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BA Economics and Politics

Why we're great

  • We confront opinions with evidence to understand how the forces that shape our world really work.
  • You have access to some of the best minds in politics and the biggest names in the field.
  • We have the only Regius Professor in Political Science in the UK, an honour conferred by the Queen.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: LL12
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: LL13
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: LL1F
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666

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About the course

How and why do governments try to regulate markets? Why are Central Banks independent? What explains the fluctuations of stock markets and exchange rates? How important is the economy for the outcome of elections? What is globalisation and how does it impact our daily lives?

Economic and political events dominate domestic and international news, and impact on our day-to-day lives, as well as shaping the future. This course should interest you if you want to gain an understanding of politics and economics, but also want to understand the interaction between the two disciplines. You study economic methods while exploring the very nature of democracy and the ways in which governments use the economy for their advantage.

One this course you study a range of topics such as:

  • Macro- and microeconomics
  • Political systems and political ideas
  • Research design and statistical methods
  • Globalisation and international development
  • European Union economics and politics

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.

Meanwhile, our Department of Economics is rated consistently highly for student satisfaction and is top 5 in the UK for research, with over 90% of their research rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014).

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the classroom. You may also study a four-year variant of this course, the third year of which is spent studying abroad at a partner institution, or on a placement year. This additional year abroad is at no extra cost. The module structure for your first two years and your final year are the same as our three-year versions

We 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.

Training social scientists of the future

We offer you the opportunity to follow a specialised pathway that embeds quantitative methods in your degree. Successful completion of specified modules entitles you to receive the qualifier ‘(Applied Quantitative Methods)’ at the end of your degree title, for example BA (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript. You can also apply for student bursaries to go on work placements, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.

Placement year

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you by providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost.

The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend your third year employed on a placement with an external organisation, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course. This provides you with the opportunity to learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways.

Our expert staff

Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.

Our economics researchers are also at the forefront of their field and have even received MBEs, with students coming from across the globe to study, research or work with us. Our Department of Economics is a richly diverse home to staff and students from all over the world who have a strong sense of belonging and want to think, learn and change the world together.

Many of our researchers also provide consultancy services to businesses in London and other major financial centres, helping us to develop research for today's society as well as informing our teaching for the future.

Specialist facilities

Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:

  • Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
  • ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
  • Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
  • A dedicated study skills advisor in your first year for one-to-one advice
  • A personal tutor and peer mentor for every student
  • We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
  • Extensive software for quantitative analysis is available in all computer labs across the university

Your future

All Essex, politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.

Our students are in demand from a host of employers, in politics, the civil service fast stream, management, journalism, police, armed forces, commerce, business, finance, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), teaching and graduate research.

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, and our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

  • The World Bank
  • NATO
  • Houses of Parliament Research Unit
  • United Nations Development Program
  • ICM research
  • IMG Media

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

What is “Politics”? How have people conceived of political analysis, the state, laws, wars and political parties, across cultures and over time? Gain an understanding of essential concepts in the study of politics and explore the economic, social and intellectual trends that have made democracy possible.

How do consumers make decisions? Or firms conduct different market strategies? What impact does government policy have on inflation? Or unemployment? Develop your knowledge of economics in relation to a range of contemporary issues. Learn how to apply both micro and macroeconomic principles to the analysis of such problems.

An often misused concept, “democracy” takes radically different forms in different democratic countries. You gain a real understanding of what is meant by “democracy” and investigate under what conditions and in what countries liberal democracy is most likely to occur.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.

What are the main sources of economic data? And how is data used in economics? Study the methods of quantitative economics, looking at how economic data is described and analysed. Learn to read, understand and manipulate data from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

How do economists interpret data? How can we test relationships suggested by economic theory? How do we use economic theories to analyse real world issues? This module helps you to understand simple and commonly used statistical and econometric techniques, and important software for applied economics. You learn how data can be used to analyse real world economic problems.

Year 2

How do consumers behave in a competitive market? And what about producers? How do various imperfections affect the outcome of decentralised markets? Study the fundamental concepts and methods in microeconomics. Understand the tools and methods of analysis for economic reasoning, and develop your critical approach to economic issues and policies.

How can we answer political questions using statistical data? Learn how to find relevant research designs and questions in order to use quantitative methods in political research, assisting you in your other modules and improving your job prospects.

Which econometric methods can analyse economic data? How do you critically assess applied economic literature? Learn how to carry out statistical and econometric calculations, plus gain experience of using the Stata software package. Demonstrate your subsequent understanding of the linear regression model with your own investigation on an empirical issue.

What tools can you use for macroeconomic analysis? And how can these then be applied to macro-policy issues? Learn how to build alternative macroeconomic models and apply analytical reasoning. Examine real-life macroeconomic questions, on topics such as government budgets or wage-price flexibility, and critically evaluate macroeconomic policies.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.

How should we approach relationships between different countries? Explore different theoretical lenses through which the world can be viewed, including realist, liberalist, and post-positivist theories of the behaviour of international political actions.

How can we understand and critically analyse the Middle East? What is the current relationship between the West and the Middle East? How has this changed over history? You look at the interaction between factors including regional crises, Arab-Israeli conflicts, conflicts in Lebanon, the Iran-Iraq war, Gulf wars, the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria.

Final year

Explore how economic and political incentives interact to create and prevent opportunities that shape behaviour. You use rigorous logic and evidence to understand issues in classical political economy and to address contemporary policy questions in both domestic and international politics.

What interests you? Design and implement your own research project, under the guidance and supervision of our world-leading academic staff. Demonstrate your knowledge of economic ideas in greater depth, building your professional research skills and developing further understanding of a topic that fascinates you.

This module develops the material started in Intermediate Macroeconomics and aims to give students an understanding of the main types of economic data; how those data are collected, constructed and used and Key ideas in the module will be illustrated with reference to recent events and current policy debates. Upon successful completion of this module, you will be able to approach macroeconomic data critically, and to evaluate the strength of empirical evidence for macroeconomic theories and macroeconomic policy positions.

Gain a rich background in the concepts and techniques of game theory, its uses, limitations and issues. The course is also applied, focussing on several important cases of strategic interaction, including auctions, interactions between rival firms, moral hazard and adverse selection, and the theory of the firm. Upon completion of the course, you will be able to evaluate the impact the strategic considerations in the analysis of interactions among decision-makers, and you will have learned how to apply game theory to issues in microeconomics.

Study one of the most important contemporary aspects of political action: the natural environment. You consider the state of the environment and possible paths along which it might change, before exploring environmental policies from the level of individual values, to the environmental movement, to political parties, and finally to the level of the EU.

The problem of global poverty has come increasingly into focus in recent decades. This module explore the ways in which the wealthy countries of the world, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have tried to catalyse or facilitate economic and human development in the poorer countries of the world.

Develop the employability, citizenship, and life skills to successfully compete in the graduate job market after graduation. You complete a portfolio of employability skills and develop a critical understanding of the world of work.


On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.


  • Teaching is arranged to allow a lot of freedom in how you organise your learning experience
  • Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
  • Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
  • Optional support classes in Economics


  • Assessed through a combination of written coursework, presentations, class participation, and end-of-year examinations
  • If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience
  • Complete your final year project in consultation with a personal supervisor

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UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB
GCSE: Mathematics C

IB: 30 points, including Standard Level Mathematics grade 4, if not taken at Higher Level. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C or above.

Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Entry requirements for students studying BTEC qualifications are dependent on units studied. Advice can be provided on an individual basis. The standard required is generally at Distinction level.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: 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.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.