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International Relations and Politics

BA (Hons)

UCAS code: L290

Start dates: September 2023 / September 2024

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Social Sciences


Are you fascinated by how global affairs can shape society? Do you want to have informed opinions on pressing political issues and use them to make sense of our uncertain world?

When you study our International Relations and Politics degree, you’re joining a vibrant, exciting community that investigates current debates and challenges like:

  • nationalism and populism
  • world poverty and global trade justice
  • security, terrorism and peacebuilding
  • climate change, global development and migration
  • gender equality and racial justice.

You’ll learn to apply structure and organisation to a planet that’s constantly in flux. And you’ll be in a place with others who’re socially, politically, and environmentally conscious and driven.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • A political epicentre

    Oxford is home to modern political discourse, with debates on everything from colonialism and racism to refugee action.

  • Focus on you

    You’ll be joining a close-knit community, and always get the attention and support you need.

  • Familiar faces

    Develop good working relationships with your tutors – many of whom are active researchers.

  • Contemporary issues

    The course covers present-day topics in current affairs, from rising nationalism to the climate emergency and tensions in Eastern Europe.

  • Creative assessments

    It’s not just coursework and essays – assessments take the form of NGO briefings, peace negotiation simulations and reflective diaries.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study Abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course Details

Course Structure

You’ll get to grips with the key themes of modern international relations in Year 1. You’ll also explore a broad range of political ideologies and systems. And pick up essential skills for succeeding in your future career.

In Year 2, you’ll dive into the history of modern politics and the great debates of international relations. By sharpening your analytical and debating techniques, you’ll learn how to mould critical perspectives and turn facts and opinions into logical, compelling arguments.

There’s also the opportunity to take on a work placement. This is your chance to gain hands-on experience in the field of your choice, and boost your job prospects for after graduation.

Year 3 involves completing independent research under supervision and working closely with academics who are experts in their disciplines. You’ll also choose from a range of specialist modules.

Students in Lecture

Learning and Teaching

You’ll learn in a stimulating and friendly environment, where you’ll be encouraged to share perspectives and exchange ideas that may even make you rethink your own. Your modules will explore real world issues, such as global environmental politics, populism in Europe, terrorism, the rise of authoritarianism, migration, sexism, racism. 

By challenging and discussing issues, you’ll be well prepared to transfer these skills to your writing through essays, as well as hands-on exploration of some of today’s most pressing issues. This may include creating a role play or video, or even creating a board game. 

You’ll be part of a supportive learning community that’s big enough to offer a wide range of modules, yet small enough to have personal support from your expert tutors throughout the course. 

Want to put yourself in the shoes of a world leader? Well you may be able to get involved with the Model United Nations and argue ‘your country’s’ perspective on world affairs.


Assessment is by coursework and examination.

With a wide range of modules on offer, you’ll be able to focus on your personal areas of interest. Your coursework will be highly practical and industry-relevant.This may include:

  • policy brief writing for NGOs 
  • negotiation simulations
  • small class debates.

Some modules involve an element of examination at the end of the semester, but others are assessed solely on the basis of your work during the semester. 

Your dissertation takes the form of a 10,000 word piece of work entirely on a topic that interests you. Previous dissertations include:

  • Is counter-terrorism counter productive?
  • Trump, Brexit and Nationalism
  • The relationship between football and politics
  • The role of Arab women in peacemaking.

Field Trips

Depending on your module choices, you may have the opportunity to visit a local initiative that is tackling global politics on a local level. For example, you may visit a local organic farm and see how, and why, they provide an alternative to the globalised food system and the impact on a local level.

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Political Socialisation and Ideology

Why do we vote the way we do? What affects our actions, and our political decisions? In this module, we’ll investigate politics through human behaviour. You’ll explore political culture, and how we participate in a democratic society. We’ll also look at how humans are socialised to hold various political views. You’ll gain a key insight into how ideas and ideologies affect our behaviour individually and as a group.

Politics in Comparative Perspective

In this module, you’ll investigate politics - and the struggle for power - across the nations. You’ll gain a clear introduction to how and why political systems differ in our world today. You’ll examine case studies from a wide range of states, and gain a strong insight into how different regimes function – from the democratic to the totalitarian.

From Empires to States: the Origins of International Relations

In this module, you’ll dive into International Relations, and its key theories. You’ll explore how International Relations emerges from specific cultural and historic concerns. You’ll gain core analytical skills, as you interpret historical events and use them to explore pressing debates on International Relations.

You’ll learn how International Relations has been shaped as a Western discipline, and how to challenge this by learning about aspects of international relations that have been erased or forgotten. You’ll learn to see International Relations as a rich array of competing stories about our world and what’s possible within it.

Global Challenges in International Relations

In this module, you’ll explore the leading issues of current world politics.

You’ll investigate the key figures, structures and processes in world politics - like states, political economies and multinational societies.

You’ll also analyse concepts such as:

  • anarchy
  • order
  • sovereignty
  • conflict and cooperation among states, and non-state figures.

You’ll also investigate the chronic issues of world politics, including:

  • gender
  • migration
  • human rights
  • humanitarian intervention
  • energy resources and the environment
  • development, inequality and poverty.

We’ll explore how different nations manage these issues and what this tells us about international governance.

Social Differences and Divisions

Race, class, gender and sexuality - how do these things affect us and our social relations today? In this module, you’ll explore the factors which divide human societies, and how sociologists make sense of the world.

You’ll explore the connections between individuals, groups and social institutions. You’ll dive into pressing debates. And you’ll engage with core areas of social analysis, such as: 

  • gender relations
  • class divisions
  • race/ethnicity
  • sexuality

You'll explore the urgent issues facing society, including diversity and inequality. You’ll understand social context and processes. And you’ll develop a strong awareness of our world today.

Critical Skills in Politics and International Relations

In this module, you’ll explore the art and science of Politics and International Relations. You’ll develop the critical research and study skills you need to succeed in your degree, as you explore how these two disciplines work. You’ll get to grips the scope of International Relations and Politics, and consider:

  • the issues they explore
  • the questions they seek to answer
  • their academic, educational and social value 

Optional modules

Foundations of Social Theory

What is social theory? Who are the major social theorists, and what do they have to say about things like power, beliefs and values, capitalism, feminism and more? In this module, you’ll explore key concepts and theories in classical and contemporary sociology. You’ll also immerse yourself in current debates, developments and approaches to social theory. And you’ll encounter theories like Marxism, postcolonialism, functionalism and more.


Should we give money to beggars on the street? Do we need to do more for refugees? 

In this module, you’ll gain a strong knowledge of ethics. You’ll dive into three main areas - normative ethics, meta-ethics and applied ethics.

In normative ethics, you’ll examine virtue ethics, deontology and consequentialism through reading the works of Aristotle, Kant and J.S. Mill. 

In meta-ethics, you’ll examine how our morals change over time, and differ between cultures. You’ll question whether God is relevant to ethics, and what evolutionary theory can tell us about our morals. 

And in applied ethics, you’ll consider questions such as: is it right to try to cure disability? Is disability worse than non-disability? You’ll consider income inequality and government policies to change it. And you’ll consider the ethics of having children - is it right or wrong to bring people into existence?

Theory of Knowledge

What does it mean to know something? Is knowledge different from mere belief? And is knowledge actually possible?

In this module, you’ll get to know the great thinkers of the past, and explore what they say about knowledge. You’ll explore the minds of great thinkers like Plato, Descartes and Hume.

You’ll consider debates about knowledge today. You’ll gain fantastic analytical skills as you look at:

  • the meaning of perception 
  • if we can know something through hearsay 
  • if we can know the world beyond our minds 
  • if there can be a scientific account of knowledge.

Superpowers: An International History of the Cold War

Who won the Cold War? In this module, you’ll explore the rivalry between two global superpowers - the United States and Soviet Union. You’ll understand how the Cold War never featured any actual fighting between the two, yet resulted in the defeat of one. You’ll get to grips with International History, and learn about the realms of:

  • diplomacy
  • arms control
  • proxy wars
  • the creation and maintenance of alliances
  • leadership and the role of personality.

And you’ll explore how people lived through the looming threat of nuclear destruction in the second half of the 20th Century.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Great Debates in International Relations: Inclusion and Exclusion

Why should we study International Relations? In this module, you’ll get to grips with International Relations (IR). You’ll examine the ‘great debates’ in IR - like who is IR for? What is it meant to do? And how do we know when it is successful? Is IR theory a way of looking at diverse societies across the world? Or has it changed? And how have events like 9/11, decolonisation and the dawn of the Nuclear Age challenged our understanding of IR?

You’ll examine why IR theory is a key to understanding international relations. You’ll ask whether International Relations is just about explaining facts. And you’ll explore whether our subjective moods and feelings influence IR. You’ll gain valuable critical skills, as you consider the relationship between theory and practice.

Political Thought 1: Sovereignty, Rights and the Social Contract

In this module, you’ll dive into political thought and international theory - from Machiavelli to Mill. You’ll gain fantastic critical skills as you analyse key texts on modern political theory, and understand states and international contexts. You’ll explore classic texts, including Hobbes’ Leviathan and Rousseau's The Social Contract. You’ll also analyse key ideas in modern political thought, including:

  • natural rights
  • sovereignty 
  • representation 

Political Thought 2: Progress, Oppression and Liberation

In this module, you’ll dive into the history of modern political thought - from Kant to de Beauvoir. You’ll explore the thinking of:

  • Kant
  • Hegel 
  • Marx
  • Nietzsche
  • De Beauvoir
  • Fanon

You’ll get to grips with key theories of politics - international and national. And you’ll explore issues such as:

  • the end of history
  • gender
  • race

Researching Politics and International Relations

In this module, you’ll develop the practical research skills you need to design and carry out your first piece of social sciences research. You’ll start with the ‘big questions’ of ‘What exists?’ and ‘How can we know about what exists?’ From here, you’ll move on to consider the different research methods and their implications. You’ll take part in hands-on workshops and practical sessions, preparing you to conduct your research for your final-year dissertation.

Optional modules

Borders and Solidarities in World Politics

How do we govern the world, when it’s no longer dominated by states and national governments? How do different types of migration shape the movement of people across the world? In this module, you’ll get to grips with a key part of international relations - borders and solidarities (groups with a common identity or interest). You’ll explore the various forms of borders and solidarities, including:

  • movements across national boundaries 
  • regional organisations
  • trade agreements

And link them to key forces and events, such as: 

  • NGOs
  • corporations
  • colonisation
  • refugee movements
  • the migrant ‘crisis’.

You’ll gain valuable practical and professional knowledge, as you explore leading issues today, and how global governance or migration shapes our lives. 

Dilemmas of Governing

How much did world leaders rely on history to make decisions? In this module, you’ll get to grips with governing strategy - from the 20th Century to the present day. You’ll choose either the British or Soviet states, and analyse how their leaders managed crises and issues. You’ll also explore the relationship between politics and economics, and apply key approaches to the problems of governing.

Nationalism and Regime Change

In this module, you’ll explore the effect of nationalism, ethnicity and regime change on a country. You’ll get to grips with the different approaches we use to explore them. You’ll gain fantastic analytical skills, as you apply these approaches to real world cases, and explore the implications of their different perspectives. 

You’ll also look at how globalisation impacts the politics and identity of a country. You’ll analyse whether globalisation is a force for good (spreading democracy) or bad (divisive, leading to nationalist resistance). 

State and Society: Europe and the United States

In this module, you can investigate the politics of either Europe or the USA, subject to student numbers and staff availability. 

In the European strand, you’ll explore themes of democracy and citizenship. You’ll look closely at what democracy and citizenship might mean to people living in the UK, France, Germany and in Europe’s post-communist countries. You’ll also look at the future of European states and societies, and how they can adapt to challenges such as migration.

In the American strand, you’ll focus on governmental and political institutions. You’ll also explore explosive issues in American politics, including religion, race and capital punishment.

Contemporary Security Studies

What is security? How can we achieve it? And who should provide it? In this module, you’ll dive into key debates on security, and its definitions. You’ll join policy makers, academics and civil servants as you discuss fundamental issues of security. You’ll explore the different ways we look at security, and the things it protects, for example:

  • The nation-state
  • The environment
  • The economy
  • A ‘way of life’

You’ll also look at the implications of security on peace and global conflict, as well as everyday violence and exclusion. 

The Global Political Economy

In this module, you’ll get to know the global economy. You’ll investigate how economics and politics shape world affairs in both trivial and profound ways. 

In part 1, you’ll gain a strong knowledge of the history of the world economy. You’ll develop key analytical skills, as you explore competing explanations of how it functions. You’ll gain the tools you need to understand recent economic changes.

In part 2, you’ll dig into key debates on how the global economy functions today, including: 

  • finance
  • global production
  • trade and international development
  • the relationship between the global economy and the environment. 

Work-based Learning in Politics and International Relations

In this module, you’ll have the chance to carry out a work placement closely linked to your International Relations course. You’ll be supported by your module leader to find a placement that meets your needs, and which will support your learning. With a carefully chosen placement, you’ll build on the skills and knowledge you’ve already gained in Year 1, and you’ll also strengthen vital skills for the workplace, like time management, communication and team-working. 

Students have found placements in organisations like:

  • Asylum Welcome, working with asylum seekers in Oxford
  • Viva, an international children’s charity
  • Depaul, working with homeless people and immigrants in Paris.

During and after your placement, you’ll:

  • create a placement portfolio, recording what you’ve done and achieved
  • craft a CV showing your experience
  • give a presentation on your placement.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Dissertation in International Relations and Politics

This module gives you the chance to do independent research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of an expert lecturer in International Relations and Politics. You’ll gain fantastic project management and research skills for your future career, as you design and conduct your own research over two semesters. Whatever your topic, you’ll shape your project around your passions, and gain the core skills to succeed in your degree. 

Previous students’ dissertations have tackled topics such as:

  • The Brexit vote and national identity
  • What motivates young people to engage politically online?
  • The role of social media in US elections
  • An investigation into gender imbalance in engineering.

Optional modules

Rethinking democracy and public space: Russia and the EU

In this module, you’ll develop key critical skills as you explore the democratic challenges facing Russia and the EU. Both are currently facing enormous social, political and economic transformation.You’ll gain a strong grounding in the key issues of diverse, multi-ethnic states and multinational organizations. You’ll look at core themes, such as:

  • the role of the media,
  • the role of civil society and political institutions
  • in identity, and the formation of states.

In this module, you can choose to study Russia or the EU. You’ll take either Democratic Challenges in Contemporary Russia: State and Society, or Democratic Challenges in the European Union: Integration and Disintegration, depending on staff and student availability.

Ethics, Power and World Politics

What should world leaders do? How much power should countries give each other? And how should states and individuals behave towards each other? In this module, you’ll get to grips with the key questions in world politics. You’ll explore:

  • how we determine rights and duties
  • how we both enable and restrict dominance
  • how issues of race, gender and class interact

in relation to world politics. You’ll choose one of three topics that on international ethics and power - human rights, migration and immigration, or postcolonial perspectives.

Managing Global Issues: Environment and Development

How can we solve global problems without a world government? How can we resolve issues in international politics which are beyond the limit of individual countries? In this module, you’ll gain key analytical skills, as you explore competing ideas in how to manage two global issues: the environment, and global development. You can choose to focus either on Global Environmental Politics, or Global Development.

Law, Empires and Revolutions

In this module, you’ll get to grips with capitalism today. You’ll explore what colonialism and the modern world can teach us about its laws and events. You’ll gain a fascinating, alternative history of international relations, as you explore the modern sovereign states system. You’ll also gain the key skills you need to study the relationship between history, international relations and law. 

Each week, you’ll take a crucial world event and analyse it. You’ll look at:

  • Arab spring
  • struggles for human rights
  • extraterritorial obligations
  • cross-border protests
  • migrants and refugees

You’ll contrast these events with the following historical events which also involved high tension and legal debate:

  • colonial trading companies
  • slave revolutions
  • capitulations
  • the Treaties of Westphalia
  • the Ottoman empire. 

Freedom and Justice: Contemporary and Feminist Perspectives

In this module, you’ll explore theories of freedom and justice in relation to specific political problems and puzzles. You’ll ask questions like: 

  • Is it possible to have universal principles of justice within complex multicultural societies? 
  • Do conventional identities limit our freedom? 
  • Do freedom and justice require ‘empowerment’? 

You’ll also look at relevant concepts such as rights and equality. You’ll gain valuable critical skills as you explore the different methods we use to explore these concepts, and how they play out in the practical world of politics. 

You’ll be able to choose between two streams, depending on staff availability:

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Feminist/Queer Theory

Independent Study

This module gives you the chance to research a topic that fascinates you. With support from a supervisor, you’ll choose, plan and carry out your independent research, gaining in-depth knowledge of your subject. Student projects have included subjects like:

  • Is democracy failing in Eastern Europe?
  • Did Putin solve Russia’s governance problems?
  • Authoritarianism and political stability in North Korea

You’ll build great project management and research skills, which will help you in your future career.

South African Politics: From Apartheid to Democracy

In this module, you’ll trace South African politics - from apartheid to democracy. You’ll gain valuable critical skills as you analyse South Africa’s history, and explore key issues in its post-apartheid political economy.  And you’ll analyse links between the atrocities of apartheid, and the unique challenges in contemporary South Africa.

Violence and the Politics of Peace and Identity

From terrorism to mass protests, how do we make sense of violence and resistence? In this module, you’ll explore the tensions between local and global communities in building peace. You’ll investigate how identity markers such as gender, race, nationality and ethnicity relate to violence and resistance. You can choose to focus on violence, resistance and identity politics, or violent conflict and peacebuilding.

Violence, Militarism and Terrorism

How does violence occur in different societies? How do people’s ideas of violence affect their cultures? In this module, you’ll look at how states manage violence such as terrorism. You’ll also consider how social norms and military values of violence shape our lives. You can choose to specialise in terrorism or counter-terrorism, or critical militarism studies.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


By the end of the course, you’ll have developed a deep awareness of current events and an active social consciousness. This makes you a suitable candidate for a career in a field such as journalism and law, or in a role within government, trade unions and international organisations. Our graduates have gone on to work for:

  • The Civil Service Fast Track Programme
  • Oxford University Press
  • Hestia (charity supporting those who experience domestic abuse)
  • The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

You’ll also have the option to attend our Life After Uni events. Here, you can network and get involved in discussions with industry professionals. Past events have included talks from organisations like:

  • Humanity and Inclusion
  • Right to Play
  • Humanitarian Academy for Development
  • The Department for Education.

Alternatively, you might consider studying international relations and politics at postgraduate level with our MA courses in International Relations and International Security. You’ll be able to research an aspect of the discipline that fascinates you at an in-depth level.

Our Staff

Dr Lucy Ford

Lucy helped set up the Green think tank Green House and is on their advisory board. She is also a research fellow at Schumacher Institute, an interdisciplinary systems think tank on environmental, social and economic issues.

Read more about Lucy

Dr Michael Lister

Read more about Michael

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

For combined honours, normally the offer will lie between the offers quoted for each subject.

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions:

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme Changes:

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.