Politics BA

Year of entry

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UCAS code
L200
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
3 years full time
Work placement
Optional
Study abroad
Optional
Typical A-level offer
AAB
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Newspaper headlines

In this course you’ll explore the latest political ideas that help you better understand today’s complex world.

You’ll develop a deep understanding of political theory, international relations and today’s varied systems of government, alongside skills in data analysis, research and critical thinking.

Core modules will give you a grounding in the discipline, while optional modules allow you to pursue your own interests in areas like political psychology and security studies.

Your studies will give you a diverse skillset, regardless of what you choose to focus on. This will be valuable to you as a citizen and as a professional, however your career may develop.

Course highlights

  • Study in our world ranked School of Politics and International Studies.
  • Explore the latest real-world challenges in a range of political subjects.
  • Learn from influential academics who are helping to shape policy and hear from inspiring guest speakers.
  • Pursue our Parliamentary Studies pathway with the opportunity to spend a year on placement in a political office, usually in Westminster.
  • Add an analytical focus to your degree with the opportunity to apply for a Quantitative Research Methods pathway, helping you develop advanced analytical skills that are in high demand by employers worldwide.
  • Get the opportunity to study abroad for a year and develop an international perspective or undertake a work placement to gain practical experience.

Specialist pathways – parliamentary studies and quantitative research

At the end of Year 1, you'll have the opportunity to apply for:

  • The Parliamentary Studies Pathway which includes a year spent on a related placement.
  • The Quantitative Research Methods pathway which will enhance your quantitative skills.

See Course details tab for more information.

Studying in the School of Politics and International Studies

Video transcript
Audio described version of the video

Course details

Year 1

In Year 1, you’ll take a set of compulsory modules that form the foundation of your studies. You’ll cover topics like political theory and comparative and British politics, and you’ll gain crucial research and academic skills to study the subject. An optional module will help you develop your own research interests.

Year 2

Year 2 will build on your knowledge; its compulsory modules will give you new skills in political research and help you explore different political theories. You’ll be able to choose from more advanced topics like UK politics, electioneering and political systems in other countries.

Final Year

Your final year will see you pursuing your own specialist study, with an extended piece of individual research on a topic of your choice. Specialised modules in this part of the course include human rights, political extremism, foreign policy and reconciliation in African states.

Specialist pathways on BA Politics

At the end of Year 1, you'll have the opportunity to apply for our Parliamentary Studies Pathway or our Quantitative Research Methods Pathway.

Parliamentary Studies Pathway

Exclusively available to a limited number of BA Politics students, this four-year pathway starts in Year 2. You can apply for this pathway at the end of Year 1.

You’ll take some of the same modules as BA Politics students, but you’ll also have a closer focus on topics such as the UK parliament. This will prepare you to spend your third year on a related placement before returning to Leeds for your final year of study.

This placement year could mean working with an MP at Westminster, at a party headquarters, in a constituency office or other political organisation. It’s an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the workings of parliament and government, put your knowledge and skills into practice and gain valuable work experience to support your future career.

On your return to your final year you will choose from a wide range of optional modules, including topics specific to British politics and parliament, whilst also developing your dissertation.

Quantitative Research Methods Pathway

This pathway will help you develop advanced analytical skills, which are in high demand across the public, private and third sectors.

You will learn statistical analysis techniques and their application to real data (eg survey data, countries’ statistical data) using statistical software. You will also write a dissertation in which you will analyse quantitative data to examine questions about politics, development or international relations.

You are not required to have studied Mathematics at A level for this pathway. You will need to attain an overall grade of 2:1 in first year to qualify for the pathway.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1

The Politics of Global Challenges: Becoming an Independent Researcher (40 credits) – This module will introduce students to key themes and topics when studying politics and international studies. You’ll understand how you collaborate in an academic community and gain key skills for academic work, research and scholarly independence. You’ll also be introduced to the main themes and questions surrounding the politics of global challenges.

Comparative Politics (20 credits) – This module features two separate yet connected components. It compares the nature of politics and processes across different political systems, and it studies how and why we make these comparisons. Featuring both theory and real-life examples, it uses case studies to put its ideas into context.

British Politics (20 credits) – This is an introduction to British politics since 1979, with debates on the changing character and conduct of politics, its social and economic context, and Britain’s international position. You may also discuss ideas like Thatcherism, Blairism, democracy, the constitution, elections and voting.

Freedom Power and Resistance (20 credits) – This module introduces Western political thought, establishing a grounding in key ideas and theories that have shaped modern politics. You will critically reflect on public life and gain a foundation for further study of political theory. You’ll focus on the work of five influential thinkers, investigating the historical context in which they wrote their ideas and theories, and the potential to apply these to the modern world. This enables you to develop essential study skills in reading and writing political theory.

Making of the Modern World (20 credits) – In this part of the course you will understand how our world became increasingly integrated and connected, approaching the concept from economic, political, military and social perspectives. You will examine the concept of modernity through major historical events, including the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution – while also challenging their dominant narratives. Later, you will learn how colonialism has impacted land, health and the climate catastrophe, how colonialism has been resisted, and colonialism’s more persistent features.

Year 2 compulsory modules

Approaches to Analysis (20 credits) – You will learn here about the different ways we approach research, with a showcase of the latest research in POLIS. This helps introduce you to key ideas like designing and implementing a research project, along with key methods in politics, international development and international relations. You’ll gain practical experience of gathering evidence, while many of your other skills developed will transfer well to employment.

Year 2 optional modules

You will take 100 credits of optional modules from a range of related topics, typically including:

Revolution and Reaction (20 credits) – In this module you’ll learn about some of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers, as well as the problems and challenges they were trying to resolve. You’ll encounter a mix of radical and reactionary ideas, and explore an era driven to the extremes of hope and destruction by its political ideas.

Justice, Conflict and Community (20 credits) – This module explore a key question: how do we live well together with a deep diversity of cultures, beliefs and moral values? You’ll explore a range of concepts and issues in contemporary political theory (like justice, community and conflict) and how we apply those ideas to social and political problems. Other topics in this module include hate speech, pornography and the morality of political protest.

Forced Migration (20 credits) – In this module you’ll focus on forced migration as part of contemporary global challenges. You’ll explore why forced migration cannot be studied in isolation but only in relation to international conflicts, environmental changes and global governance. You’ll go beyond the top-down perspective and explore the lived experiences of the forced migrant, paying particular attention to race and gender.

Politics of Contemporary China (20 credits) – If you’re looking for a thorough understanding of contemporary Chinese politics, this module is an essential choice. It discusses the structure of the state, the evolving role of the Chinese Communist Party and how Chinese society is affected by economic and political reforms. You’ll also explore political struggles and development strategies in regions such as Xinjiang, and critically engage with relevant literature and policy debates.

The Labour Party since 1945 (20 credits) – This module explores how the Labour Party have defined and positioned themselves to demonstrate their competence and ensure their electoral success. You’ll explore their various statecraft strategies and the developments within post-war Labour Party politics, understanding how the party has shifted from ‘Old’ Labour to ‘New’ Labour in the process.

Politics and Policy in the EU (20 credits) – This module gives you the chance to explore the truth behind various “Euromyths”, such as the concept of a superstate overriding the will of national governments. You’ll examine how the EU actually works, as well as the roles played by its various institutions.

Media and Democracy (20 credits) – This module interrogates the idea of the “media democracy”, and our tendency to blame “the media” for problems in democratic life. It asks why political communication mediated by the media is relevant to democratic politics.

United States Politics (20 credits) – This module explores the politics of the world’s only superpower: an area of particular interest within Britain, as the United States exerts significant influence on it. You’ll explore the origins of American political culture and the constitution, how the President, legislature and Supreme Court are selected, and how they wield power. You’ll also consider the influence that political parties, interest groups and the media have on the divisiveness of US politics.

Critically Analysing the Responsibility to Protect (20 credits) – The Responsibility to Protect is an agreement endorsed at the United Nations in 2005, establishing a responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. You’ll take a closer look at the agreement in the module, and whether it is ultimately helpful or harmful in our efforts to keep people safe.

State and Politics in Africa (20 credits) – This module investigates the concept of the ‘African renaissance’, brought about by the continent’s positive GDP growth rare and increasing election frequency after the instability of the 1980s. You’ll consider if such a narrative is credible, and learn more about the continent’s various social, political and developmental challenges.

The Conservative Party since 1945 (20 credits) – This module explores how the Conservative Party have defined and positioned themselves, to demonstrate their competence and ensure their electoral success. You’ll learn about their statecraft strategies and how they’ve worked to preserve their self-proclaimed status as the ‘natural party of government’. You’ll also analyse the changing nature of Conservative Party policy, how Conservative ideology has evolved, and the crises in post-Thatcherite Conservatism.

Final Year compulsory modules

Dissertation module (40 credits) – Your dissertation is a piece of written work that’s 10,000 words long. As its topic is your choice (following agreement by the School Dissertation Committee) it’s an opportunity to follow through a topic you’re interested in but haven’t had the chance to research. You can also use it to further explore second and third-level modules in greater detail.

Final Year optional modules

You will take 100 credits of optional modules from a range of related topics, typically including:

Video Games (20 credits) – This module reflects on how we understand the political, social and cultural impact of video games, and asks how we might better understand the messages contained within the games themselves. An enthusiasm for playing, talking about and writing about video games is essential to this module.

Nuclear Weapons and Global Politics (20 credits) – This module explores the role of nuclear weapons in global politics. You’ll learn how nuclear weapons have influenced state power and conflict, the role of international institutions and transnational activism. Core concepts you’ll study include deterrence, disarmament, security and terrorism, as well as how nuclear weapons have more broadly shaped our politics and society.

Philosophy of Human Rights (20 credits) – In this module you’ll explore a range of different questions relating to contemporary human rights theory. You’ll have the chance to reflect critically on a legal, political and moral framework – one that’s part of the fabric of the modern world, and a controversial idea in today’s moral and political theory.

Violence and Reconciliation in Africa (20 credits) – The focus of this module is the causes, nature and consequences of violence in Africa. Touching upon race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion and resources, you’ll learn about African statehood, ‘warlord politics’, resource wars and state collapse. You’ll also evaluate current approaches to peace building and justice, as well as international intervention, peacekeeping and the International Criminal Court.

British Foreign Policy (20 credits) – This module focuses primarily on British Foreign Policy after the Second World War. It begins with the theory of foreign policy analysis, with later weeks focussing on regions, relationships and events crucial to the policy. Examples include the Anglo-American relationship, former colonial nations like India and Australia, the Post-War Settlement in Europe and the Cold War.

The Far Right in Europe and Beyond (20 credits) – In this series of seminars you will be able to study one of the most important developments in contemporary European politics, and to see the rise of the radical right in a comparative perspective. You will learn about comparative and general features of the extreme right, the causes of surges in support for these parties, problems in the discussion of the extreme right and the historical context to the main extreme right movements in Europe.

Radical Political Ideas (20 credits) – This is an opportunity to explore some of politics’ more radical ideas, challenging received ways of thinking. You’ll discuss the meaning of politics and what it means to be a political subject, as well as ideas of inclusion, identity, the self and freedom. Other topics for your consideration include what political subjects we give power, as well as what is made marginal or prohibited.

Politics of National Identity in the UK (20 credits) – This module explores national identity in the UK, encouraging you to consider how it interacts with issues of governance, party politics and public policy. The module examines the relationship between the UK’s constituent nations, and identity’s relation to culture, political ideology and immigration. It also considers the future of the United Kingdom, and how the politics of identity will play out in the decade to come.

Gender and Security in Global Politics (20 credits) – This module offers a feminist, decolonised and intersectional perspective on security, violence and war. You’ll come to understand the key concepts around gender, sex and race in international security, explore gender-based violence, and how the intersection of gender, sex and race shapes our response to violence and war.

Terrorism (20 credits) – You’ll use this module to receive a deeper understanding of terrorism. Subjects explored include why people engage in terrorism, the threat it poses, and how it can be countered and prevented. You’ll come to understand the terrorist life cycle, as well as cases, concepts and debates surrounding the idea.

The End of British Politics? (20 credits) – This module examines many of the supposed threats to traditional British politics. It touches upon ideas like the end of liberal ideology’s dominance, the influence of populism on party politics, and the effects of devolution and Scottish nationalism. Other topics explored here include the impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic on power relations, different forms of political engagement and the role of religion in politics today.

Europe in the World (20 credits) – This module considers the role of the EU in world affairs, along with other important topics like war, peace, human rights and international relations. It looks closely at key players such as the UK, the US, Germany, France and NATO, providing you with a detailed analysis of Europe in a post-Cold War world.

Reimagining Politics (20 credits) – What do we mean by politics? Are love, dancing and pop music political issues? This module considers alternatives to state-centred approaches to politics, asking how ideas like feminism, anti-racism and queer theory have impacted political theory and practice. It helps you understand how identity and popular culture are important in understanding politics, and how to analyse many different empirical issues.

Learning and teaching

Our teaching methods on this course include lecturers, seminars and workshops, which offer face-to-face contact with faculty and your fellow students. Independent study is also an essential part of the course; it’ll help you develop your research and critical skills. Participation, presentation skills and group work are other key considerations.

You’ll have a personal tutor who can assist you with academic issues (such as module choices) and career and personal matters.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

Modules will use a variety of assessment methods. As well as traditional exams, you could also be asked to complete essays, case study-based projects, policy briefs, group presentations, work logs, research briefs, project proposals or development agency reviews. In your final year you’ll also submit a 10,000-word dissertation.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB

We do not require A-level Politics for courses in the School of Politics and International Studies.

In general we expect applicants to have two ‘traditional’ academic subjects at A-level. See our accepted subjects document to see which subjects we accept.

When an applicant is taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) this can be considered alongside A-levels and may attact an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A-levels, this would be ABB at A-level including grade A in the EPQ.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Complete 60 credits with 45 credits at level 3, including 30 credits at Distinction and 15 at Merit or higher.

BTEC

DDD

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, D3, M2.

International Baccalaureate

35 overall (6,5,5 higher)

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers; or A in Advanced Highers and AAABB in Highers or AAAABB in Highers.

T-Levels

We will consider T-levels in appropriate subjects as they become available. In all cases applicants should have GCSE English at 4 or above.

Welsh Baccalaureate

Applicants offering the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC) must obtain a grade A alongside AA at A-Level (excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking).

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.

Typical Access to Leeds offer:

If you do not have the formal qualifications for immediate entry to one of our degrees, we offer a foundation year for UK students who meet specific widening participation criteria. Learn more about the BA Social Science (foundation year).

BA Social Science (foundation year)

BA Social Science is a foundation year course for students who don’t meet the standard admissions requirements for an undergraduate degree.

If you feel you missed out on education and want to realise your potential, this course will give you a firm grounding in the social sciences and prepare you for one of our social science degree courses.

The course lasts four years. Your first-year acts as a ‘Level 0’ foundation year, which gives you the skills for studying social sciences at undergraduate level. It’ll also introduce you to key ideas in sociology, politics, crime, education and law.

You’ll need to pass this year to progress onto one of our three-year undergraduate degree courses in a related subject. These include BA Childhood Studies, BA Sociology, BA Social Policy, Sociology and Crime, BA Politics, LLB Law, BA Social Work, BA Criminal Justice and Criminology and many others.

Find out more about BA Social Science.

International

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the School of Politics and International Studies Undergraduate Admissions Team.

International foundation year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study a foundation year. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to our courses.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: £9,250 (per year)

International: £24,500 (per year)

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will remain capped at £9,250 for 2023/24 and 2024/25. The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2023/24 and 2024/25
Tuition fees for international students for 2023/24 and 2024/25 are available on individual course pages.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

We typically receive a high number of applications to our courses in the School of Politics and International Studies. The number of applicants exceeds the number of places available so, to ensure that we treat all applications fairly and equitably, we wait until after the UCAS equal consideration application deadline has passed before making a final decision on applications.

If we put your application on hold for review after the UCAS application deadline, we will send you an email to let you know. Although you may have to wait longer than usual to receive a decision, you will hear from us by mid-May at the latest, in line with the deadline that UCAS sets universities for making decisions on applications submitted by the January UCAS deadline.

Offer decisions are made based on an overall review of applications including predicted grades, breadth of knowledge demonstrated through qualifications, personal statement, extra-curricular and work experience, and contextual information. We look for enthusiastic and talented students who have the potential to succeed in their studies with us and contribute to our community.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Politics and International Studies Admissions Team

Email: ugpolis@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

This versatile degree will allow you to gain in-depth knowledge of an important area of public life, as well as key transferable skills in communication, research, analysis, critical thinking, presentations and group working. It’s a strong basis for a variety of careers in organisations as diverse as interest groups, research bodies, think tanks, the media, the Civil Service, local government and political consultancy as well as professions like law, finance and teaching.

Graduates from BA Politics and BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies have pursued a wide range of careers as parliamentary advisors or researchers, civil servants, diplomats, advocacy workers, parliamentary assistants, lobbyists, special advisors to senior ministers, political researchers and local government officers – and some have even gone into elected office as MPs.

Read more about career opportunities.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Parliamentary Studies Pathway - exclusive to BA Politics

If you apply for and achieve (at the end of Year 1) a place on the BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies programme you will spend a year on a related placement. See 'Course details' tab for more information.