- UCAS Code: L2L4
Ranked: 3rd for Social Policy / Top 10 for Politics (Complete University Guide League Tables 2022)
Study abroad: exchange partnerships in Europe, North America, Australia & Hong Kong
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Our BA (Hons) Humanities & Social Sciences degree, explained.
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.
Social Policy examines the ways in which societies distribute resources and develop services to meet individual and social needs. Key social policy issues examined include poverty; economic, race, age and gender inequality; social justice health; education; criminal justice and housing.
It utilises a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to improve our understanding of how societies organise their resources to meet individual and social needs and how they measure progress in these areas.
This programme gives you the opportunity to learn more about the social and economic challenges facing Scottish society and place these in a broader international perspective. It draws on disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology, economics, law, psychology, social anthropology and politics.
What you’ll study
Politics & International Relations
You'll focus on key skills, concepts and knowledge necessary to develop an advanced understanding of the fields of politics and international relations. In your initial studies of comparative and international politics, you'll receive close guidance in developing writing and analytical capabilities via enhanced contact time with a diverse set of instructors, study-skills leaders and tutors.
You'll focus on improving writing and argumentative skills via small group discussions and peer and instructor led formative feedback. Substantive topics include International Relations & Global Politics, and Political Philosophy. You’ll take your first class in research design, a critical step in acquiring the skills needed to produce rather than merely consume knowledge
Opportunities to study abroad in Europe or North America, or continue your studies in Glasgow. You can choose among three main themes:
- Elections, Parties and Public Opinion
- Public Policy
- International Relations and Security
Optional classes in:
- Data Science for Politics and Policymaking,
- Classic and Critical Topics in the Fields of Public Policy,
- Comparative Politics and International Relations,
- War and Terrorism,
- Advanced Quantitative Methods,
- British, European, Chinese and US politics.
An advanced research seminar allows you to develop the research question that forms the basis of your honours dissertation in Year 4.
Complete an honours dissertation with flexibility over proposed topic. Placement opportunities with local employers available as well as numerous small-sized class options in:
- International Development
- International Security
- Green Politics
- Political Parties
- International Relations Theory
- Religion and Politics
- Regulatory Politics
- Governance and Development
- US Foreign Policy
- Territorial Politics
- Data Science for Policymaking
Our Semester 1 module provides a wide-ranging introduction to some of the key challenges facing Scottish society in areas such as health, housing, education and social security. The Semester 2 module asks how different issues come to be recognised and defined as ‘social problems’. At what point do individual or personal issues come to be defined as social issues, and why?
You'll have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the development of Scottish social policy. You will also discover more about some of the key concepts in Social Policy, including such issues as human needs, social welfare, inequality, poverty, citizenship, and social exclusion. You'll also get the chance to discuss the processes through which policies are made and engage in debates about their effectiveness.
You'll be expected to undertake a more detailed examination of the development of Scottish social policy in a UK context, alongside in-depth studies of the particular social policy areas or themes that interest you. You will also take a class in research methodology which will help you to prepare for your final year dissertation.
You'll take a core module in Comparative Social Policy, alongside the more detailed study of a particular area or theme. Your classes will be based around the specialist research interests of the academic staff and you will be engaging in debates at the cutting edge of current Social Policy thinking. The 10,000-word Honours dissertation will be your chance to undertake some original research of your own in a key area of Social Policy.
All honours students will have the opportunity to complete a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to undertake independent research into an issue which is particularly important to you.
It might be based on a detailed analysis of original sources, such as policy documents or statistical records, or you might choose to generate your own data, using interviews or focus groups. The opportunity to undertake original research into a topic of particular interest means that the dissertation is often the most satisfying part of any student’s degree.
Single & joint Honours information
English, English and Creative Writing, History, Politics and International Relations and Psychology may be studied to Single or Joint Honours level.
Education, French, Spanish, Law, Journalism, Media and Communication, Economics, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Tourism, and Social Policy are available only as Joint Honours Programmes.
The available subject combinations may change each year. Once accepted on the programme you will be allocated an advisor of studies who will be able to let you know which subjects can be combined, in first year, and beyond.
Politics 1A: Concepts & Processes
This class provides an introduction to the study of politics from a scientific perspective. The course covers how modern states around the world function and interact through from a social science perspective. The course will cover the basic concepts that characterise the essence of political life within and across countries and use these concepts to explore arguments and theories on the functioning of human behaviour. We'll cover key concepts, ranging from the meaning of democracy and authoritarianism, to structures and institutions – including elections and governments – essential to understanding modern politics.
You'll leave the class with the basic tools, concepts and approaches to interpret the political events as a political scientist and the background information to succeed in your journey through political science topics at the University of Strathclyde.
Politics 1B: Decision making & Outcomes
This class investigates the role of actors and political institutions in policymaking processes within states and across political regimes. The class builds on Politics 1A in which the main focus was on concepts and key institutions. This previous knowledge is used to develop a deeper understanding of political actors’ behaviour and the processes through which they influence outcomes. It covers a range of political processes that take place within democratic and non-democratic states and beyond. The class examines a range of outcomes that influence the lives of citizens, including the policies associated with modern welfare states.
You'll leave the class with the ability to read and critically discuss research in political science and the broader social sciences. This class will equip you to evaluate academic findings and debates in the field of comparative politics, to interpret the political events as a political scientist and to build foundational knowledge for undertaking research in political science topics.
Social Policy & Society in Contemporary Scotland
This class is designed to introduce you to some of the major issues confronting Scottish society and to provide an accessible introduction to some of the key concerns of Social Policy. It will examine a range of issues, including questions of poverty and inequality, social divisions, health, housing, education, and criminal justice.
Private Issues & Public Problems
This class examines the different ways in which ‘private issues’ become recognised as ‘public problems’. Using a number of different case studies, such as domestic violence, homelessness or poverty, it will look at the different ways in which social problems have been identified and at the different standpoints from which they can be viewed.
International Relations & Global Politics
The objective of this class is to introduce you to the academic study of International Relations (IR). The class begins by examining the basic concepts and historical contexts in order to give you a firm grounding in IR. The next part of the course delves into the major theories of IR, which will provide you with conceptual underpinnings into world affairs. The course then examines the structures and processes within IR, covering topics such as the changing nature of war, international security and international institutions.
This class covers the key normative concepts used in political philosophy. This includes justice, equality, democracy, the state, collective action and rights.
You'll study different approaches to these concepts, analysing political practices and applying the concepts to political institutions. The class will reference your knowledge of empirical political science (political institutions, political behaviour), learnt in other politics classes. You'll also consider the application of political philosophy to practical policy making problems.
Research Design for Political Science
Social science students are expected to develop core research skills, learn to work in groups, planning and conducting independent research projects. This course ensures that you understand the ideas of applied social research, and thus it prepares you for an employment market that seeks out graduates with research skills beyond narrow subject-specific knowledge.
Scottish Social Policy since 1845
This class explores some of the different ways in which social policy has evolved in Scotland in response to a variety of social problems since the introduction of the Scottish Poor Law Act in 1845. It covers all the main areas of social policy, including health, housing, education and poverty, and also explores the changing boundaries between individuals, families, communities, voluntary organisations, commercial welfare and state over the course of this period.
Key Concepts in Social Welfare
This class explores some of the most important concepts in the academic study of Social Policy, including such concepts as equality, justice, need, happiness, poverty and wellbeing. It also examines a number of different ideological perspectives on these issues, such as liberalism, conservatism, socialism, social democracy, Marxism, feminism and the New Right.
The Making of Social Policy
This class examines the ways in which social policies are ‘made’ at both a national and international level. It examines the roles played by different actors, institutions and ideas. It also looks at the ways in which evidence is used to inform policy-making, and at the ways in which we are all involved, as citizens, in the policy process. These themes are explored with the aid of a series of case-studies, including health and education policies, and the development and implementation of equalities legislation.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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 (for example, 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.
Philosophy of Economic Policy
Economics is not only about the technical allocation of scarce resources among competing needs. Economy policy choices inevitably involve political trade-offs, social concerns and value judgments. In this light, this class looks at the ideational and ethical underpinnings of public policymaking. The focus is on how the clash of economic ideas shapes policy decisions in key areas. It also examines the sources and implications of big shifts in policy paradigms. An effort will be made to make sense of the direction of economics and the rethinking of policy frameworks in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
This course familiarizes you with the historical debates over alternative economic paradigms and policies and their historical and philosophical foundations. Questions such as why some nations are richer than others and what should governments do to overcome economic crises are as pressing today as they were a century ago. Indeed, the question “what is the best economic policy” has been asked and debated over centuries, and, as it turns out, policymakers are still guided by ideas and paradigms that were articulated by men and women centuries ago. At the end of this course, the you'll have a better knowledge about how our economic and financial world was developed.
Can Democracy Deliver?
This course is part of the university’s new initiative in Vertically Integrated Projects for Sustainable Development (VIP4SD). VIPs are designed to provide students from second-year through to postgraduate with an opportunity to work with teams of other students on projects related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Undergraduate students may participate in a project for up to three years.
In this VIP we'll examine the linkages between the quality of democratic governance, citizenship, service delivery, and quality of life in developing countries, with a focus on Africa. You'll have the opportunity to investigate important policy-relevant questions using various forms of survey, administrative, national accounts, and spatial data to track progress toward the sustainable development goals and investigate factors that facilitate or retard sustainable development. The complexity of the research project will differ according to the level of the student.
Research Skills in Social Policy
This class will help you to develop your knowledge and understanding of some of the key methods used by researchers in the field of social policy. It will introduce you to a number of different qualitative and quantitative methods, and to some of the basic principles of research design. It will provide an essential foundation for your final-year dissertation.
Scottish Social Welfare in a UK Context
This class examines the ways in which recent political developments have placed questions of social policy at the heart of debates over the future of the United Kingdom. To what extent do the different parts of the UK face different social problems? To what extent do different parts of the UK possess a different approach to the resolution of these issues? How has the governance of social policy in different parts of the UK been affected by its current constitutional arrangements?
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.
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
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.
The Welfare State in Comparative Perspective
This class examines the development of welfare states as a global phenomenon. It asks what we mean by the concept of a ‘welfare state’ and looks at the ways in which welfare states have developed in different countries. It also explores some of the major differences between different types of welfare state, using the concept of ‘welfare régimes’.
Many students find that the dissertation is the most fulfilling part of their degree. It will provide you with the opportunity to undertake your own in-depth investigation into a topic of your choice, and to develop skills as an independent researcher.
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.
You'll be assessed using a variety of methods, including not only traditional essays and exams, but also oral presentations, group work and other forms of assessment.
Learning & teaching
In Politics Years 1 to 3, lectures and tutorials are the main forms 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.
Required subjects are shown in brackets.
(Higher English, Maths/Applications of Mathematics National 5 B-C, or equivalent)
(Higher English B and Maths/Applications of Mathematics National 5 C)
Year 1 entry: ABB-BBB
(GCSE English Language 6/B or Literature 6/B, GCSE Maths 4/C)
Year 1 entry
Social Sciences: A in Graded Unit; Maths National 5 B, or equivalent
Social Sciences: AAB 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
View the entry requirements for your country.
Not normally accepted
Offers are made in accordance with specified entry requirements although admission to undergraduate programmes is considered on a competitive basis and entry requirements stated are normally the minimum level required for entry.
Whilst offers are made primarily on the basis of an applicant meeting or exceeding the stated entry criteria, admission to the University is granted on the basis of merit, and the potential to succeed. As such, a range of information is considered in determining suitability.
In exceptional cases, where an applicant does not meet the competitive entry standard, evidence may be sought in the personal statement or reference to account for performance which was affected by exceptional circumstances, and which in the view of the judgement of the selector would give confidence that the applicant is capable of completing the programme of study successfully.
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.
Degree preparation course for international students
We offer international students (non-EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for an undergraduate degree at Strathclyde the option of completing an Undergraduate Foundation year programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.
Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.
We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.Visit our international students' section
Fees & funding
All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.
Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland are subject to confirmation by the Scottish Funding Council. Scottish undergraduate students undertaking an exchange for a semester/year will continue to pay their normal tuition fees at Strathclyde and will not be charged fees by the overseas institution.
|England, Wales & Northern Ireland|
*Assuming no change in fees policy over the period, the total amount payable by undergraduate students will be capped. For students commencing study in 2021-22, this is capped at £27,750 (with the exception of the MPharm and integrated Masters programmes), 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.
|University preparation programme fees|
International students can find out more about the costs and payments of studying a university preparation programme at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre.
You'll incur travel costs for visits as part of the course. You'll be informed of this at your first lecture. For example, 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 £13.50. This course also includes a trip to Westminster - travel costs approximately £100 (this will be reviewed with reference to post covid-19 travel/social distancing precautions).
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
Fees for students who meet the relevant residence requirements in Scotland, 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.
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.
We have a number of scholarships available to international students. Take a look at our scholarship search to find out more.
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.
The most common employment destinations for social policy graduates include:
- local & national government policy development and research
- regional & urban development
- business administration & management
- third sector/charity research & policy development
- children’s services
- health & social welfare
- protective services
Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city
Our campus is based in the very heart of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. National Geographic named Glasgow as one of its 'Best of the World' destinations, while Rough Guide readers have voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! And Time Out named Glasgow in the top ten best cities in the world - we couldn't agree more!
We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.
Find out what some of our students think about studying in Glasgow!Find out all about life in Glasgow
We're shortlisted for University of the Year 2021 by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide
Please note that you only need to apply once for our BA degree programme.
For instance, if you have applied for BA Honours English and are considering your options for a Joint Honours degree, e.g. a BA Joint Honours in English and French you only need to apply for one or the other on UCAS.
If accepted on to the BA programme, you can study one of the many available subject combinations.
Start date: Sep 2021
Politics and International Relations & Social Policy (1 year entry)
Start date: Sep 2022
Politics and International Relations & Social Policy (1 year entry)