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

LL12 BSc Politics and Economics (3 years)

Our BSc Politics and Economics provides a thorough grounding in both politics and economics, with a range of option modules allowing you to select specialist areas to suit your interests.

Introducing your course

Politics and economics are intimately interlinked, and it has never been more important to understand these two crucial disciplines together. The BSc Politics and Economics at the University of Southampton will help you gain a deep understanding of the foundations of both subjects, through study of political systems, international relations, democratic politics, political ideas, macro- and microeconomics, statistics and mathematics for economics, and enables you to develop your own interests through optional modules, such as those in international trade and policy, development economics, the politics of the EU, and Chinese politics.

Our BSc degree is designed to develop skills in analytical and critical thinking, as well as highly valued independent research skills. Graduates from this BSc are well placed to pursue careers in national and international political and economic institutions, the civil service, finance and business, and think tanks and advocacy organizations.


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

The key features of the programme are depth and choice:

Depth of study is achieved by the core modules in each discipline:

  • politics: a year-long module on democracy and the modern state, plus a further module in either political theory, comparative politics or international political analysis
  • economics: core modules in microeconomics and macroeconomics

Choice is provided through the provision of option modules which allow you to select specialist areas to suit your own interests. You will also be able to undertake independent research for either a dissertation in politics or a project in economics.

The programme provides excellent training in both disciplines and opens up opportunities for postgraduate study or entering the world of work.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is LL12. For more information, visit the how to apply section of the website.


Key Facts

In the 2017 National Student Survey, of our BSc Politics and Economics students:

  • 90% agreed that they have been able to contact staff when they needed to

Politics and international relations are at the heart of society, covering everything from Plato to NATO, from global resistance to global warming, from free trade to fair trade. They are among the few university subjects which are relevant to everybody on this planet.

The Division of Politics & International Relations was founded in 1963 and is known as one of the leading divisions of its kind in the UK.

Our teaching staff include several internationally renowned political scientists and political theorists.

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

GCSEMathematics and English at grade C or above.
A Levels:
GCE A-level3 A level subjects: ABB or BBB if studying A-level Politics, or BBB from 3 A-levels and a grade A in the Extended Project Qualification. All applicants must have AS level Mathematics at grade B or above, or A level Physics or A-level Statistics. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted at A-level.
International Baccalaureate32 points overall, 16 at higher level plus Mathematics Higher Level Grade 4 or Standard Level Grade 5.
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. 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 including grade B in AS Mathematics or A level Physics or Statistics from three A levels or the equivalent from alternative qualifications.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.


Selection process:

All applications are through UCAS; the course code is LL12. 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.

Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L)

This programme is not designed for AP(E)L however this can be looked at on a case by case basis. 

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 in politics and economics in Year 1, as well as further compulsory modules in Year 2 and 3 which build on this knowledge foundation. Four modules are studied per semester. There are optional module choices in all three years. The dissertation is compulsory in Year 3, and you decide whether to pursue it in politics or economics, depending on your own interests.

Research methods and statistics modules are taught in Year 1 and Year 2, to deliver the key skills required on this type of programme, to support your research and study in your other modules, and to prepare you for the dissertation in Year 3.

Students pick optional modules from a range which may include those listed 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.

Year 1

Students without A-level Maths grade B or above (or equivalent) will be registered on ECON1005. Students with A-level Maths grade B or above (or equivalent) will be registered on ECON1008. Students without A-level Economics (or equivalent) will be registered on ECON1001. Students with A-level Economics (or equivalent) will be registered on ECON1003.

If you do not have A level Maths or Economics you must take Intro to Maths for Economics and Statistics for Economics. If you do have A level Maths or Economics you must take Mathematics for Economics and Statistics for Economics.

Political Systems
Political Ideas

Year 2

Students take one optional module in Semester 1, and four optional modules in Semester 2. They may be chosen from Economics, Politics, from other departments or from the Curriculum Innovation Modules. Economics options include modules in Econometrics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Development Economics, and International Trade.


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

Applied Microeconomics 2
Macroeconomic Policy 2
Economics Skills and Employability 2
Theories of International Relations


Foundations of International Political Thought

Students pick either Theories of International Relations or Political Thinkers and once chosen it becomes compulsory.

Theories of International Relations
Microeconomics of Markets
Statistical Theory 2
Introduction to Econometrics
Political Behavior
Politics of the Media
Chinese Politics
Research Methods in The Social Sciences

Year 3

In addition to Applied Microeconomics 3 and Macroeconomic Policy 3, students complete a Dissertation in Politics & International Relations or a Dissertation/Project in Economics.

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/EUInternationalChannel Islands
BSc Politics and Economics2018Full-time£9,250£16,536£9,250
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 and 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 (e.g. museums, galleries): 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 Politics & International Relations and a range of additional modules taught by other divisions. The choice includes introductory modles 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 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.

Lectures and seminars

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.


Modules are examined at the end of the semester in which they are taught, and in some cases a coursework mark will contribute to the overall grade for the module. Final degree classes are based upon marks from the second and third years.


  • We are located in the Murray Building, which has recently benefited from being part of a £5m University-wide refurbishment programme on the University's Highfield Campus.
  • The Hartley Library houses 11,000 books and 80 journals classified under politics, together with 570 periodicals in related social sciences disciplines. Our students benefit from the Ford Collection of British Official Publications and the European Documentation Centre. Databases such as Web of Science and the Library catalogue are available to students electronically. There are two dedicated library training rooms with specialist teaching hardware where students can participate in practical information skills training. A specialist IT centre in the library is devoted solely to library users with disabilities or dyslexia.
  • Clusters of Windows and UNIX workstations are provided on the teaching and residential campuses. You will have access to printing facilities, email, the web and over 140 software packages, including computer-based training products. You will also be provided with your own email account, and all rooms in halls of residence have a telephone/internet connection.
  • We provide our students, both prospective and current, with two types of support and guidance: person-to-person contact and individual documentation packs (including online versions). As an undergraduate student, you will have access to personal tutors, year tutors and the senior tutor, plus strong support from specialist University staff where required. Students on joint honours programmes are supported by a liaison tutor. Erasmus students also have a dedicated tutor.

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%17%10%
Independent study81%83%90%
Placement study0%0%0%
Proportion of assessment by method
Learning, teaching and assessment stage123
Written exam assessment42%38%30%
Practical exam assessment10%10%1%
Coursework assessment48%52%69%

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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