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Find a course in history, politics or international relations

Explore the decisions that have shaped history, the issues of today, and how to shape a brighter future

What can you do with a history, politics, international relations or international development degree?

History, politics, international relations and international development shape our society and help us understand the world past and present.

When you do a history degree with us, you'll study in a city that's been central to key historical events for many centuries. You'll focus on different periods and problems faced by societies over time, and explore how history shapes decisions made today.

On our politics and international relations degrees, you'll learn about pressing global issues such as war and conflict, the role of diplomacy and foreign policy, and global challenges such as climate change, sustainability and protecting human rights.

On an international development course, you'll explore the role and purpose of development, build your understanding of world affairs and put your knowledge to work with not-for-profit organisations in developing countries.

You can also opt to learn a language alongside your course if you study BA (Hons) International Development and Languages or BA (Hons) International Relations and Languages.

The University of Portsmouth is the top modern university in the country for Area Studies*

What is area studies?

Area studies is the name given to the collective disciplines of international relations, history, politics, sociology, economies, cultures, languages and geography across specific regions of the world.

Whether its investigating Europe's relationship with Russia, exploring the history of the American civil rights movement or studying the causes of conflict in West Africa, area studies helps us decipher the ways in which the world works.

*Research Excellence Framework 2021

6 reasons to study history, politics, international relations or international development with us

  • Develop knowledge and research skills to help you succeed in careers such as historian, museum curator, politician, journalist, civil servant, lobbyist, teacher, communications manager, human resource manager, marketeer and researcher.
  • Study abroad at one of our partner institutions such as Science Po Strasbourg (France), University of Southern Denmark, Maastricht University (Netherlands), The Hague University (Netherlands), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Palacky University (Czech Republic), Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) and University of Nebraska (Omaha, United States).
  • You can do a placement after your second year to get valuable work experience before you graduate. Placement destinations include the Ministry of Defence, Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service, the House of Commons and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
  • For history students, Portsmouth is packed with reminders of the important role the city has played in the past, from the D-Day Story museum, to the Historic Dockyard, home to Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory.
  • Our teaching staff are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research (CEISR), the UK's largest research centre of its kind.
  • Combine your interests by studying another subject with your primary course, leading to degrees such as BA (Hons) International Relations with Politics, BA (Hons) International Relations with International Development, BA (Hons) History and Politics or BA (Hons) History with Sociology.


International Relations and Politics research at the University of Portsmouth

Ed Stoddard, Reader in International Security, explains how cutting-edge research like his (into the changing character of warfare) informs our courses and talks about some of the career opportunities this course can lead to.

Ed Stoddard: So the research I do here at the University is focused on the changing character of warfare.

Over the last few years I've been particularly focusing on questions to do with terrorism and violent extremism in the West African region, especially around the Lake Chad area.

And we use that research and distribute it at conferences and events with policymakers, both here in the UK, but also in West Africa as well. Armed conflicts are so destructive and, you know, I think it's incumbent on us as researchers who work in this area to try and think of ways they can be avoided, of course, in the first instance.

But if, when those armed conflicts do happen, try and think of measures that we can put in place to reduce their impact.

So the research connects with students here in a number of different ways. It supports the work they do in terms of their dissertations, but also directly into the modules that they study.

You know, our research, once we've done it and we've written the papers and we've publish the outputs, that gets then translated into the lectures that we deliver. So they will be directly learning and benefiting from that research that we've done out in the field in their studies and contributing to their degree.

There's a really broad range of different career opportunities that are available to students. The Foreign Office, the Civil Service and more broadly, the Ministry of Defence.

But also we have students who go to international organisations, NGOs, charities that work internationally in conflict zones, and we also have quite a lot of students who go into various research roles and risk analysis roles.

Portsmouth is a really exciting and vibrant city and the university is literally at the heart of the city. I think also the university has a really strong focus on student support and a really strong focus on teaching quality.

And I know that my colleagues spend very considerable amount of that time working to make sure that the experience for Portsmouth students is a really brilliant one. And I think those are some of the key reasons why students who are here really enjoy their degrees.


There's a lot of freedom in terms of how you cater the course for what you enjoy, and you're tested in various ways - from essays and presentations, to marked seminars - which gives you a great advantage.

Sophie Gardiner, BA (Hons) History

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