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Top Universities to Study Politics in the UK

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Hadeel Hossam

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01 February, 2021

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7 mins read

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University Life

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For many, going to university happens once in a lifetime which is why you should put a lot of thought into your degree and university choice. Not only should you choose a university that will offer you a memorable social experience, but also one that equips you with the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools to take on the real world after graduation. If you’re passionate about global events and intrigued by how countries and governments work, then you’re probably thinking about getting an international relations and politics degree. To really know the ins and outs of this subject area, here are the best UK universities for international relations and politics:

1.University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the UK and a member of the Russell Group (a network of research-led British universities), the Coimbra Group (a network of leading European universities), the League of European Research Universities, and the Europaeum. It is home to the second-largest library in the UK, Bodleian library. With 38 independent colleges,6 permanent private halls and a diverse student body from over 140 countries, Oxford University is one of the best universities for international relations and politics in the UK.

A politics and international relations degree usually takes 3 to 4 years with annual fees ranging between £12,570 for home students and £23,950 for international students. The entry requirements include your grades transcript, English proficiency (IELTS 7.0), your CV, a research proposal (4,000 words at minimum), two essays (2,000 words each), and three relevant references.

The department offers two joint study options; Politics with History or Philosophy Politics and Economics (PPE). Whichever you choose, all first-year students explore fundamental political theories, learn about how governments function and use quantitative methods to investigate political questions in a series of labs. Then specialise in their preferred subjects afterwards. 

BA (Hons) Politics and History

The first year of the BA in Politics and History features four papers and a short piece of assessed coursework with various subjects to choose from. The next two years cover seven essential components in both disciplines that prepare you to finish your degree. Finally, the last assessment includes presenting five papers, one portfolio of submitted essays, and one thesis in history or politics; or you can opt for choosing four written papers, one portfolio of submitted essays, one extended essay and one thesis in history or politics.

BA (Hons) Philosophy Politics and Economics

As for the BA in Philosophy Politics and Economics (PPE), you will study all three disciplines equally to get a thorough and comprehensive understanding of each one. You’ll cover philosophy, general philosophy, moral philosophy, and elementary logic. In politics, you’ll be introduced to political theory, the practice of politics, and political analysis. Finally, in economics, you’ll learn all about microeconomics and how the market economy functions as well as handling national output and employment, exchange rates and policy issues, in addition to the mathematical techniques used in economics.

2. University of Cambridge

After Oxford University, The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the UK. It is a member of the Russell Group, the Coimbra Group, the League of European Research Universities; and the International Alliance of Research Universities. The university is known for not having a campus and instead consists of a group of 31 self-governing colleges coming under one Cambridge banner. It’s highly regarded as one of the best UK universities to study public relations and politics with two-degree options; Human, Social and Political Sciences and History and Politics. The degree takes 3 years to complete, and fees range between £9,250 for home students and £19,197 for international students. The entry requirements are a recognised high school certificate, grades transcript and English proficiency.

The BA (Hons) History and Politics integrates highly regarded subjects from both disciplines. The first two years mainly focus on research papers, each featuring four elective papers from multiple disciplines of research. The final year demands a major paper that examines general issues and theories in history and politics. You’ll also have three other papers chosen from history-specific subjects, like the politics of a particular region or the politics of gender.

As for the BA (Hons) Human, Social and Political Sciences (HSPS), almost 50% of your time in the first year will be spent studying politics and international relations. You can then choose whether to continue focusing on these subjects or combine it with Sociology or Social Anthropology. You will also be required to submit four papers during the first and second years while in the last year you’ll have the option to switch it up with three papers and a dissertation or continue with another four papers.

University of Cambridge Student Accommodation

3. London School of Economics and Political Science

If you want to study with the pros, then the London School of Economics and Political Science is your best choice. Established in 1895 in London, this university is a globally recognised university in the UK, with half of its 10,000 students from overseas. It’s home to the world’s largest library for social sciences and was recently ranked 5th in the Guardian University Guide 2021. Graduating from this school means you’ll have high employability chances as well as the prospect of an attractive starting salary. 

So what makes the London School of Economics and Political Science one of the best UK universities for international relations and politics? Firstly,  it offers a huge variety of course options for students to choose from, with the option to study either a single honours degree or a joint one that combines two subjects. The degree takes three years to complete, and annual fees range around £9,250 for home students and £21,570 for international students. Entry requirements include a recognised high school certificate, grades transcript, language proficiency (IELTS 7.0 or equivalent), a personal statement, and teachers’ references. 

You can choose from over 40 degrees options, including BSc International Relations and History, BSc International Social and Public Policy with Politics, BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc Politics and Economics, and many more. To learn more about each bachelor degree’s entry requirements and course structure, click here.

Student Housing Near LSE

4. University College London

Known as the largest and oldest college in the UK, University College London is now ranked 10th in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2021. It is a member of the Russell Group and part of the Golden Triangle with Oxford and Cambridge. A total of 29 Nobel prizes came from the university’s alumni and staff, and it is highly regarded for its research power.

One of the things UCL is globally recognised for is being one of the best UK universities for studying international relations and politics. The degree is three years long, and fees range between £9,250 and £19,970 annually. University entry requirements include a recognised high school certificate, grades certificate, and English proficiency (IELTS 7.5 or equivalent).

The BSc in Politics and International Relations covers a wide variety of important subjects like public policy, comparative politics, political philosophy, and political theories. Each year consists of modules valued at 15 or 30 credits with a total of 120 credits per year. The first year explores important questions about political challenges in the world and helps you analyse them as well as learn about the use and misuse of data in politics. The second-year course structure delves deeper into essential knowledge in the field, giving you a choice of multiple subject areas. You’ll explore the main methods in political science and gain new research skills. The last year gives you the freedom to focus on the area you’re most passionate about, choosing from the department’s intermediate and advanced undergraduate modules. It also features a final dissertation project about a topic of your choice.

Student Accommodation Near University College London

5. University of Warwick 

Located on Coventry’s outskirts, the University of Warwick is one of the UK’s top universities. It is one of the 24 members of the elite Russell Group and has 18,000 students from 120 countries. It has four faculties; Arts, Medicine, Science and Social Sciences and its graduates are highly targeted by employers in the UK. It’s globally recognised for its courses and degrees and offers one of the UK’s best masters in politics. In fact, its Politics and International Relations Department ranks 4th in the UK, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

The university celebrates a high employment rate with 98% of all politics graduates employed or pursuing further education following graduation, making it one of the best UK universities for international relations and politics. The degree is 3 years in duration, and annual fees range between £9,250 for home students and £19,240 for international students. Entry requirements include a recognised high school certificate, grades certificate, and English proficiency (IELTS 6.5).

You can either take a politics single honours degree or combine it either with International Studies, or Sociology. You can even study both politics and international relations with a language like French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian or Chinese. Other joint undergraduate courses available are Economics, Politics and International Studies, History and Politics, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Politics, Philosophy and Law (PPL), and Politics, International Studies, and Global Sustainable Development. For more information on each course structure and what it is like to study international relations and politics at the University of Warwick, click here.

What Can I Do With My Politics and International Relations Degree?

You’ve probably asked yourself this question as you consider your study options, wondering what your career options will be. It’s important to consider this aspect before admission since your career aspirations determine what you’ll specialise in and which subjects to choose. There are many career prospects to consider that are related to a Political and International Relations degree. One option can be going into policy analysis in which you advocate for or against certain policy initiatives after thorough research and data analysis. Another career option is being a legislative assistant; a very important role where you help elected officials carry out their duties. You can also utilise your political degree and become a political consultant who formulates strategies for candidates to gain support in their campaigns from voters. Other career options include becoming a public relations specialist, marketing research analyst, and intelligence analyst.

There you have it! This pretty much covers all you need to know about the best UK universities for international relations and politics. When you’re deciding which university to choose, consider essential factors like its location and proximity to your student accommodation in the UK and the university’s ranking, fees, and entry requirements.


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