BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations
Ruskin College is part of the University of West London group and is offering a new BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations degree.
Why choose Ruskin College?
Ruskin has a remarkable history of political engagement and trade union activism as well as a longstanding reputation for excellence in social science studies.
We put you first. Our teaching is designed for you: your ambitions and your needs. You will study in a challenging and supportive learning environment with a small learning group approach that really focuses on you.
Ruskin is different: the steps you take will have a knock-on effect. As you improve your life, your community will benefit too. Our mission is not just to educate you but to improve society.
Why study politics and international relations?
Are you interested in how global problems happen and what potential solutions there could be? Do you wonder why and how governments and international organisations make the decisions they do? Our politics and international relations course helps you understand these types of challenges.
Through critical reading and discussion, you will develop your knowledge of the contemporary world at local, regional and global levels. In addition, your studies will give you transferable skills in problem solving and the ability to think independently.
On graduation you will have practical research capabilities and knowledge that you can apply in a number of professional settings in the political sphere and beyond.
Award: BA (Hons) degree
Duration: 3 years full-time; 4 and a half years part-time
Start dates: September 2022
Tuition fees: £9,250 per year full-time; £6,167 per year part-time
Location: Ruskin College
On this Politics and International Relations degree you will study in detail the workings of government and the realities of global geopolitics.
You will examine how political institutions interact with the societies they govern and how values and resources are allocated in various contexts, both nationally and internationally.
Over the course of your studies, you will gradually develop your critical reading and debating skills. Simulated diplomatic situations are a core element of the course, and by taking part, you will enhance your abilities to build arguments successfully and work as part of a team. These simulations also give you the opportunity to put what you have learnt in your theory-based modules into practice.
In the final year of your studies, you will produce a dissertation, in which you investigate an area of interest related to politics and international relations. This is your chance to demonstrate your practical research skills as well as your grasp of relevant theories and current issues.
Theories of International Relations
This module introduces students to the range of theoretical approaches to global politics and international relations. It will help students develop their understanding of the dynamics of international relations, as well as presenting the similarities and differences between theoretical approaches to the objects of political inquiry. The module explores debates around key concepts such as structure, anarchy, power, and identity through surveying the key ideologies in the field such as realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, Gramscianism, feminism, post-structuralism and postcolonialism. These will be explored, compared and related to one another, both historically and contextually.
Modern Political Thought
This module will familiarise students with the most important themes, theories and thinkers of modern western political thought, starting with Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, through to Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke and the enlightenment and 19th century political philosophers and sociologists. It also deals with the socio-political and economic contexts that lead to the birth of the political ideas that transformed (and are currently transforming) our society. Emphasis is given to the development of political ideologies, starting with liberalism, conservatism, socialism and anarchism in the 19th century, and on to nationalism, fascism and communism in the 20th century. Social change, as well as economic, demographic and value transformations are introduced to understand how social conditions exert an influence on political thought and political change, helping to explain the world in which we find ourselves today.
Understanding Global Political Problems
This module introduces students to the key concepts of global politics through series of case studies about contemporary world problems. It places the issues in their historical and theoretical contexts, such as the development of the nation state, the birth of international organisations and the rise of globalisation. The actual content of the sessions will depend on the current affairs taking place, but this year the problems and issues included global migration, issues around global inequality and poverty, transnationalism, Syrian war in the context of orientalism and the Arab Spring, global terrorism, populism and the far-right politics of Europe, and the issues and problems caused by climate change.
This module introduces students to political systems, political ideologies and comparative politics. It charts the development of representative democracy through its antecedents in Ancient Greece and the British parliamentary evolution, the American and French Revolutions and the birth of European nation states. It compares parliamentary systems with presidential systems, first-past-the-post electoral systems with proportional representation, single and bi-party systems with multi-party coalition governments. It also contrasts liberal democracies with its alternatives, including hybrid states, absolute monarchies, authoritarian and totalitarian states, and explores the differences between western democracies and post-colonial state-nations. It looks at how representative political systems have been adopted throughout the world, and how meaningful these representative systems are by focusing on their legitimacy, how they interact with the political culture of the state, whether European, Muslim, post-communist or post-colonial.
US Politics in an International Context
This module aims to introduce students to the national and international politics of USA. From a historical starting point and an institutional approach, reinforced by case studies, this module will examine the evolving nature of the role of the United States in the global political, economic and military stage in the rapidly changing world from the aftermath of the World War II to the present day. It will examine the complex cultural, racial and religious tensions that shape the American domestic politics that are key to its decision-making processes, including the division of power between the executive and legislative branches of government, the role of governmental agencies and of corporate and civil society actors.
Media, Culture and Society
The purpose of this module is to investigate the media and the arts in a political context. Fundamentally the module looks at the rise of press freedoms within European liberal politics and critically examines its contradictions and tensions. Theories regarding the power of the media will be central to the module, as well as the ideological role of art and culture. Issues around the way cultural considerations both restrict and enhance the freedom of the media are explored in order to understand the boundaries of censorship, both according to the state and as culturally embedded. The political impact of digital and social media will also be investigated.
Working in Political and International Contexts
This module consists of theoretical and experiential components to enable students to examine and critically evaluate theories and concepts of Politics and International Relations in applied settings. It encourages students to develop an in-depth knowledge of organisation-specific concepts and theories within their chosen field, and they are required to carry out a minimum of 30 hours of experiential learning in an organisation. They will be guided in terms of the theoretical constructs they should examine for their placements and seminars concerning the key theories in the field will be given. The experiential learning itself will take the form of participant observation. The module encourages students to reflect upon and work towards their career goals, enabling them to focus on acquiring and demonstrating the relevant skills for their target employers and further training providers.
This module engages students in a critical assessment of issues around identity in the field of politics and international relations. It develops concepts and methods related to identity politics, including gender and sexuality, race and racism, class and culture, nationalism, religion, ethnicity, LGBT, disability, equality, power, discrimination, domination and oppression. Students are introduced to political issues and movements surrounding identity politics, such as feminism and intersectionality, right-wing populism, postcolonialism, antisemitism, islamophobia, political correctness, #MeToo movement, no-platforming and safe spaces.
The Politics of Asia, Africa and Latin America
This module concentrates on the major current issues involved in Asia, Latin America and Africa in the field of Politics and International Relations. The historical and theoretical background to these issues will involve the relationship between the state and civil society, clientelism and the issues around religion, nationalism, democracy and authoritarianism. The position of NGO’s and international interventions will also be investigated, where applicable, to the regional international relations dynamic. In order to facilitate this study, students will be inducted into the methodologies appropriate to comparative political analysis. By the end of the module students will be able to use conceptual tools to analyse current affairs involving democracy, authoritarianism, clientelism and other such topics relating to problems in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
International Institutions and Policies
Since the second world war international organizations have become prominent players in the international system. Debate continues in academic and policy communities over why international organizations exist, whether they matter in global politics, and how useful they are in alleviating global problems. The goal of this module is to develop an advanced theoretical and practical understanding of international organizations (IOs) and the main policies they action in the international system. Upon completion of the module, students should be able to articulate the leading explanations within international relations for why IOs exist, what policies they put forward, what controversies surround IOs in the context of international relations theory, and the main strengths and challenges IOs face in meeting their objectives.
This module will introduce students to the basic challenges and difficulties a scientific research into Politics and International Relations involves, and to prepare them for undertaking a research project for their final year undergraduate dissertation. It provides them with initial knowledge and skills for planning, designing and interpreting research into politics and international relations. They will learn about practical and philosophical challenges into social science research, and how to formulate practically useful research questions. It presents them with a typical range of research methods, an overview of the different kinds of data they produce, and different ways to analyse that data. A special focus is given to formulating research questions with an appreciation of the kinds of methodological approaches useful in answering them. By the end of this module students will have a better awareness of the difficulties involved in undertaking research into Politics and International Relations, and the limits to research those difficulties impose.
British and European Politics
This module aims to develop our students’ understanding of contemporary British and European politics. Students will focus on political systems in order to develop an awareness how the different layers of political structures and hierarchies interact, both internally within Britain, and internationally between the major European powers, and through political structures such as the European Union.
This module brings together all of the skills and knowledge gained across the MSc as you design, conduct, and report your own research study. In addition, you will learn and be assessed on qualitative research methods, as well as the more advanced statistical concepts and applications of multivariate analysis.
Contemporary Political Theory
This module will expose students to the research interests of the lecturers within the department, giving them an opportunity to develop the module content around their research interests, and how they relate to current issues in politics and international relations. The content of the module is therefore not set, but indicative content reflecting contemporary issues and debates would include the following (the intention is that only one of these, or similar, topics would be covered in depth):
- Debate between Rawls and Nozick on redistributive justice, concentrating on John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy State and Utopia.
- Critique of contemporary global capitalism via selected readings of Ha-Joon Chang’s Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism; Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hern’s The Myth of Capitalism and David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years.
- Democracy and inequality (Rawls, G.A. Cohen, through Alan Thomas’: Republic of Equals: Predistribution and Property-Owning Democracy.
- The problem of multiculturalism with Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural Citizenship.
As the module exposes students to the research interests of the lecturers within the department, it will equip them with a deeper understanding of a major political theory or a problem. By doing so it also encourages students to develop their own critical abilities in engaging with the literature in order to experience how theoretical research in politics actually happens.
This module introduces students to the terrain of political sociology. The parameters of this interdisciplinary subject area have been mapped out over the last twenty years or so. The content intersects both perennial political issues, such as that of power, with wider social institutions, such as the family, religion, or the media. Students on this module will study Luke’s classic text on power as a basis for discussing the intersection between politics and civil society. Indicative topics include Weber, bureaucracy & charismatic leadership, ideology, political violence, terrorism, the concept of revolution, totalitarianism and new social movements.
Conflict Resolution, Crisis Management and Diplomacy
This module aims to engage students in the actual diplomatic mechanisms of conflict resolution and crisis management. They will start by exploring concepts such as conflict, crisis, conflict resolution and crisis management in the global context, including an exploration of the rapidly changing nature of contemporary conflicts. They will study various empirical case studies, where different causes of international crises and conflicts are discussed in their contemporary contexts. Finally, through the presentation of different international organisations directly involved in crisis management and peacekeeping (OSCE, EU, NATO, UN, NGOs), formal mechanisms of conflict resolution in international politics are discussed, paying particular attention to the limits of these formal mechanisms in the changing nature of contemporary conflicts. The students are expected to critically assess the limits and strengths of traditional tools of conflict management and to engage in a live simulation of an actual or hypothetical crisis in the UN Security Council. The students will work in groups during the simulation to find a joint solution by applying all the theoretical and practical knowledge and diplomatic skills acquired during the module.
International Human Rights
This module will explore the way in which human rights theory has developed (both up to and since) the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The expansion of rights-based arguments from Thomas Paine through to contemporary theory will be discussed, as well as the expansion in the international law of rights such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and other international human rights treaties. Further issues include the rights of indigenous peoples and issues around global development and social justice. By the end of the module the students will have explored the specific philosophical and theoretical literature on human rights and have acquired an understanding of the historical development of rights-based arguments. They will have learned to evaluate a broad range of issues and contexts related to the national, regional and international human rights doctrines, their tensions and their application, in order to contextualise the issues of politics and morality to a given human rights question.
You will need 104-120 UCAS points from Level 3 qualifications, these can include:
- A Levels at grade B, C and C, or above
- BTEC Extended Diploma with Distinction, Merit, Merit
- Access to HE Diploma
You also need GCSE English and Maths (grade 9 – 4 / A* – C) or Level 2 equivalents.
Mature applicants (aged 21+)
If you do not hold the qualifications listed but have relevant work experience, you are welcome to apply. Your application will be considered on an individual basis.
Tuition fees and funding
The tuition fee for this course is £9,250 per year for full-time study and £6,167 for part-time study.
Government regulation does affect your fees, so what you pay may go up in the future. For example, government regulation around future inflation may increase your course fees.
Funding your studies
You may be eligible for a student loan to cover the cost of tuition fees, or a maintenance loan. Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as those with dependants and disabled students.
For more information visit UWL’s Fees and Funding page.
Dr Gayle Lonergan – Course Leader
Since completing her D.Phil. in Modern Political History at the University of Oxford, Gayle has lectured in both History and Politics at the University of Warwick, University of Oxford, Brunel University and Birkbeck College, University of London. She also held a Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, University of Oxford and was an International Research Fellow at the National Research University, The Higher School of Economics, Russia.
Having studied Russian and Polish for her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge and completing the MSc in Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Oxford , the focus of her research has been on Russia and the former Soviet Union. Her current work looks at the formation of the one party state in Soviet Russia between 1916 -1922 and considers how the process involved side lining all other sources of power in the state from the military to the trade unions.
Gayle has many years of experience in teaching politics and is passionate about introducing students to the theories of political thought and then encouraging them to question the theory in the context of real world issues.
Study and career progression
After successful completion of the programme you will be awarded a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations, by the University of West London. The programme has a clear, practical and vocational character that aims to support your entry into a range of public and third sector professions, or to help you develop and advance your existing career, both in the UK and internationally.
You may find employment within national or international Non Governmental Organisations, in local and national government departments or with charities and pressure groups as a:
- communications and campaigns manager
- policy development officer
- public relations and fundraising manager.
You could also continue your studies, specialising in an area of interest or exploring something new.
Learning and assessment
You will enjoy a variety of learning methods, such as a mini lectures, pair and group work, learning checks, and tutor and student led discussions. You will be assessed through essays (approx 90%) and presentations (approx 10%).