The University of Southampton
Social Sciences: Politics & International RelationsPart of Social Sciences

L260 BSc Politics and International Relations (3 years)

Our BSc Politics and International Relations combines the study of international relations with the more traditional disciplines of political theory and comparative politics. It affords an opportunity to develop a firm grounding in both the theory and practice of global politics, and therefore to develop a particularly in-depth understanding of the contemporary political world.

Introducing your degree

Do you have an interest in politics at both national and international levels? Are you curious about contemporary political debates and a passionate follower of current affairs? Then apply for the BSc in Politics and International Relations degree at the University of Southampton. This thought-provoking BSc degree provides a comprehensive grounding in crucial topics in politics and international relations, such as the organization of political systems, the influence of political ideas and thinkers, conceptualisations of international politics and global developments, and the theory and practice of democracy in modern states.
Our BSc degree is designed to develop your critical thinking skills, hone your analytical capacity, and train you in a range of research skills which are highly valued by employers. Graduates from this BSc are well placed to pursue careers in political institutions at local, national and international levels, government and the civil service, think tanks and advocacy organizations, business and journalism.


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  • Enables you to specialise in areas of contemporary political and global importance such as globalization, security studies, migration, development, international organisations, and national/regional politics.
  • Helps develop indispensable research skills such as effective oral and written communication, problem-solving, data analysis and independent thought.
  • Provides excellent training for a wide range of careers in the civil service, international organisations, NGOs, advocacy and lobby groups, political campaigning, journalism, as well as in a broad range of corporate and business careers.
  • Provides a strong grounding for future postgraduate study in global politics or politics.

The key features of this programme are breadth, depth, flexibility and choice:

  • Breadth is achieved by studying across the essential subfields of political theory, global politics, public policy, and political analysis, and in delivering rigorous training in research methods.
  • Depth is achieved through the range of compulsory modules in Year 2, which build on the foundations delivered in Year 1, and which together provide the knowledge and understanding required of a politics and international relations degree.
  • Flexibility is achieved through the optional module capacity in each year of study, which provides for specialisation as your knowledge and understanding of the discipline develops, and through the dissertation in Year 3, which is pursued in a topic of your choice in politics and international relations.
  • Choice is achieved by way of the wide selection of available options, which enable you to deepen your knowledge in those areas of most interest to you.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is L260. For more information, visit the how to apply section of our website.


Key Facts

99% of Politics students agreed staff are good at explaining things (First in the Russell Group) - National Student Survey 2016

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

GCSEAll applicants require a minimum of grade C in GCSE mathematics and English. 
A Levels:
GCE A-level3 A-Level subjects: ABB, or BBB with grade A in the Extended Project Qualification or if studying Politics A Level. 4 A level subjects: BBBB. Or BBBC with grade A in the Extended Project Qualification or if studying Politics A Level. General Studies is not accepted.
International Baccalaureate32 points overall, 16 at higher level
Alternative qualifications

We welcome applications from candidates offering qualifications other than A and AS levels (including BTEC, European Baccalaureate, International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate and Scottish Highers). You will be expected to attain an equivalent standard to an A level applicant or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University. Contact us for further information on equivalencies for these qualifications and others not listed here.

International applications

Each international application will be assessed on a case by case basis

English Language Requirement

All applicants must have GCSE Grade C or above in English language. If English is not your first language you will be required to pass an approved English test. We normally ask for an overall IELTS score of 6.5.

Contextual Admissions

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students who flagged in this way will be made an offer which is lower than the typical offer for that programme.

A typical contextual offer is BBB from three A levels or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

Selection process:

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is L260. For more information, visit the how to apply section of our website.

Will I be interviewed?

We usually make our decisions based on your UCAS form alone. Only candidates who require special consideration, for example on grounds of age or non-standard entry qualifications, are interviewed.

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students. if you will be over 21 at the start of your proposed degree programme, you are eligible for exemption from our normal entry requirements. However, you will be required to provide evidence of having completed recent serious and successful study (for example, Access, Return to Study, Open University foundation courses) and of your capacity to pursue the course.

Any specific subject requirements must be met. All students are required to have the appropriate qualification in mathematics (GCSE grade C for BSc Politics, BSc Politics and International Relations, BSc International Relations; AS level grade B for BSc Politics and Economics) and English (GCSE grade C or equivalent for all programmes).

Where feasible, you will be called for an interview. You may find it helpful to discuss your plans with us before applying through UCAS. This will allow you to make sure your chosen course is right for you and give you time to pursue additional academic qualifications if required.

Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L)

This programme is not designed for AP(E)L however this can be looked at on a case by case basis. 

International Foundation Year

International students who do not currently meet our entry requirements may be able to join this course on successful completion of our International Foundation Year. For more information visit the IFY course page.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

We teach a range of core modules common to all the politics and international relations degrees in the first year, as well as core modules which are particular to some degrees only. Four modules are studied per semester. There are optional module choices in all three years, and in Year 3 all modules taken are optional (except the dissertation, which is compulsory).

Research methods modules are taught in both Year 1 and Year 2, in order to deliver the key research skills required on this programme, to support your research and study in your other modules and to prepare you for the dissertation in Year 3.

Students pick optional modules from a range which may include those listed below (although specific options may change from year to year). In addition to this, our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers our students the chance to take optional modules outside their core disciplines. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future.

Year 1

Year 2

You can select up to two other social science modules in place of option politics modules, provided that only two such modules are taken overall.

Year 3

You can select up to two other social science modules in place of option politics modules, provided that only two such modules are taken overall.

Dissertation in Politics & International Relations

These modules are only indicative examples of the options available. There is a wide array of option modules to choose from, subject to availability.

Political Texts
Development and International Relations
Ethics and Politics of Migration
Globalisation and World Politics
Global Governance
Chinese Politics
Political Behaviour
Politics of the Media

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

NameYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternationalChannel Islands
BSc Politics and International Relations 2018Full-time£9,250£16,536£9,250
View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculator: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and copyingIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here:
OtherOptional visits (e.g. museums, galleries): Some modules may include optional visits to a museum, galleries, etc. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Career Opportunities

Employability is embedded into modules from the first year onwards and right from the first lecture. We explain the degree skills which are taught throughout the modules and offer a number of optional employability modules.

The skills you will acquire are in high demand. Our degrees are a passport to vocational and non-vocational careers alike, with recent graduates employed in the Foreign Office, British Council, international organisations and NGOs.

Councillor Paul Holmes is a graduate of Politics and International Relations. “Not only did I receive a degree from an internationally recognised university, I also made some great friends,” he said. “I would very much recommend studying at Southampton. It is a genuinely nice place with great facilities, friendly staff and great course mates.”

Read more about the careers and employability support we offer.

Learning & Assessment

Course structure

Our courses are three-year, full-time programmes (except for some of the combined honours programmes, which are four-year, full-time programmes).

Teaching is based on a system of two 12-week semesters over three terms followed by examinations at the end of each semester. You will usually study four modules in each semester, a total of eight modules per year.

Our teaching provision follows a funnel structure, and your study choices will increase progressively through the three years of study.

In the first year you will take core units in Politics & International Relations and a range of additional modules taught by other divisions. The choice includes introductory modules in economics, sociology or other social sciences, history, philosophy or modern languages. A similar pattern is followed in the second year.

By the third year you will have a considerable choice of options available to you. Most of our students choose to study mainly within our Division, where they can follow up the specialist interests they developed in their first two years of study. However, many continue to take an option outside the Division. Modern languages are a particularly attractive choice as they enable students to take advantage of exchange arrangements with other European Universities via the Socrates scheme. This can be a very good preparation for jobs in the European Union or in British business.

A particular feature of our learning environment is research-led teaching. Our staff undertake research in areas of important contemporary significance and bring to their teaching the experience of working in the wider world.

Lectures and Teaching

Teaching is generally by lectures and seminars, but you may also be involved in workshops and case-study classes. Most modules have two lectures per week and one seminar per week or fortnight. You will have about 12 hours of taught contact time per week. To cope with the demands of your course, you will need to do at least another 28 hours of private study per week. Group work, individual supervision (the dissertation) and small group supervision may also be used.

Lectures offer an overview of a topic, an explanation of difficult concepts or a discussion of key issues. They often require some additional reading. Seminars provide a forum for a closer examination of particular aspects of each module and are an important part of the learning process. You will have opportunities to prepare papers and lead discussions or debates, and so develop your written and presentational skills.

A particular feature of our learning environment is research-led teaching. Our staff undertake research in areas of important contemporary significance and bring to their teaching the experience of working in the wider world.

Students may draw on a wide range of optional modules in additional to the compulsory modules which are fundamental to the degree.  The optional choices include introductory modules in economics, sociology and other social sciences, history, philosophy or modern languages. In later stages of the degree programme, most of our students choose to take optional modules mainly within Politics & International Relations, where they can follow up the specialist interests they developed. Modern languages are also a particularly attractive choice as they enable students to take advantage of exchange arrangements with other European Universities via the Erasmus scheme. This can be very good preparation for jobs in the European Union as well as in UK/EU/global corporate organisations.


Modules are examined through a combination of examination and coursework, and specific arrangements vary according to module. Final degree classifications are based upon marks from the second and third years.

Tailoring your degree (Minor subject)

The structure of your degree programme allows you to exercise choice in each year of study.  You can exercise this choice in a number of ways. 

  • You can use these optional modules to deepen your knowledge of your main subject areas.
  • You can combine additional modules from your main subjects with modules from other disciplines or choose from a selection of interdisciplinary modules.
  • You can choose modules that build into a minor pathway, the title of which will be mentioned in your degree transcript. Details of the minors available and the modules that are included can be found at

Breakdown of study time and assessment

Proportion of time spent in scheduled learning, teaching and independent study
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Scheduled learning & teaching study20%19%14%
Independent study80%81%86%
Placement study0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Written exam assessment31%14%30%
Practical exam assessment10%13%1%
Coursework assessment59%73%69%

Study Locations

Hartley Library

Highfield campus

Social Sciences is based on the main campus of the University in the M...Find out more

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