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BA International Relations (4 Years Including Foundation Year)

Why we're great

  • We equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed at Essex and beyond.
  • Our international students benefit from a single visa for all four years of study.
  • Small class sizes allow you to work closely with your teachers and classmates.

Course options2017-18

UCAS code: L250
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
This course is not available to UK applicants
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: L250
Duration: 4 years
Start month: January
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Essex Pathways
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
This course is not available to UK applicants
Fee (International): £11,750
International students: The standard undergraduate degree fee for international students will apply in subsequent years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Are you an EU or international student who wants to study international relations in the UK? Do you need to improve your English language and academic study skills?

On our four-year BA International Relations (including foundation year), we work with you to help improve your language skills, to develop your subject-specific knowledge, and to improve your academic skills. You receive a thorough grounding in these areas during your foundation year (known as Year Zero) to prepare you for a further three years of undergraduate study at Essex.

You are an Essex student from day one, a member of our global community based at the most internationally diverse campus university in the UK.

At Essex, this course will give you a foundation in politics, while the study of international relations teaches you methods of analysis and gives you awareness of the world system.

This course explores many major areas of international relations, including:

  • Conflict and security studies
  • Comparative politics
  • International political economy
  • Political theory
  • Politics of the Middle East

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.

Professional accreditation

Essex is one of just three universities in the country to have received Q-Step Affiliate status for our social science courses.

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 International Relations (Applied Quantitative Methods) and this will appear on your transcript, helping you stand out when applying for jobs.

Our expert staff

Our staff all have strong subject backgrounds, and are highly skilled in their areas both as academics and practitioners.

With our Department of Government you will receive 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 academic staff work on topics ranging from international conflict and violence to British elections, and from the obligations of the younger generation to why authoritarian leaders welcome natural disasters.

You join an active and prolific research team, with the opportunity to work alongside a member of staff on their research instead of completing a dissertation; some of these projects have even resulted in joint staff/student publications.

Beyond their research, our staff are fantastic teachers, too. We're top 20 in the UK for student satisfaction, scoring an impressive 96% (NSS 2016), and achieved 24/24 in the last evaluation of our department's teaching quality.

Specialist facilities

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends

Our Department of Government also offers excellent on-campus facilities:

  • 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
  • A programme of seminars and events run by the department

Your future

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

Politics 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:

  • Qatar Financial Authority
  • NATO
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Houses of Parliament Research Unit
  • United Nations Development Program
  • Department of Health
  • 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 0

How did Plato and Aristotle influence Western political thought? How do you study class or gender today? What impact does globalisation have? Examine the history of social and political theory, critically analysing current issues. Understand key topics in politics and sociology for further study of the social sciences and humanities.

Academic Skills covers the key areas that you will experience during your degree, preparing you for aspects of academic study at undergraduate level. The module enables you to develop and enhance your existing abilities by focusing on the core skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking in an academic context. It does this with both generic texts and also, crucially, those related to your subject area. Academic Skills provides strategies for successful communication and interaction through independent and collaborative learning offering opportunity to further enhance your research skills. The content is designed to ensure that you acquire a range of transferable employability and life skills.

Want to study Hamlet? And contemporary works by Angela Carter or Kazuo Ishiguru? Interested in World War One poetry? Study a range of drama, poetry and prose fiction. Describe, analyse and reflect on key texts from Shakespeare to the present day. Become familiar with the crucial terms for assessing literature.

Britain has experienced unprecedented changes in the last 100 years. What has brought about these changes and how have they affected the Britain of today? This course will outline political, economic, social and cultural change in the UK during the Twentieth Century and beyond and offer an insight into Britain’s place in the modern world.

What can we know? How should we live? Study two important areas of philosophy – epistemology and ethics. Examine the work of key thinkers and understand the major themes in Western philosophy. Analyse contemporary issues using philosophical arguments. Become confident in the expression of your own thoughts and ideas.

Year 1

How do we forge, manage, and maintain better relationships between nations? How do relationships between countries affect the decision-making of governments? You study specific historical events including the two world wars and the cold war, as well as contemporary issues including security issues, nuclear technology, and drone warfare.

How do you put an end to armed conflict? What are the benefits and consequences of intervention? Explore issues in international relations which help address complicated questions concerning cooperation and conflict between countries.

What constitutes a good piece of research? You consider the basics of scientific work and procedures in the social sciences in order to understand the philosophy and theory of social scientific investigations, and to improve your research throughout your degree.

Are countries with high levels of trade less likely to go to war? Do election observers actually reduce election fraud? Learn how political scientists tackle these questions through understanding the basic strategies of comparative empirical analysis.

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 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.

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.

How far should modern governments be allowed to exercise their power over their citizens? Should citizens be free to use drugs? Should the police have greater surveillance powers? Should the government draft its citizens into its military and send them to stop genocide abroad? Investigate these difficult questions through readings both by contemporary political theorists and canonical work, by renowned authors such as Plato, Rousseau and Marx.

American politics have long dominated the global stage; these are crucial times for the study of the United States. Discuss policymaking and contemporary political events in order to gain a basic introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

Year 2

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.

Contemporary interaction between the Middle East and the West highlights the importance of understanding the history and political thought surrounding this interaction. Consider the impact of colonialism, nationalism pan-Arabism, Arab-Israeli conflicts, the politics of oil and water, and political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa.

Understand the evolving field of conflict resolution through exploring the causes and effects of armed conflict across the world, and scrutinising the theory and practice of how this can be managed peacefully.

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.

Why do International Organisations (IOs) have authority in international affairs? Why does the state delegate certain tasks to IOs rather than dealing with these outside of an institution? How effective are IOs in socialising states to behave in certain ways? Explore the theories, methods and case studies which allow you to analyse and assess the role of IOs.

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.

Our world is increasingly globalised, and modernisation has led to a partitioning of the world into so-called developed, developing, and underdeveloped countries. You consider the development of the state and its influence over a society in the wake of globalisation in relation to the non-western world.

Understand the central importance of meaning and metaphor in defining the political dimension of life. Draw out the implications of how language use affects political explanation and critique as you explore the intimate relationship between political rhetoric, discourse and power.

Final year

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.

The field of security studies has become increasingly important over the last decade. While old conflicts are reigniting and new ones are emerging, scholars and decision-makers debate about changes to the concepts of security, the redundancy of military force, and the centrality of the state in order to face these ever-important issues.

What explains the lack of government performance in dictatorships? Why do nondemocratic rulers govern with democratic institutions such as legislators and political parties? One of the biggest challenges to democracy in the contemporary world is authoritarianism. You explore the factors that drive politics and the conditions under which democratic transitions are more likely to occur.

Why are some states prone to authoritarianism? What are the effects of stateless groups? How are economies run in states that are virtually non-existent? Study the interplay between human rights, state-building, economic and political development in some of the most conflict-prone and unstable areas of the world.

Question party motivations, electoral strategies, ideologies and leaderships in Britain and Europe as you explore the changing nature and role of political parties in advanced liberal democracies.

How do interest groups influence the trajectory of a country's foreign policy? Who benefits and gains from globalisation and how does this affect their political beliefs? In this module you explore how domestic politics and interests influence government's decisions in the international arena, and how international politics affects domestic politics.

Teaching

  • Your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes, the latter involving about 20 students
  • Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
  • Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
  • Any language classes involve language laboratory sessions
  • Our classes are run in small groups, so you receive a lot of individual attention

Assessment

  • Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, reports, in-class tests, individual or group oral presentations, and small scale research projects

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

This course is not available to UK applicants.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email admit@essex.ac.uk 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.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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

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.

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.

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Applying

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.

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) 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 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 tours@essex.ac.uk 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.

Exhibitions

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.

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