9th in the UK for Politics and International Relations

Guardian League Table 2021

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4 years

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Taught by experts in a stimulating and inclusive environment, you will gain a historical understanding of the development of nation states and its contemporary relevance.

The foundation year helps you develop the study skills and self-confidence needed for higher education when you don’t reach the entry requirements for your subject or you need a grounding in a new subject area.

Examine what obligations states might have in today’s international society and explore the links between identity, conflict and models of governance to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

We place a strong emphasis on transferable skills with a focus on employability. You’ll gain skills in critical thought and analysis, team working, and the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively.

Our graduates are now working in a variety of sectors including the civil service, international non-governmental organisations, journalism, law, and teaching.

Why study International Relations with Foundation Year?

If you are considering a degree in international relations, then you are probably already quite well informed about what is happening both nationally and internationally. This course will challenge you to use your knowledge of what is happening and gain a deeper understanding of why the world is the way it is. 

100% of our International Relations students were satisfied with the quality of their course.

National Student Survey 2019

During the foundation year, you'll gain an understanding of contemporary issues in politics and the social sciences, while developing study skills that will help you progress through the degree.

Throughout the course, our lecturers will introduce you to theories and conceptual approaches which help make sense of political events and processes.

You'll share your knowledge and opinions with fellow students as you explore the core themes of international relations – power, justice, security and peace – together.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally have 32 UCAS Tariff points. We will also welcome applications from students with few or no formal Level 3 qualifications who wish to return to education and applicants may be asked to attend an interview.

More information about entry requirements.

UCAS Points

All about the course

Our International Relations course offers you a balance of current issues, theoretical analysis and historical context based on three important elements:

  • an examination of significant international relations theories and their contemporary relevance
  • importance of international cooperation and global governance
  • focus on contemporary issues such as the political influence of emerging powers and new international policy concerns such as energy security or climate change.

“The degree will challenge you to think critically, consistently. Looking back on my three years, I absolutely loved the variety of modules. I was always spoilt for choice at every avenue; vital if like me at the time, you too are not yet sure what area of politics you would like to specialise in.”


During the foundation year, you'll develop the self-confidence and study skills needed to progress to the degree. You'll learn about contemporary issues in politics and the social sciences.

In Year 1 of the degree, you'll have an introduction to international relations and you'll study British and global politics and explore key political thinkers. 

In Year 2, you'll study theories of international relations. You'll also examine certain core methods used in political research and analysis and may have the opportunity to study abroad. During Year 2 and Year 3, you'll be able to choose optional modules on subjects that most interest you.

In Year 3, you'll continue to study core and optional modules and you'll undertake a significant piece of independent research where you'll select a topic of special interest within your discipline area. 

93% of our International Relations students were satisfied with their learning opportunities.

National Student Survey 2019

“The curriculum remains current, exciting and challenging. The scope and content of the curriculum prepares students well through its breadth and depth. Graduates are able to demonstrate knowledge and skills that will equip them well for the future. It is clear in the work that is produced that students are engaged and often excited by their studies. The efforts to go beyond teaching the curriculum to offering opportunities for students to gain social and cultural capital are commendable.”

External Examiners Report, May 2019

Module information

Please note that the list of optional modules and their availability may be subject to change. We continually review and where appropriate, revise the range of modules on offer to reflect changes in the subject and ensure the best student experience. Modules will vary when studied in combination with another subject.

Core/optional modules

How you’ll learn

We want you to be able to engage in politics and apply your knowledge to real world cases. Using innovative teaching methods, we bring the outside world into our degree, so you'll be learning through political role plays, policy brief writing, blogging and interactive learning via webinars and other digital platforms. You'll also have the opportunity to go on visits to places relevant to the world of international relations and politics.

Teaching is structured to allow for flexibility. Your actual contact hours will depend on the optional modules you select. However, typically you will have 9-12 hours of structured contact time per week. This may be in lectures, where the module leader delivers key material to you in a large group, or seminars where you'll discuss and debate the material being studied in smaller groups. You may also experience workshops, which combine lectures and seminars when the class size is smaller. 

Our degree has a strong focus on career development. You can build your experience by developing transferable skills together with our partners from the political arena (journalists, diplomats, parliamentarians, civil servants, NGOs), who are actively involved with the curriculum. 

All courses are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2022.

When not attending timetabled sessions, we expect you to continue learning through self-directed study. Typically, this involves undertaking research in the library, working on projects, and preparing for coursework assignments/examinations, workshops and seminars.

Your lecturers will indicate specific readings and/or activities to complete before class. We will also provide reading lists for further study. Seminars are enriched when students have completed their independent reading, allowing everyone to interact with this learning and benefiting the whole group.

The Individual Study in your final year is a significant piece of independent research, where you may select a topic of special interest. You will be guided by a supervisor, but the main direction of the work will be decided by you. 

Teaching is structured to allow for flexibility. Your actual contact hours will depend on the optional modules you select. However, typically you will have 9-12 hours of structured contact time per week. 

For every hour of contact, you'll be expected complete three hours of independent study. 

You will be taught by academics at all stages of their careers, from postdoctoral researchers to professors.

Every member of our teaching team is committed to innovative and engaging approaches to teaching and members hold excellent teaching qualifications (Higher Education Academy accredited) and academic qualifications (PhDs in Politics or International Relations).

We are also research active, publishing our research in academic journals and books, engaging in work with academic and professional bodies, and featuring in the media when our expertise is required.

Our students tell us that they value the opportunities they have to be taught by experts in particular areas. 

As political leaders struggle to make sense of problems we face, locally and globally, fresh thinking from the next generation is needed. Our passionate, dedicated team is committed to providing an innovative and challenging experience to all our students. Learning about human rights, social justice and power dynamics, students gain political understanding and critical reasoning required for our changing world.

Dr Paul AndersonLecturer in Politics and International Relations

How you’ll be assessed

We recognise that people learn differently and our assessments are designed to be as varied as possible to maximise the opportunities for students to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired. You will be assessed through a range of methods, including essays, examinations, individual and group oral presentations, practical assignments and reports, active simulations which recreate political scenarios, social media blogs and research projects. These will evaluate your acquisition of relevant knowledge and understanding and the development of academic style and practical skills. The balance of assessment depends on how you select your options.

93% of our International Relations students were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their course.

National Student Survey 2019

Single honours students are required to undertake a 40 credit Individual Study which explores a theme related to International Relations of your own choosing. This is also an option for combined honours students who wish to major with our course.

To progress from one level of study to the next you must pass 120 credits (typically six 20 credit modules). The standard pass mark for a module is 40%.


Our aim is to ensure that assessments cater for a range of students’ requirements. Throughout the degree, strong emphasis is placed on regular feedback in order to provide you with the opportunity to enhance your performance.

“The achievements of some students exceed those of other HE institutions particularly in those modules where students are required to become involved in simulations/research conferences/presentations or the production of briefing notes and blogs. All these different assessment tools enable students to really showcase their achievements and the development of employability and professional skills.”

External Examiners Report, May 2019

Your future career

In a competitive job market, it is crucial that as a graduate you have all the right skills that employers are looking for. Our international relations degree emphasises transferable skills at each level of study, with a strong focus on career development. You can expect to gain skills in critical thought and analysis, working autonomously and as part of a team, networking, and the ability to communicate complex ideas in a clear and concise fashion.

My degree helped my career in many ways. My clients are banking institutions, asset management and law firms. They are all tied to international developments around the globe. Conflicts, trading regulations and political instabilities shape our global society and affect everyone. Thanks to my degree I can relate with my clients, track potential opportunities and understand my clients' preoccupations.

William International Relations graduate


The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  UK / EU Overseas
Full-time - Foundation Year 0 £7,050 £9,910
Full-time - years 1-3 * £9,250 £13,000

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

* The tuition fees of £9,250 / £13,000 relate to 2020/21 only. Please read the 2020/21 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2020/21 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Specialist Facilities and Industry Links

Our politics degree is enhanced by our links with local, national and international politicians and policymakers. External funding from the European Commission’s Jean Monnet programme for European political study supports our Jean Monnet Centre for European Studies. This allows us to take students on fully paid visits to sites of European interest and have previously included trips to Brussels and the war graves of Northern France.

Where appropriate, we invite practitioners to speak to students about their experiences working on policy issues which relate to the academic material under investigation. For example, the Foreign Policy Analysis module has been addressed by former ambassadors and foreign affairs correspondents. Parliamentary clerks have visited British Politics modules and representatives of NGOs supporting refugees have participated in sessions of the Politics of Migration module. Our own graduates regularly return and get involved in different modules to build a sense of community among current students and alumni.

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4 years

UCAS code:



Apply via UCAS
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