International Relations and Politics BA (Hons)
BA Hons International Relations and Politics
Do you want to understand the causes of war and conflict in the international system, and why some states are poor while others are rich? Are you also interested in what democracy, freedom and equality mean to different people? Do you want to understand developments in British politics, and the relationship between the UK and the EU?
If so, an international relations and politics degree may be right for you. This degree offers the opportunity to study all of these issues, and many more. You'll enjoy an excellent balance between the analysis of global trends and the investigation of issues closer to home in the UK and Europe.
The knowledge and skills you develop on this course could lead you to a career in local and national government, security, teaching, lobbying, academic research, the charity sector and the media.
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Combine your interest in politics with the skills and knowledge you need for a successful career
- Keep up to date with the latest topics and issues in international relations by taking part in 'pop-up seminars' with staff and your peers
- Visit parliament and take part in our Model United Nations through our Academic Enrichment Programme
- Learn from staff who are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind
- Have the opportunity to publish your work in our student journal and present at our student conference
- Develop career-enhancing skills alongside your academic study with skills training, opportunities to do work experience and the chance to learn another language
- Do a detailed academic analysis of major recent international events, such as the Ukraine Crisis, the 'Occupy' movement, the rise of ISIS and the effects of the Arab Spring
- Tailor your degree by choosing optional units that match your interests and career ambitions
- Have the chance to study abroad at one of our partner institutions – for example, Science Po Strasbourg (France), Maastricht University (Netherlands), University of Trento (Italy), Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and University of Szeged (Hungary)
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.
We can help you identify placements, internships and voluntary roles that will complement your studies.
This course allows you to take the Learning From Experience (LiFE) option. This means you can earn credits towards your degree for work, volunteer and research placements that you do alongside your study.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry.
Previous students have been on placements to organisations such as:
- The Ministry of Defence
- The House of Commons
- National Museum of the Royal Navy
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the industry or support you in identifying postgraduate study opportunities.
Graduates from this degree have gone on to careers in areas such as:
- the security services
- international organisations like the UN
- international charities such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross
- policy research
- think tanks
- media and international business consultancy
- political risk analysis
- public relations
Job roles former students have go on to include:
- parliamentary researcher
- political advisor
- public affairs consultant
- social researcher
- political risk analyst
- conference organiser
- local government administrator
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
Tuition fees (2018 start)
- UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £13,200 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
If you do any placements outside of the EU/EEA, you’ll need to cover the travel costs. These costs are usually around £1000. You’ll also need to cover the living costs, which will vary depending on the duration and location of the placement.
You’ll also need to meet any additional tuition costs for units of study you take outside of your agreed study abroad programme. This normally costs around £200.
What you'll study
Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 40 credits.
Core units in this year include:
- Introduction to Political Thought
- Understanding Governance and Politics
- Political Economy in a Globalising World
- Introduction to International Relations: States, Conflict and Cooperation
- Current Political Issues
- Global Issues
There are no optional units in this year.
Core units in this year include:
- International Politics
Optional units in this year currently include:
- International Politics of the Middle East
- Comparative Foreign Policy Analysis
- Conflict and Disaster
- Russian and Eurasian Politics
- From Revolution to Dictatorship: Russia and the Soviet Union 1917-1941
- Fighting over Europe: Parties, Business, NGOs and Lobbying in the EU
- Civil Rights USA
- The End of the European Order? Challenges and Threats to European States and Nations
- Home and Away: US Foreign and Domestic Policy
- Perspectives on World Politics
- Ideology and Politics
- Power, Politics and Policy in Practice
- Democratisation in Latin America
- France: Crisis, Renewal and Reinvention (1936 to the Present)
- Bending the Truth a Little? Researching Politics and International Relations
- British Politics, 1945 to Today: Leadership, Personality, Policy and Power
- Germany in European and Global Context (1871 to the Present)
- State and Society in East Asia
- Guns, Glory Hunters and Greed: French and British Colonisation in Africa
- Languages (University Wide Option)
- Learning from Experience (Faculty Wide Option)
For your core unit this year, you'll have a choice between doing a dissertation or major project in an international relations or politics subject area.
Optional units in this year currently include:
- Nazi Germany
- Transitional Justice & Human Rights
- China & East Asian Economies
- Global Journalism and Human Rights
- France in the World: Global Actor or Global Maverick?
- Global Political Economy
- Digital Media and Democracy
- Democracy and Democratisation
- Money, Government and Power
- Africa Revisited: Nation Building and State Fragility in Post-Colonial Africa
- Negotiation and Lobbying in the EU: A Simulation Game
- Migration in East Asia
- France and Africa: Decolonisation and Post Colonial Relations
- Strategic Studies
- Security Challenges in the Twenty-First Century
- Regional Powers, Politics and Security in a Multi-Polar World
- Looking for Utopia, Finding Dystopia? Ideas and Ideologies in the New Millennium
- Rethinking Aid and Development
- Protest, Dissent and Solidarity Beyond Borders
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
Teaching methods on this course include:
- independent study
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and an assessment period:
- Autumn teaching block – September to December
- Spring teaching block – January to Easter
- Assessment period – Easter to June
Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. There's no teaching on Wednesday afternoons. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The time you spend in teaching activities such as lectures and seminars varies year on year and will depend on which optional units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:
- Year 1 students: 26% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 74% studying independently
- Year 2 students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 78% studying independently
- Year 3 students: 14% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 86% studying independently
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written exams
- coursework: article reviews, essays, projects, briefing papers
- individual and group presentations
- 10,000 word dissertation
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
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 1 students: 25% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 67% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 25% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 68% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 3% by practical exams and 97% by coursework
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also apply directly to us or you can get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
Want to start this course in 2019?
To start in 2019 you need to apply through UCAS. You can start your application now and submit it from 5 September. You’ll need:
- the UCAS course code – L250
- our institution code – P80
Not quite ready to apply?
Come to an Open Day to explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.
If you’re new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.