BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations

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
Optional modules in History and Law
Optional modules in History and Law

This course includes the sandwich year options of:

Work Placement*

Study abroad*

*No fees are charged for this year

Why choose this course?

  • Study modules that reflect current political issues from “Brexit” to decolonising the curriculum in our “Post-colonial Theory and Non-Western Philosophy” module.
  • Go on trips to Parliament and research institutes and benefit from our proximity to London.
  • Boost your employability through skills training, opportunities to do work experience and dedicated careers events organised as part of your study.
  • Have the chance to develop your own analysis of contemporary political issues such as the rise of right-wing populism or the Arab-Israeli conflict in your dissertation project.
  • Get the support you need to succeed in your studies through integrated skills sessions, academic writing tutors and a dedicated student support team.
  • Tailor your degree by choosing optional modules from History and Law that match your interests and career ambitions.
  • Study abroad at one of our partner institutions in Europe, North America, Australia or Asia or diversify your skills by studying a language alongside your course.

What's the course about?

How can we make sense of Brexit and the election of Trump? Should the international community intervene in Syria? Why do gender stereotypes and racial discrimination still determine opportunities in our society?

On the BA in Politics and International Relations you’ll study the central challenges that politics faces in the 21st century. You’ll develop the skills to understand, analyse, and critically debate the issues and arguments that shape national and international politics today. Our Politics and International Relations degree allows you to take your interest in politics and add the knowledge and training to turn it into a successful career in the world of local and global politics, the media or business.

Your main campus is de Havilland

You’ll share this campus with students from business, law, 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 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. 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?

The BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations has been designed to build your skills, knowledge and confidence through a balance of core modules, which cover key skills and concepts in the field, and a selection of optional modules, which allow you to specialise in your own areas of interest.

Our BA in Politics and International Relations is taught through:

  • Live lectures recorded for flexible learning
  • Seminars where you can discuss and apply what you learned in small groups
  • Workshops to develop and practice research skills

One of the main differences between school and university is how much control you have over your learning. At university, as well as spending time in classes, you’ll do lots of independent study with support from our staff.

On the course you will be assessed through innovative assignments including:

  • A cabinet crisis simulation
  • A critical intervention into a political issue of your choice
  • A research poster presentation

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

Eleanor Pilcher

Meet Eleanor Pilcher who since graduating in 2016 has taken the publishing industry by storm. Eleanor currently works as a Marketing Manager at Avon, HarperCollins Publisher.

Current job roleMarketing Manager
Year of graduation2016
Course of studyBA (Hons) History and Creative Writing

Ellie Pilcher

University experience and employability

Eleanor is a keen writer with great creative ambitions. During her degree she undertook a six-month internship at a literary agency in her final academic year. In 2016, shortly after her studies, Eleanor landed a placement at Penguin before getting a job in publishing recruitment. After developing her skills within the industry and amassing and impressive amount of knowledge and experience, Eleanor began her current role at HarperCollins Publishers.

Eleanor's degree encompassed a broad spectrum of critical, analytical and evaluative skills and helped shape her as a writer. Throughout her studies she had been writing a novel, which she submitted to literary agencies after being encouraged by her tutor to do so. It was Eleanor's passion for writing that uncovered her interest in working for a literary agency. Due to the fantastic lecturers on her course and the invaluable industry networks available to students, Eleanor managed to secure impressive opportunities in her chosen industry that have informed her career.

Sher recognises the impact the University has had on getting her to where she is today. 'For me the advice and feedback I received on both my History essays and Creative Writing finals was incredibly useful to my academic and professional development. I learnt to take criticism and to harness it and also write more because of it.'

Ambitions for the future

Eleanor has established herself in her chosen industry yet still has ambition to continue pursuing new goals. On her hopes for the future, she says: 'I hope to run a marketing department within a publishing company, possibly the one I'm at now. I hope to publish a novel and continue my freelance writing and public speaking on the side.'

For me the advice and feedback I received on both my History essays and Creative Writing finals was incredibly useful to my academic and professional development. I learnt to take criticism and to harness it and also write more because of it.

Alumni Stories

Neelam Sarkaria

Meet Neelam Sarkaria an international expert and consultant on gender-based violence and rule of law development. Neelam is an experienced prosecutor, working judge, policy lawyer and lecturer with extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system (CJS) and Whitehall. She qualified as a barrister in 1988 and worked for the Crown Prosecution Service for 24 years.

Current job roleDirector
Year of graduation1987
Course of studyBA(Hons) Social Sciences

Neelam

University experience and life

Neelam originally decided to study at the University of Hertfordshire due to our proximity to London as well as the course. She says, ‘The course really appealed to me rather than a LLB(Hons) in Law.’

She credits a lot of her success to the support and student and academic experience she encountered while studying with us. She says, ‘I received an excellent grounding in a critical approach to the law and the wider societal context.’

However, she adds that without the excellent advice and guidance from the teaching staff, and her tutor, she would not be where she is today due to the practical experience she was able to gain during her studies.

She says, ‘The teaching staff really stood out for me, both in fostering the development of my critical thinking and in supporting me to gain practical experience. With the support of my then tutor, I wrote to the Chambers while studying for my degree to ask for a mini pupillage. I did this twice while at the University of Hertfordshire. Having this guidance and support of my tutor was so beneficial as he knew I was the first in my family to pursue this route and didn’t have the advantages of links with the profession.’

Neelam stresses that this exposure was incredibly important for her development as it taught her ‘how to transfer theoretical understanding of law into practice. Whether you go and sit in the back of a courtroom or go and shadow someone, getting that practical insight is key.’

Future aspirations

In the future, Neelam hopes to continue working domestically and internationally as a criminal justice and gender-based violence specialist with the aim of contributing to the capacity and capability development of developing countries, as well as focusing on developing BAME women.

The teaching staff really stood out for me, both in fostering the development of my critical thinking and in supporting me to gain practical experience. With the support of my then tutor, I wrote to the Chambers while studying for my degree to ask for a mini pupillage.

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.