Politics and International Relations - BA (Hons)

Engage with key issues in world politics, from the BlackLivesMatter and MeToo movements to the climate crisis. Think critically about the ideas and institutions that shape our lives, learning how to analyse data to inform your arguments. It’s such an interesting time to study politics and international relations; join the conversation.

Overview

Explore the complex way in which societies, states and cultures interact around the world. Our innovative lecturers provide expert insights into issues from human rights and feminism, to war and security. Develop the skills so you can make a difference.

Shape your degree outside of the classroom through our Politics and IR Society and Kent Model UN. These student-led societies host regular events, talks and debates with high-profile speakers, such as with Jess Phillips MP, on tackling domestic violence.

Reasons to study Politics and International Relations at Kent

  • You’ll study a wide range of modules developed by our innovative lecturers, who advise governments around the world. Build your degree around your interests.
  • You can expand your horizons with Year Abroad options in USA, Europe and Asia.
  • You join the supportive and welcoming community on our Canterbury campus, set among green and tranquil open spaces, with access to the world-class resources of our Templeman Library.

What you’ll learn

You learn to explore the challenges facing the world, utilising the different concepts and approaches of political theory. You benefit from the expertise of staff who have advised governments and conducted conflict mediation exercises, deepening your understanding and developing solutions to a range of issues, from terrorism to the impact of the pandemic on politics, and political polarisation.

See the modules you'll study

Year abroad

We also offer four-year Politics and International Relations courses where you spend a year studying abroad between your second and final year. Studying abroad is a great experience and gives you the opportunity to discover how politics works in other cultures.

For details, see:

Year in Computing/Journalism

The Year in Computing and the Year in Journalism are both free-standing, self-contained years and can be taken after stage 2 or 3 (that is, between your second and final year, or after your final year). You can take a Year in Computing or a Year in Journalism if you are a current undergraduate student at the University of Kent, studying a non-computing or non-journalism degree respectively.

You can only apply for a Year in Computing or a Year in Journalism once you are a student at Kent.

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Flexible tariff

Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee

We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.

*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.

Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. All applications are assessed on an individual basis but some of our typical requirements are listed below. Students offering qualifications not listed are welcome to contact our Admissions Team for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

  • medal-empty

    A level

    BBB

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University welcomes applications from Access to Higher Education Diploma candidates for consideration. A typical offer may require you to obtain a proportion of Level 3 credits in relevant subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Nationals

    Distinction, Distinction, Merit

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

    30 points overall or 15 at HL

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in the Politics module if taken.

  • medal-empty T level

    The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, 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

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.

Stage 1

Explore critical challenges facing the world through the lens of politics and international relations foundation theory. Develop your research and data analysis skills to inform your arguments.

Compulsory modules currently include

The module will discuss key issues, events, developments and trends that characterise today's global politics. The precise list of issues to be included will vary from year to year depending on the global political landscape and staff availability, but examples of issues that may be covered in a given year include climate change, globalisation, global dimensions of poverty and inequality, the global economy of waste, religion and global politics, global governance, global aspects of war and conflict, colonialism and imperialism, superpower politics and influence, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, international organisations, refugees and migration etc. The issues chosen will be studied from multiple perspectives, starting from a basic, empirical analysis and progressing towards conceptual and theoretical issues suitable to the module level. Lectures will be complemented by small groups seminars and workshops.

Find out more about POLI3340

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 POLI3350

Optional modules may include

One of the impediments to communication between different academic disciplines is their use of different ways of making, and validating, arguments and proofs. These differences are the product of diverging approaches to answering a single question: what counts as knowledge? A key element of the programme in Liberal Arts is enabling students to understand, appreciate and assimilate findings from diverse academic approaches. This module introduces students to the ways in which different academic disciplines conceptualise the nature of knowledge. Through a range of lectures, seminars and workshops the course will introduce the students to a range of ways that 'truth' is established across the sciences, social sciences and humanities by way of several key theoretical approaches that span these disciplines.

These questions will be introduced through a number of case studies in which several contemporary issues will be analysed from the perspective of different disciplines across several weeks.

Find out more about LART3310

A key element of a Liberal Arts education is the ability to critically understand and respond to current affairs. 'Understanding the Contemporary' will enable students to think critically about their own period, and analyse the forces and events shaping contemporary culture and society. Students will consider texts from a range of disciplines and will be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. They will apply insights drawn from their readings and discussions within analyses of contemporary situations. The focus of the module will be on the period since 2000, though where necessary it will reach back before that date to contextualise current issues. Students will be required to think critically about the ways different disciplines are formulating representations of the contemporary period, and to discuss themes and ideas that cross those disciplines. Seminars and lectures will address topics that define the present period and it is in the nature of the module that its study topics will vary from year to year.

Find out more about LART3320

Democracy in Britain does not appear to be in a healthy state. Citizens are less engaged with political institutions, and less trusting in politicians, than they used to be. Critical questions are being asked about the role and effectiveness of such key institutions as the electoral system and parliament. Meanwhile, the nature of political authority in Britain is changing rapidly. Power has been transferred upwards to the European Union, and downwards to devolved bodies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. Non-electoral actors such as the media also play an important role in shaping political decisions. Where does this leave the political system at the start of the 21st century? Is government in Britain effective and democratic? Or are Britain's political institutions failing? This module provides students with an introduction to some of the key issues facing the political system in Britain today. The module examines the challenges facing the political system, the effectiveness of existing political arrangements and the merits of institutional reform. While the focus is domestic, many of the same challenges are also faced by political systems in other west European countries, to which the course will make reference. The module thus aims to go beyond a simple focus on British politics, by introducing students to some of the key contemporary issues facing many western democracies.

Find out more about POLI3040

This module introduces students to the study of political concepts that are central to thinking about political life. Through the study of these concepts students will be introduced to the principal ideas of many of the major figures in the history of Western political thought (for example, Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau and Marx) and to the work of many contemporary political theorists as well (John Rawls, Michael Sandel, Richard Rorty, Susan Okin and others). In addition, lectures and tutorials will familiarise students with a variety of different debates about how best to understand any given concept (such as, debates about what constitutes 'human nature') as well as how to understand the relationship between different concepts (such as, whether a just society must be an equal one or not). Moreover, the module is designed to allow students to develop a set of 'conceptual tools' with which to interrogate and shape the political world in which they find themselves; a world which is saturated everyday with competing articulations of the political concepts that we will study in this module. As such, students should come to develop a subtle appreciation of how the concepts examined on this module are, to greater or lesser degrees, intrinsic to all of their studies in politics and international relations (and related subjects).

Find out more about POLI3140

The module is designed to introduce students to the principle approaches to conflict and conflict resolution. Starting with a discussion of the pervasiveness of conflict in human existence, the module will engage with the key question of "what is conflict?" Students will be introduced to conflict management and conflict resolution approaches before engaging with conflict resolution processes such as negotiation and mediation. The module will rely on case studies and simulations to help students engage directly and better grasp the different theoretical approaches. Case studies will include an in-depth analysis of the Oslo process and a discussion of the specific difficulties linked to negotiations with “terrorists.” The students will emerge from the module with knowledge of the central paradigms and concepts of conflict analysis and resolution, and with an initial set of skills (negotiation and mediation) which can be used to further understand international politics but also in their personal engagement with others.

Find out more about POLI3250

The Politics Today module enables us to engage our first year students in debates on current political issues, typically on issues that dominate our newspapers and therefore are close to the students' own awareness and experience. However, in the introduction to the module we will also consider how such issues enter our awareness and why, and whether indeed 'relevance’ itself is a political construct. The module will be responsive to current world affairs, and therefore the precise selection of issues to be discussed may change from year to year. After a general introduction, 2-3 issues will be presented and analysed, typically by considering historical backgrounds, key political actors, configurations of interests, possible developments and outcomes. The module endeavours to help students appreciate and conceptualise the complexities of the modern world by discussing current national and/or world issues from diverse perspectives and angles. At the beginning of the course, students will also be given the opportunity to vote on issues of interest which are not already included in the curriculum. The issue with the most votes will then be added to the curriculum, and students will be involved in preparing the issue for discussion and analysis.

Find out more about POLI3360

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

Stage 2

Deepen your understanding of the key questions in world politics; why things are the way they are, and how they can be changed. Begin to tailor your degree to your interests.

Compulsory modules currently include

This course builds on students' 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. Students will be asked to consider the nature and purposes of descriptive and causal analysis in politics and international relations. Students will develop skills in choosing, using and evaluating the research designs, and techniques for the collection and analyses of data used by researchers in these fields. Emphasis in the course will be placed on a mixed methods approach to political analysis that enables student to integrate, analyse and evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data. In addition to developing a conceptual and theoretical understanding of different approaches to evidence gathering and analyses and how they can be combined, students will also have the opportunity to extend their skills in practical data analyses.

Find out more about POLI6610

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 POLI6870

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 POLI6900

Optional modules may include

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 POLI5550

This module examines the complex relationship between foreign policy analysis and foreign policy practice. It does so by exploring shifting approaches to making and examining foreign policy, including the contributions of IR theory to Foreign Policy Analysis. Historical antecedents of foreign policy as a practice are examined via exploring international actors, the system they inhabit (both internal and external), and the motivations that inform their individual actions and collective interactions. FPA is not as a single theory, capable of generating an overarching framework that can explain or help to understand actors' choices in all situations. The module will instead compare and contrast different FPA theories, often derived from IR theories, and critically assess their analytical advantages and weaknesses in applying them to "real world" examples. The module explores some major events or crises, such as the Iraq War and the South China Sea dispute, attempting to get an overview of the foreign policies of different states across international society, such as China, the United States, Japan, and Britain.

Find out more about POLI5630

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 POLI5970

The purpose of the module is to introduce students to the European Union, how it has evolved since its creation and how it works. In this module, students gain an understanding of the dynamic of European integration over time, analyse the functioning and roles of the EU's main institutional bodies as well as key political questions underpinning the decision-making structures of the EU. The module will address topics including: the history of European integration, the EU’s institutions and decision-making processes, how EU decisions are implemented, interest group activity in the EU and how this affects

EU decision-making, public opinion on the EU, the EU’s democratic deficit and the future of the European integration project.

Find out more about POLI6110

PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and national government of the United States. The course is divided into four inter-linked parts. In Part I students will be introduced to the 'foundations' of the US political system. Students will examine the history of the republic, its economy and society, the values and beliefs American people subscribe to, and the basic structure of the political system. Part I therefore provides essential knowledge upon which the rest of the course builds. In Part II students will examine those ‘intermediate’ institutions (interest groups, parties, elections and the media) that link people to their government. We will look at why Americans vote the way they do; at the role US parties play and their relevance to Americans’ lives; at whether interest groups have usurped the role of parties; and at whether the media exacerbate cynicism about politicians and the wider political system. In Part III students focus on the three institutions of the federal government: the Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court. We will examine both the institution that is Congress and the individuals that are elected to it and ask whether they have compatible goals or not, and whether Congress has usurped some of the roles and power of the presidency. Similarly, we will examine the extent to which the Presidency is an institution in decline or resurgent in the new century. Finally, we will examine the political and legal role that the Supreme Court plays in the modern US political system. In the fourth and final part of the course, students focus on the policymaking process in the US. We will look at how and why policy is made, and examine the extent to which the policy solutions produced by the political system are optimal.

Find out more about POLI6170

This module provides an introduction to some of the major developments in Western political thought from the seventeenth century onwards by discussing the life, work and impact of key figures such as Nicolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, JS Mill, and Karl Marx. While these thinkers will be studied mostly in terms of their respective self-understanding, the overall concern of these studies is to examine the problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies.

Find out more about POLI6230

This module introduces students into the study of terrorism and political violence, and thereafter deepens their knowledge of the controversial aspects of this subject. The initial lectures will deal with definitional problems involved in the concept of "terrorism" and various theories about the causes of political violence in its different forms. With a point of departure in a chronological review tracing the origins of the phenomenon long back in history, the module will later study the emergence of political terrorism during the second half of the 19th century. This will be followed by a study of state and dissident terrorism in different parts of the world. The module will also address the relationship between religious radicalism and different forms of political violence, including “new terrorism” and possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Then, the focus of attention will be shifted to implications of various counter-terrorism strategies and “The War on Terrorism” for democracy and human rights. These issues will addressed with a special focus on methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence.

Find out more about POLI6290

This module introduces students into the study of the Middle East as a region and an arena of international conflict. Against the background of a historical review of the developments in the 20th century, the module will focus on the colonial past of the region, the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the impact of sub-state loyalties – i.e. factors which have shaped the Middle East as a region and as a security complex. In this context, the 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 consolidation of the Israeli right. Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of outside state actors, such as USA, Russia and EU on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships among those states that compose this region. Finally, the students will study the debate about "Orientalism" and the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on the problem of bias involved in the academic study of the Middle East.

Find out more about POLI6300

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 POLI6380

This module aims to investigate the different roles and experiences of human beings at and in war. Following an introduction to approaches to agency in social and political theory, the course will examine the roles of combatants (both state and non-state), civilians (men, women and children), and third parties (peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, journalists, and academics). Engaging with the fluidity of each category (a human being can be a woman and a combatant at the same time and all categories are interlinked by a complex web of social, economic, and political relations), the categories will first be analyzed as a social group (examining questions such as age brackets, income brackets, education, life expectancy), then investigated in terms of their political functions and roles. Finally, the experiences of each category will be examined through testimonies (using written, audio and video material and guest speakers) in an attempt to access some degree of experiential knowledge of war and peace. Due to the sensitive nature of the material examined, the module will not be using lecture capture.

Find out more about POLI6560

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, as 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 decline collapse of imperial China from the mid-19th to 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.

The narrative of modern China starts from the late 16th century when China, ruled by the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), was the regional hegemon. The demise of the Sino-centric regional order began in the early 19th century. Since then, Chinese rulers, officials and intellectuals have repeatedly groped for ways to modernise their country to counter mounting pressures from the West. Seen in this perspective, this module will be primarily focused on how China adapted itself to the modernising West in order to be accepted as a full and respected member of the international society while preserving its own non-Western identity. With this, you should be able to understand towards the end of this module why China now values the respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right of all nations to freely choose their own paths to development. 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 China’s 'peaceful rise’ can continue.

Find out more about POLI6580

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 POLI6600

This module introduces students to the complex set of questions surrounding religion in international politics. The module begins by exploring contending political and sociological understandings of religion at the turn of the 20th century. It looks, in particular, at the constructed nature of the categories of the 'religious' and the ‘secular’, and at the limits of the secularization thesis, which anticipated the privatization, decline and ultimately disappearance of religion in modernity. The discussion then turns to the relation between religion and secularism in Europe – with a focus on the question of European identity, multiculturalism, the relation between Europe and Islam and the numerous controversies surrounding Islam in Europe – and in the United States – with a focus on the concept of civil religion and the role of religious rhetoric and thinking in US foreign policy, particularly in the so-called ‘war on terror’. The module then explores the relation between religion and violence by looking at the role of the 16th and 17th wars of religion in the process of modern state formation and by asking whether there is a genuine connection between religion and violence. The concluding part of the module focuses on the emerging concept of the ‘postsecular’, its contending meanings, understandings and possible applications by focusing on the case of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Find out more about POLI6660

One of the most striking developments in established Western democracies has been the electoral growth of extreme right and radical right-wing political parties. In this module students will investigate the nature and rise of extreme and radical right-wing parties, while also exploring other related issues such as right-wing extremist and racially-motivated violence and/or terrorism. This module will introduce students to the academic literature that has followed a resurgence of support for the extreme right. The module will familiarise students with conceptual and theoretical debates within this literature, and introduce students to some of the associated 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.

Find out more about POLI6760

This module will address the major milestones in the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance for East Asian countries 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 across the region, and US-China competition.

A central theme of the module will be analysing the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from repression and liberalisation to corruption, purges, and propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of East Asian countries. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems to help understand major historical and contemporary policies, and the influence of economic and security considerations.

Find out more about POLI6830

In this course, we shall examine the most urgent developments and security issues that affect the Asia-Pacific region.

It will start with an overview of International Relations theories and an exploration of whether non-Western International Relations theories will be a better alternative in understanding the development and security challenges in the Asia-Pacific.

We will then address the key international development and security dilemmas in the region. These include: the Taiwan problem; nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula; the danger of nationalism in Japan and beyond; territorial disputes in the South China Sea; and ensuring economic growth and regional cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific.

Finally, we will ask whether the influence and authority of the US, the incumbent hegemon in the Asia-Pacific region, are in decline and its preeminent role will soon be replaced by a rising China, and whether great-power confrontation is inevitable.

Find out more about POLI6840

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

Stage 3

Acquire the tools and skills that will help you make a difference through our extensive range of specialist, research-led modules and the dissertation.

Optional modules may include

This module is a one-term placement opportunity that allows you to teach aspects of your degree subject in a local school. Launched to coincide with Kent's 50th anniversary in 2015, it highlights the longstanding excellence of human and social science research and teaching at the University, and the important role the institution has in contributing to the local community.

If selected for this module you will spend approximately 6 hours in a Kent secondary school in the Spring term (this session excludes time to travel to and from the School, and preparation and debrief time with the teacher). Generally, you will begin by observing lessons taught by your designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Later you will act somewhat in the role of a teaching assistant by working with individual pupils or with a small group. You may take 'hotspots': brief sessions with the whole class where you explain a topic or talk about aspects of university life. Finally, you will progress to the role of "teacher" and will be expected to lead an entire lesson. Throughout the module you will be given guidance and support by a local convenor based in your academic school as well as the overall module convenor.

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

Find out more about ANTB5560

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 POLI5550

This module examines the complex relationship between foreign policy analysis and foreign policy practice. It does so by exploring shifting approaches to making and examining foreign policy, including the contributions of IR theory to Foreign Policy Analysis. Historical antecedents of foreign policy as a practice are examined via exploring international actors, the system they inhabit (both internal and external), and the motivations that inform their individual actions and collective interactions. FPA is not as a single theory, capable of generating an overarching framework that can explain or help to understand actors' choices in all situations. The module will instead compare and contrast different FPA theories, often derived from IR theories, and critically assess their analytical advantages and weaknesses in applying them to "real world" examples. The module explores some major events or crises, such as the Iraq War and the South China Sea dispute, attempting to get an overview of the foreign policies of different states across international society, such as China, the United States, Japan, and Britain.

Find out more about POLI5630

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 POLI5970

The purpose of the module is to introduce students to the European Union, how it has evolved since its creation and how it works. In this module, students gain an understanding of the dynamic of European integration over time, analyse the functioning and roles of the EU's main institutional bodies as well as key political questions underpinning the decision-making structures of the EU. The module will address topics including: the history of European integration, the EU’s institutions and decision-making processes, how EU decisions are implemented, interest group activity in the EU and how this affects

EU decision-making, public opinion on the EU, the EU’s democratic deficit and the future of the European integration project.

Find out more about POLI6110

PO617 offers a comprehensive introduction to the politics and national government of the United States. The course is divided into four inter-linked parts. In Part I students will be introduced to the 'foundations' of the US political system. Students will examine the history of the republic, its economy and society, the values and beliefs American people subscribe to, and the basic structure of the political system. Part I therefore provides essential knowledge upon which the rest of the course builds. In Part II students will examine those ‘intermediate’ institutions (interest groups, parties, elections and the media) that link people to their government. We will look at why Americans vote the way they do; at the role US parties play and their relevance to Americans’ lives; at whether interest groups have usurped the role of parties; and at whether the media exacerbate cynicism about politicians and the wider political system. In Part III students focus on the three institutions of the federal government: the Congress, Presidency and Supreme Court. We will examine both the institution that is Congress and the individuals that are elected to it and ask whether they have compatible goals or not, and whether Congress has usurped some of the roles and power of the presidency. Similarly, we will examine the extent to which the Presidency is an institution in decline or resurgent in the new century. Finally, we will examine the political and legal role that the Supreme Court plays in the modern US political system. In the fourth and final part of the course, students focus on the policymaking process in the US. We will look at how and why policy is made, and examine the extent to which the policy solutions produced by the political system are optimal.

Find out more about POLI6170

This module provides an introduction to some of the major developments in Western political thought from the seventeenth century onwards by discussing the life, work and impact of key figures such as Nicolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, JS Mill, and Karl Marx. While these thinkers will be studied mostly in terms of their respective self-understanding, the overall concern of these studies is to examine the problems which 'modernity' poses for political theory in Western societies.

Find out more about POLI6230

This module introduces students into the study of terrorism and political violence, and thereafter deepens their knowledge of the controversial aspects of this subject. The initial lectures will deal with definitional problems involved in the concept of "terrorism" and various theories about the causes of political violence in its different forms. With a point of departure in a chronological review tracing the origins of the phenomenon long back in history, the module will later study the emergence of political terrorism during the second half of the 19th century. This will be followed by a study of state and dissident terrorism in different parts of the world. The module will also address the relationship between religious radicalism and different forms of political violence, including “new terrorism” and possible use of weapons of mass destruction. Then, the focus of attention will be shifted to implications of various counter-terrorism strategies and “The War on Terrorism” for democracy and human rights. These issues will addressed with a special focus on methodological problems involved in the study of terrorism and political violence.

Find out more about POLI6290

This module introduces students into the study of the Middle East as a region and an arena of international conflict. Against the background of a historical review of the developments in the 20th century, the module will focus on the colonial past of the region, the imperial legacy, the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the impact of sub-state loyalties – i.e. factors which have shaped the Middle East as a region and as a security complex. In this context, the 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 consolidation of the Israeli right. Adopting an international relations perspective, the module will also cover the impact of outside state actors, such as USA, Russia and EU on the Middle East as a whole and on the relationships among those states that compose this region. Finally, the students will study the debate about "Orientalism" and the problematic aspects of the Western academic study of the Middle East and the Islamic world. These issues will be addressed with a special focus on the problem of bias involved in the academic study of the Middle East.

Find out more about POLI6300

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 POLI6380

This module aims to investigate the different roles and experiences of human beings at and in war. Following an introduction to approaches to agency in social and political theory, the course will examine the roles of combatants (both state and non-state), civilians (men, women and children), and third parties (peacekeepers, humanitarian workers, journalists, and academics). Engaging with the fluidity of each category (a human being can be a woman and a combatant at the same time and all categories are interlinked by a complex web of social, economic, and political relations), the categories will first be analyzed as a social group (examining questions such as age brackets, income brackets, education, life expectancy), then investigated in terms of their political functions and roles. Finally, the experiences of each category will be examined through testimonies (using written, audio and video material and guest speakers) in an attempt to access some degree of experiential knowledge of war and peace. Due to the sensitive nature of the material examined, the module will not be using lecture capture.

Find out more about POLI6560

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, as 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 decline collapse of imperial China from the mid-19th to 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.

The narrative of modern China starts from the late 16th century when China, ruled by the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), was the regional hegemon. The demise of the Sino-centric regional order began in the early 19th century. Since then, Chinese rulers, officials and intellectuals have repeatedly groped for ways to modernise their country to counter mounting pressures from the West. Seen in this perspective, this module will be primarily focused on how China adapted itself to the modernising West in order to be accepted as a full and respected member of the international society while preserving its own non-Western identity. With this, you should be able to understand towards the end of this module why China now values the respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right of all nations to freely choose their own paths to development. 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 China’s 'peaceful rise’ can continue.

Find out more about POLI6580

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 POLI6600

This module introduces students to the complex set of questions surrounding religion in international politics. The module begins by exploring contending political and sociological understandings of religion at the turn of the 20th century. It looks, in particular, at the constructed nature of the categories of the 'religious' and the ‘secular’, and at the limits of the secularization thesis, which anticipated the privatization, decline and ultimately disappearance of religion in modernity. The discussion then turns to the relation between religion and secularism in Europe – with a focus on the question of European identity, multiculturalism, the relation between Europe and Islam and the numerous controversies surrounding Islam in Europe – and in the United States – with a focus on the concept of civil religion and the role of religious rhetoric and thinking in US foreign policy, particularly in the so-called ‘war on terror’. The module then explores the relation between religion and violence by looking at the role of the 16th and 17th wars of religion in the process of modern state formation and by asking whether there is a genuine connection between religion and violence. The concluding part of the module focuses on the emerging concept of the ‘postsecular’, its contending meanings, understandings and possible applications by focusing on the case of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Find out more about POLI6660

One of the most striking developments in established Western democracies has been the electoral growth of extreme right and radical right-wing political parties. In this module students will investigate the nature and rise of extreme and radical right-wing parties, while also exploring other related issues such as right-wing extremist and racially-motivated violence and/or terrorism. This module will introduce students to the academic literature that has followed a resurgence of support for the extreme right. The module will familiarise students with conceptual and theoretical debates within this literature, and introduce students to some of the associated 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.

Find out more about POLI6760

This module will address the major milestones in the politics and international relations of East Asia since 1945. We will analyse the causes and significance for East Asian countries 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 across the region, and US-China competition.

A central theme of the module will be analysing the decisions that leaders take in order to hold onto power – from repression and liberalisation to corruption, purges, and propaganda – and how these decisions continue to influence the domestic and international politics of East Asian countries. We will explore differences in the countries’ domestic political systems to help understand major historical and contemporary policies, and the influence of economic and security considerations.

Find out more about POLI6830

In this course, we shall examine the most urgent developments and security issues that affect the Asia-Pacific region.

It will start with an overview of International Relations theories and an exploration of whether non-Western International Relations theories will be a better alternative in understanding the development and security challenges in the Asia-Pacific.

We will then address the key international development and security dilemmas in the region. These include: the Taiwan problem; nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula; the danger of nationalism in Japan and beyond; territorial disputes in the South China Sea; and ensuring economic growth and regional cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific.

Finally, we will ask whether the influence and authority of the US, the incumbent hegemon in the Asia-Pacific region, are in decline and its preeminent role will soon be replaced by a rising China, and whether great-power confrontation is inevitable.

Find out more about POLI6840

POLI6880 allows students to do independent, original research under supervision on a political science, or liberal arts topic close to their specialist interests. The dissertation module gives them the opportunity to further these interests and acquire a wide range of study and research skills in the process. All dissertation topics have to be approved by the module convenor as well as by an academic supervisor. The module takes students 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 the 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 help students along the way. The curriculum includes structured opportunities for students to discuss their research ideas with each other as well as mock panel presentations in preparation for the student conference.

Find out more about POLI6880

The main title can be read in two ways. On the one hand, it is an appeal to reflect on the conditions of our subjectivity. On the other hand, it can be read as the expression of a judgement upon a subject's ability to act/speak/feel etc. In this module, both of these aspects will be explored: 'what are the conditions of our identity, and how do these relate to differences between us?’, and ‘what is the nature of judgement and when, if ever, is it legitimate to judge others?’. This will then form the basis for a third part of the module which will consider the extent to which reflection on oneself and the judgement of others are related or not. This nexus of issues is at the heart of contemporary debates about identity politics and the primary literature for the module will draw from these debates. Equally importantly, however, is that these contemporary debates speak directly to concepts and theories first developed within the canon of critical work within modern European philosophy. The module, therefore, will explore contemporary debates with reference to this philosophical background to assess the ways in which the critical tradition can inform the debates as well as considering the ways in which the contemporary debates can help redefine what we understand by the critical tradition.

Find out more about POLI6890

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 POLI6910

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 POLI6920

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

Fees

The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £13000
  • International full-time £17400
  • Home part-time £4625
  • EU part-time £6500
  • International part-time £8700

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

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 A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Teaching and assessment

Our main teaching methods are lectures, seminars, working groups, PC laboratory sessions and individual discussions with your personal tutor or module teachers. Assessment is through continuous feedback, written examinations, assessed essays and oral presentations.

Politics Open Forum

We hold a weekly extra-curricular Open Forum organised by our School research groups, where students and staff have the opportunity to discuss and debate key issues of the day that affect higher education and politics in the world today.

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

The programme aims to:

  • place questions of political and international order and decision-making at the centre of social-scientific analysis
  • provide knowledge of political and international relations theory and analysis within a supportive learning environment
  • enable students to grasp the concepts, approaches and methods of politics and international relations, and to understand their contested nature
  • encourage students to think critically about political and international events, ideas and institutions
  • enable students to relate the academic study of politics and international relations to questions of public concern
  • provide a curriculum supported by scholarship and a research culture that promotes wide-ranging intellectual enquiry and debate
  • enable students to develop cognitive and transferable skills relevant to their vocational and personal development.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts, theories and methods and how to use them to analyse political ideas, institutions, practices and issues in the global arena
  • the structure, institutions and operation of different political systems
  • the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts of political institutions and behaviour
  • the political dynamics of interaction between people, events, ideas and institutions
  • factors accounting for political change
  • the contestable nature of many concepts and different approaches to the study of politics and international relations
  • the normative and positive foundations of political ideas
  • the nature and significance of politics as a global activity
  • the origins and evolution of the international political system, including contemporary changes
  • different interpretations of world political events and issues.

Intellectual skills

You gain intellectual skills in how to:

  • gather, organise and deploy information from a variety of primary and secondary sources
  • identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
  • develop reasoned arguments, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • reflect on and manage your own learning and make use of constructive feedback to enhance your own performance and personal skills.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • understanding the nature and significance of politics as a human and global activity
  • the application of concepts, theories and methods to the analysis of political ideas, institutions, practices and issues in the global arena
  • how to evaluate different interpretations of world political events and issues
  • the ability to describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting political information
  • the contending and comparative approaches to politics and international relations
  • understanding the nature of conflict in relations between and within states.

Transferable skills

You develop transferable skills in how to:

  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing
  • use communication and IT for the retrieval and presentation of information, including statistical or numerical data
  • work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management
  • collaborate with others to achieve common goals.

Careers

Graduate destinations

Recent graduates have gone on to develop careers in areas including:

  • teaching
  • publishing
  • practical politics
  • local and central government
  • the diplomatic service
  • EU administration
  • financial services
  • non-governmental organisations
  • journalism
  • international business.

Help finding a job

The School of Politics and International Relations runs an Employability Programme, focused on providing you with the skills you need when looking for a job. This includes workshops on a range of topics, for example summer internships, networking, and careers in diplomacy and the civil service.

Students also have access to a weekly Employability Newsletter, featuring jobs for graduates, as well as internship and volunteering opportunities.

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.

Work experience

We have recently developed an internship module, enabling you to gain hands-on experience in the workplace in a field relevant to your studies.

Career-enhancing skills

To help you appeal to employers, you also learn key transferable skills that are essential for all graduates. These include the ability to:

  • think critically
  • communicate your ideas and opinions
  • manage your time effectively
  • work independently or as part of a team.

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

Alumni profiles

Kami Asamani (née Peters) was at Kent between 2001 and 2006. She studied BA Politics and International Relations and LLM International Law with International Relations. She works for the British Council, as Head of Business Management for Arts Sub Saharan Africa.  

Read Kami's full profile

Apply for this course

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

Apply now to Kent

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

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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

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