About the course
Our BA International Relations (Including Year Abroad) looks at questions like: why do international conflicts arise? Why are other parts of the world largely peaceful? What determines a country’s foreign policy? What is the role of the United Nations and other international organisations? How and why do non-governmental organisations matter? What is globalisation and how does it impact our daily lives? What are the prospects for international cooperation to address problems like global warming and environmental degradation?
Politics and political events dominate domestic and international news and impact on our day-to-day lives as well as shaping the future. This course explores all major areas of international relations, including conflict and security studies, international political economy, political theory, and the use of modern research techniques that impact upon political theory.
In your first and second year you will take two compulsory modules in combination with two optional modules. Your first year combines a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of international relations and politics with the flexibility to study optional courses in specific areas of interest. In your second year you will take Political analysis which will develop your research skills and International Relations will introduce you to different theoretical approaches. You spend your third year abroad, where you must take modules related to your course. In your final year you will be free to take modules in what interests you most, although there must be some focus on international relations.
Why study BA International Relations (Including Year Abroad) at Essex?
Our Department of Government is one of the largest and most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are the only political science department to have achieved the highest rating in all five UK Research Assessment Exercises (RAE), with 45 per cent of our research ranked as ‘world-leading’ in the most recent RAE (December 2008).
Our staff distinguish themselves in various ways; by acting as media commentators, by writing textbooks used by students across the world and with involvement in practical training. In addition, our students have access to academic staff and a constant flow of distinguished visiting scholars from abroad. Our research interests are wide ranging but we host the British Election Study, a major Economic and Social Research Council-sponsored survey of attitudes and opinions of the British electorate, with other significant research projects studying foreign policy attitudes, corruption, and civil wars and peacekeeping.
Why study this subject?
BA International Relations (Including Year Abroad) should interest you if you want to understand how the international system works, how decisions are made and lines are drawn. Taking this course will give you a foundation in politics while the study of international relations will develop your research and critical analysis skills, while teaching you methods of analysis and giving you awareness of the world system. During your year abroad you will become more culturally aware, confident and independent.
As a student on this course you will be able to take advantage of our extensive learning resources, including laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis, as well as our University library, which provides access to a variety of politics databases as well as multiple copies of textbooks, e-books and materials to support your learning.
Study abroad/placement opportunities
Here at Essex we recognise the importance of studying and living abroad, so offer many opportunities for you to spend a term or a full year studying in another country and have exchange partners in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Japan.
The special characteristics of our course are flexibility and choice. In your first year you have 60 credits of compulsory modules and 60 credits of optional modules. For BA International Relations (Including Year Abroad) your optional modules can be chosen from across the faculty in first year and from within the Department of Government in your second and final year. There is a great deal of choice for these optional modules due to the extensive range of modules offered by our departments.
With a small number of exceptions, if you successfully complete the first year of your BA, then you are qualified to enter the second year of that course and a range of other courses: for example, if you take economics, politics, philosophy and sociology, then you have a choice of at least nine possible single or joint honours courses at the end of your first year. This means you can change your course, providing you have taken the appropriate pre-requisites and places are available.
During your second year you will have 60 credits of compulsory modules and you will take a further 60 credits of optional modules. You will spend your third year abroad. In your final year you will have complete choice where you will have 120 credits of optional modules, although 30 credits must be taken in internationally focused courses.
We operate a credit framework for our awards, which is based on principles widely used across the UK university sector. Each module has a credit rating attached and our four-year course consists of 420 credits (120 credits in your first year, 60 credits in your third year abroad, and 240 credits across your second and final years).
Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.
Year 1 core and optional modules
Introduction to Politics;
Introduction to European Politics (recommended);
Introduction to International Relations; and
one social science option or one humanities option
Year 2 core and optional modules
one politics option from a specialised list; and
one politics option
Year 3 core and optional modules
Year 4 core and optional modules
One politics option with a regional focus;
one politics option with an international relations focus; and
two politics options
As a new undergraduate, you may find university-level learning, assessment and studying differs to school or college. Here at Essex, we understand and recognise this by having support in place, particularly during your first year when you may notice the change more.
If you are studying a non-science subject, then your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students. A typical timetable includes a one-hour lecture and a one-hour class for each of your four modules every week. Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions.
First-year assessment is a combination of written coursework, end-of-term tests, practical and laboratory work (where appropriate) and end-of-year exams.
Teaching methods and styles
Within our Department of Government, all our courses offer you the opportunity to learn about political systems, political behaviour, and political ideas, as well as provide specialised training in the development of key skills in problem-solving, analytical thinking, exposition and argumentation, data analysis and clear writing.
Methods of assessment
Within our Department of Government, assessment to establish continuation into your second year takes place at the end of your first year. Assessment in your second and final years is based on both coursework and examination. In certain cases, a third-year project can be substituted for a module. As our courses are intended to transmit skills as well as knowledge, an appropriate language module can be substituted for an optional module.
Your degree is designed to develop many of the skills that are highly valued by employers. Studying politics involves thinking about puzzles and questions, collecting and analysing relevant evidence, and thinking critically about your own and others’ suggested answers. These skills of critical reflection, of data collection and analysis, and of drawing evidence together into clear conclusions, are at the heart of what employers call ‘competence-based recruitment’.
You also develop a number of more practical skills: effective verbal and written communication (including presentation skills); using statistical techniques; working in teams and producing group projects; and time management skills in order to meet multiple deadlines.
All Essex politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments. In turn, many of those graduates have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways and gone on to careers in politics, the civil service fast stream, management, journalism, police, armed forces, commerce, business, finance, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teaching and graduate research. For example, some of our most recent graduates from BA International Relations and Politics have found employment as a media officer for the Cabinet Office, the international projects assistant for the Labour Party, a researcher for Westminster Forum Projects and roles within IMG Media, Jane’s Information Group and the local council.
Our notable alumni include the former President of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Oscar Arias, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. Reflecting the fact that politics opens rather than closes doors, more recent graduates have begun careers with such diverse employers as polling agency YouGov, Formula 1 magazine Red Bulletin, online bookmakers Betfair, and HM Chelmsford Young Offenders Institution.
As graduates from a leading department, our students are well placed to go on to further study, either at Essex – where we offer a wide range of Masters courses – or elsewhere.
Your employability and Essex
At Essex we take your employability seriously, helping you become a rounded individual with the ability to succeed, whatever your plans. You’ll find your department works with our Employability and Careers Centre to inform you about options to study or work overseas, your Faculty Employability Coordinator finds degree-related work placements, and our Students’ Unions ensures that, annually, over 700 students volunteer and more than 4,000 get involved in sports, clubs and societies.
At Essex you can gain new skills that look good on your CV, like paid placements through our frontrunners scheme, graduate-level paid internships, and opportunities to develop discipline-specific skills as part of your studies.
We help you understand your skills, and how to demonstrate these to an employer. You can get our extra-curricular employability award – the Big Essex Award – recorded on your transcript, receive one-to-one advice on careers, use our Essex CV guides on applying for work, learn from famous entrepreneurs and take part in workshops, and meet employers through on-campus events.
We develop your employability through fantastic opportunities, and give you the tools to explore the meaning of your unique experiences, so you are ready for your future.
Here at Essex, our students can undertake period of study or work abroad specifically tailored to his/her academic interests and future career plans. You are taught and assessed by your host university, so assessment may be in the form of written papers, oral or written exams, lab or project work, research, or work-based learning. All successfully completed pre-approved modules will be credited towards your Essex degree.
Study abroad is an excellent opportunity for personal development. It affords you the chance to become immersed in another culture over a sustained period, coming to know a country and its people in a way that you could not hope to as a tourist. It is also an opportunity to experience a different educational system and develop different skills. You learn to view the world (and your academic discipline) from another perspective, becoming more independent and confident.
Study abroad also enhances your employability. It helps your CV stand out from other candidates and signals to an employer that you have maturity, adaptability and organisational skills. As the world of business is becoming increasingly international, the experience of living abroad is, in itself, attractive to many employers. Depending upon your study abroad destination, you may also gain fluency in another language, which is a highly attractive skill to have as you enter the employment market.
If you are interested in learning another language then our Languages for All programme enables you to study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.
Within our Department of Government, we offer taught Masters courses, as well as research supervision for PhD and MPhil. Our taught courses are designed to provide you with an advanced understanding of contemporary theory, research and methods, plus a knowledge of either the politics of a geographical area or an aspect of the discipline. This comprehensive range of MA, MSc and MRes courses cover an array of research fields, approaches and methodologies. You undertake rigorous training in analytical skills: qualitative and quantitative, theoretical and empirical, and global, local and comparative.
We have steadily consolidated our reputation as the best politics department in the UK and in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We offer research supervision in the following fields: government; ideology and discourse analysis; international relations; political behaviour; and politics
GCSE English: C; GCSE Maths: C
IB: 33-32 points (we consider IB certificates at the Higher level on a case-by-case basis)
Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 12 level three credits at distinction and the remainder at merit (or above) or achievement of the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 6 level three credits at distinction and the remainder at merit (or above).
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5 in each component (or equivalent). Different requirements apply for second year entry.
We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
We welcome applications from mature students, students interested in direct entry to the second year and students wishing to defer entry.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.