Why don’t democratic countries go to war with each other? Why don’t young people vote? Who should pay for climate change? Why do oil-rich states have worse human rights records? These are the kinds of questions addressed in our BA Politics & International Relations.
Based in one of the most prestigious government departments in Europe, this course enables you to learn how politics works within countries and between countries. We provide a thorough grounding in all major areas of political science and international relations and widen your awareness of the world system, while training you in the research and critical thinking skills that are prized by employers.
With this course you can explore a very wide range of topic areas, including:
- Human rights and global justice
- Elections, referendums and the psychology of voters
- Civil war and international peacekeeping
- The politics of natural disasters
- Protest, revolution and democracy
- Aid, trade and development
Studying Politics & International Relations at Essex will train you to question everything with confidence, to support opinions with strong evidence and have the courage to challenge others. We encourage you to be daring and bold, and to support your thinking with the broadest range of facts and ideas.
Our Department of Government has an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began. We are also ranked 7th in the UK for Politics and International Studies in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.
Our key academic staff for this course work on topics ranging from international conflict and violence to British elections. For example, two key members of staff are Professor Kristian Gleditsch, who works on inequality, conflict and violence, and Anna Getmansky, who works on the electoral impact of terrorism.
You join an active and prolific research team, with the opportunity to work alongside a member of staff on their research instead of completing a dissertation; some of these projects have even resulted in joint staff-student publications.
- Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
- ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
- Student societies for politics, debating and Model UN
- A dedicated study skills advisor in your first year for one-to-one advice
- A personal tutor and peer mentor for every student
- We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
- A programme of seminars and events run by the department
All Essex Politics & International Relations graduates will have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.
Our students are in demand from a host of employers in political parties, NGOs, international development, the civil service fast stream, management, journalism, police, armed forced, commerce, business, finance, teaching and graduate research.
Our notable alumni include the former President of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Oscar Arias, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, and our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- The World Bank
- Houses of Parliament Research Unit
- United Nations Development Program
- IMG Media
Our Employability module ensures that you are focused throughout your studies on how they are helping you to develop job-related skills and experience. We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- 13th for politics (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021)
- You have access to some of the best minds in politics and the biggest names in the field.
- We have the only Regius Professor in Political Science in the UK, an honour conferred by the Queen.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience
- Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
- Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
- Assessed through a combination of written coursework, presentations, class participation, and end-of-year examinations
- If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience