Course overview

How do relationships between nations shape our world? Who holds the power? What are the political processes that impact our day to day lives?

On our BA Politics and International Relations, you’ll consider these questions by studying the core areas of comparative politics, political theory and international relations. You will sharpen your awareness of current affairs and your comprehension of the complex processes that underpin our society.

You can broaden your understanding of domestic and global politics and tailor your degree to your interests and career goals through optional modules. These explore diverse specialist areas such as social justice, global security and secret intelligence. You can also enhance your CV by studying abroad in locations like China, Europe and the USA.

You also have the option to take a specialised pathway that includes training in quantitative analysis, giving an extra dimension to your degree.

You will graduate with specialist knowledge and the transferable skills and confidence you need to stand out to employers as you start your career.

Why choose this course?

Take a pathway

Take a specialised pathway with training in quantitative analysis to graduate with a BA Politics and International Relations (Quantitative Methods) degree

Tailor your studies

to your career goals through a range of optional modules

Study abroad

in locations such as China, Europe and the USA

Placements programme

Placements and internship programme provides valuable work experience, self-confidence and a practical application of your studies

Active societies

related to the study of politics support a student community

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAB excluding general studies and critical thinking

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextual admissions policy for more information.

IB score 34

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.

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 the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching is primarily by lecture and seminar. In lectures, all students taking the module are introduced to a topic. In seminars, students are split into smaller groups to discuss prepared work.

This means that one hour you might be sitting in a big lecture hall listening to a lecture; the next, you could be in a small group trying to work out the meaning of a key political text or tract. In seminars, we also utilise individual and group presentations, films, role-plays and simulations.

As part of our commitment to research-led teaching excellence, we make widespread use of internet-based teaching strategies to complement lectures and seminars. These may be core texts, chapters, articles, video clips or visual materials such as propaganda posters and election manifestoes. This approach will enable you to develop crucial IT skills as you learn the discipline of politics.

Visit our open days on demand to watch pre-recorded lectures and general talks and see some of our lecturers in action.

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

We present you with a variety of different challenges and types of assessment, including exams, essays, verbal presentations and projects. Each unit is assessed separately, meaning there are no daunting final exams at the end of your degree.

You will be given a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how your work is marked. Your work will be marked in a timely manner and you will receive feedback on the tasks you are given.

Assessment methods

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

Contact time and study hours

Students must take 120 credits in a year, which are typically spread across six 20-credit modules. Each module assumes roughly 200 hours of taught and independent study. In your first year, taught study will include a mix of lectures, small-group seminars, and lecture engagement sessions.

Study abroad

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

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.

Study abroad locations are based on existing destinations. Options may change due to, for example, curriculum developments, updates to partnership agreements or travel restrictions. Where changes occur, these will be reflected on our course webpages as soon as possible.

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.

Placement years give you in depth exposure to an organisation and its opportunities. A successful placement year will often result in a graduate job offer as organisations seek to identify talent.


Our placements and internship programme offers a range of opportunities alongside detailed careers guidance, equipping you with the skills to compete in the graduate jobs market. You'll have the opportunity to develop key skills and experience in the workplace.

We offer a Politics Placement module, a Paid Placement Scheme to work within the school and a range of other placement opportunities with local and national employers which may be paid or voluntary, part-time alongside your studies or as a longer placement during university vacations. These include term-time one day a week placements and summer placements.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.

Module highlight: Introduction to Political Theory

Students talk about one of the core modules on the course.


In year one, you will typically take modules which are designed to introduce you to key concepts and theories across the broad field of politics and international relations.

You will explore controversies in British politics, key political ideas and historical developments, and compare modern democratic states.

Core modules

British Constitution in Crisis

This module introduces you to the institutional structure of the British constitution and examines its significance and suitability in the context of crises that have animated it in recent decades.

This module will cover topics such as parliamentary sovereignty and referendums, devolution, Britain’s changing relationship with Europe, and the legacy of empire.

Culture and Values in a Changing World

This module explores the shift from modern to postmodern values, looking at questions like levels of trust in democracies, religion and secularisation, and nationalism. While exploring these themes, you will learn the principles of research design and data analysis using Microsoft Excel.

Using the World Values Survey and a questionnaire designed yourself, you will learn how to compare countries and assess the role of culture in politics.

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

Watch a video about this module.

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.  

Watch a video about this module.

Politics at University

This module will introduce you to the fundamentals of sound academic practice in studying politics at University. It will cover such topics as:

  • identifying and finding library and online sources for assignments
  • correct referencing and the compilation of bibliographies
  • academic integrity and misconduct
  • note-taking and essay-writing skills
  • the use of feedback
  • time-management

We will introduce good academic practice by each week taking as our substantive theme some aspect of the theme of politics and the University. What is academic freedom? Should students have a right to demand trigger warnings and safe spaces or not? Should the curriculum be decolonised, and how? Are universities local or global actors, or what should be the desirable balance? Who should pay for Higher Education? Should universities prioritise the skills and employability agenda or ‘traditional’ academic work? Must academic research seek to have real-world impact?

These and other questions will form the basis for the examples and materials through which we will work in cultivating students’ preparedness to rise to the challenge of reading degrees in Politics and International Relations.

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.

Optional modules

International Politics of the Asia-Pacific

This module introduces you to a broadly defined international politics of the Asia Pacific, incorporating political history, political systems, political economy, foreign relations, security, development and social issues.

The module critically engages with issues in the Asia Pacific region, while situating these issues within their international context and assessing their interaction with global politics. The module combines comparative, analytical and historical approaches, with abundant use of cross-national studies and single-country case studies.

In addition to substantive learning about the region, you are introduced to key concepts, approaches and methods in the study of international politics. Through careful engagement of theoretical and substantive material, you are encouraged to reflect on how an understanding of Asian politics can better inform a more holistic understanding of global politics.

Problems in Global Politics

This module explores some of the major problems that exist in contemporary global politics. It introduces you to a wide range of challenges faced by states and non-state actors in the international system and engages with topics ranging from security concerns to economic issues. 

The module draws on a wide range of ideas and examples from around the world to help you to better understand global politics.

In addition to the core and optional modules offered on your course, you may also choose from a range of modules offered by the Language Centre. These allow you to learn a language alongside your studies opening up career opportunities around the globe. You may start a new language as a beginner or improve existing skills, visit the Language Centre to explore your options.

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 (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, 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 information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 14 November 2022.

Year two covers core topics on elections and 20th century international politics. You will choose from range of optional modules from across the three core areas of political theory, comparative politics, and international relations.

Core modules

At least two of:

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
The Transformation of 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.

Optional modules

At least two modules from the below:

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.

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.

Politics and Public Policy in China

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the politics and public policy of contemporary China. You will be familiarised with useful approaches to the study of Chinese politics.

In the first part of the module, you will develop knowledge and understanding of China's leadership and succession, the structure of the party-state and the role of its major branches, central-local relations, and crisis and epidemic management, from the SARS to Covid19.

In the second part, you will compare and contrast the genesis of mainland China's rudimentary welfare state with the example of Bismarck's German Empire, which is widely credited as the birthplace of the welfare state in Europe.

Following an overview of the policy-making cycle and public administration in China, you will explore the challenges of implementing regulatory and redistributive policies under authoritarian conditions. You will put insights into practice by critiquing public policies in China, ranging from labour and migration through education to health.

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.

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 (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, 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 information on available modules. This content was last updated on

In year three, you will have the option to write a dissertation based on a topic of your choice under the supervision of a member of staff.

You may also choose from a wide range of modules related to our research areas. You have free choice in this year and can tailor the course to your interests and career aspirations.

Optional modules

African Politics

This module explores key themes and debates in the study of African politics. It aims to provide a broad introduction to African domestic and regional politics as well as Africa’s evolving position within an international political arena.

The Battle for Democracy

At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals. To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy.

What is democracy? Why are some countries democratic and others not? How did democracy emerge in different countries? What difference does democracy make for people's lives? The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.

Crisis: Death or Survival of Democracy

This module studies the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe. During the last three decades the region of East and Central Europe has undergone a historically unprecedented development of democratic transition from communism, the establishment and consolidation of democratic institutions, political parties and party systems, as well as the integration into Western political, economic and security alliances, most notably the European Union. Recent trends towards democratic backsliding in the region have cast doubt on the success of post-communist transformation.

This module focuses on the politics of democratic backsliding in East and Central Europe in the context of contemporary debates surrounding the de-consolidation of democracy across the globe.

Disasters, Politics and Society

Disasters are defined by the United Nations as ‘a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope with using its own resources.’ The failure successfully to reconcile human behaviour with environmental threats has, throughout time and in different places, led to multiple disasters.

This module will examine the relationship between natural hazards and human society, how and why disasters happen and how the impact of disasters can be ameliorated. With reference to cases across the globe, there will be a focus on how social life has mitigated, adapted and evolved in the face of environmental hazards.

We will examine the social, economic and technological processes that mediate the relationship between human society and the natural world. We will examine key themes such as governance, technological innovation, urbanisation and migration, gender, culture and identity, global patterns of production and consumption, health and pandemics, race and class to understand why disasters impact on different people in different ways.

Dissertation in Politics and International Relations

This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of politic and international relations.

The EU as a Global Power

Against the backdrop of increasingly tense EU-US relations, Brexit, and rising nationalism in Europe, this module analyses the European Union's international role. It first introduces concepts and decision-making processes related to EU foreign policy both, by Member States and EU institutions. In particular, we analyse the processes within the European Communities, and the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policies) / CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policies) frameworks.

The module then critically assesses security and economic policies towards Africa, the Middle East and China. Themes to explain the nature of contemporary EU foreign policies include: European integration, intergovernmentalism and supranationalism, neoliberalism and ethical foreign policy, development aid (including for health and education) and diplomacy, post-colonialism, as well as military and civilian means for conflict-management.

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.

Middle East and the World

This module covers:

  • Introduction – background history, empire and its importance, Sykes Picot
  • 1910-20s - WW1 and Balfour Declaration
  • 1930-40s inc. Palestine, WW2, beginning of the Cold War and creation of Israel
  • Cold War and the Middle East - Egypt and Suez, and Arab-Israel conflict
  • Turkish history and politics – including foreign policy
  • Nationalism – Kurdish and Pan-Arab
  • “Terrorism” – Iranian revolution, Iranian hostage crisis, Palestinian issue, Lebanon, Libya, plus the end of the Cold War – USSR to Russia, Chechen wars x2, Arab-Israel again. Islamic state - religion/terrorism/nationalism nexus
  • 1990s - First Gulf War and policing Iraq (including Iran-Iraq war 1980s). Authoritarianism as a legacy of the Cold War – Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya
  • 2000s - Iraq War
  • 2010s: The Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil war
  • Legacy and contemporary issues – Iran nuclear issue, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
Political Challenges and Multiple Crises in the Global Economy

The global economy presents a wide variety of political challenges and can create multiple types of crisis for states and the actors within it. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the whole system under pressure and revealed its fragility.

This module analyses some of these challenges and crises, which range from sovereign default to the global free trade system and the impact of climate change, to help us understand and explain the international political economy. It draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations theory, international political economy, security studies, and economic history to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of global politics.

Political Violence

This module will offer a typology of political violence perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. It will outline the conditions or the escalation or de-escalation of political violence, as well as analysing the general efficacy of different manifestations of political violence.

The Politics of Ethnic Conflict

Questions relating to nationalism and ethnic conflict have become more prominent in political debate since the end of the Cold War, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the continuing importance of constitutional crafting as a means to manage ethnic diversity within states. 

This module evaluates differing definitions of the 'nation' and 'ethnic group', examines different state strategies to manage diversity such as multiculturalism, assimilation and integration, and considers different explanations of conflict between different ethnic groups. 

It then examines in more detail strategies adopted by particular states to manage their diversity. The countries of India, America, France, Afghanistan, the UK, and Germany are focused upon, but students are encouraged to use material relating to other countries if they have particular knowledge of these cases.

The Politics of Human Rights

Why are some states better at protecting, respecting, and fulfilling their human rights obligations, while others are not? Understanding the conditions under which governments protect human rights is crucial for the field of International Relations and policy makers alike. This module will discuss cutting-edge research within and beyond the human rights field.

You will learn about autocratic state behaviour, safeguards within democratic systems, the campaigns and challenges of NGOs and international organisations, and the wide-ranging effects of globalisation across the different categories and dimensions of human rights. The module will apply theory and empirical insights from these different fields of inquiry in order to understand the relative protection and enjoyment of human rights across different country contexts.

By the end of the module, you will have a clear understanding about human rights research and its effects on the real world.

Politics Placement

This module involves a part-time placement (one day a week) in an external organisation, and is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to students of politics. Pre-placement training will be provided via three half-day workshops at the beginning of the module.

Each placement will be arranged by the work placement officer. Placements will be provided by organisations involved in private, public and third sector organisations, such as the civil service, charities and political parties.

Departmental mentoring will take the form of a weekly drop-in tutorial with the module convenor, in which experiences are shared and work is undertaken on the assessment tasks. Group presentations will occur during the final four hour workshop, at which time each group will critically reflect on their experiences of the ethos and goals of their host organisation.

Populism, Elites and Democracy

Populism is a contentious term. Over the last few decades we have witnessed a surge of ideologically diverse populist movements with strong democratically elected leaders acting in the name of ‘the people’ across the globe. For some, populism is illiberal, anti-pluralist and a danger to democracy; for others, it is the ultimate democratic act of popular sovereignty.

This module examines the controversial relationship between populism and democracy. It surveys key theoretical developments in democratic theory and the populist literature to compare mainstream and alternative definitions/conceptualisations of populism. The modules examines the problematic relationship of elites (‘the 1%’) – whether financial, social or political – in relation to liberal democracy and the masses (‘the 99%’). It explores concepts and events key to the populist surge, such as ‘post-truth’ politics, the polarisation of politics, the ‘friend/enemy’ relation, ‘us versus them’ relation, ‘elites’, ‘democratic leadership’, ‘representation’, the 2019 prorogation of the British Parliament, and ‘identification’.

You will have the opportunity to examine a range of different progressive and regressive populist leaders/associations, such as: Donald Trump, Vikor Orbán, Hugo Chávez, Brexit 2016, the UK general election 2019, the Yellow vests movement, the Danish People’s Party, Fidesz, the People’s Party, Occupy, Syriza, Podemos, Jobbik and Alternative for Germany.

Race and Politics

This module seeks to introduce you to theories of race and racialisation, including, but not limited to, postcolonial theory, orientalism, and intersectionality. After learning about these theoretical lenses, you will study the politics of race in different country contexts through countries’ histories of colonialism and imperialism as well as contemporary racial and ethnic disparities.

Responding to Violent Extremism

This module will 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, Nazism and religious extremism. The module will also look at responses to terrorism utilising a case study approach that explores the United Kingdom’s and United States of America’s methods.

Special Relationship? Anglo-American Security Relations

The Anglo-American so-called 'Special Relationship' has provoked controversy since the term was coined after World War Two. To some commentators it has represented an attempt by the UK to hide its decline by lofty rhetoric and becoming the 'poodle' of a Superpower. To others, it has been a relationship that has served the interests of both countries and provided a foundation for Western cooperation.

This module explores the salient aspects of a relationship that has been built around security, conventional and nuclear. On the one hand, it investigates areas of collaboration, such as nuclear and intelligence sharing, where the US and the UK have worked closely together. On the other, it uncovers issues that have provoked tension between the two sides and it seeks to understand the depth of these disagreements.

The first part of the module looks at the period of the Cold War, when both countries were focused on the threat from the Soviet Union. The second part of part of the module looks at the post-Cold War period and how the relationship has fared amidst the US-led War on Terror and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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.

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.  

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 (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, 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 information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You can take a specialised pathway to graduate with a BA Politics and International Relations (Quantitative Methods) degree. This pathway includes training in the quantitative analysis of a range of datasets.

In order to graduate with the 'Quantitative Methods' qualifier, you will need to follow the below pathway through your degree, selecting 20 credits of modules per year (as well as applying the quantitative skills you have developed to your dissertation).

Year one core modules

Analysing and Interpreting Political Data

This module focuses on the theory and practice of regression analysis. You will learn how to test hypotheses of single and multiple restrictions, how to correct for situations in which classical assumptions do not hold, and how to work with and present data in an easily-interpretable manner.

Introduction to Political Data

This module provides a gentle introduction to the use and analysis of quantitative data, in particular the acquisition of ‘quantitative literacy.’ Main topics include:

  • the nature, character, and use (as well as misuse) of quantitative data in the news and in government (eg public health)
  • identifying fallacious arguments based on data
  • summarizing and visualizing data
  • using empirical data to inform arguments
  • an introduction to reasoning about uncertainty

We will explore these themes using a variety of materials and examples.

Year two core modules

Data Analysis in Political Science

This module focuses on the principles of empirical inference – learning about unknown quantities from observed data. Main topics of interest in this module are:

  • the character and use of inferential statistics in the social sciences (ie estimation, hypothesis testing, random sampling and random assignment)
  • the character of bi-variate analysis
  • the application of these topics in empirical political science research

Practical training in these topics (eg use of statistical software) will be an integral part of the module.

Year three core modules

Advanced Quantitative Methods for Social Science

In the social sciences, there is an increasing need to analyse situations where observations are grouped, such as individuals nested within geographical areas or organisations, and repeated observations of individuals over time in a panel survey. Multilevel modelling is a popular method that allows for the analysis of these clustered data.

This module will extend upon generalised linear modelling techniques (covered in intermediate quantitative methods), starting with the basic theory of multilevel models including random intercept and random slope specifications, the use of contextual variables in multilevel analysis, and modelling repeated measures. The module will focus on the practical application of multilevel models for continuous and binary outcomes using multilevel linear and logistic regression.

You will get hands-on training to carry out multilevel analyse and generate compelling data visualisations to communicate complex social patterns.

Dissertation A

This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of Politics and International Relations.

The Dissertation is worth 40 credits and registered as 20 credits per semester. Progression onto Dissertation B (semester two) is dependent upon making sufficient progression in Dissertation A (semester one). You would should take two taught modules alongside the Dissertation per semester to give you 120 credits over the year.

Students who do not progress to Dissertation B will choose an additional 20 credits of taught content from the available modules in semester two and will submit 4,000 words of preliminary analysis by the end of the spring semester.

Dissertation B

This module enables you to undertake a sustained piece of research and analysis into a subject within the discipline of Politics and International Relations.

The Dissertation is worth 40 credits and is registered as 20 credits per semester. Progression onto Dissertation B (semester two) is dependent upon making sufficient progression in Dissertation A (semester one). You should take two taught modules alongside the Dissertation per semester to give you 120 credits over the year.

Students who do not progress to Dissertation B will choose an additional 20 credits of taught content from the available modules in semester two.

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 (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, 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 information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

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, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

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 students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


At Nottingham, you will acquire a strong academic foundation and a range of excellent intellectual and transferable skills, such as the ability to study independently, communicate effectively, as well as a number of digital competencies.

You will leave us with specialist knowledge of international issues and political systems that will enhance your global career prospects.

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 £27,509.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

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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" The best part has been the range of modules I have covered, including selecting to follow the Q-Step pathway which has helped to develop both my academic skills and increase my employability when I look for graduate opportunities. "
Megan Collins, BA Politics and International Relations

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Important information

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.