical development and diversity of feminist political ideas.

Your second year of study will also provide you with the opportunity to undertake more specialised study in areas of the subject that interest you. You will be able to choose four optional modules from the extensive list of modules that we offer. These modules will build on the knowledge and skills you have acquired thus far on your degree and allow you to tailor your studies in a way that best fits with your interests and future plans. 

Year Abroad

In your third year you will register for the equivalent of 120 credits at the host institution. You will have to undertake and pass the assessment for 60 credits of the modules for which you are registered at the host institution. A Pass is required for progression to the 4th year of the programme. These credits will not contribute to the overall degree classification.

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.

There are two distinct independent study pathways of independent study in the final year:

Pathway one: on this pathway 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.

Pathway two: on the second pathway you take the module Problems in World Politics. This module is designed to allow students to apply the knowledge they have acquired on their degree to real world policy problems in politics. In addition to this independent study module you will be able to take five optional 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 2019. 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 and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2019, 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 2019-20
Fee Band Full-time
Undergraduate £9,250

Overseas students

Overseas students entering in 2019-20
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 1 (Classroom) £17,040

Scholarships

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 .

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
AAB (2019 entry)
General Studies:
not accepted

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all accepted but subjects are 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

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

For students starting their course in 2018 the entry requirements are 6,5,5 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.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com using code: L20A.
Learn more about applying.

University of Birmingham's UCAS code number is B32.

UCAS

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.

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.

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the programme of study we offer, 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 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 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 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 and Society staff pages.

Learning settings

This 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 and Society 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.

More about our approach to teaching.

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.

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.

Careers Network

Careers Network is the University’s careers service.  A dedicated careers team for the College of Social Sciences will be able to support you with making career decisions and planning your career, while you are studying. They can provide you with guidance on writing application forms and CVs,  and can arrange mock interviews and assessment centres.

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

Your Birmingham degree

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.


Alumni profiles

The School of Government and Society is proud of all of its students and alumni. Via the University's Development and Alumni Office, we hope to keep in touch with all of our alumni post-graduation, to learn of their many successes and to continue to share our research successes and campus developments.

View our undergraduate alumni profiles throughout the School and Government and Society.

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.

Shape your academic experience

Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future. Find out more on the Guild of Students website

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.