School of Law, Criminology and Government

BSc (Hons) Politics with International Relations

Do you want to understand the roles of democracy, freedom and security in the 21st century? You will analyse and evaluate some classic theories and compare different democratic systems to forge your understanding of the role of politics our rapidly changing world. You will be introduced to key events, concepts and debates in contemporary international relations, including international security and international political economy.

You will learn from research-active staff who are leaders in their subjects. Members of the team are internationally renowned for their work on elections and electoral systems and ethnopolitics. You’ll enhance your employability by taking part in our weekly events and talks, organised by the student-run Politics and International Affairs society (PIASOC). You will also open doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

Entry requirements may differ during Clearing, so please contact us on 0333 241 6929 to discuss an application.


More courses available for 2017 entry

Our 2017 Clearing course vacancies page shows which courses are still available for entry this year.

Clearing hotline 0 0333 241 6929

Clearing with Plymouth University

Call our friendly Clearing team on 0333 241 6929.

We will help you find the right course for you.

  • Clearing officially opens on results day, Thursday 17 August.
  • Clearing closes on Wednesday 20 September.

For opening times and further information, visit our Clearing page.

Key features


  • We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2017 return showing overall satisfaction for 90 per cent of our students. 100 per cent of students agreed staff were good at explaining things and also that the course is intellectually stimulating.*
  • Develop specific knowledge of the discipline of politics – understand the significance and nature of political processes, the variety of forms of government and the concepts that inform their operation.
  • Engage with political institutions and processes to acquire a detailed knowledge of these systems and how they interact. You’ll use current affairs as case studies to bring broader principles to life.
  • Take part in debates on contemporary international relations and have the opportunity to study a number of relevant themes and issues, which may include; international security, north-south international relations, international political economy, the United Nations, refugee studies, foreign policy, theory and area studies such as Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia.
  • Learn from research-active staff, leading the way in their subjects. Members of the team are internationally renowned for their work on elections and electoral systems and ethnopolitics.
  • Enhance your employability by taking part in extra-curricular events and talks organised by the student-run Politics and International Affairs society (PIASOC).
  • Open doors to a wide range of career opportunities including journalism, advertising, teaching, non-governmental organisation work and academia.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you’ll be introduced to the importance of the twin themes of democracy and democratisation, and investigate how different countries rule themselves. Explore current affairs through case studies and begin to understand questions such as ‘What is politics?’, ‘What is power?’ and ‘What is a political system?’ You’ll study the vital terms, concepts and processes of international relations analysis and the historical development of the international political system since 1945.
    Core modules
    • IRL100 Imagining World Order

      This module introduces the essential terms, concepts and processes of international relations analysis. It describes the main features of the international system since its evolution from the Treaty of Westphalia, continuities and discontinuities with earlier international systems, plus the move from state sovereignty to global governance in the contemporary context. It also introduces the primary theories of international relations analysis, whilst putting their emergence and development into historical context.

    • IRL102 International Relations Since 1945

      This module provides an introduction to the historical development of the international political system since 1945. It provides a crucial background to the major processes and actors that have shaped the contemporary international system.

    • PIR100 Discovering World Politics

      The team-taught immersive module introduces students to key concepts in the fields of Politics and IR and provides them with the necessary skills and tools to write essays and engage with academic debates. It also provides an opportunity for team-building for both students and staff.

    • POL100 Democracy and Democratization

      This module provides the foundation for the study of democracy and democratisation, with a focus on competing theories of democratic governance and how these can be applied in a critical analysis of the practices and institutions of governments.

    • POL101 Comparative Democracies

      This module introduces students to the key themes involved in the study of democracies. It examines each of these topics within a comparative framework. The application of the key themes will be achieved through the medium of theoretical approaches and case study application.

    Optional modules
    • GOV1000PP One Planet? Society and Sustainability

      This module addresses some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century from a variety of ideological and political perspectives. Through real-world case studies and critical reflection of lived experiences, we explore and debate the complex, interdependent processes underpinning sustainability and global inequality and insecurities. You develop an understanding of key drivers and public policy impacts and consider future alternative scenarios. The emphasis is on active, collaborative, learning via field trips and debates.

    • LAW1000PP Ethics and Justice in the Balance

      This short intensive module will provide a basic introduction to ethical considerations in human activity, social life and institutional decision making. It provides a platform to enable students to evaluate concepts of justice, law and ethics as well as themes of morality, duty and responsibility, in relation to everyday individual and collective choices of action.

  • Year 2
  • In your second year, you'll build on your knowledge and sharpen your understanding of key issues in politics. You’ll also delve into topics at the heart of 21st century debate, including the EU, democracy and globalisation.

    Core modules
    • IRL200 Understanding Global Politics

      This module provides an introduction to the main authors and debates in contemporary IR theory, from mainstream theories to critical approaches. The module pays particular attention to the historical context of each approach, and the relationship between theory and practice in contemporary global politics.

    • PIR200 International Political Economy

      This module analyses how the governance of international economic affairs has developed from the Mercantilist expansion of early modern Europe to the present day. It introduces four alternative approaches to the study of IPE. It presents the leading historical narratives of the evolution of the modern world political economy, and then investigates its development since 1945.

    • POL200 The European Union: Democracy Beyond the Nation State

      This module introduces students to the history, structure, key themes and potential future development of the European Union. It examines each of these aspects within the context of theories of democracy, and the challenges to such theories presented by the supranational institutions of the EU.

    • POL201 Democracy and Globalization: Citizens and the Modern State

      Students taking this course will discover how social and economic change in the modern era impacts upon traditional political structures. The course demonstrates how structures face increasing challenges from alternative forms of political action, ranging in scope from the local to global. Much of the analysis will be comparative in scope and specific case studies will be undertaken of countries initially examined at level 4.

    • POL203 Civil Society and the Public Sphere

      This module analyses the role of civil society and the public sphere in democratic governance and in democratization from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

    Optional modules
    • IRL201 International Security Studies

      This module considers the issue of security in contemporary international relations. It examines a variety of different security concepts from deterrence and the security dilemma to arms control, peacekeeping, terrorism, regional security complexes and governance. It then seeks to relate these to practical examples from world politics.

    • IRL202 The Third World

      This module embraces both theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding development issues and policies, at national, international and multilateral scale. The approach taken is deliberately inter-disciplinary, incorporating historical, economic, political and social perspectives. The module also uses case studies based in Africa, Latin America and Asia to illustrate and provide context for the discussion of various developmental concerns. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the development policy arena; how it is framed and constituted; the power relations between actors; and the impact on human communities and their environments.

  • Final year
  • In your final year, you'll deepen your knowledge by engaging with key concepts and debates in modern politics. You’ll investigate ethnopolitics in contemporary Europe, the politics of the US and elections in the UK.

    Core modules
    • PIR300 Dissertation and PDP Review

      This module provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their attainment of the aims and objectives of the Honours Programme. It requires the design and execution of a dissertation of 12,000 words in the field of political science, together with the submission of a 1,500 word formative Literature Review detailing the aims and objectives of the dissertation together with a consideration of the extant academic literature in the field of the research question.

    Optional modules
    • IRL300 Africa in the International System

      This module provides an introduction to African politics, examining the historical, economic and socio-political developments of over fifty states with a strong regional emphasis, and a focus on political economy, state-society relations, foreign policy and conflict analysis. The module's regional focus allows comparison between different approaches to IR. It also seeks to provide the tools to analyse and understand what is going on in Africa today.

    • IRL301 International Relations in the Middle East

      The module introduces students to international relations in the Middle East. It equips them with the analytical skills to examine the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gulf conflicts, the impact of the Arab Spring on regional relations, and the roles of regional powers.

    • IRL302 NATO after the Cold War and Beyond

      "This module proposes to study the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from a theoretical as well policy point of view. The aim is to investigate the relevance of NATO in the 21st century by looking at how NATO survived and developed in the aftermath of the Cold War as it appeared to have lost its original purpose of containing the Soviet Union. By looking at key developments within NATO in the post-Cold War period, this module also looks at the challenges which NATO has faced and overcome but it also critically reflects on the contemporary relevance of NATO. "

    • PIR301 Contemporary Issues in International Relations

      This module will explore the transformation of political community in the 21st century through the prism of international organisations such as the United Nations. The aim is to consider the key question whether `governance¿ is possible in world politics, and whether and to what extent international organisations can play a constructive role in such governance. The module begins with an introduction to international organisations and global governance, including the various theoretical approaches with their different assumptions about the nature of international politics, and competing predictions about international organisations in global governance.

    • PIR304 US Foreign Policy Since 1945

      This module introduces students to different approaches to studying US foreign policy. As well as providing an empirical survey of America's foreign relations since 1945, it draws on IR theory to examine its changing place in the world. Students will examine historical and contemporary themes in US foreign policy and explore the complex mix of factors that combine to influence it. The module will examine US interests in different parts of the world and evaluate how US foreign policy has affected regional and international orders. The ultimate objective of the course is to explore how US foreign policy shapes the world we live in.

    • PIR305 The Politics of the United States

      This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of politics in the United States. Domestic politics and the foreign influence of the United States is considered, with specific emphasis placed on the role of the Constitution and institutions of governance in promoting (or inhibiting) democracy both domestically and abroad.

    • PIR306 Environmental Political Economy

      This module examines the problem of environmental degradation and its implications for our global political economy. It discusses the major debates in political thought around the causes of environmental degradation. The module outlines the major attempts to build international regimes for global environmental governance, and the difficulties and obstacles that such attempts have encountered. A wide range of ideas, policy proposals, innovations in governance, and templates for political activism within the environmental movement are critically evaluated.

    • PIR310 Work Based Learning in Politics or International Relations

      This module provides students with opportunities to gain practical insights into the workings of organisations whose role and function have clear relevance to the focus and subject matter of their undergraduate degree in Politics or International Relations, and to link such insights to their acquired knowledge and understanding of social science theories and concepts. In addition the module will prepare students for the graduate job market and encourage their autonomous engagement in personal development planning.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Politics 16 17 0230

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104

A levels
Including a minimum of two A levels.

BTEC
18 Unit BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM in any subject.  

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access
Pass a named Access to HE Diploma in any subject with at least 33 credits at merit/distinction.

International Baccalaureate
26 overall to include 4 at any subject at Higher Level.

GCSE
All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) mathematics and English at grade C or above.

Other
Other combinations and non-A level qualifications also considered.

Short of the entry requirements for this course? Don’t worry you may be eligible for a foundation year to prepare you for possible entry onto this course for the following year.

Learn more about foundation years with the Faculty of Business

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,250 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.



Study BSc (Hons) Politics with Plymouth University

Find out more about what it's like to study politics at Plymouth University.

Discover more about the expert academic staff who will teach you on the course.

Find out more about BSc (Hons) Politics

International relations

International relations is about matters of life and death - not just for soldiers and citizens lying in the path of war but for the whole human race.

Studying BSc (Hons) International Relations with Plymouth University offers you a fresh, contemporary approach.

View the BSc (Hons) International Relations course page

The Elections Centre

Since 1985 the Elections Centre has compiled analysis and information relating to all aspects of electoral politics in Britain. Data supplied by the Centre is widely regarded as the ‘official’ source for such information.

Research projects have been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Arts and Humanities Research Council and the UK Government.

Discover more about The Elections Centre

Our student network is your business network for the future

It’s our students that make us different. Prepare to join a very active community of engaged students. In partnership with our people they are the driving force behind Plymouth University’s internationally recognised focus on social enterprise and sustainability, as well as one of the best students' unions in the UK.

Be part of it now, find out more about the Faculty of Business.

Meet the tutors

Professors Michael Thrasher and Colin Rallings have written extensively on electoral systems, results and British politics. Together they co-direct the Elections Centre and regularly appear on Sky News, ITV, and the BBC, as well as in print journalism.

Explore theory and method in political science to understand how Professors Rallings and Thrasher have achieved their high media profile.

International study pathways with Plymouth University International College

Plymouth University International College (PUIC) offer university foundation, first year degree and pre-masters pathways to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees within the Faculty of Business. With 96 per cent of all students progressing on to their chosen Plymouth University degree, the PUIC pathways are an excellent alternative entry point for international students.

Find out more about your study opportunities with PUIC

* These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Unistats is updated annually in September.