Politics and International Relations

At Bristol you will receive a world-class education in a diverse, supportive and engaging environment. Our Politics and International Relations degree is among the best in the UK and our staff are global leaders in many areas of political study.

Student levels of achievement are very high, with the majority of students gaining a First or 2:1 and our graduates are in high demand.


Why study Politics and International Relations at Bristol?

You will have access to world renowned 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.

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 which are linked to staff research interests and cover subjects such as political theory, international relations, 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 have the opportunity to spend half a year studying abroad at a partner university.

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 be able to critically evaluate them.

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. 

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, Second year, LLB Law

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), though 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.

Read more about what graduates from our department go on to do

Did you know?

  • Students from more than 180 countries study with us, and we share more than 150 exchange links with institutions worldwide.
  • Our Students' Union has over 200 student-run societies, and the Richmond Building, home to the Students' Union, is undergoing a £30-million renovation.
  • 11 Bristol graduates and members of staff have been awarded Nobel prizes.

Subject leaflet

Download the Politics leaflet 2017 (PDF, 337kB)


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