Why this course?
As a politics student, you'll look at the work of governments and their policies and study the behaviour of those who govern - and who they are governing - both at home and abroad. You'll also gain knowledge of domestic and international institutions and issues relating to conflict and cooperation.
We cover diverse and relevant issues, such as international terrorism to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum.
Politics graduates can go on to work in a number of areas, with many pursuing academic research careers in the UK, Europe and North America.
Following the recent global economic crisis, economics is more important and relevant than ever. Decisions on money, banking, interest rates, taxation and government spending affect us all, with global consequences.
Economics aims to understand the activities of the different agents in the economy – consumers, producers and the government – and how they all fit together.
Our degree will give you the ability to explain complex data in simple terms to different audiences. You’ll also develop excellent mathematical, statistical and problem-solving skills.
What you’ll study
Our BA degrees in Humanities & Social Sciences are initially broad-based. In Year 1, you'll study three subjects, including your chosen subject(s).
We introduce you to the key themes of politics and investigate the behaviour of politicians and citizens through the study of institutions and concepts.
Second-year is organised around three core classes:
- Modern Political Thought
- International Relations & Global Politics
- Comparative Politics
If you wish to continue to Honours Year you're required to take our Research Methods for Political Scientists class. You can choose your other classes from a wide range of options, including:
- American Politics
- European Politics
- Scottish Politics
- War, Terrorism and Conflict
- Contemporary British Governance
In Honours Year, you'll have a wide selection of classes to choose from, covering Britain, the EU and the international arena. Many of our classes focus on highly topical issues, such as Difference and Democracy, in which you'll debate questions of identity and multiculturalism.
What you'll study
The first year of study looks at consumers and industries, with markets, market failure and the role of government, unemployment and inflation. No previous knowledge of economics is assumed but the class is also suitable if you've studied the subject before.
You'll take core classes in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics and choose from a number of optional classes.
As a third year student, you'll study a combination of core and optional classes to develop the foundations laid in Years 1 and 2 with a view to Honours study.
Optional classes complement the areas of microeconomics and macroeconomics. You'll also write a dissertation.
We have a wide range of partner universities abroad.
You can study for up to one full year in Europe, North America, Australia and Hong Kong.
This exchange is undertaken in the third year of study and you must successfully complete second year study to participate.
Politics 1A: Concepts
Politics 1B: Government & Governance
This class provides an introduction to the study of politics. In order to study politics fully, we devote attention to domestic and international politics and how they interact.
We cover a series of key concepts, the meaning of power, democracy and authoritarianism, structures and institutions – including elections, referendums and international organisations - that are essential to understanding how modern politics works.
While these subjects primarily relate to domestic politics, considerable attention is given to the impact of how international processes between states and external events affect domestic outcomes in contemporary politics.
This class provides an introduction to the actors, processes and outcomes that are key to modern government and governance. It covers a range of political processes that take place within democratic and non-democratic states and beyond; including, for instance, the role of the media. Considerable attention is given to the impact of international processes on outcomes in contemporary politics. The class examines a range of outcomes that influence the lives of citizens and residents of states, including the policies associated with modern welfare states and international trade agreements.
Introduction to Economics
The purpose of this class is to provide you with a balanced introduction to economics which will be at once self-contained and lay the foundation for further study in economics and more generally. The work of the class will be based on a programme of systematic directed reading, supplemented by tutorials, using group projects and in-class short answer tests as cumulative assessment.
International Relations & Global Politics
Modern Political Thought
This class introduces students to the academic study of International Relations (IR).
This class is taught from a "levels of analysis" approach that separates out the different actors in the international system. Each of the traditional "big" IR paradigms are presented in the relevant level. After examining how each level affects the perception of interstate politics, the course then examines topics such as the changing nature of war, international security and international institutions.
This class provides an introduction to fundamental political concepts, such as justice, democracy, power, authority, liberty and equality. It considers the relationship between the normative evaluation of political systems and how we study them. Students also become familiar with the basic ideologies necessary to understand political debate.
This class focuses on the comparative study of institutions in democratic and authoritarian political systems and what influences their performance and stability. You'll learn what forms economic, social, cultural and political institutions take, and what their effects are on democratic and authoritarian political systems.
This class enhances that knowledge by outlining research questions about democracy in its various forms and ways they can to be addressed by empirical evidence.
This is the core microeconomics class in second year. It aims to develop your understanding of: the concepts of consumer choice; the motives of the firm and profit maximisation; the market and its role in achieving equilibrium prices and quantities; and the implications of market power. It will introduce you to mathematical techniques commonplace in economics, giving you the ability to apply these in a wider economic context.
The class builds upon the macroeconomic foundations established in the first year Economics class and both extends and deepens analysis. In particular this class will develop your ability to use key macroeconomic models and will also provide an introduction to the analysis of economic data.
Quantitative Methods in Social Research
Research Methods for Political Scientists
This class teaches students a range of quantitative research methods. It will help you better understand the high quantity of statistics published by governments and in the media. Additionally, learning quantitative methods improves your job prospects and equips you better for study in Honours and beyond.
On the basis of the knowledge acquired in this course, students will be able to critically assess the validity and reliability of published research, to develop a research design, and to collect, analyse and present data.
You'll learn about different methods of:
- social science research
- distilling information from academic work
- collecting and analysing data
- the basic design of surveys conducive to quantitative analysis and conducting of qualitative interviews
- • the use of SPSS as an analytical tool used by many businesses and organisation
- the basics of uni-variate and bi-variate statistical analysis
This class provides a comprehensive overview of European politics, identifying the common characteristics of politics and government across the continent, but also the distinguishing features that make countries different. The class combines thematic topics with studies of politics and government in particular countries - France, Germany, Italy, and the countries of eastern and central Europe.
The first section of class examines the emergence and evolution of parties and party systems, focusing on the relationship between parties and society, ideological developments and modernisation processes. Particular attention is given to the emergence of ‘new politics’ and the rise of the far right. This part of the class concludes with an examination of the different types of electoral system employed in Europe, and the effects they have on politics.
The second section focuses on government; the character of government at the centre, multilevel governance, and parliaments.
This class introduces students to the basic concepts and theories relating to the study of political institutions, processes, behaviour, and policy in the United States. The first half of the class examines ‘American exceptionalism,’ and its political culture. The second half examines the institutions of the US political system, covering such topics as the constitution, federalism and the branches of the central government. The class will conclude with a survey of public policy in the United States, in several dimensions.
Class topics include:
- the US party system
- political participation and mobilisation
- individual voting behaviour
- public opinion
- nominations and elections
- interest groups
- the question of where power lies
The class seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of Scottish politics contextualising it within UK, European and world politics, historical inheritance and contemporary Scottish society. It examines the practice of Scotland’s governing institutions, the changing nature of democracy in Scotland, the impact of devolution on policy and broader governance as well as Scotland’s constitutional status.
War, Terrorism & Conflict
This class looks at the issue of who holds power in local politics in the UK as well as examining changing managerial and democratic practice. It asks fundamental questions about local politics, such as:
- how is local democracy justified?
- who holds power?
- what is the basis of that power?
- what is the role of citizens in localities today?
- what is the role of local governing institutions?
- how are local public services delivered
- how is policy made and delivered?
This course looks at the multi-faceted and ever-changing nature of war, conflict and terrorism, in the context of the end of the Cold War and the September 11 terrorist attacks. It addresses debates within the sub-discipline of Strategic Studies (i.e. the study of the use of force) and International Relations more broadly, relevant to the causes of war, the conditions of peace and strategies for dealing with terrorism and conflict.
Contemporary British Governance
This class is co-taught with staff from the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. It also involves deliberative sessions with parliamentarians.
The class focuses on how Britain is governed, focusing particularly on how its main institutions and processes – with their own influences, conflict and dynamics – have risen to the multiple challenges of the modern world, ranging from demands for sub-national autonomy in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to the opportunities and constraints afforded by Britain’s membership of the European Union.
This class will provide a comprehensive overview of Chinese politics since 1949, contextualising it within the study of comparative politics, historical inheritance and contemporary Chinese society.
It will give you grounding in the dynamic evolution of the Chinese state and Chinese nationalism, China’s self-identified problems of weakness and underdevelopment, and the difficult political choices faced by political elites. It will also analyse how the country’s Communist legacy offers both opportunities and constraints for the present politics of China. The case of Taiwan is also included as a comparison.
Adam Smith's hidden hand - markets result in efficient outcomes - doesn't always work. We seek to understand why through the study of market power, externalities and public goods, and then go on to apply these ideas to issues of education, healthcare provision and crime and punishment.
This class builds on the Macroeconomics you studied in second year by covering four topics in detail: (i) models of economic growth; (ii) the effects of macroeconomic policy in an open economy; (iii) the interrelationships between money growth, output, unemployment and inflation; and (iv) the implications of high government debt.
Theories & Practices of Regulation & Governance
Governance & Development
The aim of this class is to introduce students to the concepts, theories, institutions and processes of regulatory governance. The transnational and international dimension of regulatory governance is also taken into account.
This class aims to investigate the political determinants of peace and prosperity, conflict and poverty. It also deals with the recent literature on conflict, inequality, and globalisation. A special emphasis will be placed on providing an understanding of the contemporary challenges facing developing countries.
This class adopts a comparative approach to the study of political parties and party systems, focusing on Europe and the United States. We discuss the main functions and organisational and ideological characteristics of the different types of parties found in these regions, and the way in which parties adapt to social change.
We look at the relationship between parties and voters from the alternative theoretical perspectives of class voting, partisan identification and rational choice. We also examine party systems and party government.
The class focuses on how we do comparative politics (methodology). We'll consider the comparative method, and how the scientific method can be applied to the study of politics. We consider the problem of only having a relatively small number of cases to compare, and how we select these, as well as the difference between case-study driven, small-n and large-n studies. We also consider the use of ideal types – the importance of finding a language to compare very complex systems.
This class is divided into four main blocks:
- green political theory
- environmental attitudes & behaviour
- environmental movements
- green parties
Feminism & Politics
The focus of this class is the individual voter. Individual characteristics, such as education, socio-economic status, political attitudes and values, or involvement in social and political networks are looked at. However, contextual factors, such as the institutional framework, can also play a role for a wide range of political actions.
International Relations Theory in a Global Age
This class provides a critical introduction to feminism and its implications for politics. Over the last few decades, feminists have systematically challenged the long-standing view that politics is gender-neutral by uncovering masculinist bias and drawing attention to the neglected experiences, values and arguments of women.
Feminists have also reconstructed key political concepts and practices and expanded the range of issues and ideas understood to be political.
International Security: Concepts & Issues
This class explores debates about key concepts in International Relations theory, in the context of what is widely seen as a new era in the analysis and practice of global politics. The class investigates the 'cutting-edge' of IR theory and makes connections with social and political thought more generally.
Analysing Religion & Politics
Students are introduced to the literature and research agendas related to security and conflict studies. Specifically, the course will explore various aspects of civil war, terrorism, international conflict, arms transfers and refugee security.
The impact of faith upon politics is evident in many ways, including:
- the 1979 revolution in Iran
- conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East
- the Catholic Church's contribution to democratisation efforts in Latin America and Eastern Europe
- the role of religious actors in current debates on Islam in the EU
The class introduces students to the systematic study of these phenomena based on a quantitative methods perspective. Qualitative approaches are also considered. As part of the class assessment, students will conduct an empirical case study.
The dissertation is an important part of the fourth year programme. Single Honours Economics BA students are required to submit a dissertation in Economics while Joint Honours BA students may submit a dissertation in Economics or in their other Honours subject.
Choose from this listMicroeconomics 4
Game Theory and Information Economics, the topics of this class, consider market failure resulting from two different sources: individuals pursuing their own self-interest at the expense of others; and information asymmetry which alters the way agents behave. Methods to alleviate these market failures will also be considered.
This class aims to provide you with the required tools to understand current macroeconomic issues, such as the interactions between the banking sector and monetary policy or the policy responses to the global financial crisis. Throughout the class, the analytical usefulness of the theoretical models taught is illustrated with real-world examples.
Introduction to Econometrics
This class builds upon the empirical content of Macroeconomics 2 and further develops your ability to analyse economic data. In addition, this class lays the foundations for further study of econometrics at Honours level.
Economics of Firms & Industries
This class introduces you to different industry structures and studies the behaviour of firms within those structures. The material builds on the study of the theory of the firm presented in Microeconomics 2 and provides a foundation for the study of industrial organisation at Honours level.
This course investigates the actions that firms in an industry might take to preserve their profit in that industry, and the implications that this has for competition policy and regulation. We take an analytical approach to the issues which will be supported by examining case studies and current events.
Financial Development & Economic Growth
In the third year econometrics class you’ll have learned about regression in both a cross-sectional data and time series data context. This class extends that knowledge in three ways.
First, for cross-sectional data, the class deals with regression techniques where the dependent variable may be restricted or limited in some way. In such cases, the regression model as taught in the third year class is not appropriate; this class develops models which are similar in spirit to the standard regression model, but can handle all of these cases.
A second purpose of Applied Econometrics is to develop regression methods which can be used when you have panel data - consisting of both cross-sectional and time-series dimensions.
Third, the class will build on the introduction to the econometrics of time series data developed in this class by developing two classes of models.
This class gives a balanced view of the role of finance in promoting long-run economic growth, but also booms and busts. The nature and role of financial intermediaries will be introduced, and, afterwards, formally addressed in a simple aggregate growth model. Empirical evidence will be examined, before turning to the specifics of micro-finance. The importance of financial globalisation will also be investigated. Finally, the rest of the class will be devoted to deciphering the causes and consequences of the current financial crisis.
Natural Resource, Environmental & Energy Economics
Behavioural Economics offers alternative theories that merge psychological insights with economic theory and are based on experimental and other evidence, that attempt to provide a better explanation of real-world behaviour.
This class is concerned with exploring these new behavioural theories with the aim of providing you with an expanded toolkit with which to approach ‘real-world Economics’ that is based on the burgeoning Behavioural Economics literature that has emerged over the past two or three decades.
After studying this, you should be able to extend much of your previously-learned knowledge in Microeconomics in various directions that take into account more realistic ways of modelling how individuals behave.
The class provides you with an introduction to natural resource, environmental and energy economics and policy. It focuses on the contributions of economics to understanding environmental, energy and resource problems, their causes, and the design of effective public policies to counteract them.
The School of Government & Public Policy encourages independent learning by reducing reliance on assessment through formal exams and introducing more flexible forms of class assessment.
All classes are of single semester length. In pre-Honours classes, students are examined at the end of the appropriate semester; short exam diets with two-hour exams are held in January and May. For most classes, a formal essay-based exam at the end of the class provides for two-thirds of the class assessment.
In pre-Honours classes on research methods, assessment is entirely by class-work. In some other classes, essays are supplemented by or, in part, replaced by project work or book reviews. At Honours level, all single Honours students are required to complete a 10,000-word dissertation in Politics.
The majority of classes are assessed by a final exam. This mark is supplemented by one or more forms of individual and/or group coursework. In some cases, students can earn an exemption from the exam by achieving a specified coursework mark. Exams are normally held at the end of the semester in which the class is taught.
Students normally have one opportunity to be re-assessed for a failed class.
Learning & teaching
In Politics Years 1 to 3, lectures and tutorials are the main form of teaching. In methods classes, lab sessions and practical group work are used. At Honours level, all classes are taught in a small group seminar format.
Tutorials, seminars and student presentations form an essential part of your learning and development. In addition, work on essays, book reviews and other class projects are part of the teaching and learning environment.
At Honours level, students work on a specific project for their Honours dissertation under the personal supervision of a member of the teaching staff.
Teaching is given over two semesters in blocks of 12 weeks each. Methods include lectures, tutorials and seminars. As a student, you'll take part in team-based projects and make use of online teaching materials. Our industrial partners regularly assist in teaching and the assessment of student presentations.
Required subjects are indicated following minimum accepted grades.
1st sitting: AAAA
2nd sitting: AAAAB
- Higher English plus at least one subject from the list below
- National 5 Maths or National 5 Lifeskills Maths or Intermediate 2 at Grade C or above
- Classical Studies
- Modern Studies
- Religious Moral and Philosophical Studies
We recognise a wide range of Highers, however social science subjects should make up the majority of your profile.
Minimum entry requirements: BBB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
Typical entry requirements: ABB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
Minimum entry requirements: ABB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
Typical entry requirements: AAA (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)
36 (Maths SL5)
HNC Social Sciences: A in Graded Unit; Maths National 5/ Intermediate 2 C
HND Social Sciences: ABB in Graded Units may enable second-year entry to Politics & International Relations with History or Psychology with six HNC/HND credits in each of the two subjects
Irish Leaving Certificate
Subjects and grades as for Highers
It is important to take care over your personal statement. We look for information about your academic and career interests, and your range of skills, abilities, and relevant experience. Your personal statement should show evidence you have a strong awareness and interest in the subject you are applying to.
Deferred entry not normally accepted.
Applicants with Highers
Due to the high level of competition for the number of available places it is unlikely that Conditional Offers will be made to anyone attaining less than BBB at the first sitting of Highers.
Second-year entry for A Level/Advanced Higher candidates is possible with AA/AB in the two subjects you are planning to study.
Admission to Honours
All students will be admitted as potential Honours students. Students may exit with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the end of Year 3 of the programme if they have accumulated at least 360 credits and satisfied the appropriate specialisation requirements. For admission to the final year of the Honours course, a student must have achieved an approved standard of performance.
We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. Strathclyde selects our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer. We look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.
Find out if you can benefit from this type of offer.
Find out entry requirements for your country.
Degree preparation course for international students
We offer international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the International Study Centre. To find out more about these courses and opportunities on offer visit isc.strath.ac.uk or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future.
You can also complete the online application form, or to ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.
Politics graduates are employed in the media, management, teaching, sales and advertising, local government, further and higher education and social work.
Knowledge of the political process is also useful in a business career and the degree provides the normal route of entry into business traineeships. Employers are particularly interested in the high-level written and verbal skills of Politics graduates and their ability to research and analyse information.
Courses in Politics are recognised in the training of Modern Studies teachers, and a Politics degree is also particularly appropriate for entry to the civil service.
Students who specialise in research methods acquire social science research skills and expertise in the analysis of data, while the study of institutions is an extremely good background for those entering government service or communications, eg journalism, television and advertising. There is also a tradition of Strathclyde Politics graduates entering academic research centres in the UK, Europe and North America.
Economics graduates are employed in a wide range of areas, including the Government Economic Service, management, investment analysis and media outlets.