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BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations

Address some of the world’s most pressing challenges and moral matters. Explore political thinking and get to the core of issues from conflict to climate change.

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1st in the UK for student satisfaction for politics (Complete University Guide, 2024)

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Course tailored to you with module choice and flexible study options

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Professional skills modules, employer introductions, work placement and study abroad opportunities

Course overview

Why did Russia choose to invade the Ukraine? Why do countries struggle to cooperate over climate change? On our BA Politics and International Relations degree, you will study the impact of political concepts and decisions to understand the challenges that national and international politics faces in the 21st century.

This course will appeal to anyone with an interest and educational background in politics, sociology and history looking to deepen their understanding of the global political landscape of today and turn this into a successful career in the world of local and international politics, the media or business.

The course will provide you with a thorough grounding in political science, international relations, political sociology and research methods, with analysis of how national and international politics has developed and changed in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will go beyond the theory, applying political research to real-world issues, from climate change to the rise of populism, international conflict and political communication in the age of social media.

The course covers political science, international relations and sociology. You will examine multidisciplinary approaches to problems and devise policy solutions to these, developing the knowledge and skills to question, analyse and debate real-world issues.

Guest speakers from different industries complement your learning, providing invaluable insights as well as professional connections.

Why choose this course?

At Herts, you will be taught and inspired by a dynamic teaching team that includes active researchers and staff with diverse professional backgrounds from political communication and parties to recruitment and the charity sector.

Employability is integrated into the curriculum. You will gain transferrable skills in critical thinking, research, analysis, problem-solving and communication; these skills are key to launching a successful career in a wide range of professional fields such as media and public relations, governmental and non-governmental organisations, teaching, business and research. You will regularly meet potential employers through events and activities such as lectures and tutorials with guest speakers, CV and cover letter workshops, assessment centre experience and career advice sessions.

The course offers flexible study options, with hybrid teaching on campus and online making it easy to combine studies with part-time work, commuting or family commitments.  You will also benefit from choice of modules and the chance to involve yourself in the academic community of the department through societies, research events and the student-run social media channels.

Alongside your degree, you will benefit from co-curricular activities and trips to enhance your studies: opportunities include taking part in the Model UN discussions and being involved with the Herts Politics blog and social media presence to showcase your work and develop media skills. Our proximity to London means that modules on the course feature visits to political institutions and organisations based in London such as Parliament and Chatham House.

Your future career

Our Politics and International Relations graduates work in a variety of different professional fields, with typical careers in political administration, political advocacy, journalism and public relations, teaching, research and the private sector.

Possible roles of employment include:

  • Diplomat
  • Political analyst
  • Journalist
  • International lawyer
  • Teacher
  • Parliamentary researcher

Herts graduates have secured roles in the House of Commons, Department for Education and at the Wellcome Trust.

See what recent graduates are up to

MP Constituency Office at UK Parliament

Meet Harry. He turned a keen interest in politics and history into a career and is now working for a Member of Parliament.

From undergrad to postgrad

Harry had a keen interest in politics and history and wanted to build on what he had learnt during his A-levels. He felt that the undergraduate politics and international relations programme at Herts offered him that and says, ‘I saw the course as an opportunity to turn a passion into a valuable qualification. I lived in Hertfordshire too, so the location of the University allowed me to continue working part-time time whilst I studied.’

Harry was impressed by the quality of teaching during his undergraduate course and said that it was an easy choice to complete his postgraduate degree, MA International Relations, at Herts too. He says, ‘Both courses had a broad mix of modules, and your knowledge was assessed by a combination of written tasks and engaging practical exercises, which I enjoyed.’

Like many students, Harry fitted in visits to the EleHouse and midweek events at The Forum between his studies. But when he needed to work hard, he spent most of his time at the de Havilland Learning Resources Centre (LRC). He says, ‘The LRC was quiet, had plenty of space and was a short walk from everything else on campus.’

After Herts

Since graduating from Herts, Harry has worked in a public relations role before moving to a position in an MP’s constituency office. There, he works with government departments and external stakeholders to help constituents. He says, ‘I spend a lot of time sorting issues with passport and visa applications, social housing, and assisting with benefits claims. Another big part of the role is communicating the MP’s position on a variety of topics and making people aware of the work they do locally and in Parliament.’

Harry’s advice

Harry’s best advice for current and future students is to ‘make use of your tutors and use the library’. He adds, ‘I know this seems obvious, but once I took advantage of all the support available, I saw a huge improvement in my work. And never be afraid to ask your lecturers if you’re unsure about a concept or theory.’

Commissioning Specialist at Academic publisher

Meet Jacob.  After completing his A-levels, Jacob saw an opportunity to try something new and has since completed an undergraduate and postgraduate course at Herts.

Trying something new

After completing his A-levels, Jacob saw an opportunity to try something new and applied to study politics at Herts. He says, ‘They took a chance and offered me a place on their undergraduate programme. I enjoyed every moment of the course and I got to know my lecturers well – they were second to none.’

The quality of teaching and the postgraduate alumni discount convinced Jacob to stay at Herts after his undergraduate degree and complete his masters here too. He says, ‘When I heard that they were introducing an MA programme in International Relations, I relished the opportunity to continue receiving their tutelage. It was an easy decision for me.’

Making friends for life

Since graduating, Jacob continues to meet up with friends he met on the course and those he lived with. He says, ‘We had the best time at Herts and supported each other throughout. The support network we created was great, and it was fantastic to be able to work with people from different backgrounds.’

Falling in love with academia

Jacob is now a Commissioning Specialist at an open-access academic publisher, where he works with academics to create collections of research in a variety of different fields, increasing the number of open-access research available to the public. He is hoping to begin his PhD soon and has ambitions to become a lecturer. He says, ‘My time studying at Herts has made me want to remain in academia for the rest of my life. I want to continue learning and teach a new generation of students.’

Jacob believes that building a network at university is one of the most important things you can do. His advice to others is to, ‘Find your niche and explore what you can do with your degree. But most importantly, enjoy your time here!’

What you'll study

On this course, you’ll be taught via a combination of block-taught on-campus modules as well as hybrid modules with online activities and on-campus seminars. Modules are designed with a focus on practical application and employability.

You will explore a wide range of topics related to current developments and issues in national and international politics, including:

  • contemporary US Politics
  • conflict and post-conflict transitions to peace
  • climate change as a political challenge
  • energy and resource politics
  • political sociology
  • the politics of multiculturalism
  • the rise of new global powers such as China and Russia
  • populist politics and radical democratic alternatives.
  • sociology and activism in practice
  • politics and sociology of sports and popular culture

In your first year, you'll study the foundations of different fields of political research and basic academic skills.

In your second year, you will develop your knowledge in areas of political research of your choice, as well as research methods and research design skills.

In the final year, you will gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen areas of political research whilst advancing your understanding of research design and research practice.

Optional modules from geography and environment can be taken, allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests. There are options for work placements and study abroad opportunities.

Assessment is via a range of assignments including policy reports, explainer videos, presentations and blog posts.

What if I need support?

You'll benefit from an academic support team, wellbeing team and a personal tutor to help you adjust to the demands of university learning and living.

Additional support is available from our Student Success team focused on inclusive learning and our dedicated Future Success network who will help you with work experience, placements and graduate jobs.

Our in-house Centre for Academic Skills Enhancement (CASE) offers extra support with academic writing, numeracy and referencing.

Optional sandwich year

Graduate with invaluable work experience alongside your degree and stand out from the crowd. This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a year in industry, typically between your second and third years of study. It’s a chance to explore career possibilities, make valuable contacts and gain sought after professional skills.

Research shows that over 70% of employers prefer students with work experience, which is why we believe work placements are career gold. Our Careers and Employment service are here to support you explore your options and make valuable contacts for your future career.

You’ll pay no tuition fee for this year and won’t need to worry about the details of your placement until your second year of study.

Study Abroad offers the opportunity for an amazing experience, which will help make you stand out from the crowd. With more and more companies working internationally, experience of living in another country can make a great impression on future employers.

This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a sandwich year abroad. The University has partnerships with over 150 universities around the world, including the USA, Canada, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and closer to home in Europe.

If you study abroad between your second and third year of study, you’ll pay no tuition fee to the partner university and no tuition fee to us either. We’ll ask you to make your decision in your second year, so there is plenty of time to think about it.

Graduate with invaluable work experience alongside your degree and stand out from the crowd. This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a year in industry, typically between your second and third years of study. It’s a chance to explore career possibilities, make valuable contacts and gain sought after professional skills.

Research shows that over 70% of employers prefer students with work experience, which is why we believe work placements are career gold. Our Careers and Employment service are here to support you explore your options and make valuable contacts for your future career.

You’ll pay no tuition fee for this year and won’t need to worry about the details of your placement until your second year of study.

Find out more about work placements

Study Abroad offers the opportunity for an amazing experience, which will help make you stand out from the crowd. With more and more companies working internationally, experience of living in another country can make a great impression on future employers.

This course offers you the opportunity to enhance your study and CV with a sandwich year abroad. The University has partnerships with over 150 universities around the world, including the USA, Canada, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and closer to home in Europe.

If you study abroad between your second and third year of study, you’ll pay no tuition fee to the partner university and no tuition fee to us either. We’ll ask you to make your decision in your second year, so there is plenty of time to think about it.

Find out more about study abroad options

Where you'll study

Your main campus is College Lane. This is home to our health and social work, computer science, engineering, physics, maths and astronomy, art and design, film, music and media, life and medical sciences and humanities subjects. This means you’ll share the campus with future politicians, nurses, scientists, artists and more. You can use the common rooms to relax with friends, work out in the 24-hour gym or have a drink in our on-campus pub or cafes.

We also have restaurants for you to eat in or grab something on the go. Our Learning Resources Centres are open 24/7, which means you can study whenever suits you best. Want to pop over to the other campus?  You can take the free shuttle bus or walk there in just 15 minutes.

Who you'll learn from

You will be taught and inspired by an experienced teaching team with research expertise in areas such as peacebuilding and post-conflict transition, international justice, climate change governance, Islamic political thinking and spirituality in digital spaces.

Guest speakers from a variety of industries complement the teaching, providing invaluable insights and professional connections.

How we support our students

At the University of Hertfordshire, we want to make sure your time studying with us is as stress-free and rewarding as possible.

We offer a range of support services, from childcare to counselling, ensuring that you make the most of your time at Herts and can focus on studying, having fun, and have the support you need.

Entry requirements

The University of Hertfordshire is committed to welcoming students with a wide range of qualifications and levels of experience. The entry requirements listed on the course pages provide a guide to the minimum level of qualifications needed to study each course. However, we have a flexible approach to admissions and each application will be considered on an individual basis.

Typical offer (UCAS points)

112−120

Typical A Level offer

BBC−BBB

Typical IB offer

112−120 from a minimum of two higher level (HL) subjects at H4 or above.

Typical BTEC offer

DMM−DDM

Typical T Level offer

112−120

GCSEGrade 4/C in English Language and 4/D Mathematics.
Access coursesAn overall merit profile in 45 credits at Level 3.
Additional informationFind out more about our standard and contextual Undergraduate Entry Requirements.

English language

All students from non-majority English speaking countries require proof of English language proficiency, equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each band.

If you do not have the required IELTS or equivalent for direct entry on to your degree programme, our Pre-sessional English and International Foundation courses can help you to achieve this level.

Additional information

Find out more about International Entry Requirements.

Ready to apply?

UK and EU applicants with pre-settled/settled status in the UK
Start date Study typeApply
September 2024Full time Apply via UCAS
September 2024 Full time with placement year Apply via UCAS
September 2024Full time with study abroadApply via UCAS
September 2024Part timeApply with Herts

International and EU applicants without pre-settled status in the UK

Apply through our international/EU application portal

Fees and funding

At Herts, we’re dedicated to providing world-class teaching supported by industry-level facilities and incredible social spaces. We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to higher education, and we strive to keep both our standard and additional costs as low as possible.

Study typeFees
UK studentsFull time£9,250 for the 2024/2025 academic year
Part time£1,155 per 15 credits for the 2024/2025 academic year
EU studentsFull time£15,500 for the 2024/2025 academic year
Part time£1,940 per 15 credits for the 2024/2025 academic year
International studentsFull time£15,500 for the 2024/2025 academic year
Part time£1,940 per 15 credits for the 2024/2025 academic year

Tuition fees are charged annually. The fees quoted above are for the specified year(s) only. Fees may be higher in future years, for both new and continuing students. Please see the University’s Fees and Finance Policy (and in particular the section headed “When tuition fees change”), for further information about when and by how much the University may increase its fees for future years.

Scholarships, grants  and bursaries

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a non-repayable scholarship, grant or bursary to support your studies.

Disabled Students' Allowance

The Disabled Students’ Allowance can cover any study-related costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.

Student loans

Find out about securing a student loan, from how much you could be eligible for to when you need to start making repayments.

Accommodation costs

We offer a great choice of student accommodation, on campus or nearby in the local area, to suit every student budget.

Additional course fees

Read more about additional fees in the course fact sheet.

More about the course

Course fact sheets
BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations (Revised 2024) Download PDF
Programme specifications
BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations Download PDF
Additional information

Applications open to international and EU students

Yes

Course length

Full Time, 3 Years Part Time, 6 Years Sandwich, 4 Years

Not ready to apply?