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International Relations and Politics

BA (Hons)

Key facts

UCAS code


Start dates

September 2020 / September 2021



Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

UCAS Tariff Points



Do you have a passion for international relations and politics? Do any of these recent student dissertation topics interest you?

  • Is counter-terrorism counterproductive?
  • Trump, Brexit and Nationalism
  • Why does climate change denial subsist despite the existing scientific consensus?
  • Studying International Relations and Politics at Oxford Brookes means you’ll be exploring
  • human rights
  • globalisation
  • international security
  • the roots of political thinking.

You will be encouraged to explore topics of personal interest to you. This includes topics such as terrorism, climate change, feminism and political power.

What’s more, you’ll be studying at the heart of a historic city where we have strong connections with Oxfam and the Mid-counties Co-operative.

Your Work Based Learning module will help you build highly-valued, transferrable skills.  And, you’ll gain invaluable experience by writing policy briefs and advocacy documents. These skills essential for securing employment in a large number of industry sectors.

How to apply

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

If you accept a Conditional offer to this course as your Firm choice through UCAS, and the offer does not include a requirement to pass an English language test or improve your English language, we may be able to make the offer Unconditional. Please check your offer carefully where this will be confirmed for each applicant.

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:

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£9,250 (subject to confirmation, September 2020)

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module (subject to confirmation, Sept 20)

International / EU full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2020 / 21
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time

2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time
£9,250 (subject to confirmation, September 2020)

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module (subject to confirmation, Sept 20)

International / EU full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU 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 and EU 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, if any, are detailed below.

We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading, this is at their own discretion.

Students organise placements themselves, and are responsible for their own travel and associated costs - it is advised that they organise placements bearing this in mind. Oxfordshire based placements are accessible via public transport - often via the University’s subsidised BROOKESbus service, which is free to bus pass holders. Placements in London will incur higher travel costs; for example, a day return ticket on the Oxford Tube costs £14 (subject to change, for the latest fares see the Oxford Tube website). It is encouraged that students explore opportunities for their placement provider to cover travel costs if they opt for a placement which is not local.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment

Year 1 introduces you to the theme of democracy. You will explore a range of political ideologies and political systems as well as exploring the individual in politics. 

In Year 2 you will study the history of political thought and begin to examine the ways in which the real world of politics and international relations can be understood.

In Year 3 you will be able to choose from a range of specialist modules which reflect the expertise of our well-researched, highly published staff. You will also be required to undertake a piece of independent research under supervision. 

Work placements
Year 2 International Relations students are encouraged to study for part of their degree with one of our 100 partner institutions across the world. 

Students in Lecture

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Introduction to Politics

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.

Introduction to International Relations I: Perspectives

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.

Introduction to International Relations II: Themes and Issues

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.

Academic Literacy in Politics and International Relations

In this module, you’ll explore the art and science of Politics and International Relations. You’ll develop the academic 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.

Right, Wrong and Reason

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

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

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 xrises 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 (placement)

Year 4 (or Year 3 if no placement year)

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

Democratic Challenges in 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 in Contemporary Political Theory

In this module, you’ll explore key political concepts, including: 

  • freedom
  • justice
  • the community

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. 

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.

Learning and teaching

You will learn in a stimulating and friendly environment within the Department of Social Sciences. You will be able to develop a wide range of disciplinary and professional skills.

Teaching methods include: 

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • group work
  • individual and group presentations.

During semester time we host a series of weekly research seminars. Guest speakers from other universities and from outside the academic sector give presentations on various research themes.

We also host the “Politics at Work” seminar series for students with an interest in the international development/humanitarian aid sector.

Our students are encouraged to participate in the department’s online newsletter.


Assessment methods used on this course

Assessment is by coursework and examination. 

Coursework includes:

  • essays
  • group projects
  • individual seminar presentations
  • research projects.

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. 

Assessed work for the honours dissertation takes the form of a 10,000 word piece of work.

Study Abroad

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

After you graduate

Career prospects

In addition to building a resource of discipline-based skills, International Relations and Politics encourages the development of abilities that will prove invaluable in future careers. Some of our graduates go on to postgraduate study, while others go directly into the workplace.

Our graduates from this course enter a variety of careers, such as:

  • the diplomatic service
  • management
  • teaching
  • lecturing
  • publishing
  • journalism
  • local government
  • law
  • trades unions
  • international organisations.

Further study

A number of our graduates have progressed to postgraduate study, and we are keen to encourage our undergraduates to undertake their own research as part of their studies.

As well as offering supervision in a range of areas for research degrees, the department also runs an International Relations master's programme, which places an emphasis on gaining critical perspectives on contemporary theory and practice. You can do either an MA in International Relations or an MA in International Security. 

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

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.

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.