Social Policy and Politics - BA (Hons)

Overview

Are you interested in current affairs and politics? Do you wonder about how societies can promote the welfare of individuals and families? Our Social Policy and Politics joint honours programme offers you a comprehensive approach to exploring these important topics.

The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research offers a large choice of specialist modules on race, social change, criminal justice, disability and the arts. Our academics are internationally recognised for their expertise in social policy and their varied research gives you the opportunity to study diverse areas ranging from street culture to terrorism.

Our modules and creative forms of assessment are designed to stimulate your thinking and prepare you for a job market looking for versatile and innovative individuals.

Politics at Kent encourages you to think critically about political events, ideas and institutions while engaging with the key issues of today. 

Our degree programme

In your first year, you explore the nature of social challenges such as ageing, neglect, crime, health, education, employment and homelessness. You are also introduced to the fundamentals of political science. You learn about qualitative and quantitative research methods relevant for both disciplines.

During all stages of your studies, you have the opportunity to choose specialist modules that suit your interests and include topics like health policy; inequality and social security; political change; crime; race and work.

In your final year of study, there is an option to take a dissertation module on a subject of your choice. This allows you to focus in detail on an area you are particularly passionate about.

Study resources

You have access to a wide range of topical journals and books in hard copy and digital format through Kent’s Templeman Library. You can even access content from the European Documentation Centre, a useful resource for studying European politics and policy.

Your designated academic advisor provides guidance for your studies and academic development.

Our Student Learning Advisory Service also offers useful workshops on topics like essay writing and academic referencing.

Extra activities

There are a number of student-led societies which you may want to join such as:

  • Socrates Society
  • Feminist Society
  • Kent Amnesty International
  • Politics and International Relations Society.

There are also events available throughout the year for students from the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. These may include:

  • research seminars and webcasts
  • career development workshops
  • informal lectures by guest experts followed by group discussion.

You may also attend the School of Politics and International Relations programmes of events which focuses on bridging the gap between academic study and real-life politics.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

Please note that meeting this typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee an offer being made.Please also see our general entry requirements.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

  • Certificate

    A level

    BBB

  • Certificate

    Access to HE Diploma

    The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

    If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

  • Certificate

    BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    Distinction, Distinction, Merit in Health and Social Care or Public Services.

  • Certificate

    International Baccalaureate

    34 points overall or 15 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

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Course structure

Duration: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

This module introduces students to the empirical study of the key structures, institutions, processes, outcomes and behaviour in political systems. It familiarises students with both the content and shape of political life and how academic scholars study it. But it also introduces the data, methods and techniques that allow students to study it themselves. Students learn about political life by learning how to do basic political research.

Find out more about PO335

The module aims to develop the understanding of the policy making process and the role of the different actors within the wider context of the tools and limits of the ability of the UK national government to influence behaviour. It has a particular focus on processes of social control as they relate to social policy. Learning will be centred around two main tasks:

i. Understanding the links between social policy and the regulation of behaviour e.g. the uses and outcomes of incentives, sanctions and educative communication to promote behavioural changes sought by policy makers.

ii. Taking topical examples of policy issues, contextualised analysis of the policy making process, its 'stages', key actors and

institutions will be used to explore how and why particular policy options emerge and evolve. A central concern will be to help students understand the nature of support and opposition for particular policy proposals and the implications for developing alternative policies.

Find out more about SA300

Health, care and wellbeing are central concerns in all our lives; and they raise questions of the interconnected roles of the state, the market and the individual in their creation and support. In this module we explore how we understand and conceptualise these areas, and the potential role of policy interventions in support of them. The module examines the social determinants of health, exploring the ways in which inequalities in society can be replicated. It asks how we might best address changing health needs, including in relation to the growing proportion of older people, exploring these in the context of the new politics of the NHS. What are the best structures to deliver health care? How should these best be funded? Life style is increasingly implicated in health outcomes, and the module explores the dilemmas raised by rising levels of obesity. These are matters of personal choice, but they challenge the health and wellbeing of the population, and raise questions of how choices are shaped in the context of market production. Governments increasingly declare that they are interested not simply in health or prosperity, but also of wellbeing. The module explores what this means, and why there is a new interest in this area. This includes a focus on children/young people and families, examining social policies in areas such as child care, looked after children (state care) and provision for young refugees.

Find out more about SA301

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the ways sociologists attempt to document and explain the social experience of everyday life. Each week the category of 'social experience' is held up for analytical scrutiny in relation to a particular component of 'everyday life'. The course aims to illustrate the value of sociology for helping individuals to better understand the contents and conditions of their social experience of the world. It also aims to document the ways in which sociological theories and methods have developed in correspondence with the evolution of modern societies. The curriculum will include topics such as, The Social Experience of: Work; Memory; Childhood; Food; Stigma; Animals; Charity; and Taste.

Find out more about SO336

Sociology is the study of human societies. It is a discipline committed to the attempt to map out and explain the constitution of society. It also aims to attend to and explain the distinctive character of people's social experience of the world. Sociologists operate from the premise that, by working to explain human characteristics and behaviours in social terms and as relative products of society, they stand to offer insights into some of the major forces that determine our thoughts and behaviours. They work under the conviction that human beings are fundamentally social beings and are products of distinct forms of society. This course is designed to provide you with a basic introduction to Sociology. A particular focus is brought to how sociologists venture to understand the social structures and determinant social forces that shape our living conditions and life chances. It also outlines some of the ways in which such matters are addressed as problems for sociological theory and empirical sociological research.

The curriculum will include topics such as:

What is Sociology?

Theories and Theorizing

Methods and Research

Cities and Communities

The State, Social Policy and Control

Globalization

Work, Employment and Leisure

Inequality, Poverty and Wealth

Stratification, Class and Status

Find out more about SO337

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

This module provides a broad introduction to welfare services in modern Britain, with a focus on England. Successful students will improve their understanding of the recent history and current organisation of the following areas of social welfare provision. These include education, health, social care, and housing.

The module starts with a basic mapping and description of key institutions and issues. It then moves on to: The policy-making process: paying for welfare services; social policy implementation by government and professions; assessing the impact of social policies.

The teaching will emphasise debates, arguments and controversies. Students will learn how to put together an argument and persuade others.

Find out more about SO601

This course introduces students to the nature and purposes of descriptive and causal analysis in politics and international relations. Students will develop skills in choosing, using and evaluating different research designs and the techniques for the collection and analysis of data.

In addition to developing a conceptual and theoretical understanding of different approaches to evidence gathering and data analysis, students will also have the opportunity to extend their skills in practical data analysis. The course builds on their knowledge of the approaches and methods used in the study of politics and international relations introduced in the first year of the degree program and the foundation in the analysis of quantitative data established in the second year. Because of the focus in prior modules on quantitative research techniques this module pays particular attention to qualitative data and how it can be used alongside quantitative approaches. Emphasis will therefore be placed on a mixed-methods approach to political analysis that enables students to integrate, analyse and evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data. Students will notably practice skills in thinking about process tracing and how this method may allow for the identifcation of causal relationships.

The first part of the course will focus on general questions and problems in the empirical study of politics and international relations. Moodle quizzes will support the consolidation of knowledge of these issues. The second part will focus on the application of different research designs to understand specific examples of research. In this second part of the course students will be asked to read carefully an article employing a particular research design and method of data analysis in order to understand and develop a practical sense of how these research designs and methods are used to generate knowledge. These readings can become the basis of the critical evaluation that students are expected to develop in the first part of the coursework project.

Find out more about PO661

The study of social and political phenomena is a vast endeavour and this class will serve as an introduction to methods for social science research. It provides a basic, non-technical introduction to the use of quantitative methods in the political sciences for students from a variety of educational backgrounds (including those with very limited knowledge of mathematical terminology and notation). The progression of this course will address scientific research design and methodology and consider many examples of such research In short, it seeks to enable students to read, interpret, and critically assess arguments drawing on quantitative methods in Politics and International Relations. Students with some prior exposure to quantitative methods will have the opportunity to improve their command of statistical software as well as apply their general statistical skills to data sets commonly found in policy and academic work.

Find out more about PO687

Optional modules may include

This module provides an overview of key theories, concepts and debates in the discipline of international relations: examples of such theories include liberalism, realism, international society approaches, Marxism, critical theory, post-structuralism and feminism. The theories will be introduced and evaluated in terms of their weaknesses and strengths. This will require some discussion of how theories contribute to the formation of knowledge and how they are to be 'tested' or evaluated.

Find out more about PO690

The Asia-Pacific is one of the world's most economically and politically dynamic regions. But despite nuclear, territorial, and historical tensions, growing superpower competition, and cross-border threats from crime to the environment, the region has remained relatively peaceful and stable since 1945.

In this module we will begin by explore the puzzle of the region’s stability using approaches drawn from Western and non-Western international relations theories. We will then use these theories to help understand the causes of the region’s most pressing security and development concerns, analyse the likelihood that they will lead to instability and conflict, and evaluate policy measures that might resolve them. We will look at the risk of war over the Taiwan Straits, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and historical grievances with Japan, before analysing regional solutions to cross-national security and economic challenges. The module will conclude by examining whether the region’s stability is likely to continue in the face of major shifts in the regional balance of power.

Please note that to succeed in this course students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO684

This module functions as a 'great books' module: students are expected to read a significant portion of a great book every week (averaging around fifty pages each week). These books will introduce students to important debates in a series of different fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as key debates in the philosophy of science. While the content of the module will vary from year to year depending on guest lecturers, a balance will be struck to enable students to learn widely and develop a critical outlook on literary, social, political, economic, and epistemological works. Students will be encouraged to make connections between all of these areas of knowledge and critically evaluate the works of the authors read in their written work.

Find out more about PO685

The purpose of the module is to enable students to critically engage with the International Society (or “English School”) approach to International Relations. Combining political theory, IR theory, philosophy, sociology, and history this approach seeks to understand the theory and practice of international politics by reference to the historical development of relations between large scale political entities (from empires, hordes, kingdoms, to the modern nation-state and beyond) and the discourses that have emerged (Machiavellian, Grotian, Kantian) in response to the development of first European international society and eventually world society. The course focuses on the central features of international society - war and peace - as they have been conceived by the three traditions and members of the English School from Martin Wight to more contemporary figures.

Find out more about PO667

This module will address the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, democratisation and violence across the region, and the growing importance of populism and nationalism.

A central theme of the module will be uncovering the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from conflict to corruption, purges to propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of this vitally important region. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems and their economic and security considerations to shine a light on major historical and contemporary policies.

In seminars and their policy report, students will develop their own expertise on one East Asian country, in order to provide cutting-edge political analysis of the policy challenges that East Asian leaders face today.

Please note that this course covers a wide range of countries and time periods, so to succeed students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO683

The curriculum is intended to familiarise students with the conservative tradition in modern politics. This is achieved by reference to a range of key conservative thinkers selected by the module convenors to help students understand the diversity of the conservative tradition and consider what factors help to cohere it. Comparison within the tradition and across a variety of thinkers is achieved by examining these thinkers' views on four basic categories of modern politics, namely the state, the market, society and international relations. In order to meet these broad learning outcomes, essay questions will be designed in order to ensure that students have to compare at least two thinkers. The module is structured around lectures and seminars.

Find out more about PO669

This module explores the origins, evolution and role of the United Nations (UN) in world politics. The aim is to understand how and why states and other actors participate in the UN. The module further explores the extent to which the United Nations is able to achieve its stated goals of maintaining peace and security, achieving cooperation to solve key international problems, and promoting respect for human rights. The module examines the work of key UN organs, agencies, and member states in a variety of issue areas, with the aim of critically assessing the successes, challenges, and failures of the United Nations.

Find out more about PO555

This module examines the complex relationship between foreign policy analysis and foreign policy practice. It does so by exploring shifting approaches to making and examing foreign policy, including the contributions of IR theory to Foreign Policy Analysis. Historical antecedents of foreign policy as a practice are examined via observations of traditional bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, followed by traditional state-based actors, non-state actors, and the nature of the structure they inhabit. FP decision-making is then examined, followed by the process of foreign policy implementation. The issue of motivation is tackled through analyses of the largely domestic impact of culture, interests and identity and broader effect of intra-state norms, ethics, the issue of human rights. Case studies of key countries reinforce the practical implications of above-mentioned issues throughout the module.

Find out more about PO563

This module focuses on European Union foreign policy, i.e. the 'external dimension' of EU politics, exploring the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Following the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the position of the High Representative, the EU has greater capacity to pursue foreign policy in its neighbourhood, and beyond. Definitions and different strands of European foreign policy will be identified.

Thereafter, the foreign policy tools of the EU will be looked at, after moving into an in-depth thematic treatment of the key foreign policy issues facing the EU vis-à-vis its security, defence, economic, trade and development relations, Brexit and its dynamics with ‘rising powers’, the US, its eastern and southern neighbours in Central Europe, Asia and North Africa. Other issues include its burgeoning military capacity and the impact of institutional reform.

Broader themes will include the impact of global developments on Europe, the international significance of European integration and the more general role of the EU in the new world order. This course will draw on theories from political science and international relations as well as making use of concepts of culture and identity in determining Europe’s connections with the world.

Find out more about PO566

This module explores the origins and evolution of post-Communist Russia. It covers the period from the late 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Soviet Union, but the main focus is on the years since 1991, starting with the failed putsch against Gorbachev and the rise of Boris Yeltsin and ending with the dilemmas facing Vladimir Putin in his fourth presidential term from 2018. The module examines political developments in post-Communist Russia, with a glance backwards to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and also analysis of relations with the former Soviet states and the international system. The theoretical focus is on the problems of the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, coupled with the broader problem of establishing a new political order in the context of problematic relations with the West. Linked to this are constitutional developments, economic transformations and social changes. The degree to which the legacy of the past affects contemporary Russia will be examined, with particular attention to questions of political culture, geopolitical determinism and economic interdependence.

Specifically, we will discuss issues such as democratisation, the role of the presidency, the emergence and evolution of the multi-party system, electoral and parliamentary politics, federalism and regionalism, as well as economic, foreign, security and defence policy. We will also look at problems of leadership, evaluating the achievements and failures of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), Vladimir Putin (2000-2008 and 2012-present) and Dmitry Medvedev (2008-12 as president and 2012-present as Prime Minister). We will study empirical issues to provide the knowledge and evidence against which conceptual questions can be addressed and rival theories tested.

Find out more about PO579

The purpose of this module is to consider the ways in which feminist thought has influenced political theory. We examine a range of feminist approaches to politics, asking what unifies them and where and why they diverge from one another. Throughout, we ask how meaningful it is to speak of feminism in the singular: given the immense variety displayed by feminist thinking, should we talk about feminisms? Another guiding question will be the extent to which these approaches pose a fundamental challenge to traditional political theory. Can feminist theories of politics just 'add women and stir'? Or do feminist approaches compel us to new or different methodologies, conceptual tools and even definitions of politics?

Find out more about PO593

This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction and review of China's political development from 1949 to today. Following a brief historical review of the evolution of the Chinese political system since 1949, this module is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions. They include the Communist Party, the government (State Council), the legislature (National People’s Congress) and the military (People’s Liberation Army). The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges the country is facing in its ongoing development. They range from political participation and state-society relations, the cost of economic growth to environment and public health, tensions with ethnic minorities, the issues of nationalism and the relationship with Taiwan and Hong Kong, irredentism and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, and finally China’s grand strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A theme running through various lectures of this module is to ask why post-Mao China has performed better than many other authoritarian regimes in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that China faces numerous mounting development challenges.

Find out more about PO597

The decision by a small majority of the British electorate in June 2016 to leave the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world and created a political earthquake within the political system of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). For the first time, a member state signalled its desire to exit the EU. From an EU perspective, this decision is yet another challenge the EU has faced since the Euro-crisis erupted in Greece ten years ago. The EU has also experienced a refugee crisis as well as a number of terrorist attacks and a rule of law crisis in Poland and Hungary. Changes in the international system have also affected the EU with heightened tension with Putin's Russia over the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Finally, the election of Donald Trump as US President with an accompanying weakening of the liberal international order and an increase in trade wars and disputes has added further instability. In response, EU member state governments, parliaments and the EU’s institutions have begun a dialogue on ideas to recast the EU in this changing environment.

In this module we will endeavour to learn and understand how the EU has reached where it is today, how its political system works, its strengths and weaknesses and how it is driven both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system at this time of uncertainty and flux. We will also look at the process of how the UK is exiting the EU, how it has been managed by the UK government and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU and the future of the UK. There has certainly never been a more challenging or interesting time to learn about the EU and its politics!

Find out more about PO611

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has grappled with a crisis in the Eurozone, a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and the UK, the rise of challenger parties, heightened tension with Putin's Russia, the UK’s Brexit decision and rule of law disputes with Hungary and Poland. This has led to increased questioning of the purpose and trajectory of European integration and policy-making. The focus of this module is on assessing the capacity of the EU as a system of public policy-making as it faces these myriad challenges. In so doing we endeavour to understand how the EU’s system of governance works and how it is driven by both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system. This module focuses on the EU’s 'outputs’ in terms of public policy in this context, with particular attention paid to the fields of market regulation, economic and monetary union, environmental policy, agriculture policy, regional policy, justice and home affairs policy (internal security), foreign policy and trade policy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of EU policy-making in these policy areas, where appropriate we also explore the impact of ongoing political events on their operation.

Find out more about PO612

With the world's largest economy and most powerful armed forces, the United States bestrides the world stage. Culturally, politically, diplomatically and intellectually, it is the most important player, too. To understand the world, one must understand America and its politics. Yet, according to many critics, the US’s own political system is in crisis and turmoil, not least because of the ascension to power of an outsider president who revels in his disruptive capabilities. Trump challenged our notions of who could be elected to the most powerful job in the world and he is currently challenging long established theories about how the US government can and should work. His presidency is layered on top of an ongoing 'war’ over cultural issues and the deep-seated antipathy between the political parties and between the presidential and congressional branches. All this has further reinforced perceptions about the system’s dysfunctionality. The US, like many other nations, also faces serious public policy questions on the economy, health, energy, education, guns, crime, poverty and immigration, among others. But good, politically viable solutions seem remote. George Bush left office as one of the most unpopular presidents since polling began, and the bubble of expectation surrounding Barack Obama on his election in November 2008 quickly burst. Now the American people have chosen a neophyte populist to govern them. How will he do? More broadly, how will, or even can, the US political system rise to the challenges facing it when its political institutions and actors appear deeply divided?

It is not hard to see why many observers believe that the US has become harder to govern and increasingly interesting as a subject for academic study. In order to answer some of the questions outlined above, PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

Find out more about PO617

This module examines the politics of transition and change in Eastern Europe over the last three decades, with an emphasis on processes of disintegration and integration, international cooperation and the challenges of post-communist internal political reform. Accordingly, the module consists of three parts.

Part One (Weeks 1-4) examines the region's recent political inheritance, with a focus on the communist system, the subsequent collapse of the USSR and the end of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Part Two (Weeks 6-8) looks at the political re-orientations of Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s and 2000s, with a focus on transition processes, political change, economic change, and the different challenges that came with these transitions.

Part Three (Weeks 9-12) reflects on more recent developments, including international cooperation, new forms of regional integration, and discussions about the feasibility and the future of socialism.

Find out more about PO618

The module aims to introduce students to the major developments in Western political thought from the 16th century onwards. More generally, it aims to make students aware of the historical dimension of political thought and to enable them to distinguish those aspects of an idea which are contingent upon the concrete historical circumstances of its emergence from those which transcend its historical context.

Students who successfully complete this module will be familiar with the standard canon of modern Western political theory. They will be able to summarize the main ideas of the key thinkers in these traditions and place them in their respective historical context. They will be able to appreciate that contemporary political concerns are often the result of long-term historical processes. In addition, students will be aware of the specific problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies and beyond.

Find out more about PO623

This module provides an introduction to the scholarly study of terrorism and political violence. It aims to thoroughly deepen students' existing knowledge of this controversial subject. The initial series of lectures pertain to key debates in the field of terrorism studies: the definitional challenges around the concept of 'terrorism’ itself; competing perspectives on the causes of terrorist violence; and disagreements as to the efficacy of terrorism as an expression of political agency. After the reading week, the module focuses in greater detail on various forms of terrorism and political violence: dissident/non-state terrorism; counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; state terrorism; ‘new terrorism’; and torture. The module examines terrorism and political violence in a variety of historical, political and geographical contexts, and through a variety of theoretical lenses. It addresses methodological problems in the study of terrorism and the potential link between religion and political violence. The course also examines the implications of the ‘War on Terror’ for democracy, human rights and international security.

Find out more about PO629

This module introduces the students to the study of the Middle East as a region, a conflict and a security complex. Against the background of a historical review of the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire and European rule in the region after the First World War and in order to understand the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the impact of the sub-state loyalties, the module will focus mainly on the various dimensions of the modern Middle East. In this context, students will explore the ideological developments in the region, most important among them, the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the emergence of Islamic radicalism and the major regional crises and their consequences.

Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of the outside state actors, such as USA, EU and Russia on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships between the states that compose this region.

Here, special attention will be paid to the emergence of the Middle East as a security complex immediately after the Second World War and the establishment of the Israeli state, the developments during the Cold War and the limits and consequences of hegemonic power after the end of the Cold War.

The students will be introduced to the important issue of 'Orientalism', the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. The course will conclude with the discussion of the critical matter of the democratization of the region.

Find out more about PO630

The module examines the nature of political behaviour in Britain today. It focuses on two key issues. The first is the way that citizens participate in politics. The module explores the nature of political participation, and how this has changed in the last few decades. It also examines the characteristics of people who participate, and the factors that motivate individuals to engage in different forms of political participation. The second key issue examined is voting behaviour. The module considers how far electoral decisions are shaped by stable ‘sociological’ factors, and how far voters today are less closely aligned with parties and more open to the influence of particular policy messages, personalities and media coverage. Alongside this focus on the behaviour of citizens, the module also considers the activities of key intermediary organisations, such as legislators. Throughout, the module seeks to develop students’ understanding and analytical skills, by considering theories and models of political behaviour along with the way data and other evidence can be brought to bear in testing the validity of these models.

Find out more about PO638

A thread running through this module is a belief that to understand today's China we have to know how it has come to the present. Present-day China is a product of its deep imperial past and of its revolutions in the 20th century, the Republican, the Nationalist and the Communist. Before studying the 'rise' of contemporary China, we must therefore understand the collapse of imperial China in the early 20th century. We can perceive the said rise of China as the process of regaining its rightful place in the Western-dominated international system and of mutual accommodation between China and the rest of the world.

Also, for many students of international relations, China's entry and integration into the international society since the 1970s has been strikingly non-violent. A secondary focus of this module will be on how China and other key members of the world have been mutually accommodating to each other and whether the 'peaceful rise' can continue.

Overall, the module is built on a historical study of China’s foreign relations and theoretical study of International Relations concepts/theories of hegemony, hierarchy, (social) legitimacy and national identity.

Find out more about PO658

The course provides an overview of the broad field of international conflict analysis and resolution. Students have the opportunity to explore the motivations driving different forms of conflict, including interpersonal, group and civil violence. Students will also be exposed to a range of theories and approaches used to understand violent conflict, and a number of different methods of conflict resolution (e.g. negotiation, mediation, peacekeeping operations, and transitional justice). The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches used to study conflict management with new scientific studies of conflict and cooperation.

Find out more about PO660

PO686 explores the political biographies of three icons of 20th and 21st century politics: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. All three have arguably changed the course of history not just in their home countries, and we will be studying how their lives brought them to the forefront of the historical struggles which they came to represent. In particular, we will be looking at how they came to make the personal commitment to engage in these struggles and how they came to accept and deal with the sacrifices that their involvement entailed. We will be particularly interested in the self-understanding of these figures as political actors. Did they intend or plan to have the impact they had? Or did political fame catch them by surprise? Did they understand themselves as political leaders, and if yes, what notions of leadership did they develop as part of their political struggles? How did they understand the resistance they offered to colonial oppression, racial discrimination and oppressive military regimes? What were the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of their resistance? What influenced them to offer this resistance? How did they reflect on their acts of resistance? What gave them the courage they needed in order to offer this resistance? And what were their methods? Were the means of their struggles appropriate for achieving their ends? What was the role of violence in these methods?

Apart from asking questions about their political lives and the impact these lives had on world history, we will also be able to ask more general questions about political reality itself: Can individuals really affect the course of national and world history? What enabled these figures to have such an impact? Personality? Charisma? Luck? Or were the circumstances such that anyone in similar positions could have provoked change? In fact, how did these figures relate to the world of politics? For example, was Gandhi a 'politician'? Did they have the impact they had because they stood in some sense ‘outside’ conventional politics? And also what does it say about us, about our political present, if we today revere these figures as icons of righteous resistance? Why is there a Nelson Mandela building on Campus? Why is his picture in the Rutherford Dining Hall? What is it that we admire in Mandela? And is the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi failed to live up to our expectations enough to justify her recent fall from grace? These are just some examples of the kinds of questions we will discuss in PO686.

Find out more about PO686

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Stage 3

Optional modules may include

PO686 explores the political biographies of three icons of 20th and 21st century politics: Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. All three have arguably changed the course of history not just in their home countries, and we will be studying how their lives brought them to the forefront of the historical struggles which they came to represent. In particular, we will be looking at how they came to make the personal commitment to engage in these struggles and how they came to accept and deal with the sacrifices that their involvement entailed. We will be particularly interested in the self-understanding of these figures as political actors. Did they intend or plan to have the impact they had? Or did political fame catch them by surprise? Did they understand themselves as political leaders, and if yes, what notions of leadership did they develop as part of their political struggles? How did they understand the resistance they offered to colonial oppression, racial discrimination and oppressive military regimes? What were the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of their resistance? What influenced them to offer this resistance? How did they reflect on their acts of resistance? What gave them the courage they needed in order to offer this resistance? And what were their methods? Were the means of their struggles appropriate for achieving their ends? What was the role of violence in these methods?

Apart from asking questions about their political lives and the impact these lives had on world history, we will also be able to ask more general questions about political reality itself: Can individuals really affect the course of national and world history? What enabled these figures to have such an impact? Personality? Charisma? Luck? Or were the circumstances such that anyone in similar positions could have provoked change? In fact, how did these figures relate to the world of politics? For example, was Gandhi a 'politician'? Did they have the impact they had because they stood in some sense ‘outside’ conventional politics? And also what does it say about us, about our political present, if we today revere these figures as icons of righteous resistance? Why is there a Nelson Mandela building on Campus? Why is his picture in the Rutherford Dining Hall? What is it that we admire in Mandela? And is the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi failed to live up to our expectations enough to justify her recent fall from grace? These are just some examples of the kinds of questions we will discuss in PO686.

Find out more about PO686

The course provides an overview of the broad field of international conflict analysis and resolution. Students have the opportunity to explore the motivations driving different forms of conflict, including interpersonal, group and civil violence. Students will also be exposed to a range of theories and approaches used to understand violent conflict, and a number of different methods of conflict resolution (e.g. negotiation, mediation, peacekeeping operations, and transitional justice). The approach is interdisciplinary and juxtaposes traditional approaches used to study conflict management with new scientific studies of conflict and cooperation.

Find out more about PO660

A thread running through this module is a belief that to understand today's China we have to know how it has come to the present. Present-day China is a product of its deep imperial past and of its revolutions in the 20th century, the Republican, the Nationalist and the Communist. Before studying the 'rise' of contemporary China, we must therefore understand the collapse of imperial China in the early 20th century. We can perceive the said rise of China as the process of regaining its rightful place in the Western-dominated international system and of mutual accommodation between China and the rest of the world.

Also, for many students of international relations, China's entry and integration into the international society since the 1970s has been strikingly non-violent. A secondary focus of this module will be on how China and other key members of the world have been mutually accommodating to each other and whether the 'peaceful rise' can continue.

Overall, the module is built on a historical study of China’s foreign relations and theoretical study of International Relations concepts/theories of hegemony, hierarchy, (social) legitimacy and national identity.

Find out more about PO658

The module examines the nature of political behaviour in Britain today. It focuses on two key issues. The first is the way that citizens participate in politics. The module explores the nature of political participation, and how this has changed in the last few decades. It also examines the characteristics of people who participate, and the factors that motivate individuals to engage in different forms of political participation. The second key issue examined is voting behaviour. The module considers how far electoral decisions are shaped by stable ‘sociological’ factors, and how far voters today are less closely aligned with parties and more open to the influence of particular policy messages, personalities and media coverage. Alongside this focus on the behaviour of citizens, the module also considers the activities of key intermediary organisations, such as legislators. Throughout, the module seeks to develop students’ understanding and analytical skills, by considering theories and models of political behaviour along with the way data and other evidence can be brought to bear in testing the validity of these models.

Find out more about PO638

The module is aimed to introduce students to Marxist theory and to enable them to assess both the contemporary and historical significance of Marxism in world politics. Students are expected to read some of the key texts of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels and to consider varied interpretations and critiques of Marxist methods, writings and theories. Students are also expected to consider the political contexts in which these theories and debates emerged and their implications for political practice. Students are not expected to demonstrate any detailed knowledge of the history of Marxist-inspired governments, regimes or political movements.

Find out more about PO653

This module introduces the students to the study of the Middle East as a region, a conflict and a security complex. Against the background of a historical review of the gradual decline of the Ottoman Empire and European rule in the region after the First World War and in order to understand the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian refugee problem and the impact of the sub-state loyalties, the module will focus mainly on the various dimensions of the modern Middle East. In this context, students will explore the ideological developments in the region, most important among them, the rise and fall of Arab nationalism, the emergence of Islamic radicalism and the major regional crises and their consequences.

Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of the outside state actors, such as USA, EU and Russia on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships between the states that compose this region.

Here, special attention will be paid to the emergence of the Middle East as a security complex immediately after the Second World War and the establishment of the Israeli state, the developments during the Cold War and the limits and consequences of hegemonic power after the end of the Cold War.

The students will be introduced to the important issue of 'Orientalism', the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. The course will conclude with the discussion of the critical matter of the democratization of the region.

Find out more about PO630

This module provides an introduction to the scholarly study of terrorism and political violence. It aims to thoroughly deepen students' existing knowledge of this controversial subject. The initial series of lectures pertain to key debates in the field of terrorism studies: the definitional challenges around the concept of 'terrorism’ itself; competing perspectives on the causes of terrorist violence; and disagreements as to the efficacy of terrorism as an expression of political agency. After the reading week, the module focuses in greater detail on various forms of terrorism and political violence: dissident/non-state terrorism; counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency; state terrorism; ‘new terrorism’; and torture. The module examines terrorism and political violence in a variety of historical, political and geographical contexts, and through a variety of theoretical lenses. It addresses methodological problems in the study of terrorism and the potential link between religion and political violence. The course also examines the implications of the ‘War on Terror’ for democracy, human rights and international security.

Find out more about PO629

The module aims to introduce students to the major developments in Western political thought from the 16th century onwards. More generally, it aims to make students aware of the historical dimension of political thought and to enable them to distinguish those aspects of an idea which are contingent upon the concrete historical circumstances of its emergence from those which transcend its historical context.

Students who successfully complete this module will be familiar with the standard canon of modern Western political theory. They will be able to summarize the main ideas of the key thinkers in these traditions and place them in their respective historical context. They will be able to appreciate that contemporary political concerns are often the result of long-term historical processes. In addition, students will be aware of the specific problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies and beyond.

Find out more about PO623

This module examines the politics of transition and change in Eastern Europe over the last three decades, with an emphasis on processes of disintegration and integration, international cooperation and the challenges of post-communist internal political reform. Accordingly, the module consists of three parts.

Part One (Weeks 1-4) examines the region's recent political inheritance, with a focus on the communist system, the subsequent collapse of the USSR and the end of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Part Two (Weeks 6-8) looks at the political re-orientations of Central and Eastern Europe during the 1990s and 2000s, with a focus on transition processes, political change, economic change, and the different challenges that came with these transitions.

Part Three (Weeks 9-12) reflects on more recent developments, including international cooperation, new forms of regional integration, and discussions about the feasibility and the future of socialism.

Find out more about PO618

With the world's largest economy and most powerful armed forces, the United States bestrides the world stage. Culturally, politically, diplomatically and intellectually, it is the most important player, too. To understand the world, one must understand America and its politics. Yet, according to many critics, the US’s own political system is in crisis and turmoil, not least because of the ascension to power of an outsider president who revels in his disruptive capabilities. Trump challenged our notions of who could be elected to the most powerful job in the world and he is currently challenging long established theories about how the US government can and should work. His presidency is layered on top of an ongoing 'war’ over cultural issues and the deep-seated antipathy between the political parties and between the presidential and congressional branches. All this has further reinforced perceptions about the system’s dysfunctionality. The US, like many other nations, also faces serious public policy questions on the economy, health, energy, education, guns, crime, poverty and immigration, among others. But good, politically viable solutions seem remote. George Bush left office as one of the most unpopular presidents since polling began, and the bubble of expectation surrounding Barack Obama on his election in November 2008 quickly burst. Now the American people have chosen a neophyte populist to govern them. How will he do? More broadly, how will, or even can, the US political system rise to the challenges facing it when its political institutions and actors appear deeply divided?

It is not hard to see why many observers believe that the US has become harder to govern and increasingly interesting as a subject for academic study. In order to answer some of the questions outlined above, PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and government of the United States.

Find out more about PO617

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has grappled with a crisis in the Eurozone, a refugee crisis, terrorist attacks in France, Belgium and the UK, the rise of challenger parties, heightened tension with Putin's Russia, the UK’s Brexit decision and rule of law disputes with Hungary and Poland. This has led to increased questioning of the purpose and trajectory of European integration and policy-making. The focus of this module is on assessing the capacity of the EU as a system of public policy-making as it faces these myriad challenges. In so doing we endeavour to understand how the EU’s system of governance works and how it is driven by both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system. This module focuses on the EU’s 'outputs’ in terms of public policy in this context, with particular attention paid to the fields of market regulation, economic and monetary union, environmental policy, agriculture policy, regional policy, justice and home affairs policy (internal security), foreign policy and trade policy. As well as analysing the effectiveness of EU policy-making in these policy areas, where appropriate we also explore the impact of ongoing political events on their operation.

Find out more about PO612

The decision by a small majority of the British electorate in June 2016 to leave the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves throughout Europe and the world and created a political earthquake within the political system of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK). For the first time, a member state signalled its desire to exit the EU. From an EU perspective, this decision is yet another challenge the EU has faced since the Euro-crisis erupted in Greece ten years ago. The EU has also experienced a refugee crisis as well as a number of terrorist attacks and a rule of law crisis in Poland and Hungary. Changes in the international system have also affected the EU with heightened tension with Putin's Russia over the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. Finally, the election of Donald Trump as US President with an accompanying weakening of the liberal international order and an increase in trade wars and disputes has added further instability. In response, EU member state governments, parliaments and the EU’s institutions have begun a dialogue on ideas to recast the EU in this changing environment.

In this module we will endeavour to learn and understand how the EU has reached where it is today, how its political system works, its strengths and weaknesses and how it is driven both the politics and economics of its member states and the global system at this time of uncertainty and flux. We will also look at the process of how the UK is exiting the EU, how it has been managed by the UK government and the EU27 and its implications for the future of the EU and the future of the UK. There has certainly never been a more challenging or interesting time to learn about the EU and its politics!

Find out more about PO611

This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction and review of China's political development from 1949 to today. Following a brief historical review of the evolution of the Chinese political system since 1949, this module is designed around two core blocks of study.

The first block looks at the principal political institutions. They include the Communist Party, the government (State Council), the legislature (National People’s Congress) and the military (People’s Liberation Army). The second block examines the socio-political issues and challenges the country is facing in its ongoing development. They range from political participation and state-society relations, the cost of economic growth to environment and public health, tensions with ethnic minorities, the issues of nationalism and the relationship with Taiwan and Hong Kong, irredentism and territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, and finally China’s grand strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A theme running through various lectures of this module is to ask why post-Mao China has performed better than many other authoritarian regimes in achieving both economic growth and political stability and acquiring international influence, despite the fact that China faces numerous mounting development challenges.

Find out more about PO597

The purpose of this module is to consider the ways in which feminist thought has influenced political theory. We examine a range of feminist approaches to politics, asking what unifies them and where and why they diverge from one another. Throughout, we ask how meaningful it is to speak of feminism in the singular: given the immense variety displayed by feminist thinking, should we talk about feminisms? Another guiding question will be the extent to which these approaches pose a fundamental challenge to traditional political theory. Can feminist theories of politics just 'add women and stir'? Or do feminist approaches compel us to new or different methodologies, conceptual tools and even definitions of politics?

Find out more about PO593

This module explores the origins and evolution of post-Communist Russia. It covers the period from the late 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Soviet Union, but the main focus is on the years since 1991, starting with the failed putsch against Gorbachev and the rise of Boris Yeltsin and ending with the dilemmas facing Vladimir Putin in his fourth presidential term from 2018. The module examines political developments in post-Communist Russia, with a glance backwards to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union and also analysis of relations with the former Soviet states and the international system. The theoretical focus is on the problems of the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, coupled with the broader problem of establishing a new political order in the context of problematic relations with the West. Linked to this are constitutional developments, economic transformations and social changes. The degree to which the legacy of the past affects contemporary Russia will be examined, with particular attention to questions of political culture, geopolitical determinism and economic interdependence.

Specifically, we will discuss issues such as democratisation, the role of the presidency, the emergence and evolution of the multi-party system, electoral and parliamentary politics, federalism and regionalism, as well as economic, foreign, security and defence policy. We will also look at problems of leadership, evaluating the achievements and failures of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999), Vladimir Putin (2000-2008 and 2012-present) and Dmitry Medvedev (2008-12 as president and 2012-present as Prime Minister). We will study empirical issues to provide the knowledge and evidence against which conceptual questions can be addressed and rival theories tested.

Find out more about PO579

This module focuses on European Union foreign policy, i.e. the 'external dimension' of EU politics, exploring the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Following the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the position of the High Representative, the EU has greater capacity to pursue foreign policy in its neighbourhood, and beyond. Definitions and different strands of European foreign policy will be identified.

Thereafter, the foreign policy tools of the EU will be looked at, after moving into an in-depth thematic treatment of the key foreign policy issues facing the EU vis-à-vis its security, defence, economic, trade and development relations, Brexit and its dynamics with ‘rising powers’, the US, its eastern and southern neighbours in Central Europe, Asia and North Africa. Other issues include its burgeoning military capacity and the impact of institutional reform.

Broader themes will include the impact of global developments on Europe, the international significance of European integration and the more general role of the EU in the new world order. This course will draw on theories from political science and international relations as well as making use of concepts of culture and identity in determining Europe’s connections with the world.

Find out more about PO566

This module examines the complex relationship between foreign policy analysis and foreign policy practice. It does so by exploring shifting approaches to making and examing foreign policy, including the contributions of IR theory to Foreign Policy Analysis. Historical antecedents of foreign policy as a practice are examined via observations of traditional bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, followed by traditional state-based actors, non-state actors, and the nature of the structure they inhabit. FP decision-making is then examined, followed by the process of foreign policy implementation. The issue of motivation is tackled through analyses of the largely domestic impact of culture, interests and identity and broader effect of intra-state norms, ethics, the issue of human rights. Case studies of key countries reinforce the practical implications of above-mentioned issues throughout the module.

Find out more about PO563

This module explores the origins, evolution and role of the United Nations (UN) in world politics. The aim is to understand how and why states and other actors participate in the UN. The module further explores the extent to which the United Nations is able to achieve its stated goals of maintaining peace and security, achieving cooperation to solve key international problems, and promoting respect for human rights. The module examines the work of key UN organs, agencies, and member states in a variety of issue areas, with the aim of critically assessing the successes, challenges, and failures of the United Nations.

Find out more about PO555

The curriculum is intended to familiarise students with the conservative tradition in modern politics. This is achieved by reference to a range of key conservative thinkers selected by the module convenors to help students understand the diversity of the conservative tradition and consider what factors help to cohere it. Comparison within the tradition and across a variety of thinkers is achieved by examining these thinkers' views on four basic categories of modern politics, namely the state, the market, society and international relations. In order to meet these broad learning outcomes, essay questions will be designed in order to ensure that students have to compare at least two thinkers. The module is structured around lectures and seminars.

Find out more about PO669

One of the most striking developments in established Western democracies has been the rise of radical right politics, as reflected in the growth of parties in Europe like the National Front in France, the Freedom Party of Austria, the UK Independence Party and then Brexit Party, and in the election of Donald Trump in the United States. In this module, students will investigate the nature and rise of populism and explore related issues such as national populism and racially-motivated violence and/or terrorism. This module will familiarise students with conceptual and theoretical debates within the academic literature, and introduce students to methodological debates. Students will be encouraged to think critically about concepts, classifications, ideologies, electoral behaviour and the broader implications of the rise of these parties and social movements in areas such as public policy and social cohesion. More broadly, the module will enable students to strengthen their communication and presentational skills, critically assess academic debates and improve their understanding of theory and methods.

Find out more about PO676

The research dissertation module aims to give students of politics and international relations the opportunity to do independent and original research on a topic of their choice. While we try to give students as much freedom as possible in their choice of topic, the final thesis title will require approval by the module convenor in order to ensure that (a) the title falls within the subject area of politics and international relations (broadly conceived) and that (b) the learning resources and expertise available in the School allow us to supervise the dissertation.

Many PO679 students already know the general area of their dissertation topic at the time of their registration for the module but there is still a long way to travel from your 'interests' in a particular topic or research area to a suitable and feasible dissertation title. In PO679 you will go through the entire process of writing a dissertation (8,000 words long): from the original 'problem' to a suitable research 'question', to choosing a method, to designing your research, to conducting the research; from taking notes to drafting the dissertation, to revising and writing the dissertation, and finally to submitting the dissertation. Lectures, supervision and a conference will help you along the way.

We recommend PO679 to all students considering postgraduate studies. Most postgraduate programmes – at MA, MPhil and PhD level – require you to write a substantial dissertation.

PLEASE NOTE: PO679 is worth 45 credits. If you wish to take PO679, please keep this in mind when choosing your other modules. PO679 is worth 15 credits in autumn term, and 30 in spring. The module is weighted more to the Spring term to enable you to dedicate the time needed to produce your dissertation.

As you can chose the equivalent of 4 x 15 credits in the autumn and 4 x 15 in the Spring, picking PO679 would look like this:

Autumn:

PO679

XX

XX

XX

Spring:

PO679

PO679

XX

XX

Find out more about PO679

This module prepares students both to think about the ways in which the landscapes are evolving and being shaped by contemporary developments in technical, scientific, and theoretical fields; and to think about how they want to take part in these developments in their own lives, through professional activity or further study. It will prepare students to think critically about the opportunities and dangers that come with the future, notably through the changes taking place in production techniques (through three-dimensional printing), ecological change and planning, scientific advancements and their impact on the humanities and social sciences (such as quantum theory's challenge to historical studies). By building on bodies of work that have already discussed the potential impact of new technologies and scientific innovations on our understanding of the human, this module will demand intellectual reflection on the potential for change and transformation, with reference to past events and how transformation has occurred to this day. In additional, the module will provide practical guidance on how to think about the student’s own future, whether professionally or for further studies. It will guide students through the possibilities open to them, and give them practical skills to secure an interview and present themselves successfully.

Find out more about PO681

The module provides an overview of some of the core arguments and issues that arise within the context of debates on political resistance: moral justifications of resistance to political authority, the techniques of resistance employed in historical examples, the presuppositions underpinning these techniques, the tensions and difficulties that typically arise in any act of resistance. Starting with Socrates, sent to the Athenians to act as a 'gadfly', the module will look at selected historical examples of resistance, identify and analyse aims and methods, and review and discuss outcomes and consequences. A special feature of this module is that students can submit a ‘documented practice of resistance’ for assessment.

Find out more about PO682

This module will address the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance of events such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, the economic take-off of both Japan and South Korea, China's economic reforms, democratisation and violence across the region, and the growing importance of populism and nationalism.

A central theme of the module will be uncovering the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from conflict to corruption, purges to propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of this vitally important region. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems and their economic and security considerations to shine a light on major historical and contemporary policies.

In seminars and their policy report, students will develop their own expertise on one East Asian country, in order to provide cutting-edge political analysis of the policy challenges that East Asian leaders face today.

Please note that this course covers a wide range of countries and time periods, so to succeed students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO683

The purpose of the module is to enable students to critically engage with the International Society (or “English School”) approach to International Relations. Combining political theory, IR theory, philosophy, sociology, and history this approach seeks to understand the theory and practice of international politics by reference to the historical development of relations between large scale political entities (from empires, hordes, kingdoms, to the modern nation-state and beyond) and the discourses that have emerged (Machiavellian, Grotian, Kantian) in response to the development of first European international society and eventually world society. The course focuses on the central features of international society - war and peace - as they have been conceived by the three traditions and members of the English School from Martin Wight to more contemporary figures.

Find out more about PO667

This module functions as a 'great books' module: students are expected to read a significant portion of a great book every week (averaging around fifty pages each week). These books will introduce students to important debates in a series of different fields in the humanities and social sciences, as well as key debates in the philosophy of science. While the content of the module will vary from year to year depending on guest lecturers, a balance will be struck to enable students to learn widely and develop a critical outlook on literary, social, political, economic, and epistemological works. Students will be encouraged to make connections between all of these areas of knowledge and critically evaluate the works of the authors read in their written work.

Find out more about PO685

The Asia-Pacific is one of the world's most economically and politically dynamic regions. But despite nuclear, territorial, and historical tensions, growing superpower competition, and cross-border threats from crime to the environment, the region has remained relatively peaceful and stable since 1945.

In this module we will begin by explore the puzzle of the region’s stability using approaches drawn from Western and non-Western international relations theories. We will then use these theories to help understand the causes of the region’s most pressing security and development concerns, analyse the likelihood that they will lead to instability and conflict, and evaluate policy measures that might resolve them. We will look at the risk of war over the Taiwan Straits, a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and historical grievances with Japan, before analysing regional solutions to cross-national security and economic challenges. The module will conclude by examining whether the region’s stability is likely to continue in the face of major shifts in the regional balance of power.

Please note that to succeed in this course students will need to spend time engaging fully with the readings, lectures, and seminars. Students are expected to read at least two articles/chapters per week, and seminar grades will depend on having carried out these readings.

Find out more about PO684

This module provides an overview of the degree to which cyberspace continues to revolutionise the operations of both state and non-state actors, and the challenges of governing this 'fifth sphere' of power projection. Whilst this module is not entrenched in International Relations or Security Studies theory, students will have the opportunity to apply both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the politics of cyberspace. Key themes include: 21st century technology, cyber warfare, espionage, surveillance, deterrence theory, cyberterrorism, and representation of threatening cyber-entities. Students will develop a toolkit to critique the existing state and NGO-based governance regime for cyberspace, and will convey arguments both for and against a ‘Geneva Convention’ for cyberspace.

Find out more about PO691

The aim of the module is offer an understanding of nationalism as a political phenomenon, approached from different perspectives and appreciated in its manifestations across time and space. The module first introduces and discusses the concepts of nations and nationalism and their distinctions from related concepts such as state, ethnic group, region etc. It then charts the emergence of nationalism, its success in becoming the dominant principle of political organisation, and its diffusion around the world. Subsequently, it engages with the main theories seeking to account for this process, discussing their respective strengths and weaknesses. It then explores the tensions between state and regional nationalism and some of the theories put forward to explain the latter. In a further step, it discusses some of the key aspects of nationalism, such as nation-building, national identity, nationalism and state structures, nationalism and secession, and the challenge of supra-national integration. It concludes by discussing some of the key normative questions raised by nationalism and assessing the likely trajectory of nationalism in the foreseeable future. By so doing, the module offers an analysis of the past, present, and future of nationalism and its significance in contemporary politics.

Find out more about PO692

This course will provide students with a sociological understanding of the changing and central importance of individualization for contemporary society, situated both in historical and global comparative terms. The fracturing of collective bonds and assumptions and the casting of individuals into a 'life of their own making' is driven by a combination of economic, technological and cultural forces and is becoming apparent across the globe. This has provoked concern with the implications for social order, mental health and even the future of families and populations. The neglected theme of individualization allows us to examine changing social norms, the changing boundaries of private and public, the management of social order and cohesion in increasingly diverse societies and how anxieties concerning these developments may be overstated or misplaced. At the same time, this module will also emphasize the importance of attending to the ethical and practical implications of unchecked individualization in a variety of contexts and through different case studies

Find out more about SO6011

In this module you will begin to understand the process and debates surrounding how researchers learn more about the social world. What techniques and approaches do social researchers draw upon to organise, structure and interpret research evidence? How do we judge the quality of research? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the range of frameworks and methodologies? The first part of the module introduces you to the conceptual issues and debates around the ‘best’ way to explore social questions, forms and issues, and an overview of some popular methods for doing so. In the Spring Term, you will spend most of your time applying what you have learned in a group research project and an individual research design project.

Find out more about SO602

'This module provides an analysis of health policy primarily focusing on recent policy changes in the UK and identifying the major influences which have shaped these policies. There have been considerable changes in health service policy and public health policy in the UK over the last two decades involving changes to existing policies and the development of new policy themes. The latter have included the rise and fall of policies aimed at social inequalities and the decline in life expectancy in some areas; the increasing emphasis on 'nudging' lifestyle change and on wellbeing in public health policy; a continued focus on the views and/or the voice of the user and the public and increasing emphasis on democratizing the health service and co-production; the re-emergence of the importance of environmental health policy; the marketisation and privatisation of health care in the context of a reduction in public funding; the introduction of managerialism and the attempts to regulate the medical profession and the effectiveness of priority setting agencies such as NICE with their emphasis on evidence based decision making This module is theoretically informed and the approach taken lays emphasis on the interplay of powerful structural interests such as the influence of professional medicine and other occupational groups, the media (including the social media), the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, commercial health care companies, the State and the socio-political values associated with the government in power, patient’s groups, the third sector and the wider global environment.'

Find out more about SO603

This module will provide students with an understanding of both the art and science of philanthropy (that is 'voluntary action for public good'), culminating with students distributing philanthropic funding to local community causes. Exploring the role of philanthropy in contemporary society, students would be encouraged to critically examine who gives in society and why. We will examine the mechanisms of giving, and how and why philanthropy impacts on all parts of civil society. We explore the economic, social and moral frameworks of giving, debating notions of worthy and unworthy causes, and how social policy shapes philanthropic giving, as well as how philanthropy helps shape and drive social policy. As part of this module students will be facilitated to reflect on and make their own giving decisions, exploring the role of the philanthropist and how to define philanthropic impact. The module concludes with students ‘becoming’ philanthropists, distributing small grants to local organisations and evaluating these giving decisions.

Find out more about SO624

The module provides an overview of the contribution of the third sector to social, economic and political life. It includes analysis of definitions and categorisations, exploration of the theories which underpin the study of the third sector, an examination of theories and the current state of volunteering and charitable giving, examination of the historical and current public policy agenda in relation to the third sector in the UK, the EU and more generally and, an overview of current issues in the third sector and how social scientists go about studying them.

Find out more about SO645

The course is concerned with the relatively new ideas of living in a ‘risk society’ which theoretically capture the heightened sensitivity within Western societies to the numerous ‘risks’ which shape our lives. The course will explore basic concepts of risk, hazard and probability and how risk is managed and communicated. Topics will include risk and globalization, and risk and the media. Developments will be examined through key examples such as ‘mad cow’ disease and genetically modified ‘frankenfoods’. The course will suggest that heightened perception of risk is here to stay, and is leading to a reorganisation of society in important areas.

Find out more about SO659

This is a 15 credit course which will enhance your CV, particularly if you are hoping to work in the public or voluntary sector. You will be supported to undertake three placements in a variety of volunteering roles, both on and off campus; attend four lectures on the voluntary sector and complete a reflective learning log to help you think about your experiences and the transferable skills you are gaining.

The following 2 units are compulsory:

Active community volunteering

Project Leadership

Plus 1 unit selected from the following:

Active university volunteering

Training facilitator

Mentoring

Committee role

All students taking this module are expected to attend four sessions that provide the academic framework for understanding volunteering, as well as practitioner knowledge that will be helpful as you progress through your placements, and invaluable preparation for your essay. These sessions last one hour each and are spaced evenly throughout the academic year.

Find out more about SO670

This module aims to enable students to design and conduct their own piece of research. This can be primary research where students collect and analyse their own data, or it can be library based, where students research existing literature or re-analyse data collected by others. The research can be about a particular policy or policy area, social problem, social development, or matter of sociological interest. The dissertation will usually be set out as a series of chapters. In order to assist students with designing and writing a dissertation a supervisor – a member of staff in SSPSSR - will have an initial meeting with students (during the summer term of Year 2 where possible) and then during the Autumn and Spring terms students will have at least six formal dissertation sessions with their supervisor. These may be held individually or with other students. In addition there will be two lectures by the module convenor which will also support students’ progress.

Find out more about SO679

The course discusses the main approaches which have developed in urban sociology through an exploration of some of the major themes. These themes include urbanisation under capitalism, planning, post-industrialism, globalisation, social differentiation, multiculturalism, protest and social movements, and comparative urbanism (Asian and African contexts). Approaches considered within these will include Marx, Weber, the Chicago School, the Manchester school, and post-modernism.

Find out more about SO712

This module is designed as an exploration of both the social history and historiography of 'the Enlightenment'. It draws a focus to the legacy of Enlightenment in contemporary sociological theory. It explores the bearing of Enlightenment ideas and interests upon the intellectual and political cultures of western modernity. It introduces students to ongoing debates concerned with the legacy of the Enlightenment in twenty-first century society. In this context, it explores the influence of the Enlightenment and its cultural portrayal in contemporary sociology in current disputes concerned with the legacy of colonialism, the gendering of the public sphere, the fate of religion and religious culture through modern times, the cultivation of our social and political democracy and the ‘tragic’ fate of modern rationality.

Find out more about SO764

‘Health’, ‘illness’ and ‘medicine’ are by no means static concepts. Their meaning has changed over time, and there is competition and conflict over what they mean. For example, in recent decades, health has come to mean much more the absence of disease. This is the age of healthy eating, sexual health, holistic health, healthy lifestyles and healthy living. We live in a time when medicine can mean homeopathy or acupuncture, as well as heart surgery and vaccinations. ‘Health’ is also something we seem to worry about, and panic over; recent years have witnessed high profile scares about eating beef, using the contraceptive pill and mobile phones, and giving babies the MMR vaccine. ‘Health, Illness and Medicine’ discusses key ideas and concepts developed by social scientists that can help us understand these, and other, aspects of our society.

Find out more about SO509

This module introduces students to the sociological approach to understanding and critiquing mental health. It begins by outlining historical definitions of mental health and how policy and practice have changed over time from incarceration in large institutions to present-day community care. Sociological perspectives of mental illness (for example, labelling and social causations of mental ill-health) are considered alongside psychiatric and psychological approaches to treating people with mental illnesses. The module then looks at social inequalities in relation to opportunities to recover, including gender and race, as well as other 'actors' within the field such as carers).Mental health and the criminal justice system as well as religion/spirituality are also explored. Please note, as this is not a clinical module material covered will not include in-depth investigations of specific diagnoses of mental illnesses

Find out more about SO532

This module will involve students undertaking social research in a placement setting, while simultaneously reflecting on the process of undertaking real-life social research, culminating in an assessed final output and reflection on their placement. Placements will involve students undertaking research projects identified by host charities or public sector organisations, with students delivering a final research report to the charity.

Aside from the ongoing support of the module convenor, students would also receive lectures covering:

- Turning an organisation's ideas into a viable research project (noting that the convenor will already have worked with placement organisations to ensure that all projects are viable);

- Good practice in undertaking social research projects (e.g. data security, data management);

- Ethics in applied social research (certainty/uncertainty, power, and 'usefulness’);

- Reflecting on research practice (linked to the second part of the assessment.

Find out more about SO547

The coalition government has argued that following the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent double-drip recession adoption, the UK has no option but to pursue austerity policies. This has included a huge squeeze on spending on cash transfers often referred to as 'welfare'.

This module focuses on poverty and inequality and how such social security policies impact upon them. Students will analyse the nature, extent and causes of poverty and inequality, with reference to the UK. The module will make students aware of current issues in welfare reform as it relates to groups vulnerable to poverty including: people who are unemployed; people who are sick or disabled; older people; children; lone parents; people from Black or minority ethnic groups. The module also shows how social security policies encompass different principles of need, rights and entitlement for users of welfare services.

It is designed to be of interest to Sociology and Health and Social Care students as well as Social Policy students.

Find out more about SO575

Welfare states face many challenges in the contemporary world. This course takes a comparative approach by systematically analysing key fields to show how a variety of countries have identified and tackled problems of social policy. It starts with a consideration of theoretical frameworks but most of the course is directed at consideration of welfare issues in different countries and to specific topics such as globalisation, migration, population ageing, disability and austerity measures.

Find out more about SA503

In broad terms, this module explore the workings of child social care and relationships between children, families and the state. This includes a range of interventions and service provision – covering the areas of family support, child protection and out-of-home care for looked after children. In social scientific terms, the focus is on the dynamic social construction of problems such as child abuse or neglect, their intersection with social divisions and the shaping of state and civil society responses.

The following is an indicative list of topics:

• Social Work & Social Care for Children

• Supporting Families and Children in Need

• Child Protection – An Historical Overview

• What is Child Maltreatment? Contemporary Debates

• (Re)Discovering Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

• Understanding Child Maltreatment: private troubles and public issues

• The State as Parent: Looked After Children and Leaving Care

• Adoption: Private Lives and Public Policy

• Interethnic and International Adoption

• Child Welfare and Disabled Children

Find out more about SA531

The module will begin with (locally timetabled, formative) training sessions for the students in the Autumn term. These will include sessions on the sections of the national curriculum that are degree specific, the relationship with the teacher, how to behave with pupils, as well as how to organise an engaging and informative session on an aspect of the specific degree subject drawn from the national curriculum. These sessions will be run by members of the Partnership Development Office.

After training the student will spend approximately 6 hours in a school in the Spring term (this session excludes time to travel to and from the School, preparation and debrief time with the teacher). Generally, they will begin by observing lessons taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Later they will act somewhat in the role of a teaching assistant by working with individual pupils or with a small group. They may take 'hotspots': brief sessions with the whole class where they explain a topic or talk about aspects of university life. Finally, the student will progress to the role of "teacher" and will be expected to lead an entire lesson.

The student will be required to keep a log of their activities and experiences at each session. Each student will also create resources to aid in the delivery of their subject area within the curriculum. Finally, the student will devise a special final taught lesson in consultation with the teacher and with the local module convener. They must then implement and reflect on the lesson.

Find out more about SE556

You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.

Fees

The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home/EU full-time £9250
  • International full-time £16200
  • Home/EU part-time £4625
  • International part-time £8100

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £9,250.

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

Teaching and assessment

Social Policy

We use a variety of teaching methods, including lectures, case study analysis, group projects and presentations, and individual and group tutorials. Many module convenors also offer additional ‘clinic’ hours to help with the preparation of coursework and for exams.

Politics

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, simulations and role plays, workshops, working groups, PC laboratory sessions and discussions with your tutor. Assessment is through feedback, written examinations, assessed essays and oral presentations, among others.

For assessment details for individual modules click the 'read more' link within each module listed in the course structure.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programmes specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes will depend on your specific module selection:

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

Independent rankings

Social Policy at Kent was ranked 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2020 and 7th in The Times Good University Guide 2020

Social Policy at Kent was ranked 3rd for research intensity in The Complete University Guide 2021.

Of final-year Social Policy students who completed the National Student Survey 2019, over 96% were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Of Politics graduates who responded to the most recent national survey of graduate destinations, over 95% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE, 2017).

Careers

Graduate destinations

As part of your degree, you develop critical thinking, transferable knowledge and skills that enable you to work in a variety of professions.

Our graduates have gone on to work in:

  • national and local government
  • social and cultural policy
  • practical politics
  • international institutions and NGOs
  • social services
  • media, journalism, broadcasting
  • the organisation of social and community projects
  • social work.

Help finding a job

The School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research has its own employability team who work with businesses to maximise opportunities for our students. We also hold an Employability Month every February and run networking events throughout the year to help you develop your skills and contacts.

We have excellent links with local outside agencies, such as the probation and youth justice services, the police and social services.

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

As well as gaining skills and knowledge in your subject area, you acquire key transferable skills that are essential for all graduates.

These skills include:

  • analysing complex information and making it accessible to non-specialist readers
  • writing reports
  • using data analysis software
  • working effectively and considerately in teams
  • an understanding of, and sensitivity to, the values and interests of others.

You can gain additional skills by signing up for our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Apply for Social Policy and Politics - BA (Hons)

Full-time study through Clearing

The Start now button below takes you to Kent's short form, which you need to fill in and submit. We'll review your application and let you know if we can offer you a place. If you wish to accept our offer, you need to confirm this via UCAS Track. To do so, you'll need the following:

  • Your UCAS Track login details
  • UCAS code LL42
  • Institution ID K24
Start now

Part-time study

Apply for part-time study

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-time study

Enquire online for part-time study

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

Discover Uni information

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Discover Uni is designed to support prospective students in deciding whether, where and what to study. The site replaces Unistats from September 2019.

Discover Uni is jointly owned by the Office for Students, the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Scottish Funding Council.

It includes:

  • Information and guidance about higher education
  • Information about courses
  • Information about providers

Find out more about the Unistats dataset on the Higher Education Statistics Agency website.