Politics & International Relations BA (Hons) (with Foundation Year)
UCAS Code: L202|Duration: 4 years|Full Time|Hope Park
UCAS Campus Code: L46
International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
About the course
The Politics and International Relations degree brings together the broader study of politics and political ideas with the question of how states interact with each other on the global stage. It evaluates the key questions related to transnational issues such as globalization and the environment and the actors engaged in them.
Politics and International Relations is a very dynamic subject, which places a special emphasis on the international and global dimension of politics. In an ever changing world, new challenges are constantly arising – from terrorism and security to climate change and pandemics – and we therefore seek to engage with live issues in the world as they evolve and change over time. We actively encourage debate and discussion amongst our students, encouraging a stronger awareness and appreciation of different points of view.
In doing so, we explore the key ideas, institutions and issues that can help us to understand politics in an international, national and local context. You will be taught by staff who are experts in their field, who will teach you to engage with political research and develop the capacity to be an independent, critically-minded scholar and equip you with transferable skills to take into the world of work.
And study does not just take place in the classroom and the library. We also organise fieldtrips to relevant local, regional and national institutions as well as organising events with guest speakers and practitioners (conditions permitting). Recent visits have included a trip to the UK Parliament, Brussels, and Berlin along with visits and talks from key experts, academics and campaigners.
There are also opportunities available to study abroad as part of our exchange programme and to visit overseas development projects as part of the University’s Global Hope initiative.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, interactive student-led seminars, and tutorials which in your first year typically have 10 students. Regular study skills classes are also provided in the first year to support you in your transition into Higher Education. You also have regular meetings with a supervisor when engaged in your final year research project. In addition, there are local, national and international fieldtrips organised in order to enhance your learning.
In your first year of study there are approximately 12 teaching hours each week which reduces to approximately 10 in your second and third years. You are also expected to spend a number of hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments that you may have. Overall, you should expect to spend an average of 40 hours per week devoted to your studies, including taught hours, independent work and group work where relevant.
Assessment and feedback
Assessments are varied and consist of formal exams focusing on lecture topics, and a range of written coursework assignments. You will be given clear, generic and additional assessment criteria at the start of the degree and at appropriate points throughout your studies. In your final year, you will complete a special study or dissertation.
Assessment is regarded as an important aid to learning and the team recognises the importance of providing timely, high-quality, constructive written feedback to you that not only explains the strengths and weaknesses of the particular piece of work but which also makes clear what must be improved in future work. Feedback is provided verbally to the whole year group where possible, to emphasise points of general relevance, usually through weekly skills sessions or tutorials. Should you require it, your tutor’s ‘drop-in’ office hours are an opportunity to gain verbal feedback and discuss your work privately.
The areas of study in the Single Honours degree are stimulating and encompass materials that are relevant to the modern world. We look at theoretical aspects of politics and international relations, consider the institutions and foundations which provide national and international political stability and look at case studies which show the strengths and weaknesses of the application of the theory. You will be taught by staff from a range of different countries, all of whom can bring research specialism and understandings of different parts of the world to bear on the subject areas under consideration.
The Foundation Year is a great opportunity if you have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualifications required to enter directly onto our degree programmes. A significant part of the Foundation Year focuses upon core skills such as academic writing at HE level, becoming an independent learner, structuring academic work, critical thinking, time management and note taking.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year will enable you to progress into the first year (Level C) of your chosen honours degree. Further details can be found here.
Introduction to Politics
Your first year of the Politics programme provides you with detailed introductions to key concepts, debates, institutions and ideas that underpin the study of politics. Five key themes are addressed:
- Political Institutions: how are constitutions, legislatures and executives organised? How do they differ across political systems?
- Political Organisation and Participation: what are the functions of parties, party systems and elections? What role does public opinion play? How important are interest groups?
- The International System: what is the importance of international political economy and the role of international organisations? How do they affect national politics?
- Political Ideologies: what are they, how important are they, and what are the differences between them? Where do green and feminist movements fit in?
- Political Communication: how are communications, technology and the changing media landscape impacting on how we do politics?
Introduction to International Relations
Year one of International Relations consists of five dimensions of learning, helping you master the basics of the discipline.
- Foundational Concepts: understanding the formative terms and concepts of IR scholarship including power, State and Nation, and security.
- Theories of IR: mastering key theories in IR scholarship – including realism and neo realism, and liberalism and neo liberalism - and applying them to real international events.
- Global Institutions and Structures: understanding the major institutions that govern world affairs and manage the global balance of power, including the United Nations, NATO, the EU, the World Bank, the International Criminal Court and more.
- Regional Events and Developments: analysing trends in political, economic, social, cultural and diplomatic issues in key world regions including Asia, Latin America and Africa.
- Research Development: a course dedicated to academic skill development, including research, academic writing, sources, presentation skills and methodology.
Explorations in Politics and International Relations
Explorations in Democracy: a four part series of lectures and tutorials addressing key theories and ideas underpinning modern representative democracies as follows:
- History, Ideas and Democracy: foundational ideas behind the development of modern liberal democracy, from ancient Athens, to the democratic revolutions and beyond.
- Democracy in the USA: looking at how American Democracy works with key election case studies from the 21st Century.
- European Democracy: key issues, institutions and development in European political systems.
- Challenges to Democracy: ‘illiberal’ democratic regimes and movements, extremist religious movements, authoritarianism, contemporary fascisms and nationalism.
British Politics and Democracy: analysing and evaluating key institutions and organisations of the British political system and how they function and examining major issues in British politics today, including where does power really lie in our system of government? Is the system of representation fair? What are the ongoing implications of Brexit?
Comparative European Democracy: examining the differences and similarities between different European political systems. Topics include: Executives, the Judiciary and legal system, the legislature, the distribution of power, the welfare state and civil service, parties and electoral system
Theories and Analysis of International Relations: builds and expands on the first year and includes mainstream (i.e. liberal and realist perspectives), middle ground (i.e. Constructivism, English School) and critical (e.g. Marxism, Dependency Theory, Post-Structuralism, Critical Theory, Feminism, Green theory, Post-Developmentalism).
Global Issues in International Relations: contextualization of the main global issues and debates in international politics today including environment, poverty, conflict, terrorism and organized crime amongst others.
EU Foreign Policy: explores the origins and developments of EU Foreign Policy and assesses its strengths and challenges including security, trade, environmental, normative, and integration dimensions, among others.
UK Foreign Policy: explores UK’s international identity and foreign policy in relation to key regions/countries in the world. This course discusses directions and challenges of UK foreign policy in security, trade, development, environment among other dimensions.
Advanced Studies in Politics and International Relations
Politics in the United States: examines the evolution of American politics through through key issues and major policy challenges including changing demographics, gun control and the death penalty.
The Imperial Presidency: the development of the presidency as a central institution in American politics and foreign policy from Franklin Roosevelt’s reinvention of the office in the 1930s to the present day.
Modern European Political Theory: explores key thinkers in the political theory canon from the fifteenth century to today and the shifting boundaries of this sub-discipline from a focus on the state and the sovereign, to the importance of culture, economics and social relations.
Power and Politics: through discussion and case studies explores the changing political landscape using the concept of power. You will analyse where power lies in contemporary politics, the changing shape of political organization and activism, the impact of technology, how the state works and more besides.
Security, Peace and Conflict: addressing diverse questions such as the climate and global conflicts, humanitarian intervention, terrorism.
Political theory in International Relations: concerned with questions such as just war theory and what justice means for environmentalism.
Research element (International Relations): research classes prepare students for their final year long essay in International Relations. We use this contact hour to provide skills, knowledge and support to the students, equipping them with the fundamental skills necessary for long essay research.
Dissertation: In your final year you will complete a dissertation on a chosen topic in Politics and International Relations. This is a 10,000 word project. You will receive support from a tutor and have meetings on a one-to-one basis. In the main, this is an autonomous project, but you will receive guidance and feedback about its evolution as the academic year progresses.
There may be some flexibility for mature students offering non-tariff qualifications and students meeting particular widening participation criteria.
Careers available for Politics and International Relations graduates include those in government, in international organisations and in policy work. There is a demand for teachers with politics skills and knowledge as well. Many firms and companies look for the general skills that a Politics and International Relations degree gives you – such as conducting analysis, preparing reports, constructing arguments and making judgements.
We encourage both teamwork and independent learning, and develop your communication skills throughout the three years of study. Many students move on to postgraduate Masters programmes and research degrees. We have graduate students who work in parliament in the field of communications, with the civil service and with the NHS and with voluntary bodies. In recent years, we have had students who have gone to work in the field of law, with think tanks and in journalism. We also have students who have entered politics and have contested and won council seats.
Current postgraduate courses offered by Liverpool Hope include:
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
As well as tuition fees, you also need to purchase core textbooks, which we estimate to be around £200. There are also a number of optional national and international fieldtrips throughout your studies, you will be told about the cost of these trips with plenty of notice.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
International tuition fees
The International Tuition fees for 2023/24 are £12,500.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
With Foundation year, this degree is only available to study as a Single Honours course.