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Course overview

How do political systems influence economic decision-making? Who decides what is fair? What can be done to tackle political and economic inequality?

On BA Politics and Economics, you’ll answer these questions through the study of global and comparative politics, as well as an introduction to micro and macroeconomics. This will give you an understanding of the choices we make as individuals as well as the decisions that are made on our behalf by governments.

You’ll learn about the complex political and economics processes that impact us on a local, national and global scale. This course will also enable you to make better informed decisions and have a greater awareness of how you can personally contribute to social and political change. 

Why choose this course?

  • Study abroad in locations such as Australia, Europe and the USA
  • Highly active Politics Society organises international trips and guest lectures
  • Tailor your studies to your career goals through optional modules
  • Placements and internship programme provides valuable work experience, self-confidence and a practical application of your studies
  • Tutors who have won awards for their teaching and are regularly featured in the media

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer AAA excluding general studies and critical thinking
Required subjects

GCSE maths, 7 (A) or above

IB score 36

Mature students

At the University of Nottingham we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on our mature students webpage.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses, and who will make a valued contribution to the department and the University. Candidates are considered on the basis of their UCAS application.

All applications are considered equally on merit; students are usually selected on the basis of academic excellence and personal qualities, as evidenced in your personal statement and reference. Applicants are not typically interviewed.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements

How you will be assessed

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Examinations
  • Presentation
  • Project work

Contact time and study hours

You will have 12 hours per week of lectures/tutorials/seminars.

You will also be expected to undertake approximately 8-10 hours of independent study per week, for each 20 credit module you are studying.

Study abroad

On this course, you can apply to spend a semester or full year studying abroad at the University's campuses in China or Malaysia, or at one of our partner institutions in locations such as Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA.

Teaching is typically in English, but there may be opportunities to study in another language if you are sufficiently fluent.

This will give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your CV by experiencing another culture. You can choose to study similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham or expand your knowledge by taking other options.

Year in industry

An optional placement year is available for all undergraduate students whose course does not have a compulsory placement or study abroad element. The University's Careers and Employability Service will support you in arranging this.

Placements

We recognise that graduates often need more than just a great degree to stand out from the crowd. As such, we help provide valuable placement and internship opportunities for politics and international relations students.

We currently have over 25 placement partners providing 100+ placements a year, including internship opportunities in Westminster and even overseas.

Modules

In year one, you will take modules in political theory and comparative politics. Comparing political institutions and behaviour in western liberal democracies, you will gain a thorough understanding of the history of political ideas. You can choose to take modules within the area of international relations as part of your optional modules within the school.

In economics, you will benefit from a Writing Economics module and you will be introduced to macroeconomics and microeconomics. You will have the opportunity to choose between two further fields of study for your remaining modules in the School of Economics and will also take a careers and employability module.

Politics core modules

Introduction to Comparative Politics

This module seeks to compare and contrast the decision-making structures of modern democratic states. Topics to be covered will include: 

  • politics
  • government and the state
  • the comparative approach
  • constitutions and the legal framework
  • democratic and authoritarian rule
  • political culture
  • the political executive
  • legislatures
  • political parties and party systems
  • electoral systems and voting behaviour
  • the crisis of democracy
Introduction to Political Theory

This module introduces you to the ideas of some of the canonical thinkers in the history of political thought, such as Burke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. The module considers the impact of these thinkers on modern political thought and practice, with reference to key political ideas and historical developments (such as liberty and equality, and the Enlightenment). The module will be text based.  

Understanding Global Politics

This module provides an introduction to the study of international relations.

It focuses on some of the main theoretical approaches in the discipline: ways of explaining and understanding global politics, each of which has developed over time rival accounts both of the features of world politics on which we ought to concentrate and of the concepts that we ought to bring to bear in our analyses. It illustrates each of these broad theoretical approaches - and some of their pitfalls - by introducing the study of some 'structural' aspect of global politics, such as conflict, peace, institutions and globalisation.

The module therefore supplies the introduction to international relations that will be necessary for those who go on to study contemporary global affairs and more advanced modules such as those on international political economy, global security, or foreign policy analysis.

Economics core modules

Foundations of Economics

This is an introductory module in microeconomics and macroeconomics; there is no assumption of any prior knowledge of economics.

The first semester considers microeconomics. It begins by analysing how the economic choices of households and firms can be understood using consumer and producer theory. It then looks at how these individual choices are aggregated into market demand and supply to be mediated through the price mechanism. A variety of market settings are considered, ranging from the paradigm of perfect competition to the analysis of monopolistic firms. The module continues by providing an introduction to the normative evaluation of economic outcomes and market failures.

The second semester considers macroeconomics - the study of the aggregate economy. This part will focus on the determinants of aggregate output, both in the short run - addressing cyclical movements of booms and busts - and in the long run - providing an introduction to economic growth. A running theme will be debates over the role of the government in macroeconomic management, covering fiscal and monetary policy. The module will introduce a series of basic models used in modern macroeconomics.

The Politics of Economics and the Economics of Politicians

How does economics impact on politicians? And how do politicians impact on economics? You will study both contemporary economics and the political leaders who have put key economic theories into practice throughout history.

This module covers the following topics:

  • The scope and method of economics
  • Alexander Hamilton and the role of state in the economy
  • Sir Robert Peel and Free Trade
  • The Meiji Emperor and Industrialisation
  • Franklin D Roosevelt and Demand Management
  • Ludwig Erhard and Supply Side Economics
  • Margaret Thatcher and Monetarism and Rolling Back the State
  • Deng Xiaoping and Growth, Development and Convergence

One from:

Mathematical Economics and Econometrics

The first half of the module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on linear algebra, optimisation and their role in formulating and solving economic problems.

The second half introduces the statistical methods required for data analysis in economics. We concentrate on statistical distribution theory and statistical inference before applying these concepts to the study of the linear regression model, whose extensions will be analysed in detail in subsequent econometrics modules.

Mathematical Economics and Statistical Methods

The first half of the module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on linear algebra, optimisation and their role in formulating and solving economic problems. The second half introduces the statistical methods and concepts most applicable in economics.

The analysis of economic data necessarily proceeds in an environment where there is uncertainty about the processes that generated the data. Statistical methods provide a framework for understanding and characterising this uncertainty. These concepts are most conveniently introduced through the analysis of single-variable problems. However, economists are most often concerned about relationships among variables.

The module builds towards the study of regression analysis, which is often applied by economists in studying such relationships.

Quantitative Economics

The first half of the module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on

  • mathematical finance
  • analysis of functions
  • supply and demand
  • matrix algebra
  • differentiation
  • elasticities
  • maximisation/minimisation
  • optimisation subject to constraints
  • Lagrange multipliers
  • integration

The second half introduces the statistical methods and concepts most applicable in economics. The analysis of economic data necessarily proceeds in an environment where there is uncertainty about the processes that generated the data. Statistical methods provide a framework for understanding and characterising this uncertainty.

These concepts are most conveniently introduced through the analysis of single-variable problems. However, economists are most often concerned about relationships among variables. The module builds towards the study of regression analysis, which is often applied by economists in studying such relationships.

Quantitative Methods

The first half of the module provides an introduction to the mathematical methods required for economic modelling, focusing on:

  • mathematical finance
  • analysis of functions
  • supply and demand
  • matrix algebra
  • differentiation
  • elasticities, maximisation/minimisation
  • optimisation subject to constraints

The second half introduces the statistical methods and concepts most applicable in economics. The analysis of economic data necessarily proceeds in an environment where there is uncertainty about the processes that generated the data. Statistical methods provide a framework for understanding and characterising this uncertainty.

These concepts are most conveniently introduced through the analysis of single-variable problems. However, economists are most often concerned about relationships among variables. The module builds towards the study of regression analysis, which is often applied by economists in studying such relationships.

Economics optional modules

Current Economic Issues

This module focuses on a range of current issues facing the world economy, seeks to illustrate how economists model such issues, and examines potential policy responses. Example topics to be covered are:

  • globalisation
  • economic growth
  • the global financial crisis
  • the world economy
  • emerging economic superpowers
  • consequences of rising economic nationalism
Economic Integration I

This module introduces you to the economics of integration. The module analyses the consequences for countries seeking closer economic integration through successively more ambitious forms. This begins with a limited trade arrangement, followed by a common market, which also allows free movement of capital and migrant workers, and a Single Market.

The final part of the module examines monetary integration, beginning with exchange rate stabilisation and then considering Monetary Union. The module aims to combine principles of economic analysis with an assessment of the impact of such measures on the member economies.

Economic Integration II

This module introduces you to the economics of integration. It analyses the economic rationale for, and practice of, policy co-ordination and harmonisation both at the European and at a global level. An examination of the economic rationale for common EU policies is followed by an analysis of such examples as the common agricultural, trade and regional policies, and the operation of the European Budget.

At the global level cooperation in trade, finance and development policies is reviewed in relation to the operation of institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The module aims to combine principles of economic analysis with an assessment of the impact of international policy coordination.

Economic Perspectives

This module is intended as a foundation for the understanding of modern economic theories and policies. It is concerned with the:

  • different characters and workings of economies of the past
  • changing ways in which economic questions have been interpreted and answered over time

As will be discovered, the 21st century Western views of everyday economic concepts such as ownership, money, exchange, work, poverty, industrialisation, economic growth and government are quite different from those expressed at other times and in other places.

Growth and Development in Long-Run Historical Perspective

In this module we will explore the long-run, historical determinants of the wealth of nations. We will begin by taking a long-run view on modern economic growth, showing how this has led to dramatic changes in the relative wealth of nations over the last 500 years.

We will then ask two key questions: why have modern economic growth started in some places rather than others? And while have some countries been able to catch up, while others have not? These investigations will improve our understanding of why are some countries much richer than others, and will give us some important insights on how to promote sustained growth in developing countries.

The module draws on a vibrant new literature in economics that looks at comparative development as the outcome of a long historical process, and uses techniques originally developed in economics to improve our understanding of history. Without going into the technical details, the module reviews the main findings of this literature, discusses their implications for modern development experiences, and lays out the main challenges for future research.

By providing an historical perspective on growth and development, the module will endow you with a better understanding ofcontemporary economic issues. It will also give you some exciting examples of how the economic techniques you will learn in later modules can be used to understand the world better.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

In politics you will choose one core module and will then have free choice of two additional modules so that you can begin to tailor your degree to your interests. In economics you will study macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Politics core modules

One from:

Contentious Politics: The Struggle for Democracy in Greater China

This module compares and contrasts social and political development in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan from the late 1970s until the present day. It introduces you to rapidly changing state-society relations in three distinctive and yet interrelated Chinese communities. You will analyse the interplay between political institutions and civil society in the Greater China region. More specifically, you will appraise how executive overreach and/or factional infighting among ruling elites have time and again led to cracks in the authoritarian edifice.

Drawing on specific case studies on mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan you will recognise how dissidents, civil society practitioners, and social movement leaders have made good use of resulting political opportunity structures and challenged state authority. You will assess to what extent civil society-led contentious politics has managed or failed to bring about political liberalisation and democratisation in the Greater China region.

Democracy and its Critics

Democracy is a contested concept and organising principle of politics both ancient and modern. Its appeal seems to be universal, yet it has always had its critics. 

This module investigates the nature of democratic principles, the arguments of democracy's opponents and the claims of those who say that contemporary life is inadequately democratised. A particular feature of the module is the use of primary sources to investigate historic and contemporary debates.  

How Voters Decide

Elections are the foundation of representative democracy. The act of voting creates a link between citizens' preferences and government policy. This means that the choices voters make have important consequences.

But, how do voters make these choices? Are they based on the policies that parties promise to enact in the future, or is it more about the policy successes (or failures) that parties have experienced in the past? Does the party's leader make a difference? Can campaigns or the media's coverage change how voters see their electoral choices? Finally, given the importance of elections, why do many citizens choose to abstain from the process altogether?

How Voters Decide will explore the choices that citizens make when they participate in elections and it will provide students with the skills necessary to evaluate arguments about electoral behaviour in Britain and beyond.

International Politics in the 20th Century

The module examines issues and themes in 20th-century international politics, from the eclipse of the 19th-century European diplomatic order to the collapse of the global bipolar system at end of the Cold War.

The course is taught from the disciplinary standpoint of international relations rather than that of international history. Therefore, various theoretical perspectives are brought to bear on each of these themes. For instance, we discuss:

  • the broad differences between the disciplines of international relations and international history in respect of explaining and understanding the international politics of the 20th century
  • questions of causality in international relations with reference to the onset of the Cold War
  • questions about political psychology with respect to the Cuban missile crisis
  • questions about prediction and the purposes of theory in relation to the end of the Cold War

Economics core modules

Principles of Macroeconomics

The modules covers intermediate macroeconomics covering simple macro-models of goods, labour and money markets, such as IS-LM and aggregate supply/aggregate demand, including open economy extensions. Dynamic issues incorporating expectations and long run growth will also be considered.

The module will analyse policy questions surrounding exchange rates, monetary and fiscal policy, budget deficits and debt.

Principles of Microeconomics

This module covers microeconomics including general equilibrium analysis, welfare economics, social choice, elementary game theory, and strategic behaviour of different actors such firms, voters and governments.

Politics optional modules

British Party Politics

Political parties were central to the British political system throughout the 20th century and remain so at the beginning of the 21st. Despite persistent criticism, and perennial claims of their 'decline', parties are an essential component of any student's understanding of British politics and remain the central means by which the electorate passes judgement on the government. 

This module examines the structure, ideology and history of British political parties. Topics covered include how the major and minor parties fought the 2015 general election, along with a discussion of how parties adapt to change.

Crises and Controversies in European Politics

This module aims to provide you with a systematic introduction to current debates in the comparative analysis of European politics.

The module adopts a thematic approach and focuses on both traditional fields of comparative enquiry, such as the study of party systems and representation, elections and voting behaviour, party competition and government formation, executive-legislative relations, as well as emerging fields of interest, such as political participation, extreme right politics, immigration, political corruption and the political and social challenges of globalisation and European integration.

The diverse experiences of liberal democracy in European countries and the political and social changes that they have undergone are discussed thematically in the seminars. In the seminars, a country-expert system is used whereby you are assigned a particular country to cover. The module covers both long-established democracies in Western Europe and newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Global Security

This module explores issues in global security since the end of the Cold War. It focuses on security in a broad sense, from issues relating to the use of force by states, through to violence by non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, and on to the concept of human security. 

The module builds on the first year modules, Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in international security. It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules that require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.  

International Political Economy and Global Development

This module studies the historical development of international political economy with a specific focus on development as well as the different ways this can be theoretically analysed.

While some speak about the internationalisation of the temporary order, others think in terms of more drastic changes and define them as globalisation. Similarly, while some are very optimistic that increasing free trade administered by the WTO will lead to general development, others argue that this is precisely the mechanism, with which underdeveloped countries are kept in a situation of dependence.

Based on the teaching of background information on different IPE theories and the immediate post-war period, it is these kinds of questions the module will be addressing. The module builds on the first year modules Understanding Global Politics and Problems in Global Politics, challenging you to deepen your theoretical as well as empirical knowledge in IPE.

It is also a preparation for the research-led third year modules, which require a much more developed capacity of analysing empirical developments from a range of different theoretical perspectives.

Political Parties and Party Systems Around the Globe

This module will offer an overview of political party development and the functioning of party systems in democratic states around the world, with a special focus on post-transitional democracies in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Applying a variety of analytical concepts, theoretical approaches and empirical indicators to the study of party politics, the module will highlight the institutional and sociological determinants of party organisation development and system stability as well as the consequences of party failure and party system collapse.

Social and Global Justice

'Justice' has been one of the key themes of political theory at least from the time of Plato, as questions of who gets what, when, and why are absolutely central to political discourse. Should people be able to keep what they earn with their talents, or is it only fair to take wealth away from those who have it to give to those who have little? Do different cultures deserve equal 'recognition'? 

Recently these questions of distributive and social justice have taken on a global dimension. Does the developed world have obligations to distant others, and do they have rights against it?

This module will look at these questions from a contemporary perspective, looking at ideas about justice from thinkers such as the utilitarians, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Susan Moller Okin, and Bhikhu Parekh.

Social Change and Public Policy in China's Reform Era

This module examines major public policy programs since the beginning of the reform and opening up in the 1978 in the areas of education, environment, media and communications, health, population, labour, ethnicity, along with social changes and their consequences for people's livelihoods.

In addition to exploring the content, evolution and effects of policy in these areas, the module will examine how policies are made and implemented. Lectures will introduce substantive issues and the appropriate theoretical frameworks for making sense of developments on the ground while seminars will help students to understand the impacts of these policies and the social changes accompnaying them.

Economics optional modules

Advanced Industrial Economics

This module provides an advanced economic analysis of the theory of organisation of firms and industries. It will analyse a variety of market structures related to the degree of market competition with a special emphasis on imperfectly competitive markets. It will also analyse issues related to the internal organisation of firms.

Advanced Political Economy

This module covers: 

  • Foundations:
    • The rational political individual?
    • Voter participation
    • Collective action and the role of the state
  • Core Political Economy:
    • The economic approach to politics
    • Political aspects of economics: rights and the limits of the state
    • Political aspects of economics: inequality and the duties of the state
  • Political Economy in Action:
    • Political economy in action: some current issues in political economy
Development Economics

This module is a general introduction to the economic problems of developing countries. The module will cover such topics as:

  • the implications of history and expectation
  • poverty, income distribution and growth
  • fertility and population
  • employment, migration and urbanisation
  • markets in agriculture
  • agricultural household models
  • risk and insurance
  • famines
Environmental and Resource Economics

This modules will look at:

  • market failure and the need for environmental policy - the Coase theorem
  • instruments of environmental policy - efficiency advantages of market instruments
  • applications of market instruments, especially the EU Emission Trading Scheme
  • fisheries - the open access problem and rights-based policies
  • valuation of the benefits of environmental policy
  • biodiversity and its benefits
  • international trade in polluting goods
  • mobile capital: race to the bottom?
Experimental and Behavioural Economics

This module provides a foundation in behavioural economics and the role of experimental methods in economics. The traditional approach in economics is to explain market outcomes and economic decision-making using simple theoretical models based on perfectly rational, self-interested agents who maximise their well-being by carefully weighing up the costs and benefits of different alternatives. Behavioural economics, on the other hand, aspires to relax these stringent assumptions and develop an understanding of how real people actually make decisions.

The module will introduce you to behavioural and experimental economics, discuss these fields from a methodological perspective and examine several areas of economic analysis in which they are applied. This will include individual choice under risk and uncertainty, decision-making in strategic situations and competition in markets.

Financial Economics

This module will offer an introduction to some theoretical concepts related to the allocation of risk by financial institutions. Then it will apply these concepts to the analysis of financial and banking crises.

International Trade

This module is an introduction to international trade theory and policy. It covers the core trade theories under perfect and imperfect competition and applies them to understanding the pattern of trade, gains from trade and modern topics like foreign outsourcing. On the policy side, it examines the effects of different government trade policy instruments and the role of international trade agreements.

Labour Economics

This module provides an introduction to the economics of the labour market. We will look at some basic theories of how labour markets work and examine evidence to see how well these theories explain the facts.

Particular attention will be given to the relationship between the theory, empirical evidence and government policy. The module will refer especially to the UK labour market, but reference will also be made to other developed economies.

Monetary Economics

This course will provide a foundation for the monetary economics modules in the third year and is a complement to financial economics for the second and third years. It will cover topics such as the definitions and role of money, portfolio choice, financial markets and banks, central banks and monetary policy, and the monetary transmission mechanism. 

Under these headings the module will address issues of theory, policy and practice relating to recent experience in the UK and other countries. The module will feature some current debates and controversies based on recent events.

Public Sector Economics

This module looks at:

  • public finances in the uk
  • market failures
  • fundamental theorems of welfare economics
  • social welfare functions
  • externalities
  • public goods
  • natural monopolies
  • public choice
  • social insurance: social security, taxation and equity
  • excess burden of taxation and tax incidence
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

In your final year, you will have the opportunity to undertake a politics dissertation under the supervision of a member of our academic staff. You will also choose modules in politics and economics from the full range of options offered by both schools.

In politics, at least three modules should come from the international relations stream. You can specialise further by adding more of the same, or broaden your knowledge base by taking modules from comparative politics and political theory.

Politics optional modules

Airpower and Modern Conflict

The invention of the aircraft fundamentally changed the ways in which wars are fought and won. Over the course of only a century airpower developed into an indispensable instrument of warfare. Today, war without airpower is an unlikely prospect and major military operations, as a rule, are launched with overwhelming air attacks.

In recent years, however, the utility of 'strategic' airpower has increasingly come under question. Whilst technological innovation continues to strengthen airpower's capabilities, the relevance of these capabilities in contemporary conflicts cannot be taken for granted.

This module critically assesses the role of air power in modern conflict within the broader framework of strategic and security studies. It will assess the evolution of air power theory since the First World War and examine the limits of its practical application with reference to specific air campaigns.

Brexit: British Foreign Policy and the Withdrawal from Europe

This module interprets Brexit as the latest manifestation of a prolonged, vexed national debate about Britain's role in the world. It will build on and develop your understanding of material taught at year one and year two.

You will cover a wide variety of topics, all unified by analysis of the question that motivated policy-makers facing these dilemmas at the time: 'in or out of Europe?'

The module content unfolds around the debates that surrounded major foreign policy-related events such as the Cold War, Suez, the end of Empire and decolonisation, the turn to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, the 1975 EEC membership referendum, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty, EU enlargement and the Eurozone crisis.

Conflict and Media in the 21st Century

This module is guided by the following questions:

  • What is the role of the media in international conflict?
  • How do government and military decision makers use the media to shape public opinion in times of conflict?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges of modern technology for conflict reporting?

This module covers topics such as the functions of media in democracy, the role of media in foreign policy making, the history of war reporting, terrorism and the media, the securitization of the media, gender and war reporting, citizen journalism, embedded journalism, the role of misinformation in international conflict, the changing nature of “journalism” and photojournalism of war.

This module will discuss these topics from an academic and a practitioner’s perspective. It is taught by a media scholar (AW) and a former BBC journalist turned academic (NM). Throughout the module, cases such as the Iraq War, MH17 plane crash in Ukraine and relations with Russia, the Arab Spring and the war against ISIS will be discussed.

Crises and Controversies in Immigration

This module will introduce you to the current issues around migration. You will learn to differentiate between different types of immigration such as asylum, labour, family, and irregular as well as different aspects, such as integration and citizenship. The module will identify and analyse political responses to immigration at both national and supranational levels.  

Disasters, Rehabilitation and Resilience

This module will focus on post disaster recovery and rehabilitation and how ‘resilience’ is articulated and experienced. Key themes will include vulnerability (to shocks and slow onset disasters), risk and resilience.

Examples will be drawn from various real world disasters and you will be able to research the disasters of your choice.

Dynamics of Regional Economic and Security Development: China, Japan and ASEAN

East Asia is one of the world's most dynamic and diverse regions. It is also becoming an increasingly coherent region through the inter-play of various integrative economic, political, and socio-cultural processes, otherwise known as regionalism. Studying these regionalism processes may be understood in the broadly context of East Asia's regional political economy. Moreover, the integrative processes of regionalism are closely bound to East Asia's regional economic development. Japan played a particularly important initial role here from the 1950s onwards, and now China has become the locomotive of East Asia's economic growth.

This module explores the various aspects of East Asia's regional political economy with special reference to the influence of China. Key themes include regional organisations, international business, cities and infrastructure, environment, international migration, energy security, international development, trade, finance and geopolitics.

European Disunion in an Age of Brexit

This module introduces you to the political institutions of and current challenges facing the European Union. It provides a historical and theoretical overview of the Union’s foundational treaties and initial organisations, as well as a discussion of its contemporary means of governing.

In doing so, it provides you with a basis for understanding the many challenges faced by the EU today, among them: Brexit and other national sources of Euroscepticism, the migrant crisis and wider threats to the Single Market, ideals and realities for the common currency, authoritarian and populist tests of the EU’s traditional liberal democratic legacy, and global pressures on the European policymaking system.

Fictionalised Politics: How Politics and Politicians are Represented in the US and UK

The module assesses changing attitudes to representative politics in the US and UK, specifically political parties and those who lead them, Prime Ministers, Presidents and the voters themselves through their representation, mostly in films and television dramas and comedies, up to and including The Iron Lady, The Thick of It, Dr Who, The Simpsons, The West Wing and the Ides of March, amongst many others.

The module explores what these fictions say about politics – and assesses what effect they have on how we see 'real' politics?

Gender and Development

This module examines major themes, debates and issues in the field of Gender and Development. We will focus on the relationship between ideas and concerns of gender (in)equality and processes, policies, and practices of economic, social and political development.

We will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. We will cover theoretical and conceptual frameworks as well as key contemporary issues explored through thematic and sector/policy case studies. We will explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.

Globalisation and Resistance: Contesting the Political Economy of Global Restructuring

The module is divided into two parts. Part I will focus on understanding globalisation and resistance conceptually. This part is based on the general lecture plus seminar style of teaching.

Part II is dedicated to student research projects. You will choose one resistance movement of your choice, critically discuss it in an assessed class presentation and analyse its wider implications in an essay.

Case studies of resistance movements can include specific national and international trade unions (for example, Unite, Unison, ETUC, ITUC), transnational social movements such as La Via Campesina or Stop-TTIP, as well as nationally based social movements including the landless labour movement MST in Brazil, the Piqueteros in Argentina or the Occupy Movement. The World Social Forum as a process of resistance could equally be a case study, as could be the experience of a country such as Venezuela under Chavez.

Government and Politics from the Middle East to Eurasia

This module takes an overall area studies approach to the study of the region from Turkey eastwards to Afghanistan including Russia, Syria and Iraq. It examines the current politics and international relations of these states as well as their historical and cultural context.

In addition, it explores the region thematically including the nature of illiberal governance in evidence, the role of both nationalism and religion in the affairs of the region plus the role of terrorism, civil war and gender identity.

Finally, it will assess the influence of outside actors including NATO and the EU as well as Russia and the Eurasian Union. The module will use a lot of primary as well as secondary sources and will help students to develop research skills as well as an understanding of the politics within, and between, states in this geopolitically crucial and complex area of the world.

Ideas and Politics in Contemporary Britain

The aim of this module is to explain and assess the nature and role of ideas and ideologies in British politics. It examines how and why the policies of the 'mainstream' British parties (Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) have been affected by ideas and ideologies, on the one hand, and by political pragmatism, on the other. 

It also explores the ideas, ideologies and policies of minor parties and 'new social movements' (ecologism; fascism, Nazism and racism; feminism; multiculturalism, and nationalism) and their significance for the study and practice of politics in Britain today.

Identity, Territory and Political Conflict

Contemporary events in Scotland, Catalonia and Ukraine have revealed the extent to which the territorial integrity of the state is under challenge. And these developments have parallels across the world, from Quebec to Kosovo and Kashmir. So, this module examines the important questions surrounding the relationship between identity, territory and political conflict:

  • Why do countries experience the pressure to break-up?
  • What explains this rise of nationalism?
  • How do citizens’ feelings of belonging influence the way they vote?
  • Why do some nationalist movements become violent while others remain peaceful?
  • How can central governments respond to these demands?
  • What can the international community do to manage these conflicts?
  • Finally, where federal arrangements are put into place, how successful are they in containing nationalism?

The module adopts a comparative perspective to address these questions, by focusing on countries in different regions of the world.

International Human Rights

This module provides an introduction to the international human rights system.

We will examine the essential elements of international human rights system - conceptual, substantive and institutional. The module will develop from an introduction and historical overview of international human rights law to consider the nature of human rights obligations in international law as well as the various mechanisms created to promote and protect human rights. Substantive rights will be used as case studies to examine each of these aspects of the international human rights system.

As well as gaining an understanding of the international system for the protection of human rights, you will also become familiar with those principles of public international law in which international human rights law is based.

International Political Economy of China

This module introduces you to the major topics in China's interaction with and role in international political economy (IPE). It includes useful concepts and theories in IPE, the evolution of China's ties with international political economy since 1949, the linkage between domestic and international political economy of China and players in the making of external political economic policies in China.

It also examines China's role in key international organisations (such as the WTO) and in the global and regional orders of political economy. It provides a survey of the political economy of China's ties with the major powers and regions such as the US, Russia, East Asia, and major oil producing nations.

Parliamentary Studies

The module identifies and evaluates the role that Parliament plays in the political system. The module is both descriptive and analytical, comprising an introduction to Parliament (such as its place in the political process, the impact of party) and an investigation into the effectiveness or otherwise of its scrutiny and influence of selected sectors of government responsibility. 

It covers the process of legislation, scrutiny, and links with the public. The module also considers the role of the House of Lords.

Political Campaigning in the USA

This module will focus on the theory, science, and practice of modern political campaigning in the US, in particular during presidential elections. We will delve into the strategic environment that political candidates manoeuvre throughout elections and discuss the campaign strategies that they employ.

We will cover topics such as the power and limits of campaigns, the changing nature of campaigns, political advertising and micro targeting, issue marketing, appealing to emotions, visual framing, attacking the opponent (negative campaigning), (mis)information and social media, minority candidates running for office, televised election debates and election news coverage. The field of campaigning rests upon knowledge from various disciplines, such as political science, communication science, psychology, marketing and neuroscience.

Throughout the module, the 2016 presidential campaign serves as prime example. This module is for students who wish to get a better understanding of political campaigns and for students who wish to be part of a campaign team in the future.

Political Extremism, Violent Extremism and Responses

This module will attempt to bridge the gap between academic study and pragmatic policy. It will consider how extremist ideas come into politics through extremist versions of ideology and religion, based on theories of prominent writers in the field. It will consider political ideologies’ reliance on power and the role of violence through past case studies such as anarchism and liberation theology. Contemporary cases involving right wing and Islamist extremism will be explored to identify commonality and difference.

The relationship between ideology, grievance narrative, the role of ideologues and radicalisation will be explored, as will the responses of wider society and the international community in terms of policy and initiatives involving preventing violent extremism (PVE) and countering violent extremism (CVE). Finally, mainstreaming of extremist ideas through populism in world politics will be addressed. Senior experts and practitioners will augment the module teaching.

The Politics of East and Central Europe

This module provides a critical assessment of the development of democracy in the post-communist states of East-Central Europe.

It analyses the historical legacy of communism including the imposition of communist rule, the failure of reform and the collapse of the communist system; the political transition, the new constitutional framework, party systems, the development of civil society and non-state mediating institutions, the economic transition from a state-planned to a market economy and the challenges that the social problems of systemic change pose in the area of social policy.

The module concludes by examining the impact of regional co-operation and the integration of post-communist states with the European political, economic and security structures.

The Politics of Science Fiction

The module will look at a selection of science fiction novels and films from the standpoint of a student of political theory. In particular, it will consider the way in which works of literature and film have dealt with the issue of the relationships which exists between politics on the one hand and science/technology on the other.

Property and its Critics

Our world is dominated by institutions of private property. Why? What justifies the existence of private property? Why should (these) owners own (this) property? What could justify vast disparities in the ownership of the world's finite resources? Why does (almost) nobody ask these questions? 

These are the issues that are explored in this module drawing on a wide range of texts and arguments, ancient and modern. 

Public Opinion and Polling

Democracy and responsive policy-making rest on the will of the people. But how can this 'will' be identified? While elections and referendums are one option, more frequent expressions of citizens' views can be obtained from opinion polls. Indeed, a range of public and private bodies routinely use opinion polls to identify public attitudes. But what are these attitudes supposedly revealing? How do opinion polls go about identifying attitudes and how valid are their results?

This module will introduce you to the theory and practice of public opinion. It will discuss what public opinion is, how attitudes are formed, and how far they are 'shaped' by the questions asked. In addition, it will teach how survey research can be used to measure public opinion and how statistical software can be used to analyse the collected public opinion data. You will design your own survey and analyse the data collected as part of your assessment.

Secret Intelligence and International Security

This module is an introduction to the concepts and practices of secret intelligence and its place within international security. The module is split into three sections.

The first examines conceptual issues and models; the second explores some of the roles of intelligence in the 21st century; and the third examines how intelligence actors can actively shape international relations. These are highly relevant issues, which are regularly in the media. 

Theories of the Modern State

The state is the predominant site of power and authority in the modern world. Where modern states do not exist there is usually civil war or occupation; where they are ineffective, politics, society and economy tend to be unstable. But the modern state is also itself a site of violence and coercion in the name of which much suffering has been inflicted on those subject to its power, at home and abroad. Modern politics, then, simply cannot be understood unless we also understand the modern state.

By taking this module, you will become familiar with some of the most important theories of the modern state in the history of political thought, from Bodin and Hobbes, through Hegel and Weber, to Lenin, Robert Paul Wolff and Carole Pateman. You will come to appreciate how the power and authority of the modern state have been characterised, justified and repudiated during the modern era.

Transatlantic Security Relations

The module analyses some of the issues that have been the focus of transatlantic security cooperation since the end of the Cold War. These include issues that have related to the security of Europe, such as the adaptation of NATO and the development of a European Defence Identity, as well as matters of global concern, such as countering nuclear proliferation and containing 'states of concern'.

War and Massacre

This module examines the ethics of war. It focuses on the justice of war (jus ad bellum) and justice in war (jus in bello) from an analytical perspective. The module introduces and explores the questions of when (if at all) war can be legitimate, and what bar to actions (if any) exist in the conduct of war.

Its subject-matter is contemporary in nature, drawing on recent developments in the just war tradition and applied ethics more generally. It uses examples of recent armed conflict (from WWI to Gulf War II) to illuminate and test these positions.

The War in Afghanistan

This module will analyse the causes, evolving aims and conduct of the US-led international military campaign in Afghanistan (2001-present). The module will begin with an assessment of the legacy of the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989), the subsequent civil war, the composition of the Taliban regime and al-Qaeda presence at the outset of the conflict. It will then look at the UN sanctioned US/Northern Alliance operation to remove the Taliban from power and to install a new government.

The module will deconstruct assumptions and models that informed the establishment of new public institutions and a legal framework in Afghanistan alongside continuing counter-terrorism operations against residual elements of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It will also investigate the factors that stimulated a resurgence in support for the Taliban. In turn it will also examine the trajectory of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) counter-insurgency campaign from 2006-2014.

Finally, the module will continuously engage with wider terrorism and insurgency literature, including identifying where a selective reading of scholars' work informed military operations in Afghanistan.

The War in Iraq

This module will comprehensively deconstruct the causes, conduct and consequences of one of the most controversial wars of the modern era: the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It will assess how the road to war was paved at the United Nations and through the formulation of a 'coalition of the willing'. It will then critically evaluate how the swiftly concluded invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam Hussein gave way to a vicious insurgency.

The adaptation of the US military to the demands of counter-insurgency warfare will be analysed, as will British military performance in southern Iraq. The module will end by critically assessing the effectiveness of the 'surge' strategy under the implementation of Gen. David Petraeus, and evaluating the utility of 'analogical reasoning' through comparisons with the Vietnam War.  

Economics optional modules

Advanced Development Economics

This module adopts a broad focus on factors influencing growth and development, concentrating on core economic policy areas and the role of international organisations.

Topics covered include macroeconomic policies, in particular exchange rates and the role of the IMF; aid policy and the World Bank, effects of aid on growth, macroeconomic and fiscal policy, and poverty; trade policy and performance and the WTO; economic reforms and growth experiences in East Asia, China and Africa; human development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Advanced Experimental and Behavioural Economics

This module discusses aspects of some of the main sub-areas of experimental and behavioural economics. This includes applications related to individual decision-making, strategic behaviour and market behaviour.

The module encourages reflection on both the role of experiments in economics and the assumptions that economics does (and should) make about people’s motivations. Both experimental economics and behavioural economics are still comparatively new fields within the wider discipline.

The module considers their potential and main achievements, relative to more traditional economic techniques. It encourages development of critical skills and reflection on specific research contributions in experimental and behavioural economics.

Advanced Financial Economics

The module covers:

  • saving, focusing on how agents make intertemporal decisions about their savings and wealth accumulation
  • saving puzzles and household portfolios, focusing on credit markets and credit markets imperfections, and why do households hold different kinds of assets
  • asset allocation and asset pricing, focusing on intertemporal portfolio selection, asset pricing and the equity premium puzzle
  • bond markets and fixed income securities
  • the term structure of interest rates
  • the role of behavioural finance in explaining stock market puzzles
Advanced International Trade I

This module looks at trade policy economic policy for trade and international factor mobility: theory and evidence, trade policy and imperfect competition, trade and distortions, the political economy of protection and trade policy reform.

Advanced Labour Economics

The module covers an economic analysis of the labour market, with an emphasis on policy implications and institutional arrangements.

Advanced Microeconomics

The module will cover topics in advanced microeconomics and decision theory. The precise content may vary from year to year, but the module will start from the basis established by the Microeconomic Theory module.

Advanced Political Economy

This module covers: 

  • Foundations:
    • The rational political individual?
    • Voter participation
    • Collective action and the role of the state
  • Core Political Economy:
    • The economic approach to politics
    • Political aspects of economics: rights and the limits of the state
    • Political aspects of economics: inequality and the duties of the state
  • Political Economy in Action:
    • Political economy in action: some current issues in political economy
Advanced Public Economics

The module will introduce some major themes of the economic analysis of government. Using the tools of modern microeconomic theory, it will explore how government institutions are designed, how they could be designed better, and how they shape economic policy.

Economic Policy Analysis I and II

This module will introduce you to economic policy analysis.The first part of the module will focus on the role played by different institutional rules in shaping the behaviour of elected governments by providing incentives to elected governments.

The second part will cover post-crisis monetary policy; controlling money markets with excess reserves; spillovers of QE; effects of QE on asset and credit markets; low real equilibrium interest rates; uncertainty in monetary policy.

Industrial Organisation

This module provides an advanced economic analysis of the theory of organisation of firms and industries. It will analyse a variety of market structures related to the degree of market competition with a special emphasis on imperfectly competitive markets. It will also analyse issues related to the internal organisation of firms.

International Money and Macroeconomics

This module will provide an introduction to international monetary issues, including the determination of exchange rates and international spill-over effects. 

International Trade Policy

This module looks at:

  • trade policy - theory and evidence
  • trade policy and imperfect competition
  • trade and distortions
  • the political economy of protection
  • trade policy reform
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules may change or be updated over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for the latest information on available modules.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

£19,000*
Per year
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.

If you choose to take an optional placement module, the cost of travel will be dependent on location of placement and proximity to term-time address.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.

Careers

At Nottingham, you will acquire a strong academic foundation and a range of excellent transferable skills, such as the ability to study independently and communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.

You will leave us with specialist knowledge of international issues and political systems that will enhance your global career prospects. You will also have the capacity to grasp complicated economic concepts, whether they are mathematical or philosophical in nature.

Graduate destinations

Our graduates develop careers across the private, public and charitable sectors. Private sector destinations include print and television journalism, broadcasting, television and film production, advertising, marketing and personnel as well as the commercial and financial sectors. Some go into party politics as parliamentary assistants, councillors in local government and even MPs; others work for the civil service and in research and data analysis.

Third-sector careers include working for non-governmental organisations, charities and development agencies. Some graduates opt for further study or take vocational qualifications in postgraduate law or teaching.

Recent graduates have go on to work at organisations such as AON, the BBC, Citibank, Civil Service, House of Commons, Liberal Democrats, Perrett Laver, Policy Exchange and Unison.

Average starting salary and career progression

82.9% of undergraduates from the School of Politics and International Relations secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £26,736.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

90.1% of undergraduates from the School of Economics secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £32,679.*

The School of Economics ranked 2nd in the UK for boosting graduate salaries, with graduates earning an average of £8,810 more than expected five years after graduation.**

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.
** The Economist British university rankings, 2017.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I like that Nottingham is ranked very highly in league tables, yet you also feel at home here and meet people from such a wide range of backgrounds. "
Mary Delamare

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Disclaimer

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.