Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe - BA (Hons)

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Overview

Politics and international relations is a fast-changing, broad-based discipline, allowing you to engage with the key issues of today. Our degree programme at Kent gives you a strong foundation in the subject with a specific focus on the global aspects of contemporary world politics.

The School of Politics and International Relations is an exciting place to study - you receive high-quality teaching informed by cutting-edge research on a range of political issues, such as ethno-political conflict, human rights, feminism, social theories of justice, divided societies, and US and European politics.

At Kent, you are taught by people who have advised government departments or have conducted international conflict mediation exercises. They bring this experience to their teaching, giving you the opportunity to see how theoretical ideas apply in the real world.

Many of our lecturers have also won teaching awards for their innovative teaching practices.

Our degree programme

This very popular programme combines all the strengths of our three-year BA degree in Politics and International Relations with the opportunity to spend a year in continental Europe at a partner institution. You can choose to study in the Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Poland or Turkey where the teaching is in English. A full list of our available partnerships is available on our Go Abroad pages.

You spend your first and second years at Kent, you then spend your third year in your chosen country, returning to Kent for your final year. You are taught in English throughout, which allows you to take advantage of the year abroad experience without having to learn the language of the country where you intend to study. 

Our programme helps you to think critically about political and international events, ideas and institutions.

You study in a supportive and responsive learning environment, gaining knowledge and understanding of the theory and analysis of politics and international relations.

We also offer the opportunity to combine the study of politics and international relations with a European language. For the language component, you can choose from French, German, Italian and Spanish. For details, see Politics and International Relations with a Language.

It is also possible to study abroad at other destinations. For details, see:

In addition, we offer a three-year Politics and International Relations programme without a year abroad. For details, see Politics and International Relations.

Student view

Politics and International Relations student Granit talks about his course at Kent.


Study resources

Facilities and resources to support the study of Politics and International Relations include:

  • access to the European Documentation Centre
  • a dedicated Student Support Officer, who advises on issues related to academic study as well as wider University life
  • a Study Skills Officer, who provides subject-related guidance.

Extra activities

At Kent, there are many student societies related to your studies, for example:

  • Current Affairs and Politics Society
  • Kent European Debates Society
  • Debating Society
  • Kent Model United Nations Society.

You are also encouraged to get involved in the programme of events and activities run by the School of Politics and International Relations, which focuses on bridging the gap between academic study and real-life politics. Our Public Speaker Programme features prominent academics and practitioners, who are invited to speak on current issues. 

Student profiles

The lectures and seminars are really engaging, and you get very helpful feedback on your essays. All the professors are excellent, and are experts in so many different specialities.

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

  • 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: 4 years full-time

The BA in Politics and International Relations with a year in Continental Europe is composed 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.

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

Stage 1

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 PO334

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

Optional modules may include

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 PO336

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. The nation is divided, as reflected in most recently in our Brexit debate but also in lingering debates over Englishness, new political identities and the future of the United Kingdom. Critical questions are being asked about the role and effectiveness of key institutions, including the durability of a two-party majoritarian electoral system, the House of Lords and the 'Westminster Model'. Meanwhile, the nature of political authority in Britain is changing. Power has been delegated to devolved bodies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London, but there are questions over the sustainability of this distribution of authority. Non-electoral actors such as traditional and social media and the judiciary 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? And how might the country come together again amid Brexit and as the country develops a new role in the wider world?

This module provides students with an introduction to some of the key issues facing the political system in Britain today. Students will examine challenges that confront the political system, the effectiveness of existing arrangements and the merits of further reforms to institutions. While the focus is on Britain, many of the same challenges are also faced by political systems in other west European countries, to which the module will make reference. The course goes beyond a simple focus on British politics, by introducing students to some of the key issues facing many western democracies today.

Find out more about PO304

What is political about politics? Can we think of political concepts that challenge the institutions of the state and politicians' politics? Are we free when left alone, or when we are all in control of our collective destiny? What would an equal society look like? What is justice and why do we think it is so important? Can democracy be reconciled with liberty? Can we imagine life without a state? Can we ever legitimately resist state power? Is community more important than individuality? Must we preserve all cultural traditions?

This module introduces you to a number of political concepts that are central to thinking about political life. Through these concepts you 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 (John Rawls, Iris Marion Young, Richard Rorty, Susan Okin and others). In addition, lectures and seminars will familiarise you with a variety of different debates about how best to understand any given concept (such as, debates about the 'naturalness' or not of rights) 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 you to develop a set of 'conceptual tools' with which to interrogate and shape the political world in which you find yourself; a world which is saturated everyday with competing articulations of the political concepts that we will study in this module. The module will familiarise you with the style of writing and argumentation specific to political theory, in a way that will develop your ability to construct and put forward successful arguments in the arena of competing political ideas. As such, it is hoped that you will come to develop a subtle appreciation of how the concepts examined on this module are, to greater or lesser degrees, intrinsic to all your studies in politics and international relations (and related subjects).

Find out more about PO314

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 key question of "what is conflict?" Students will be introduced to conflict management, conflict resolution and conflict transformation approaches before engaging with key 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 peace processes 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 PO325

One of the impediments to communication between different academic disciplines is their use of different ways of making and validating arguments and evidence. A key element of the Liberal Arts programme is developing a genuinely inter-disciplinary approach, enabling students to understand, appreciate, and assimilate the findings of diverse academic approaches. This module examines the varying modes of developing scientific, social scientific and humanities discourses to facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding of qualitative and quantitative reasoning. The course will be split into two halves. In the Autumn, students will be introduced to various debates and critical approaches to understanding what constitutes 'knowledge'. In the Spring term, students will be familiarised in lectures and readings with quantitative and qualitative methodologies as well as with associated processes of data presentation, validation and conclusion reaching. Seminars will serve both to discuss and assess approaches and to familiarise students with using these methods to undertake their own research.

Themes introduced here not only intertwine with teaching and practical exercises in the two concurrent first year core modules but also recur throughout the rest of the programme. The cross-disciplinary debates – and communications – opened in this module will be revisited, and nuanced, over the following three years.

The research project gives students the opportunity to integrate the methods of research and analysis learned during the module with a project of individually directed study, enabling both the development of talents for data collection, organisation and analysis and an opportunity, early in their academic careers, to create a substantive text of their own on a topic of their own choosing.

Find out more about PO331

The module asks students to think critically about their own period, and to analyse the forces and events shaping contemporary culture and society. Students will consider texts from a range of disciplines and will be introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Although the focus of the module will be on the period since 2000, it will be necessary to reach back before that date to contextualise current issues. Students will be invited to think critically about the ways different disciplines are formulating representations of the contemporary period, and to discuss themes and ideas that cross disciplines, for instance, migration, environmental change, financial crisis, democratic agency, and new media. The module aims to develop multi-disciplinary understandings of the contemporary world and to encourage students to consider their role in shaping it.

Find out more about PO332

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

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

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

Optional modules may include

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

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 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

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

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 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 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

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

Year abroad

You spend a year between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities in Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Poland or Turkey. For a full list, please see Go Abroad. Places are subject to availability, language and degree programme.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad. If the requirement is not met, you are transferred to the equivalent three-year programme. The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and does not count towards your final degree classification.

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

Compulsory modules currently include

Students take modules equivalent to 120 Kent credits. At least 75% of the credits must be in the discipline of Politics and International Relations, while up to 25% may be in other disciplines. For students on the BA with a Language, at least 75% of the credits must be in Politics and International Relations and in the target language, while up to 25% may be in other disciplines and/or taught in English. The curriculum will vary depending on the partner institution and the modules chosen.

Find out more about PO674

Stage 3

Optional modules may include

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 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

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

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

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

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

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 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

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for UK undergraduate courses have not yet been set by the UK Government. As a guide only full-time tuition fees for Home undergraduates for 2020/21 entry are £9,250:

  • Home full-time TBC
  • International full-time £16800

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

Full-time tuition fees for Home undergraduates in 2020 were £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.* 

EU students

EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in academic year 2021/22. It will not affect students starting courses in academic year 2020/21, nor those EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals benefitting from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement respectively. It will also not apply to Irish nationals living in the UK and Ireland whose right to study and to access benefits and services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals under the Common Travel Area arrangement.

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.

Fees for Year in Industry

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for Year Abroad

Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs associated with this course. All textbooks are available from the library, although some students prefer to purchase their own.

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

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:

  • allow our students to study politics and international relations in the UK and take a year abroad (either studying at a university or gaining professional experience through an internship)
  • place questions of political and international order and decision-making at the centre of social-scientific analysis
  • ensure that students gain an understanding of political and international relations theory in a supportive learning environment
  • enable students to grasp political concepts and methods and understand their contested nature
  • develop students' abilities to think critically about political events, ideas and institutions
  • encourage 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 skills relevant to their vocational and personal development
  • introduce students to different academic or professional cultures.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts, theories and methods used in the study of politics and international relations and their application to the analysis of political ideas, institutions, practices and issues
  • 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 intersection of politics with related disciplines
  • the nature and significance of politics as a global activity
  • the origins and evolution of the international political system, including contemporary changes underway
  • different interpretations of world political events and issues
  • a European language and cultures and societies linked to that language.

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 information and exercise critical judgement
  • reflect on and manage your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback to enhance your performance
  • employ an understanding of different educational curricula and teaching methods in your own work
  • integrate into a different educational, cultural, social and, in some cases, linguistic and/or professional environment.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • understanding the nature and significance of politics as a human activity
  • the application of concepts, theories and methods in the analysis of political ideas, institutions and practices in the global arena
  • how to evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events
  • the ability to describe, evaluate and apply different approaches to collecting, analysing and presenting political information
  • understanding the competing approaches to theories of politics and international relations
  • the nature of political conflict between and within states
  • reading, writing, listening and speaking in your chosen European language
  • the ability to analyse the main features of the language studied and an understanding of the cultures and societies where the language is used.

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.

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

In The Guardian University Guide 2020, over 91% of final-year Politics students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Over 90% of final-year Politics students were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their course in The Guardian University Guide 2020.

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

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.

Apply for Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe - BA (Hons)

Full-time applicants

Full-time applicants (including international applicants) should apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) system. If you need help or advice on your application, you should speak with your careers adviser or contact UCAS Customer Contact Centre. 

The institution code number for the University of Kent is K24, and the code name is KENT.

Application deadlines

See the UCAS website for an outline of the UCAS process and application deadlines. 

If you are applying for courses based at Medway, you should add the campus code K in Section 3(d).

Apply through UCAS

Apply now for part-time study

Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe - BA (Hons) - part-time at Canterbury

Contact us

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Enquire online for full-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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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
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Find out more about the Unistats dataset on the Higher Education Statistics Agency website.