Department of Government

Undergraduate study

Student reading in the library

Question everything

We want you to challenge us and continue the debate outside your class, whether that's in the common room, the café or the bar.

You'll learn to always ask, and answer, the "how do you know?" question, moving from opinions to evidence and explore the behaviour of all key political players - states, presidents, cabinets, parties and citizens, and the big ideas that underlie behaviour across the world.

Your lecturers are some of the biggest names in the field. They're using research to answer important questions, such as how governments and citizens can be persuaded to tackle climate change, and the consequences of the end of the world.

We've taught some of the best minds in the country and you'll be part of this Essex tradition of producing the brightest political minds in the UK.

Explore our undergraduate courses


Why choose us?
  • We are ranked 1st for research excellence in Politics and International Studies (REF 2014)
  • You will be taught by some of the biggest names in the field
  • We are ranked top 25 in the UK for politics (Guardian University Guide 2021)
"Going to Essex was life changing. My career since leaving Essex has all been a result of the experiences and skills I had whilst at university."
Ben Wright BA Politics graduate

Your skills

You learn skills that make you highly employable:

  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • gathering and analysing evidence
  • questioning established ideas
  • expressing ideas clearly and logically
  • writing to the point.

How will teaching in the Department of Government be delivered in 2020?

Will COVID-19 change the way my course is taught?

If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to.

What will this mean for my learning experience?

For the 2020 academic year, we are focusing on ensuring that we are able to deliver a quality education and that your teaching and learning can continue if there is further disruption. That’s why we’ve been working hard to ensure that our students are able to start with us in October – in whatever way possible. The changes we have made to support you and protect your health and wellbeing mean that, for most of our courses, this will include blended learning – with lectures, classes and other teaching taking place both online and face to face. Much of this teaching will be offered “live” (even if online / virtual) but will also be available to access at times that suit you.

We know that your learning experience is about more than just attending classes, and our campuses can provide you with all you need to make the most of your studies. This includes private space to study, in your on-campus study bedrooms as well as in PC labs and other spaces on our three campuses for self-study. We can also offer you access to laptops on loan and access to our library services; as well as enhanced WiFi provision across our campuses.

Each teaching module will now include a student representative responsible for gathering and reporting classmates' feedback. This ensures we are consistently listening, responding and adapting to honest feedback, ensuring your opinions and experiences are understood and acted upon. We also host a monthly Meet the Leadership hour in which students can discuss their learning and University experience with the Head of Department and other senior academics.

Our flexible approach has ensured there are no significant reductions to course structure or modules. Instead, we have increased our offering with a new core module available across our courses; Resilience to Disease and Disaster – a particularly relevant topic in a post-pandemic world.

What happens if the situation changes before I start or during my time at Essex?

We recognise that some students may have difficulty travelling to campus in time to start the academic year. If for any reason you are unable to travel to campus to start the academic year, all teaching will be available virtually. This means that you can start, or continue, your programme off-campus, wherever you are, with full flexibility to transfer to on-campus learning as soon as you are able to. All of our modules are designed to support you to continue learning and still be able to access one-to-one consultation and guidance that you would normally get from the lecturers on your course, if further outbreaks of infection occur during the year. This means you can join us in full confidence that you can continue and complete your programme of study.

There is lots of helpful information about starting at Essex in our guide for applicants should you have any questions, feel uncertain about something in particular, or, would like up to date information on specific topics if your situation changes.  In this guide you will also find specific information which relates to non-UK nationals planning to travel to Essex from abroad.

What will my broader student experience be like?

As well our usual welcome activities and landmark events like the Annual Student Conference, we will providing even more events and schemes to ensure you make the most of your time in the Department. These include:

The @EssexGov Fair

The @EssexGov Fair is our very own Department welcome fair. Our current students will advertise a host of clubs and opportunities available to new students of the Department. You might decide to join the Politics Society, the Model UN, Amnesty International, or learn more about becoming a member of one of the major British political parties.

First Generation @EssexGov

This scheme is designed especially for those who belong to the first generation in their family to reach university. In this scheme, academics who were themselves ‘first generation’ students will pass on insights and tips about adjusting to life and learning to succeed at university.

Be a Mentor @EssexGov

This is your chance to lead a study group of fellow students, gaining mentoring experience and learning how to report student feedback to lecturers. This scheme will also give you credits towards the Students’ Union’s Leadership Programme which is a great way of boosting your CV during your time with us.

Election2020 @EssexGov

The big political event of your first term will be the US election. Our Department is home to some of the world’s best US political scientists. There will be a range of activities, including round table discussions in which you can put your questions to lecturers, and an election forecasting competition in which you put your predictions against the experts.

We will run similar events for other big political stories throughout the year, responding to key political happenings such as the Black Lives Matter protests. There will also be many academic and social events at which you can get to know your lecturers and fellow students. We host frequent Departmental events including quizzes, Women in Politics coffee breaks and Meet the Leadership hours in which you can put your questions to the Head of Department and other senior members of staff.

We have been working in partnership with our Students’ Union to ensure that you can enjoy our clubs, societies, activities and services. We have built in flexibility to enable you to access support and activities, and to shape your experience around your life.

To learn more about the range of events Essex will be hosting, please visit our events calendar. To stay up to date with the very latest guidance on how to visit your campus, view our coming onto campus guide.

How will the University support me during this time?

The health and wellbeing of our students is our priority, and this has been one of the focuses to ensure students can start on campus – safely – in October.

This means we are constantly monitoring advice from the UK Government, Public Health England, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the World Health Organisation.

To protect our community on campus once the academic year starts again in October, we will be looking to introduce the following measures:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sterilising regimes
  • Social distancing in line with international guidance
  • Signage and floor markings in key locations to help you move around our campuses safely

We’re asking you to wear face coverings in all public campus areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain or in specifically designated locations. We’ll be supporting you by giving two washable face coverings to all students.

There are a number of support systems available to you whilst you are at Essex, for whenever you need them and for however long you wish to use them. These include:

The University also runs a variety of online events throughout the year including at-home yoga and mindfulness sessions. To find out more about the network of support you will benefit from during your time at Essex, please visit the Student Directory.

Image of a female student holding a laptop
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