Our Department of Politics and International Relations and School of Law have excellent reputations for high quality research and teaching, and for engagement in policy and practice, through active involvement with government bodies and voluntary statutory agencies.
Studying our BA Politics and Law degree, you will gain a solid foundation in politics and law at all levels and in all forms.
In your first year on the course, you will study Introduction to politics and government and Introductions to international relations. As you progress, the flexible nature of this course allows you to specialise in those aspects of domestic and international politics that most interest you, for example, the recent global economic crisis, changes in the European Union, human migration and the threats posed by terrorists and new communications technologies.
Law modules include the English Legal System, Methods and Legal Practice (Legal Skills), Public Law, Public International Law, International Human Rights, Jurisprudence and Law of the European Union.
Together, we offer you high quality teaching in relatively small departments with focus on considerable individual attention.
On graduating, you will have gained a wide variety of transferable skills, which will allow you to progress to a range of successful careers internationally, in and out of political and law-related fields, as well as to further study.
- Understand the key features of English and European law.
- Develop key legal research and communication skills.
- Examine governments, party politics and political behaviour throughout the world.
- Work with experts who have advised governments and international organisations.
Core ModulesYear 1
You will take the following modules in Politics:
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 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.
You will take the following modules in Law:
Constitutions establish and control the powers of the state and regulate the relationship between the state and its citizens. This module examines the UK’s uncodified constitution, primarily considering the main characteristics of the British system of government, including the division of powers between the legislature, executive, and judiciary and between Westminster and the devolved regions; key constitutional concepts and their associated challenges, including Parliamentary sovereignty, conventions, the rule of law, and human rights protection before and after the Human Rights Act 1998; and how administrative law, particularly judicial review, controls the actions of the government and public authorities.
This module serves as a comprehensive introduction to the English legal system focusing on building an understanding of the common law approach as a legal methodology and its evolution and influence in England and Wales. You will examine various sources of law; the civil and criminal justice systems including the structure and function of the courts; the role of magistrates, judges and the jury; as well as the impact of the Human Rights Act on the criminal and civil justice systems. You will develop legal research skills, including, library and database searches; referencing written work (with OSCOLA) and guarding against plagiarising; and in brief preparing a Moot. Furthermore, you will work with the Royal Holloway Careers and Employability Service to prepare and present a professional curriculum vitae, and learn how to write cover letters and other documents in a professional format.
You will take the following modules in Law:
- International and Comparative Human Rights Law
- Public International Law
You will spend this year on a work placement. You will be supported by the School of Law and the Royal Holloway Careers and Employability Service to find a suitable placement. This year forms an integral part of the degree programme and you will be asked to complete assessed work. The mark for this work will count towards your final degree classification.
You will take the following modules in Law:
This module examines the role of the European Union (EU) in the free movement of peoples, goods, services and capital. You will explore the legal enforcement of treaties on which the Union is based, with a consideration of both national and international systems. You will examine these treaties and the various EU institutions created under them (and incorporated into domestic law), examining their legal and policy-making powers. In particular, you will look at the laws and functions of the EU Institutions including the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council and the Court of Justice of the EU, and explore how free movement works across national borders and how the law of the EU is enforced.
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
Optional modules in Politics may include:
In this module you will analyse the contemporary politics of the European Union and its institutions, amid the challenges of the triple crisis of economics, migration and Brexit. You will learn about the political history of European integration after 1949 and the contemporary theory of European integration. The first term will begin with an introduction to the European Union as a political system followed by an overview of the European Union's historical development. The second term will focus on contestation of the European Union and the theories that underpin this, in order to explain how the EU developed and the challenges that it faces. Topics will include Euroscepticism, party politics, public opinion, Brexit and EU-UK relations, and European Parliament elections. The theory sessions comprise of federalism, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism and the new institutionalisms.
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.
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 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 the main theoretical approaches of the study of political behaviour. You will look at major current controversies in the field of political behaviour and critically analyse and evaluate theoretical and empirical arguments through the interpretation of bivariate and multivariate analysis of data. You will consider the ways in which individuals directly or indirectly influence political choices at various levels of the political system, and the relationship between voters and political parties. You will also examine the theory and practice of how electors decide whether (or not) to vote and whom to vote for.
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 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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and limitations of global governance. You will look at the creation of international organisations and the role of states in this process, how different organisations are designed, and the effectiveness and functioning of different types of organisation. You will consider the role of international organisations in creating policy, pursuing organisational objectives, and altering the relations between actors at various levels. You will also examine the significance of major challenges for global governance, such as countering international terrorism, policing organised crime, and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the modern human rights regime. You will look at what human rights are and their historical origins, including governance and the international legal regime. You will consider genocide and debates about intervention, examining the war in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Darfur, and current issues in Syria. You will explore transitional justice, the laws of war and international criminal tribunals, and assess the remedies available to victims of human rights abuses.
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.
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.
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.
- The Politics of the Internet and the Information Society
- Radical Political Theory
- The Politics of Toleration
- Social Justice: From Theory to Practice
- Contemporary Middle East Politics
- US Foreign Policy
- Advanced Seminar in British Politics
- Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
- Advanced Seminar in British Politics (Spring Term)
- The Politics of Africa
- Defence in the Post-Cold War World
- Understanding China's Rise: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy
- Global Energy Policy
- Refugees and Migration in World Politics
- American Political Development
- The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
- Theories of Freedom and Democracy
Teaching & assessment
We use a variety of methods of assessment.
These might include an essay about a controversial issue, an advisory question where students have to apply the law to a particular scenario or a critical analysis of a recently published piece of research. Some modules involve oral presentations.
Assessment is both summative and formative, and you will be provided with detailed comments on essays and other coursework. Many modules also have a written examination in April or May.
Progression to the next year is dependent on passing the mandatory modules. The combination of quality and range of assessments helps our students to develop a wide portfolio of skills and learning helps students to achieve excellent degrees.
A Levels: AAB-ABB
- 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. Socio - economic factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.
Other UK and Ireland Qualifications
International & EU requirements
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.
For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, you may progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
Our graduates are highly employable and have secured jobs in a wide range of professions, such as public affairs, criminal justice, the civil service, accountancy, management, journalism, broadcasting, teaching, international development and diplomacy. Many of our graduates also go on to further study, entering postgraduate courses both at Royal Holloway and at other prestigious institutions around the world.
Upon completion of the course you will have acquired a knowledge and understanding of contemporary government and key political concepts as well as major political and policy challenges facing governments and citizens. You will have a rigorous grounding in the fundamental doctrines and principles underpinning the common law and a critical understanding of modern legal developments.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
The fee for your Year in Induststry will be 20% of the tuition fee for that academic year.
International students tuition fee per year**: £17,300
Other essential costs***: Costs incurred during your year in industry will vary depending on the nature and location of the placement. For further information please contact the Department of Politics and International Relations.