BA (Hons) Politics & International Relations and Journalism

Key information

Why choose this course?

  • Explore the latest issues in national and international politics
  • Enjoy small class sizes and personal support
  • Ranked in the top 25 for Politics

If you’re interested in the current challenges in national/international politics and want to develop your journalistic skills, this is the course for you. Developing a range of journalistic skills will also help you understand how key events are communicated in our so-called ‘post-truth’ era of fake news and alternative facts.  

This degree focuses particularly on the interactions between media distribution and political governance while also giving you the opportunity to study both subjects in their breadth and diversity. We’ll ensure that your studies enhance knowledge, understanding and academic confidence and deliver strong transferrable and professional skills for a career, not limited to, but particularly in media, publishing and public affairs. 

You’ll explore topical, practical and theoretical questions. For example, you’ll gain insight to what makes politics function in the 21st century, from terrorist threats and security concerns to the changing role of nation-states in international politics or the background of Black Lives Matter’s post-colonial critique. Your journalism modules complement this by giving you the opportunity to consider how changing political conditions impact on journalism and how the choice of platform affects the style of content.  

You’ll be taught by experts who work at the forefront of their research disciplines. Our journalism team are highly experienced practitioners who will help you develop the skills to produce work in different styles and for diverse markets. Your learning experience will include subject-specific methods such as producing news items and features for a target readership and a variety of transferrable skills built through both subject areas, such as, structured argumentation and strong oral and written communication. 

Our politics and journalism students benefit from being part of a diverse and active academic community. We see our students as fellow researchers and place a great deal of importance on sharing and developing skills. There will be plenty of opportunity to get involved in activities that will complement your studies. Not only do these enhance your experience, they also make for a more impressive CV. We offer extra-curricular modules in debating and model United Nations, while our journalism students gain practical skills through work placements and writing for the University’s newspaper, TV or digital channels. You’ll be able to network with invited speakers and take short industry summer courses. 

What's the course about?

You’ll follow a flexible programme of study, which introduces you to the methods and approaches of different disciplines, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting. 

Our interactive seminars and workshops help you find your feet in the academic environment, and establish ways of working confidently, creatively and collaboratively. There is plenty of opportunity to add to your journalism through related societies such as the journalism society. 

In your first year, you’ll gain insight to the relationship between citizens and governments. You will be able to choose between modules that allow you to understand how states interact with each other in international politics, why different countries have different political systems and how we can analyse military conflict. You’ll learn about how journalists and government interact and reflect on ethical journalism, as well as learning to write across platforms. 

In your second year, you’ll learn about the ideas that inform democratic politics and develop an understanding of the pressing issues and current dynamics that shape 21st century politics, for example how security concerns shape political decisions, the changing nature of British politics or the politics of energy supply. You’ll expand your journalism range, broadcasting for radio, creating your own magazine concept for an audience and writing for it, finding news stories and learning about the political journalism stories that changed the world from Watergate to Black Lives Matter. And you’ll become adept at working out what is and isn’t fake news. 

Work placement/study abroad option: Between your second and final year, you’ll have the option to study abroad or do a work placement for up to a year. Not only will this give you an amazing experience to talk about but will also give your CV a boost. If you’d rather go straight to your final year, that’s absolutely fine too. You’ll decide in your second year with us, so there is still plenty of time to think about this. 

In your final year, it’s time for the culmination of your studies. You’ll be able to develop expertise on topics that fit with your personal interests and professional aims, preparing you for a range of careers after graduation. You can study the politics of the global economy, how peacebuilding missions function, and what makes them successful, but also take a critical look at how gender dynamics and colonial legacies continue to shape contemporary societies. You’ll become an international reporter, reporting on a global event, will seek out work experience in journalism or related area such as PR or marketing, or start your own media business. You’ll also create your own website and furnish it with content and create a portfolio of work to show employers. By the end of this year, you’ll realise both how far you have come and have a range y of journalism for your CV. 

To see all your modules, see the ‘What will I study?’ section below. 

'Media Matters' Guest Lecture series 

Each year the School of Humanities hosts the Media Matters Guest Lecture Series featuring a range of industry professionals, giving talks on their experience in the industry. These lectures are recorded by our final year students and available on our Media Hub. Some of our previous speakers have included: 

  • Lewis Wiltshire, Head of Sport, Twitter UK 
  • Tobi Rachel Akingbade, showbusiness journalist who studied journalism and other media subjects at UH 
  • Ren Behan, Food blogger and journalist 
  • Terry Mitchinson, Welwyn Hatfield Times Editor 
  • Uche Amako, UH journalism alum and sportswriter 

Applying for this course is easy. Simply add us to your UCAS account by using the institution and course code mentioned in ‘Key information.’ There is no interview for this course. We’re just interested to hear why you want to study this subject at degree level. 

Your main campus is de Havilland

You’ll share this campus with students from business, law, sport, education, and humanities subjects. The student housing is close to our Sports Village which includes a gym, swimming pool and climbing wall. You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner in our on-campus restaurant and bar on days you don’t feel like cooking. You can also use the common room to play pool, video games or just to hang out with friends. 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. 

What will I study?

Degree programmes are structured into levels, 4, 5 and 6.  These correspond to your first, second and third/final year of study.  Below you can see what modules you’ll be studying in each.   

Student Blogs

Kailan - Week at a glance

Weekly schedule blog post

At the beginning of my week, I make a to-do list of all the things that I need to do on top of my studies. After that, I begin with an hour each day at the state-of-the-art gym and swimming pool on the de Havilland campus where my classes are. I then get showered; have breakfast, pack my bag, and walk to my classes. I’m a visual learner, so I focus on just listening to the lecturer, and engaging with the content as much as possible; especially if I am in a seminar. I re-watch the lectures and seminars on Canvas (our online learning portal), as I learn best from visual/audio resources.

I love that at the University, you get the choice to study in a way that suits you. There is absolutely no pressure in sticking to certain means, and you can (to a reasonable degree), build a studying pattern that suits you. I usually have between eight and 13 hours of classes a week (depending on the semester), and I study Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy.

For me, the lectures and seminars are my best resource; and the information and concepts usually make complete sense to me. I struggle to read for long periods of time, so thanks to the academic English resources available for students; I was able to learn ways to read in a way that suits my style of learning. This allowed me to look into the recommended reading, and explore the extra resources given to me; while not overloading myself with information that Is ultimately unimportant (relatively speaking).

In my course (which is a joint honours), coursework makes up around 40-50% of the classification in the first year. Exams obviously make up the rest. What I was surprised to find out upon enrolling, is that once you get into a rhythm with coursework, and make template documents (which include things like an empty bibliography and a title), they are relatively straight forward. I feel that the overwhelming feeling that comes from coursework and exams, comes when you don’t feel like you have access to the resources that teach you how to write assignments efficiently - the University makes these resources available to you; you just have to reach out for them. If you have a professional and academically beautiful document; you will be more inclined to write in a similarly professional way.

Fundamentally, though, assignments and exams are super easy and fun, as long as you’re prepared (in my case having a template document, and understanding how to reference was the key), as-well-as interested in the topic that you’re studying. If you love the topic and know how to build an essay; you’ll blast through your assignments!

Going back to my typical week… There are lots to do on both campuses; especially in the first semester; with freshers fairs and endless other things going on too. Wednesday’s and Friday’s I usually go out to the Forum (the club on campus) with my flatmates. As long as you study hard, and understand the content in your own way; you will be able to afford to go out as much as you want!

The bottom line is: Work hard and play hard; prepare in advance for your assignments, and that way they’ll be super easy, and study a subject that you are passionate about!

Student Blogs

Kailan - Things you should know

Things you need to know before studying PiR at UH

Before you choose the study at the University of Hertfordshire, you need to ask yourself a few questions. What do you want out of University? If the answer is more than a degree, then Herts is the place for you. If you want to make international friends and expand your network, Herts is the place for you. If you want to have access to State of the art resources and world-class staff, then the University of Hertfordshire is for you.

So you’ve checked all of the boxes, and you’re considering Herts. That’s great! You’re planning to study Politics and International Relations; that’s great! What should you know before making your decision? Let me tell you…

  • The staff are amazing and go a million steps past what is required of them to help your experience and understanding of the content. HOWEVER, they can only do that if you reach out and discuss your issue or query with them. They’re extremely attentive, but the UH staff are not trained in telepathy, unfortunately (maybe in another decade or so).
  • You can, and should, make a study plan that suits you. The school (in my personal opinion), trains you to study in a very specific and rigid way. If that works for you; then great; proceed as you are. If you struggle to learn from the ‘traditional means’, and hate the idea of reading every word in a 15-page article in order to find one piece of information to support your argument; don’t. The staff and the department can recognise that different students learn differently. That is why there are resources made available to you to find a system that allows University to be straight forward for you. Tip: Check out the Academic English hub on campus, and discuss this with them.
  • You have the option to study a language, as-well-as study abroad for free! Studying a language as an elective (an extra module) is free; and you have the choice from multiple languages, at multiples levels; even if you’ve never spoken a word before.
  • If you wish to study abroad; there are lots of resources available to you; you can find a placement abroad within Politics and IR, and the staff will help you learn how to apply; do well in interviews, and the study abroad office can give you more specific advice on planning your trip etc.
  • University is a place for ideas; if you have an idea that you think is against the norm; the staff will ALWAYS welcome it. There are no stupid questions; if you’re thinking it, others probably will be too, and it will open up the discussion anyway!
  • Take advantage of any research opportunities presented to you by the department; they are announcing them because they really believe that it is a lucrative opportunity for students; don’t assume that it’s not for you - explore ALL opportunities.

Fundamentally though, have fun; University is not all about the degree; in many ways, the network that you build and the life that you develop during your time at UH is much more important than having a first on your transcript. The beauty of the system is that you can have both, as long as you reach out first!

Student Blogs

Kailan - Why I love PIR

What I love most about my course

I love the department. The staff go a million steps past just teaching you the assigned content. They support your ideas and interests; your professional growth, and are constantly checking to ensure that each and every student understands in a thorough, academically holistic way; the concerned content. Each and every staff member in the department is a mentor and extremely patient and attentive to a student’s pace.

You can approach professors about anything; from personal issues affecting your workflow (and asking for them to help you one to one to understand the content during their office hours) to asking them for advice concerning your professional aspirations (such as internships). I have contacted members of staff for references to internships and scholarship applications; of which they’re more than happy to help out with.

The way that the department frames your University journey during induction is important; it started with one of the subjects heads explaining to us that this is beginning of our professional lives; and that in our course, we are not students who are hierarchically lectured to by teachers; we are colleagues, who are exploring the academic discipline that we mutually take interest in.

Starting the course by showing students that this is a professional journey, and NOT a commodity, really sets the tone for the course. I feel is allows students to feel more comfortable with reaching out for help; because asking for help is a logistical thing, rather than something to be embarrassed about.

When I say that the staff go the extra mile; I am not kidding. It’s not just the outstanding attentiveness and resources put into your experience that they finetune, they also are mentors. I have asked for career advice concerning internships, and was offered mock interviews, and given advice on typical questions given in interviews within the Political field; of which the interviewer asked!

When I got accepted into a scholarship to delegate at the General Assembly, the staff members helped me out with resources on how to succeed in this venture. The staff members have offered me contacts for research and professional opportunities.

If you have any questions, or any interest, or anything you wish to clarify about anything at all; all you have to do is ask. IF you don’t ask, you don’t get. IF you do ask, you are met with mentorship and invaluable advice that will inevitably solve your issue, or help you to excel.

Study at Herts!

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Student Blogs

Mercedes - Unibuddy

Alumni headshot

Alumni Stories

Laura de Haan

Meet Laura de Haan whose Humanities degree has taken her on a journey of personal discovery. She now works as an Education Liaison Coordinator at the University of Hertfordshire.

Read more stories Find out more about this course
Current job roleEducation Liaison Coordinator
Year of graduation2018
Course of studyBA(Hons) English Language and Communication with Journalism
Laura standing at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro

University experience

Studying Journalism far exceeded Laura’s expectations. She felt privileged to interview inspiring people and tell their story. Laura was also interested to learn of the legal and ethical issues surrounding Journalism.

Laura chose to study a specialist module in Forensic Phonetics and Linguistics and feels lucky to have been taught by one of the few experts in the country. She was fascinated to learn psycho-linguistics (how language works in the brain) which evolved into a broader interest in psychology. The flexibility of her degree programme and the overwhelming support of her lecturers gave Laura the freedom to tailor her assignments. This meant they could align with her growing interests and Laura had the space to explore what she wanted to do in life.

Outside of her studies, Laura immersed herself in the student community, joining as many clubs and societies as she could. One of the highlights was joining the Oral History Team. Through this, Laura interviewed relatives of British expats and supported a refugee project, which she found to be a valuable experience. Laura was invited to observe Natasha Kaplinsky interview a Holocaust survivor and was also invited to the Holocaust Memorial Day held at No. 10 Downing Street.

The University offers an inclusive and proactive community which inspired Laura to join a fundraising drive to raise money for Hope for Children, an international children’s charity. Laura initially felt nervous, but overcame a lack of self-confidence to raise an astonishing £4,990. Her gallant fundraising efforts led her to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp and Machu Picchu. Laura later won a Dean’s Award for her fundraising and community work.

In her final year, Laura joined the Student Ambassador programme. She quickly developed a natural presentation style, delivering talks about student life to prospective students and their families. Laura achieved recognition for her work, winning ‘Student Ambassador of the Year’ in 2018.

Laura has always felt at home in our community and when she graduated, she wasn’t quite ready to leave Herts behind. Instead, she chose to immerse herself in postgraduate studies, joining the MSc in Psychology. With the end of this now fast approaching, Laura has already gained a place on the MSc by Research in Clinical Psychology, where she will continue to explore her passion.

Career progression

Laura’s journey through higher education shows how it is possible to study and work at the same time. During her second degree with us, she gained employment as one of our Education Liaison Coordinators. This involves visiting schools and colleges, talking to students about going to university. Laura also works as a visiting lecturer for the University, teaching the history of the English language.

Alongside this Laura also works as a mental health workshop coordinator with Our Time, an NGO which supports children and young people affected by parental mental illness. In addition, she works as a support worker for Look Ahead Care and Support, helping people with learning disabilities and behavioural issues to connect with society. Laura will shortly begin a new chapter in her career, as she joins Yateley School as an A-Level Psychology and WJEC Criminology teacher.

Grab every opportunity that is thrown at you to develop new skills. University is such a great place to acquire new skills, meet new people and explore different areas of life. This experience has really helped me find out what I want to do in life.

Alumni headshot

Alumni Stories

Kate Stephenson

Meet Kate Stephenson who has excelled in the publishing industry since graduating. She currently works as the Education Editor at National Geographic Kids magazine.

Read more stories Find out more about this course
Current job roleEducation Editor
Year of graduation2013
Course of studyBA (Hons) English Language and Communication with Journalism and Media Cultures
Kate Stephenson

University experience

Kate always knew that she wanted to work in the media and her unique degree gave her the flexibility to understand the logistics behind magazines as well as develop her writing and communication skills. The variety of topics and modules covered in her course enabled her to understand a lot about her dream career and enable her to develop valuable skills for working in the industry.

While studying, Kate took every opportunity offered to her. Her lecturers gave her opportunities to network with their colleagues for the industry enabling Kate to secure work experience and explore different career opportunities upon graduation.

She also worked as part of the Students’ Union student media, called Triden Media, writing regularly for their newspaper and magazine. Kate says, ‘Take advantage of every opportunity while it’s on offer and dive in as much as possible.’

The future

In the future, Kate hopes to further develop and grow the project she is working on at National Geographic and their educational content. One of her recent projects was launching their Primary School resource service by writing the curriculum.

‘Take advantage of every opportunity while it’s on offer and dive in as much as possible.’