Politics and International Relations

Few subjects are as directly engaged with big issues as politics. Join us to study power, who exercises it, for whom, how it is unequally distributed, and with what consequences.

Political environment

Bristol is a politically engaged city, enriched with cultural diversity, which makes it a fascinating place to study politics and international relations.

International study

Spend a year abroad, either on a joint honours degree with a modern language or studying in English on a four-year Study Abroad degree.

Career prospects

Our graduates go on to successful careers in government, non-governmental organisations, finance, law, the media, research, teaching, and public and voluntary sector work.

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Politics and International Relations at Bristol

Gain a world-class education in a diverse, supportive and engaging environment.

You will study the politics of individual countries and governments and the relationships between countries, communities and individuals. You will become familiar with different views and methods of analysis and learn to apply and evaluate them. Students' levels of achievement are very high, and our graduates are in demand.

Join our expert scholars in a vibrant and challenging academic and social environment. Our staff are global leaders in many areas of political study, including security, European politics, gender, political philosophy (analytic and continental), international development, international organisations, environmental politics, and US and British politics.

I would describe the University as a platform for human and intellectual development. It's all about challenging yourself to be better as a student and as a person. I like the units on my course and it’s easy to have cultural exchanges – I never stop learning from my peers.

Juan Pablo, BSc Politics and International Relations

Career prospects

Our graduates succeed with a wide variety of employers including UK government departments; international non-governmental organisations, such as Oxfam; finance; law; the media; education and research; and public and voluntary sector organisations.

You will learn how to operate in a deadline-driven environment and to manage competing demands. You will enhance your IT, communication, learning and interpersonal skills and you will develop your ability to make critical and incisive judgements and reach evaluative conclusions.

BSc/MSci Politics with Quantitative Research Methods enhances your disciplinary learning with applied data analysis skills attractive to future employers.

What our students do after graduating

Course structure

All of our courses include a mix of the following subjects:

  • world politics and international relations
  • comparative and national politics
  • political theory
  • approaches and methods.

Our first-year core units provide an introduction to important issues in politics, including concepts such as power, the state, democracy, freedom and citizenship; political institutions and practice in a range of different countries; theories and controversies in international relations; and how we go about studying and researching the ‘political’.

The second year introduces students to the major subfields of the discipline: political theory, international relations, and comparative and national politics. Sample units cover an exciting variety and could include The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, Green Political Theory, Politics and Policymaking in the UK, and more.

The final year offers a wide choice from a changing menu of more specialist units, allowing you to focus on what interests you most. Sample units may include:

  • States and Markets
  • Feminisms, Gender and International Relations
  • The Politics of the Contemporary Labour Party
  • Peace Building Theory and Practice
  • Populism and Politics in India.

Single honours students will write a dissertation, which provides an opportunity to concentrate on a single topic of special interest. Joint honours students can choose to take the dissertation as an option.

You will also have the opportunity to spend half a year studying abroad at a partner university. Find out more about where you can study abroad.

Q-Step programme

Politics is a partner in Bristol Q-Step, which is part of a national initiative offering enhanced skills training in the social sciences.

We offer the option of three- and four-year degree programmes combining core disciplinary learning with enhanced quantitative skills training in applied data analysis relevant to research in the social sciences.

Find out more about our 'with Quantitative Research Methods' course offerings.

Politics and International Relations

At Bristol you will receive a world-class education in a diverse, supportive and engaging environment. Our staff are global leaders in many areas of political study. Student levels of achievement are very high and our graduates are in demand.

Why study Politics and International Relations at Bristol?

You will have access to expert scholars in a vibrant and challenging academic and social environment. You will study the politics of individual countries and governments and the relationships between countries, communities and individuals. You will become familiar with different views and methods of analysis and learn to apply and evaluate them.

For single honours courses the first year includes four compulsory units that provide a solid grounding in politics. You will have greater choice as you progress through the course. The final year includes units that are linked to staff research interests and cover subjects such as political theory, international relations, political economy, UK politics, US politics, gender, security and conflict.

There is also an emphasis on research skills, with a compulsory unit in the first year. The dissertation in the final year enables you to conduct a piece of supervised, political research on a topic of your choice.

Politics is a partner in Bristol Q-Step, which is part of a national initiative offering enhanced skills training in the social sciences.

You will also have the opportunity to spend half a year studying abroad at a partner university. Visit Global Opportunities to find out more about where you can study abroad.

What kind of student would this course suit?

Few subjects are as directly engaged with the big issues as politics and international relations. Politics will suit those who are interested in the distribution of power and its effects, who exercises it and for whom. The study of politics and international relations will help you keep up-to-date with current affairs and help you to evaluate them critically.

Our politics students come from a variety of backgrounds but many will be engaged with extracurricular activities that demonstrate their broader interest in the world around them. They tend to be independently minded and able to present their own opinions persuasively.

How is this course taught and assessed?

The majority of units are taught through lectures and small-group seminars. In order for you to engage actively in units, we prioritise small-group work, with preparatory reading for each seminar. There is greater use of lectures in the first year to ensure adequate grounding in the discipline.

Each unit on the course has three timetabled hours and lecturers hold two open office hours for further discussion. Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, workshops and role play.

Units are assessed in a range of different forms, including seen and unseen exams, essays, case studies, presentations and reports.

What are my career prospects?

Our graduates enter employment across a wide variety of careers, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, international non-governmental organisations (such as Oxfam), finance, law, the media, education and research, and public and voluntary sector work.

You will learn how to operate in a deadline-driven environment and to manage competing demands. You will enhance your IT, communication, learning and interpersonal skills and you will develop your ability to make critical and incisive judgements and reach evaluative conclusions.

BSc/MSci Politics with Quantitative Research Methods enhances your disciplinary learning with applied data analysis skills attractive to future employers.

Find out more about what our students do after graduating.

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra (LLB Law)

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