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BA (Hons)

International Relations and History

International cultural and social issues in a historical context

LV21UCAS code 3yrsfull time 1yrplacement option

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Combining international relations with history offers a great balance between studying social, cultural and international history (and its historiography) and understanding how that past shapes contemporary events. You will become expert in both historical analysis and in the evaluation of contemporary trends in international relations, deepening your knowledge of subjects such as the Arab Spring, the war in Ukraine, examining historical periods and events such as the Cold War, colonialism and the Vietnam War, and issues closer to home like Brexit and Britain’s future relations with the EU. 

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Enjoy cutting edge teaching provision on recent major international issues such as radicalisation, Brexit, EU-Russia energy relations and genocide.
  • Examine key historical trends, periods and events such as colonialism, 18th/19th Century Britain and Soviet Russia.
  • Study with trained lecturers employing innovative and exciting teaching techniques such as interactive lectures, simulations, scenario exercises, debate-discussions and the use of audio-visual sources.
  • Take part in ‘pop-up seminars’ on new topical issues and get the chance to publish your work in our student journal.
  • Gain career enhancing skills alongside your academic study with skills training ‘built-in’ to courses, work experience and the possibility to learn another language.
  • Undertake a work placement or a period of study abroad to enhance your employability. 

What opportunities might it lead to?

Our graduates go on to a range of careers in government (i.e. Foreign Office, security services), teaching, academia and research, international organisations (i.e. UN), nongovernmental organisations (such as Amnesty International or the Red Cross), international charities, policy research, media and international business.

I really enjoy the different modules that you are able to choose from. I am able to study regional conflicts in the Middle East as well as international concepts of development in global political economics.

Sean Rausch, BA (Hons) International Relations and History student 2015

Want to start this course in 2017?

Apply through UCAS Clearing

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Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
The UCAS tariff for 2017 entry has changed. See how this affects your tariff score A LEVELS
96-120 points from 3 A levels or equivalent, to include 32 points from A level History. See full entry requirements

We accept UCAS points from other qualifications. See full details and English Language qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2017/18 entry: full time: £9,250 p/a*

International students
2017/18 entry: full time: £12,600 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5566
School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
Programme specification


History, Politics and Social Studies

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The diverse spread of subjects offered and ability to complete your own research
  • The critical thinking, analytical and debating skills you’ll develop
  • The passionate lecturers with a wide range of specialist research expertise

Browse all courses in History, Politics and Social Studies

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

All year one units are compulsory.

  • Introduction to Political Thought
  • International Relations: States, Conflict and Cooperation
  • Current Political Issues
  • Historical Methods
  • Society and Culture in Twentieth Century Europe
  • History Skills Development

Year two

Alongside year two's core study, you are able to select options that tailor your degree to the issues that most interest you.

  • International Politics
  • Masses and Modernity 1750 - 1914
  • Options chosen from a range including:
    • Governing the European Union
    • US Foreign Policy: Ideals and Self Interest
    • Conflict and Disaster: Analysing Responses of International Institutions
    • Empires and Identities 1750 – 1914
    • Global Environmental Issues and Concerns
    • Key Issues in Development
    • Filming The Past: The Early Modern Period On Screen
    • France 1945 – 1995: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?
    • German Unity and its Consequences
    • US Government and Politics
    • International Community Development
    • Languages (University Wide Option)
    • Learning from Experience

Year three*

In year three, you will write your dissertation (or undertake a work-based project) on a topic drawn from your preferred field of study, alongside further core and optional study.

  • Dissertation / Project
  • Global Political Economy
  • History Special Subject 1 and 2
  • International Relations option:
  • Democracy and Democratisation
  • Strategic and Security Studies

*Please note that whilst a wide range of options will be offered in every year, there will inevitably be some variation in the availability of individual units at any given time.


Our teaching approach involves a range of small and large group learning environments with lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You will be encouraged to participate fully in group discussions in order to develop your communication skills.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 26% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 74% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 21% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 79% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 13% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 87% studying independently and 0% on work placement


We use a range of assessment methods including article reviews, essays, projects, briefing papers, individual and group presentations and a 10,000-word dissertation. Examinations include open, pre-seen papers and closed, traditional examinations. This diversity of assessment will allow you to develop a range of writing styles.

Our strong tradition of providing a high standard of guidance and support through your personal tutor, whilst encouraging you to develop as an independent learner through the later stages of your degree, will help you develop the techniques necessary for the assessed work.

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 8% by written exams, 13% by practical exams and 79% by coursework
  • Year two students: 18% by written exams, 23% by practical exams and 59% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 10% by practical exams and 90% by coursework

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Monitor Facilities & Features

The Study Centre

A suite of rooms with a comfy seating area, desks where you can work, printers, Mac workstations and access to the wireless network so you can log in using your own laptop. There are also several study rooms where you can work on group projects, alongside access to the University 3rd Space.

Research-Active Staff

You will be taught by specialist staff who are actively undertaking research in this field, ensuring your learning keeps you abreast of the latest developments. Staff are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

There may be travel costs for placements undertaken during your course. This will be in the region of £500.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

You can expect to pursue careers in local, national or international government, as well as teaching or lecturing, research, voluntary organisations and NGOs. Many also enter areas such as advertising and marketing, PR, media, banking and financial services.

Our graduates have gone on to jobs as:

  • politician’s assistant
  • public affairs consultant
  • social researcher
  • information officer
  • conference producer
  • local government administrator

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
Employment boosting opportunities

This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option, which lets you earn credits toward your degree for work/research placements, volunteer roles or internships undertaken alongside your studies. The option gives you the opportunity to enhance your employability skills, to reflect on the ways in which you've done so, and to learn to express this to potential employers.

The School of Social Historical and Literary Studies can offer you a number of work experience opportunities in a range of local organizations during your degree course. Currently these include projects at the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the New Theatre Royal, with local government departments and political groups, and a number of our students have worked on small research projects for the local community.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Our next Open Day is Saturday 7 October 2017

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