Duration: 3 years full time
UCAS code: LF50
Institution code: R72
International Relations (BA)
BA International Relations covers themes such as war and security, diplomacy and development, globalisation and global power relations, communication and resistance, and international political economy.
You will gain a solid foundation in the history of international relations and IR theory, studying subjects such as decolonisation, international organisations, European integration, foreign-policy making, counterterrorism, human migration and non-state violence – allowing you to understand better the complexity of contemporary global governance and the theories that explain it. As you progress through the degree, the flexible nature of the course allows you to specialise in those aspects of international relations that most interest you.
You will gain an in-depth understanding of international politics, examining how states, groups and individuals interact across borders, and you will consider some of the most important issues that confront the world today. Your studies will give you a solid grasp of how the world of international relations works, taking into account, among other things, the recent global economic crisis, changes in the European Union, immigration, human rights, global terrorism, the rise of China, the power of the US, conflict in the Middle East and the problems hampering African states.
The Department of Politics and International Relations has a strong commitment to high-quality, cutting-edge research, all of which informs our teaching. We are a research community that applies various theories and methods to the study of domestic, transnational, regional and global politics. We have expertise in African, British, Chinese, European, Middle East, North American and South Asian politics, and our research covers areas such as security, democratisation, youth politics, international diplomacy and political communication, as well as contemporary and radical theories of democracy and power.
- Study with leading experts on Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
- Study key issues in conflict and security, humanitarian crises and development.
- Be a Model UN delegate or visit an embassy with our student societies.
- The flexibility to specialise in what interests you.
- Work placement opportunities.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
Core ModulesYear 1
This module offers a broad introduction to theory and history in international relations since 1870. You will look at a variety of different theoretical lenses, ranging from orthodox to critical perspectives, in order to understand events from the collapse of the Bismarckian European order and the origins of World War 1 to the contemporary War on Terror. Along the way you will also explore the origins and the end of the Cold War, decolonisation and the End of Empire, the rise of international institutions, humanitarian intervention and new security issues.
This module will introduce you to the academic study of politics and to the ‘real world’ of contemporary politics. As a foundational course, it will give you all the essential tools to understand the nature of politics and analyse the way different political systems work. You will be introduced to key concepts such as politics, power, rights, ideologies, democracy and representation, and will learn about the different actors, institutions and processes that make up politics today.
This module will introduce you to foundational thinkers and texts in the history of political thought and international relations theory. The first half will explore ideas of community, politics, order and justice in ancient early Christian thought from Socrates to Augustine. The second half will explore how themes of war, peace and the state, as well as liberalism, imperialism and resistance, are developed from the early modern to contemporary period in thinkers such as Hobbes, Kant, Hegel, Smith, Mill, Marx and Fanon.
This module will provide you with the analytic skills and resources to evaluate, understand, and criticise research findings in politics research. It will also provide you with the practical skills to carry out your own independent research so that you can produce a high-quality dissertation in your final year and graduate with transferable skills that will prepare you for the job market. The module aims to encourage a critical and rigorous approach to research, both in terms of how you evaluate the research of others and how you do your own. These twin goals are important for getting the most out of your time studying politics.
All students are also required to undertake and pass a short ‘reflecting on feedback’ exercise in order to progress into the final year of study.
Building on Introduction to International Relations, this module explores the key thinkers and debates in International Relations Theory. You will become familiar with a variety of ways of thinking about International Relations, engaging with questions about the nature of power, identity, and ethics in politics and how these interact in the international realm. The module is divided into two parts. In the first, you will examine the three foundational theoretical paradigms within International Relations – realism, liberalism, and Marxism. The second part explores newer critical approaches to International Relations theory, including constructivism, post-structuralism, feminism, and uneven ecological exchange.
This module teaches a range of approaches and methods commonly used in the study of Politics and International Relations, and equips you with the skills to successfully study and analyse a wide range of political phenomena. The module considers how we acquire knowledge about political ideas, institutions and practices, and how we can carry out and understand empirical research, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
The dissertation offers you the opportunity to pursue independent research in a topic of your own choosing with the support of an academic supervisor working one-to-one with you. You will develop your own research question and research strategy, explore the scholarly debates surrounding your topic, and advance your own thesis that interprets or challenges the way your topic has been understood. You are encouraged to use a variety of quantitative or qualitative methods and theoretical approaches as appropriate to the field you are exploring.
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.Year 1
All modules are core
In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between states and markets, power and wealth. You will look at the key concepts and theoretical debates in International Political Economy, such as the globalisation of trade, finance, and production, the continued problems of development and democratic governance in the world economy, and emerging questions surrounding global flows, networks and spaces. You will consider the history of regimes, crises, and competing theories of political economy from the nineteenth century to the present day and examine how political institutions operate in international politics to regulate the creation of wealth, and who benefits from these arrangements.
In this module you will develop an understanding of security studies as a subfield of International Relations. You will look at the issue of war and it is/should be fought. You will consider the theories of security and how these have changed, especially in an age of terrorism, and examine a wide variety of security including nuclear weapons, drone warfare, genocide, and gun control.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how citizens, politicians and the media interact across Western democracies during both electoral and governing periods. You will look at the production and consumption of political news, consider election campaigns and their effects, and examine contemporary debates in political communication, including ethical issues.
I in this module you will develop an understanding of contemporary British politics. You will look at the ways in which British government has evolved, how it continues to operate, and why it operates in the way it does. You will consider the causes and consequences of major political change in Britain and examine the underlying assumptions upon which theoretical disputes in political science are based.
In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.
- Government and Politics of the United States
In this module you will develop an understanding of the most important features of the history of the development of the non-West. You will look at the distinctive political dynamics characterising the contemporary non-West and consider the thoughts of prominent non-Western political thinkers.
In this module you will develop an understanding of regulation in the European Union, including delivery of policy and administration. You will look at how the world's largest market operates, with a focus on EU public policy, including de-regulation, re-regulation, budgets and spending. You will examine the concept of the single market, the Euro and its crisis, justice, home affairs and counter-terrorism, the EU budget, agriculture, regional development, and social and environmental policies.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the European Union's foreign relations, focussing on political, security and economic impacts. You will examine its international role, looking at the Common Foreign and Security Policy, its relationship with NATO, the USA and Russia, its connection to immediate neighbours in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, and its role in global trade negotiations.
In this module you will combine participation in a workplace environment for one day a week during term time (and three days a week for each term's reading week) with scholarly reflection on the nature of the organisational, professional, and policy contexts of the placement. Your placement will be in an organised setting such as Parliament, local government, the office of an MEP, NGO, campaigning or activist organisations, a political party, a media organisation, or the policy or communications division of a local company working in a relevant field.
- US Foreign Policy
- The Politics of Africa
- Radical Political Theory
- Political Theories of Freedom
Party leaders, and their public image, are increasingly considered important for a party’s electoral success, for the smooth running of government and for regime legitimacy. Perhaps the most important variable for successful politicians is their ability to effectively communicate and connect with their audiences. This module will first, show you the techniques most frequently used my politicians, communicators and speechwriters to effectively deliver their messages in different contexts and settings. Next, you will analyse how these techniques have been used by the greatest leaders in the word to justify their regimes. By the end of the module you will be able to evaluate leadership styles during and after elections and design communication strategies that will deliver political messages effectively.
- Military Change in the 21st Century
- Young People's Politics
- Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
- American Political Development
- The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
The politics of South Asia – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh - are central to understanding some of the themes at the core of modern politics: poverty and development, security and warfare, migration and transnationalism, decolonisation and postcolonialism, the international economy and globalisation. This module deals with the social and political development of these countries since independence from British rule in 1947. We will analyse issues including caste politics, the role of religious violence and the place of women in politics and society. Sources will come from a range of disciplines – politics and IR, history, sociology, anthropology, novels and films. We will study regional cooperation and conflict including the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and their nuclear status. By the end of the module you will have a specialised understanding of the major social, economic and political developments in the region.
This module examines the contemporary literature on gender and politics, with a particular focus on women’s participation and representation in British politics. It introduces you to feminist theories of representation, debates over women’s interests, and feminist institutionalism. It applies these frameworks to consider why the number of women in our parliaments might matter and what difference – symbolic, substantive and affective – sex and gender make to elected political institutions, the policy process, political outcomes, and healthy democracies.
This final-year half module offers students the opportunity to obtain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the British parliament and its place in British democracy. It will help you to evaluate the work and role of Parliament and parliamentarians, appreciate ongoing debates about contemporary legislative practice, and engage critically with previous academic scholarship in this area. It will also help you to develop you own awareness and experience of conducting research.
This module is designed to introduce advanced undergraduates to the major themes of contemporary Latin American politics and, consequently, democracy and political development. Although the module does not assume that you already have knowledge of the region, you are expected to be familiar with basic concepts of comparative political analysis. While the module stresses the political aspects of the developmental process, its objective is to show the linkages between economic, social, cultural, and political variables--both at national and international levels.
- Defence and Security Governance
This module examines both the domestic and international politics of the environment. The first part of the module consists of defining the environmental problems faced globally, highlighting similarities and differences to other issues. This part also identifies the key actors, interests, and institutions that are necessary to understand the politics of climate change. The second part of the module focuses on three varieties of theories of environmental politics: collective action problems, distributional politics, and ideational conflict. The third part then examines a variety of topics in environmental politics, building upon the analytical approaches outlined in the first two parts of the course. The chosen topics allow for both understanding how politics shapes environmental outcomes, for example through international agreements, as well as how climate change and the environment affects political outcomes, for example by fostering political conflict.
- Visual Politics
- Issues in Democratic Theory
- Politics of the Law and Rights
- Global Health Policy
Issues of free speech are amongst the most contentious in current political debate. The module aims to give you an in depth understanding of the nature, value and limits of freedom of speech, from the perspective of normative political theory. It is not a course in the law of free speech, nor about the free speech situation in any particular country. Though the module touches on both the latter, the aim instead, is to enable you to understand the values, norms and principles at issue in contexts where free speech is promoted, regulated, limited or denied- especially contexts where that choice is contentious. You will be encouraged to look beyond the headlines to explore the rich and varied academic scholarship on free speech, and to offer critical analyses of that scholarship. By the end of the module, you should be able to interrogate your own and others’ intuitive reactions in controversial cases of e.g. hate speech, and to develop a reasoned, nuanced approach to these issues.
- The Political Economy of Racial Injustice
- Why and How People Vote
- Narrative in World Politics
- Identity, Emotions and Trauma in International Politics
- Ethnic Politics and Ethnic Conflict
- Gender and Nationalism in the Middle East and South Asia
Teaching & assessment
The course has a modular structure: you will take 12 course units at the rate of four per year. Some course units are compulsory while others are elective thereby offering flexibility and choice.
Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take. The first year is foundational and marks do not count towards your final degree. The second year and final year marks do count, with more importance being given to the final year marks in order to reward progress and achievement.
A Levels: ABB-BBB
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.
Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.
We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:
- AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
- AAA – Distinction
- BBB – Merit
- CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
- DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)
Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.
Undergraduate preparation programme
For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.
Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
Studying in the department you will learn to approach problems in a rigorous, analytical and critical way and to communicate clearly and concisely in speech and writing, all transferable skills that will enable you to work across a variety of exciting roles in the public, corporate and charity sectors.
Graduates from our department work in a range of careers including public affairs, political organisations, journalism, international law and charities. Roles include Ministry of Justice Fast Stream, political analyst at merchant banks, Foreign Office Fast Stream and graduate entry into a wide array of large companies.
Employers include The House of Commons, Unilever, Ministry of Defence, Amazon Nestle, Ipsos MORI and MPs’ offices.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £20,000
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2022/23, the fee is £9,250 for that year, and is provided here as a guide. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2023/24 has not yet been confirmed.
**The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you are classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support a transition for those students affected by this change in status. Please see the fees and funding page for more information.
Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.
***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2021/22 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.