The University of Southampton
Social Sciences: Politics & International RelationsPart of Social Sciences

L250 BSc International Relations (3 years)

Is the world entering a new period of conflict and instability? What causes war? Why is global poverty greater now than at anytime in living memory? Can we tame globalization? Do ideas of justice and democracy have a place in global politics or is it simply power politics all the way down?

Introducing your degree

Is the world entering a new period of conflict and instability? How do nations interact with one another, and for what purposes? A BSc in International Relations from the University of Southampton can help further your understanding of international and global politics.
This BSc degree examines international political systems, international political theory, and trajectories and developments in contemporary global politics, and helps you to develop crucial skills in analytical and critical thinking, as well as highly valued independent research skills. This BSc degree can help lead to careers in national and international political institutions, think tank and advocacy organisations, the civil service, and journalism.


What is this? (More Information) This information is based on historical data and may have been aggregated. Find out more.

  • Provides a thorough grounding for the understanding and analysis of international relations.
  • Enables students to understand contemporary international relations and the forces that are reshaping global politics in the 21st century.
  • Develops students' knowledge of the foreign and security policies of the major actors in world politics, including the key states such as the USA, and the principal institutions such as the UN and the WTO.
  • Offers students the opportunity to study specific global issues (e.g., arms control and security governance, migration, development) and regions (from Europe to Latin America) in depth.
  • Integrates theory and practice, thereby providing a broad based training for a wide range of careers, including those in international organisations, NGOs, the civil service, political and advocacy organisations, journalism, teaching, international law, and the business and corporate sector.

The key features of this programme are breadth, depth, flexibility and choice:

  • Breadth is achieved by studying across the essential subfields of political theory, global politics, public policy, and political analysis, and in delivering rigorous training in research methods.
  • Depth is achieved through the range of compulsory modules in Year 2, which build on the foundations delivered in Year 1, and which together provide the knowledge and understanding required of an international relations degree.
  • Flexibility is achieved through the optional module capacity in each year of study, which provides for specialisation as your knowledge and understanding of the discipline develops, and through the dissertation in Year 3, which is pursued in a topic of your choice in international relations.
  • Choice is achieved by way of the wide selection of available options, which enable you to deepen your knowledge in those areas of most interest to you.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is L250. For more information, visit the how to apply section of our website.

Key Facts

In the 2017 National Student Survey, of our BSc (SocSci) International Relations students:

  • 100% were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of their course
  • 100% agreed that marking and assessment have been fair
  • 94% were satisfied or very satisfied with the assessment and feedback within their course

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

GCSEGrade C at GCSE English Language and GCSE Mathematics.
A Levels:
GCE A-level3 A Levels subjects: ABB. Or BBB with grade A in the Extended Project Qualification or if studying Politics. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.
International Baccalaureate32 points overall, 16 at higher level
Alternative qualifications

We welcome applications from candidates offering qualifications other than A and AS levels (including BTEC, European Baccalaureate, International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate and Scottish Highers). You will be expected to attain an equivalent standard to an A level applicant or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University. Contact us for further information on equivalencies for these qualifications and others not listed here.

International applications

Each international application will be assessed on a case by case basis

English Language Requirement

All applicants must have GCSE Grade C or above in English language. If English is not your first language you will be required to pass an approved English test. We normally ask for an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in each component.

Contextual Admissions

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students who flagged in this way will be made an offer which is lower than the typical offer for that programme.

A typical contextual offer is BBB from three A levels or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

Selection process:

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is L250. For more information, visit the how to apply section of our website.


Will I be interviewed?

We usually make our decisions based on your UCAS form alone. Only candidates who require special consideration, for example on grounds of age or non-standard entry qualifications, are interviewed.


Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students. If you will be over 21 at the start of your proposed degree programme, you are eligible for exemption from our normal entry requirements. However, you will be required to provide evidence of having completed recent serious and successful study (for example, Access, Return to Study, Open University foundation courses) and of your capacity to pursue the course.

Any specific subject requirements must be met. All students are required to have the appropriate qualification in mathematics (GCSE grade C for BSc Politics, BSc Politics and International Relations, BSc International Relations, AS level grade B for BSc Politics and Economics) and English (GCSE grade C for all programmes).

Where feasible, you will be called for an interview. You may find it helpful to discuss your plans with us before applying through UCAS. This will allow you to make sure your chosen course is right for you and give you time to pursue additional academic qualifications if required.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not currently meet our entry requirements may be able to join this course on successful completion of our International Foundation Year. For more information visit the IFY course page.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

We teach a range of core modules common to all politics and international relations degrees in the first year, in order to embed the necessary knowledge foundations for the rest of your programme

In year two there are compulsory and option modules, while in year three there are option modules only. The Research Methods module taught in year two provides guidance on writing a dissertation, which you will undertake in year three.

Students pick option modules from a range, which may include those below (although specific options may change from year to year). In addition to this, our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers our students the chance to take optional modules outside their core disciplines. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future.

Innovation modules outside of your subject area

Learn a language

Year 1

Plus three optional modules from Social Sciences or from across the University.

PAIR1002Credit: 15
PAIR1004Credit: 15

Year 2

PAIR2002Credit: 15

These modules are only indicative examples of the options available. There is a wide array of option modules to choose from, subject to availability.

PAIR2010Credit: 15
PAIR2014Credit: 15
PAIR2018Credit: 15
PAIR2023Credit: 15
PAIR2024Credit: 15

Year 3


These modules are only indicative examples of the options available. There is a wide array of option modules to choose from, subject to availability.

PAIR3018Credit: 15
PAIR3021Credit: 15
PAIR3027Credit: 15
PAIR3032Credit: 15

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

NameYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
BSc International Relations2018Full-time£9,250£16,536
View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved Calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
Printing and copyingIn the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects, dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found here:
OtherOptional Visits: Some modules may include optional visits to a museum, galleries, etc. You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Career Opportunities

Employability is embedded into modules from the first year onwards and right from the first lecture. We explain the degree skills which are taught throughout the modules and offer a number of optional employability modules.

The skills you will acquire are in high demand. Our degrees are a passport to vocational and non-vocational careers alike, with recent graduates employed in parliament, banking, media, the public sector, the armed forces and international organisations. Many also progress to higher degrees and then to lectureships and professorships in universities in the UK and overseas.

Councillor Paul Holmes is a graduate of Politics and International Relations. “Not only did I receive a degree from an internationally recognised university, I also made some great friends,” he said. “I would very much recommend studying at Southampton. It is a genuinely nice place with great facilities, friendly staff and great course mates.”

Read more about the careers and employability support we offer.

Learning & Assessment

Course structure

Our courses are three-year, full-time programmes (except for some of the combined honours programmes, which are four-year, full-time programmes).

Teaching is based on a system of two 12-week semesters over three terms followed by examinations at the end of each semester. You will usually study four modules in each semester, a total of eight modules per year.

Our teaching provision follows a funnel structure, and your study choices will increase progressively through the three years of study.

In the first year you will take core modules in the Division and a range of additional modules taught by other divisions. The choice includes introductory modules in economics, sociology or other social sciences, history, philosophy or modern languages. A similar pattern is followed in the second year.

By the third year you will have a considerable choice of options available to you. Most of our students choose to study mainly within Politics & International Relations, where they can follow up the specialist interests they developed in their first two years of study. However, many continue to take an option from outside the Division. Modern languages are a particularly attractive choice as they enable students to take advantage of exchange arrangements with other European Universities via the Socrates scheme. This can be a very good preparation for jobs in the European Union or in British business.

A particular feature of our learning environment is research-led teaching. Our staff undertake research in areas of important contemporary significance and bring to their teaching the experience of working in the wider world.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is generally by lectures and seminars, but you may also be involved in workshops and case-study classes. Most modules have two lectures per week and one seminar per week or fortnight. You will have about 12 hours of taught contact time per week. To cope with the demands of your course, you will need to do at least another 28 hours of private study per week. Group work, individual supervision (the dissertation) and small group supervision may also be used.

Lectures offer an overview of a topic, an explanation of difficult concepts or a discussion of key issues. They often require some additional reading. Several modules use videos to reinforce or complement lectures. Seminars provide a forum for a closer examination of particular aspects of each module and are an important part of the learning process. You will have opportunities to prepare papers and lead discussions or debates, and so develop your written and presentational skills.

A particular feature of our learning environment is research-led teaching. Our staff undertake research in areas of important contemporary significance and bring to their teaching the experience of working in the wider world.

Students may draw on a wide range of optional modules in additional to the compulsory modules which are fundamental to the degree.  The optional choices include introductory modules in economics, sociology and other social sciences, history, philosophy or modern languages. In later stages of the degree programme, most of our students choose to take optional modules mainly within Politics & International Relations, where they can follow up the specialist interests they developed. Modern languages are also a particularly attractive choice as they enable students to take advantage of exchange arrangements with other European Universities via the Erasmus scheme. This can be very good preparation for jobs in the European Union as well as in UK/EU/global corporate organisations.


Modules are examined through a combination of examinations and coursework, and the specific arrangements vary according to module. Final degree classifications are based on marks from the second and third years.

Tailoring your degree (Minor subject)

The structure of your degree programme allows you to exercise choice in each year of study.  You can exercise this choice in a number of ways. 

  • You can use these modules to deepen your knowledge of your main subject.
  • You can combine additional modules from your main subject with modules from other disciplines or choose from a selection of interdisciplinary modules.

You can choose modules that build into a minor pathway, the title of which will be mentioned in your degree transcript.  Details of the minors available and the modules that are included can be found at

Breakdown of study time and assessment

Proportion of time spent in scheduled learning, teaching and independent study
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Scheduled learning & teaching study19%20%14%
Independent study81%80%86%
Placement study0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Written exam assessment25%31%43%
Practical exam assessment15%11%0%
Coursework assessment60%58%57%

Study Locations

Hartley Library

Highfield campus

Social Sciences is based on the main campus of the University in the M...Find out more

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