The degree in Politics is designed to encourage a balance between the theoretical and empirical aspects of the subject. The critical analysis of political ideas is a central theme of the degree course and you will examine a variety of theories that attempt to make sense of what often seems to be a chaotic world.
If you are dedicated to understanding and critically engaging with the political world, exploring the theoretical and empirical approaches to political ideas, problems and issues and confronting the politics of our everyday lives, then our BA Politics course is right for you.
Political theory and comparative politics provide the core of the programme, but you can choose options across the full range of Politics and International Studies modules in any of our four specialised pathways, study a language as part of your degree, or choose an approved option each year in a related discipline.
You will tackle questions relating to the nature and distribution of power, the advantages and disadvantages of different political systems and the role of ideology in determining political outcomes. You’ll critique how politics works in a number of different nations and question the appropriate level to analyse politics from the individual to the global system. You’ll consider how the work of political theorists can help explain the ways in which politicians intervene in questions of economy, law-making, conflict and the regulation of our daily lives.
Engaging with contested ideas such as equality, justice, freedom and human rights, you’ll apply these ideas to everyday political problems such as immigration, poverty, war and climate change.
The emphasis on the integration of theory and practice is reflected in the foundation modules that you will take in the first year and in the core and optional modules taken in subsequent years. For example, questions about the nature of democracy you discuss in the Introduction to Politics first year module will then be pursued in second year modules on the politics of particular countries such as Britain or the US. You can take these even further in more specialised third year modules such as Violence and Reconciliation in Eastern Africa, or The Politics of European Union Policy-making.
In each year you will take four modules of equal weight (or the equivalent number, in the case of half module options). As the years progress, you will take a decreasing proportion of core modules and specialise your degree with an increasing proportion of optional modules. You can choose to study a language as part of your degree, and take advantage of our many study abroad and internship opportunities. Throughout your degree you will acquire a range of valuable transferable skills such as theoretical analysis, quantitative and qualitative research skills, and a high level of written and verbal communication.
You have a few weeks at the start of your first term to decide what modules you want to take every year. You will have a certain number of compulsory modules which everyone on your course will take. In your first year, you can choose either one full year optional module, worth 30 CATS, or two optional termly modules worth 15 CATS each – the list of module choices and summaries on the website was very helpful when deciding how I wanted to angle my studies.
In terms of assessment methods, sometimes there is a choice between exams or coursework, or a combination of both. I like the fact that you can choose how to be assessed, as it allows you to really play to your strengths and get the best grade on topics you are passionate about.
It is worth researching who will be teaching the module to see if their fields of expertise are of interest to you. I also found it helpful to ask second and third years for their opinions, as they were in my position not that long ago!
Most importantly choose what you enjoy. Take the opportunity to experiment with new topics and interests. It is the perfect time to pick something new! Francesca Tray, BA Politics and International Studies (2019)
Programme Director: Chris Rogers