Undergraduate Course

BA International Relations

BA International Relations

Overview

The details
International Relations
L258
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus
Government

Why do international conflicts arise? Why are other parts of the world largely peaceful? What is the role of the United Nations and other international organisations? What is globalisation and how does it impact our daily lives? What are the prospects for international cooperation in addressing problems like global warming and environmental degradation?

This course should interest you if you want to understand how the international system works, how decisions are made and how lines are drawn. Taking this course gives you a foundation in politics, while the study of international relations develops your research and critical analysis skills, teaching you methods of analysis and giving 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

Politics at Essex is all about moving from opinions to evidence. You will quickly learn to ask – and how to answer – the “how do you know?” question. We train our students to be fearless and independent, to question everything and to draw on the broadest possible range of facts and ideas.

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are 6th in UK for research power in politics and international studies (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

Why we're great.
  • We are 6th in UK for research power in politics and international studies (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021)
  • We're 16th in the UK for International Relations in the Guardian University Guide 2024
  • We have the only Regius Professor in Political Science in the UK, an honour conferred by the Queen

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you 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.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university.

Placement year

Alternatively, on a placement year you can gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

A Placement-Linked Project module is also available as an alternative to the dissertation module in your third year. You attend shorter placements (a minimum of 150 hours in total), and use your learning on placement to inform a research project; fantastic work experience for your CV.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

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 key academic staff for this course are Professor Kristian Gleditsch, who works on inequality, conflict and violence, and Anna Getmansky, who works on the electoral impact of terrorism.

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, achieving 24/24 in the last evaluation of our department's teaching quality.

Specialist 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

Your future

At 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 international development, 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 includes the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow, and our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:

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

We also work with the University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

  • A-levels: BBB - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels.
  • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - email ugquery@essex.ac.uk for advice.
  • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent. Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
  • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554.
  • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • T-levels: We consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core.

Contextual Offers:

We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
Factors we consider:

  • Applicants from underrepresented groups
  • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
  • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
  • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

English language shelf-life

Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

If you require a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Pre-sessional English courses

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.

Pending English language qualifications

You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

Requirements for second and final year entry

Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Introduction to International Relations
(15 CREDITS)

This module introduces students to the study of international relations, with a particular emphasis on two broad fields: international security and international political economy. Topics in international security include state and non-state actors, the nature of power, the causes of war and peace, terrorism, international institutions, and human rights. Topics in international political economy include trade, finance, European integration, the origins of underdevelopment, government responses to disasters, and foreign aid. Throughout the class, students are encouraged to apply theoretical concepts to real world events.

View Introduction to International Relations on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Co-Operation and Conflict
(15 CREDITS)

Why do states sometimes go to war? What conditions can promote peace and international stability? When are states able to form cooperative agreements to promote trade, combat terrorism, or address climate change? Explore issues in international relations which help address complicated questions concerning cooperation and conflict between countries. 

View Co-Operation and Conflict on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Thinking Like a Social Scientist
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Thinking Like a Social Scientist on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Politics
(30 CREDITS)

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.

View Introduction to Politics on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list or Outside Option(s)
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option from list or Outside Option
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY

Career Portfolio
(0 CREDITS)

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.

View Career Portfolio on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Doing Political Research
(0 CREDITS)

Through this module you will learn how scholars in political science and international relations formulate research questions, develop theories to answer those questions, and use critical and empirical techniques to test the validity of those theories. More specifically, you will learn how to craft and refine a research question, define and measure concepts, formulate a theory and hypotheses, create a research design in order to collect data, and test theoretically-driven hypotheses with empirical evidence. The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to start you down a path to creating knowledge about the world of politics and global studies using the scientific process.

View Doing Political Research on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

International Relations: Theories and Approaches
(15 CREDITS)

How should we approach relationships between different countries? Explore different theoretical lenses through which the world can be viewed, including bargaining theory, liberal institutional approaches, and emotion-based, psychological models of the behavior of international political actions.

View International Relations: Theories and Approaches on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Violent Non State Actors: Violence, Crime and Conflict
(15 CREDITS)

Given the rise of groups such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, the focus on violent non-state actors has become more and more important. You discover why non-state actors resort to violence and crime, what tactics and strategies they use, how they fund their existence, how they undermine the state and what can be done to counter the instability they cause.

View Violent Non State Actors: Violence, Crime and Conflict on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Conflict Analysis
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Conflict Analysis on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

GV207-5-AU or GV252-5-SP
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY

Career Portfolio
(0 CREDITS)

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.

View Career Portfolio on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Issues in Politics: Final Year Project preparation
(0 CREDITS)

This module will develop your critical thinking capacity and develop your investigative skills required for independent research projects of different forms. The module will also provide important preparation for you to choose what type of final year project you wish to complete, as well as improving your research skills and hone basic writing skills. The modules aims to help you think critically while also developing insights into a variety of current topics that interconnect with politics.

View Issues in Politics: Final Year Project preparation on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

Capstone Project
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 02: OPTIONAL

Final year Politics option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 03: OPTIONAL

Final year Politics option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Politics option(s) or outside option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Career Portfolio
(0 CREDITS)

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.

View Career Portfolio on our Module Directory

Placement

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

  • 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

Undergraduate students in the Department of Government generally have a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar for each module every week or a two-hour seminar (in the case of smaller modules), but there are variations in place depending on the module.

Assessment

  • 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

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250 per year

You may have the opportunity to get an insight into the working of European Parliament during our annual trip to Brussels. This trip is optional and students who attend will need to pay a £50 contribution towards the trip cost.

International fee

£20,500 per year

You may have the opportunity to get an insight into the working of European Parliament during our annual trip to Brussels. This trip is optional and students who attend will need to pay a £50 contribution towards the trip cost.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our 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 book a campus tour here.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details on how to apply can be found on the filling in your UCAS undergraduate application web page.

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.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Offer Holder Days

If you receive an undergraduate offer to study with us in October 2024 and live in the UK, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Offer Holder Days. Our Colchester Campus Offer Holder Days run from February to May 2024 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus events run in April and May. These events provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. To support your attendance, we are offering a travel bursary, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Offer Holder Days, including terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for our travel bursary, please visit our webpage.

If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

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

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification 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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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.

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