Undergraduate Course

BA Political Theory and Public Policy

BA Political Theory and Public Policy

Overview

The details
Political Theory and Public Policy
7L29
October 2019
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus
Government

What institutions and ideologies govern the organisation of public life? What principles of justice should inform public policy? Should markets be left alone or should we seek to control them? And how should we understand markets and politics anyway? How should our public discourses and practices reflect the need to tackle pressing social, economic, and political issues?

Based in the top politics department in the country, this course is designed to enable graduates to think critically about our responses to such events in a way that is theoretically informed, and to tackle a wide range of issues soundly and confidently.

We provide students with a solid grounding in the concepts and principles that underpin public policy, and public life more generally. You study topics including:

  • The influence of language, rhetoric, and ideology on public institutions
  • Debates over how best to govern
  • Ethical considerations in public life
  • Politics and power
  • Principles of social justice

BA PTPP also gives students the chance to integrate a half-year internship in the second year of their course, and to pursue a 3rd year research paper on a topic of their choice.

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 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.

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.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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 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.

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.

The key member of our academic staff for this course is Professor David Howarth, who works on faith, politics and public space in democracies.

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

  • 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 includes 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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

IB: 30 points. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. 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 & 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. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and 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 listed above. 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.

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 here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Introduction to Politics

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

Truth, Justice, and the Nature of Politics

Which principles should guide political societies? Explore the fundamental concepts of political obligations, freedom, rights and equality which underpin political science, through studying a range of positions including both contemporary and historical ideas.

View Truth, Justice, and the Nature of Politics on our Module Directory

Scientific Reasoning for the Social Sciences

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 Scientific Reasoning for the Social Sciences on our Module Directory

Politics and Power

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.

View Politics and Power on our Module Directory

Career Portfolio

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

Institutions of Democracy

What rules affect political action? You explore how institutions and the rules they enforce, for example voting under a specific electoral system, affect political and economic outcomes, and whether these are ultimately only second-best solutions to collective action.

View Institutions of Democracy on our Module Directory

Comparative Political Analysis

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.

View Comparative Political Analysis on our Module Directory

Politics and Economic Policies

Voters, in theory, should shape economic policy. But in practice, this is often determined by the preferences of politicians and private market forces, both legal and illegal. You develop an understanding of the beliefs, incentives and behaviour of political actors which explain the link between political processes and economic policy.

View Politics and Economic Policies on our Module Directory

Co-Operation and Conflict

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.

View Co-Operation and Conflict on our Module Directory

Principles of Social Justice

How should a society distribute resources and opportunities between individuals and groups? The principles of social justice we hold affect how we answer this question. You study different philosophical approaches to these principles and explore their implications for the current issue of climate justice.

View Principles of Social Justice on our Module Directory

Discourse, Rhetoric and Power

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.

View Discourse, Rhetoric and Power on our Module Directory

Ethics and Public Policy

Is torture ever morally justified? Should pornography be banned? Should prostitution be legalised? Take part in the intellectual search for the moral principles that should govern how we answer these questions and others in governing public policy.

View Ethics and Public Policy on our Module Directory

The New British Politics

How has the UK political system changed over the last 20 years? Centring on the decline of the traditional Westminster Model of democracy and its replacement by a political system in which power is more dispersed, you explore topics including devolution, Britain’s relationship with the EU, coalition government, the Human Rights Act, and the changing party system.

View The New British Politics on our Module Directory

Parties and Elections

Does everyone in a political party subscribe to the same core ideology? How do you pick which party to vote for? How do you persuade more people to vote? You examine party systems, party competition, electoral behaviour and party organisation in advanced liberal democracies.

View Parties and Elections on our Module Directory

Career Portfolio

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

International Organisations

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.

View International Organisations on our Module Directory

International Relations: Theories and Approaches

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.

View International Relations: Theories and Approaches on our Module Directory

The European Union: Institutions and Policies

How are decisions made in the EU? What impact do states and government have on European policy, and vice versa? Gain an understanding of the relationship between the EU and its members through studying the origins of European Integration and the institutional systems of the EU.

View The European Union: Institutions and Policies on our Module Directory

Environmental Politics

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.

View Environmental Politics on our Module Directory

Research Project: Politics

Prepare a 10,000 word dissertation which researches the political topic you are most passionate about.

View Research Project: Politics on our Module Directory

Electoral Behaviour

Examine how people reason about voting and politics, and why people vote the way that they do. You consider the effects of institutions such as the electoral system or the number of political parties on voting behaviour, using case studies from elections in Britain and other advanced democracies.

View Electoral Behaviour on our Module Directory

Domestic Politics and International Relations

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.

View Domestic Politics and International Relations on our Module Directory

Authoritarianism

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.

View Authoritarianism on our Module Directory

American Political Institutions

No other executive position in the world has the status of the US presidency. Receive a comprehensive introduction to the office of the American president, considering both the importance of individual leadership characteristics, and the broader American political landscape in light of recent international events such as 9/11.

View American Political Institutions on our Module Directory

The Analysis of Conflict and Peace

Explore the relationship of power, preferences, economic relations, domestic politics and international organisations in relation to conflict and peace. You investigate the underlying theoretical arguments about war and peace, consider the implications entailed by these different theories, and evaluate these using empirical data.

View The Analysis of Conflict and Peace on our Module Directory

Career Portfolio

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

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/EU fee

£9,250

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

£15,750

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 and EU fee information

International fee 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.

2019 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, June 15, 2019
  • Saturday, September 21, 2019
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

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.

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.

For information on transferring from another university, applying when you are not at school or college, and applying for readmission, please see How to apply and entry requirements

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant 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 applicant 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 applicantdays@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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.

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.

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.

Two women looking at a PC screen
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.