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BA (Hons) Politics & International Relations and Philosophy

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

Explore the latest issues in national and international politics
Explore the latest issues in national and international politics
Enjoy small class sizes and personal support
Enjoy small class sizes and personal support
Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK
Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK

This course includes the sandwich year options of:

Work Placement*

Study abroad*

*No fees are charged for this year

Why choose this course?

We give you:

  • A flexible programme of study across two complementary disciplines that allows you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
  • Exceptional teaching by academics conducting world-leading research
  • Innovative courses that enable you to understand the rewarding connection between these two disciplines
  • Transferable skills built through work placements, internships and extra-curricular activities
  • The chance to study for a year at one of our many partner institutions across the world

What's the course about?

Our BA Politics & International Relations and Philosophy degree allows you to explore the ethical and philosophical questions that help to shape and challenge national and international politics and political agendas.

Here at Hertfordshire, as well as learning about philosophical and political theory, you’ll be doing rigorous and creative thinking of your own. Our internationally regarded academics will help you learn to address the arguments of others, to understand and engage with them so that you can arrive at your own conclusions and create your own original work.

You will also explore topical practical questions. Issues that arise as a result of increasing political focus on different dimensions of security, for example, are raised in the modules ‘Terrorism and Security’ and ‘The State in the 21st Century’. Philosophy will help you to understand the ethical implications and social situatedness of security politics through modules such as ‘Social and Political Philosophy’, ‘Contemporary Moral Philosophy” and ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy and Morality’.

Key social issues, such as, gender equality will be addressed from the perspective of both disciplines in ‘The Politics of Gender’ and in ‘Feminist Philosophy’. Modules will also debate the ways in which religious belief is a driving force behind social and political events in today’s globalised world.

You will be taught by experts who work at the cutting edge of their research disciplines and will share the excitement of doing original work in a supportive and highly-rated academic community. Our Philosophy team is in the top 15 in the Guardian League Table 2019 and rates as one of the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide in the 2017 QS rankings.

You will be able to undertake a placement or study abroad year to gain professional experience or increase global awareness to build skills relevant to your studies in Politics and International Relations and Philosophy.

What will I study?

Our politics and philosophy students benefit from being part of a diverse and active academic community. Our interactive seminars and workshops help you find your feet in the academic environment, and establish ways of working confidently, creatively and collaboratively. We see our students as fellow researchers, and we place a great deal of importance on sharing and developing skills.

You will have the 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 and our Philosophy Society, run by students, hosts fortnightly research seminars led by distinguished external philosophers. All students are welcome to participate and become part of a professional philosophy community.

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!

Student Blogs

Mercedes - Unibuddy

Alumni Stories

Jenny Vu

Meet Jenny Vu who gained valuable transferable skills for her future career. She is currently a Teaching Assistant at a secondary school.

Current job roleTeaching Assistant
Year of graduation2018
Course of studyBA(Hons) History and Philosophy with Study Abroad Year

Jenny Vu

University life and experience

Throughout her degree, Jenny learnt a considerable amount of transferable skills and world knowledge to enable to her succeed in her career as a Teaching Assistant. She says that the most useful skills she learnt are how to analyse and correct grammar which have proved invaluable when teaching her students.

Jenny initially chose the University of Hertfordshire as it ‘was close to home but still relatively far enough to move out and learn to live independently.’ She explains how her independence grew as she used her degree to explore the World by taking the opportunity to study abroad for a year. She says, ‘My standout memory from my time at the University was studying abroad for a year. It was probably the best year of my life.’

Future aspirations

Jenny’s study abroad year sparked her passion for travel and in the future,  she plans to teach in Asia. However, she says, if she does return to the UK, she would like to teach and promote higher education to young students to inspire future generations and showcase their potential.

My standout memory from my time at the University was studying abroad for a year. It was probably the best year of my life.

Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.