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Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber

BAPolitics & International Relations

Why this course?

From international terrorism to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, we cover very diverse and relevant issues.

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.

Our politics graduates go on to work in a number of areas such as government, journalism, teaching and research, in both the public and commercial sector. Many also pursue academic research careers in the UK, Europe and North America.

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).

Year 1

We introduce you to the key themes of politics and investigate the behaviour of politicians and citizens through the study of institutions and concepts. You'll also look at the bigger picture: the EU, the global dimension of politics, and conflict and cooperation between states.

Year 2

Second-year is organised around three core classes:

  • Modern Political Thought
  • International Relations & Global Politics
  • Comparative Politics

These classes will help you analyse political ideas and behaviour and prepare you for increasingly specialised study in Years 3 and 4.

Year 3

Year 3 classes are on specific subjects relating to domestic politics and international issues. You choose other classes from a wide range of options, including:

  • American Politics
  • European Politics
  • Chinese Politics
  • Scottish Politics
  • Parliamentary studies
  • Research Methods for Political Scientists
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Social Research
  • War, Terrorism & Conflict
  • Contemporary British Governance

If you wish to continue to Honours Year, you're required to take our Research Methods for Political Scientists class.

Year 4

In your Honours Year, the format of teaching shifts to a seminar format with small class sizes that allow for discussions between the instructor and students, along with discussions and debates between the students.

You'll have a wide selection of specialised classes to choose from, covering Britain, the EU and the International arena. They examine key debates in politics as well as topical issues like:

  • democratic differences
  • the changing role of the state and multi-national institutions
  • questions of religious, ethnic and national identity
  • multiculturalism
  • the interface between politics and economics

These classes are taught by staff engaged in research within areas such as:

  • Political Parties
  • Religion & Politics
  • Governance & Development
  • International Relations
  • international Security
  • Political Behaviour
  • Feminism
  • Government Regulation

Study abroad

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.  

Postgraduate study

We offer the following postgraduate courses:

Course awards

The School of Government & Public Policy also won a UK Parliament Outreach competition which allowed us to introduce a funded class - one of only two in Scotland.

Course content

Year 1

Politics 1A: Concepts

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.

Politics 1B: Government & Governance

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.

Year 2

International Relations & Global Politics

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.

Modern Political Thought

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.

Comparative Politics

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.

Year 3

Quantitative Methods in Social Research

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.

Research Methods for Political Scientists

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
European Politics

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.

American Politics

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
  • media
  • interest groups
  • the question of where power lies
Scottish Politics

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.

Local Politics

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?
War, Terrorism & Conflict

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.

Parliamentary Studies

This class is co-taught with staff from the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. It also involves deliberative sessions with parliamentarians.

Contemporary British Governance

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.

Chinese Politics

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.

Year 4

Theories & Practices of Regulation & Governance

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.

Governance & Development

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.

Green Politics

This class is divided into four main blocks:

  • green political theory
  • environmental attitudes & behaviour
  • environmental movements
  • green parties
Political Parties

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.

Comparative Politics

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.

Political Behaviour

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.

Feminism & Politics

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 Relations Theory in a Global Age

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.

International Security: Concepts & Issues

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.

Analysing Religion & Politics

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.

Assessment

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.

Learning & teaching

In Politics Years 1-3, 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.

Entry requirements

Minimum grades

Required subjects are indicated following minimum accepted grades.

Highers

1st sitting: AAAA

2nd sitting: AAAAB

Required subjects

  • Higher English B, plus one from the list below
  • Maths/Lifeskills Maths National 5 C or equivalent

Higher subjects

  • Classical Studies
  • Drama
  • Economics
  • French
  • Gaelic
  • Geography
  • German
  • History
  • Italian
  • Modern Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religious Moral & Philosophical Studies
  • Sociology
  • Spanish

We recognise a wide range of Highers, however, your profile must reflect a good grounding in essay-based subjects.

A Levels

Year 1 entry:

Minimum entry requirement: BBB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)

Typical entry requirement: ABB (GCSE English Language B or English Literature B, GCSE Maths C)

Year 2 entry:

Minimum entry requirement: ABB (two core subjects at AB)

Typical entry requirement: AAA (two core subjects required)

International Baccalaureate

36 (Maths SL5)

HNC/HND

Year 1 entry:

HNC Social Sciences: A in Graded Unit; Maths National 5 C or equivalent

Irish Leaving Certificate

Subjects and grades as for Highers.

Additional information

Personal statement

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

Deferred entry normally not 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 ABB at the first sitting of Highers.

Second-year entry

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.

Widening access

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.

International students

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.

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.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Scotland/EU

  • tbc

Rest of UK

  • tbc

The 2018-19 fee rate will be updated when it has been confirmed by the UK and Scottish Governments. Assuming no change in Rest of UK fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2017/18, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and Integrated Masters courses); MPharm students pay £9,250 for each of the four years. Students studying on Integrated Masters degree programmes pay an additional £9,250 for the Masters year with the exception of those undertaking a full-year industrial placement where a separate placement fee will apply.

International

  • 2018/19 - £14,050

International Study Centre

Please find information about the student fees for university pathway programmes on the International Study Centre (ISC) website

Additional fees 

Placement & field trips 

You'll incur travel costs for visits as part of the course. You'll be informed of this at your first lecture. Eg, if you're registered for Parliamentary Studies (L2313), you'll visit the Scottish Parliament and an off-peak travel return ticket for this costs approximately £12.60.  

Please note: All fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my studies?

Students from Scotland and the EU

If you're a Scottish or EU student, you may be able to apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish government. Scottish students may also be eligible for a bursary and loan to help cover living costs while at University.

For more information on funding your studies have a look at our University Funding page.

Students from England, Wales & Northern Ireland

We have a generous package of bursaries on offer for students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales

You don’t need to make a separate application for these. When your place is confirmed at Strathclyde, we’ll assess your eligibility. Have a look at our scholarship search for any more funding opportunities.

International Students (Non UK, EEA)

We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.

Available scholarships

We have a wide range of scholarships available. Have a look at our scholarship search to find a scholarship.

Careers

Where are they now?

Our 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 this 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's also a tradition of Strathclyde Politics graduates entering academic research centres in the UK, Europe and North America.

Contact us

Apply

How to apply – 10 things you need to know

  1. All undergraduate applications are made through UCAS
    Go to the UCAS website to apply – you can apply for up to five courses.
  2. It costs £12 to apply for a course
    The cost is £23 for two to five courses.
  3. The deadline is 15 January each year
    This is the application deadline for most courses. However, please check the details for your particular course. View a full list of UCAS key dates.
  4. You might be asked to attend an interview
    Most of our courses make offers based on the UCAS application. However some might ask you to attend an interview or for a portfolio of work. If this is the case, this will be stated in the prospectus entry requirements.
  5. It’s possible to apply directly to Year 2
    Depending on your qualifications, you might be able to apply directly to Year 2 - or even Year 3 - of a course. Speak to the named contact for your course if you want to discuss this.
  6. There’s three types of decision
    • unconditional – you’ve already met our entry requirements
    • conditional – we’ll offer you a place if you meet certain conditions, usually based on your exams
    • unsuccessful – we’ve decided not to offer you a place
  7. You need to contact UCAS to accept your offer
    Once you’ve decided which course you’d like to accept, you must let UCAS know. You don’t need to decide until you’ve received all offers. UCAS will give you a deadline you must respond by.

    You’ll choose one as your firm choice. If the offer is unconditional or if you meet the conditions, this is the course you’ll study.

    You’ll also have an insurance choice. This is a back-up option if you don’t meet the conditions of your first choice.
  8. You don’t need to send us your exam results (Scotland, England & Wales)
    If you’re studying in Scotland, England or Wales, we receive a copy of your Higher/Advanced Higher/A Level results directly from the awarding body. However, if you are studying a different qualification, then please contact us to arrange to send your results directly.
  9. We welcome applications from international students

    Find out further information about our entry and English language requirements.

    International students who don’t meet the entry requirements, can apply for our pre-undergraduate programmes.

    There’s also an online application form.

    For further information:
  10. Here’s a really useful video to help you apply

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