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Undergraduate course

Politics & War Studies BA (Hons)

Consider the local and global impact of politics and war, investigating the links between power and action, morals and ethics.

Students in seminar

If the diverse subjects of military history and warfare, international relations and current affairs, moral philosophy and media studies interest you then this course will help you to explore those subjects and the complex associations between them.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – L2L2
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2020
  • School – Humanities, Religion & Philosophy

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2020-21 £9,250 per year

    International 2020-21 £12,750 per year

The York St John Experience

Course overview

Gain an insight into the processes behind the development of states and the shape, social consequences and resolution of armed conflict through drawing on a diverse combination of disciplines including politics, history, American studies, media, film and English literature.

Politics at all levels is fundamentally about power - but how is that power exercised when it comes into contact with another on a global stage?  How can political institutions and ideas help maintain social order but also drive us to war? This Politics and War Studies degree will cover a wide range of themes and approaches to these questions and more.

You’ll learn the skills of political analysis, exploring the complex and contested definitions of the political, before learning about how we actually study and research politics. Developing a fundamental understanding of the institutions and processes of modern states, both democratic and non-democratic and explore politics from an international perspective.

War Studies explores the relentless consistency of war as a phenomenon. There is more to War Studies than just military history or peace studies. We will discuss complex topics including what is war, how do wars start and how do they end? Studying the laws of war and debating if there is such a thing as a 'just' war?

You’ll benefit from local expertise and resources as we make trips to local cultural heritage sites such as the Yorkshire Air Museum, York Cold War Bunker, the Kohima Museum at Imphal Barracks, the York Army Museum and Yorkshire Film Archive.

Course structure

Level 1


Introducing Politics: Key Concept and Skills
This module introduces students to the academic study of Politics. It will introduce students to basic terms, concepts, methodologies and issues in the study of politics in preparation for their degree programme. A key focus will be exploring the diverse definitions and the scope of politics.

'Politics and …’: An Interdisciplinary View
This module is designed to demonstrate to students that the ‘real world’ does not neatly divide itself into discrete subjects and disciplines. Students will be guided through a series of case studies that bridge and incorporate perspectives from politics and at least one other academic discipline.

UK Politics: Tradition and Change
This module examines the contemporary British state and its relationship with wider society. There is a focus on the enduring dominance of traditional state institutions, practices and perspectives, and the extent to which these impact on, or are impacted by, social, political and economic perspectives within different groups of society and the individuals that are at the forefront of these.

International or Global? Globalization in Debate
The module introduces students to the debate surrounding the nature and extent of ‘globalisation’ and its impact on the role and power of contemporary states.

Introduction to War Studies
This module will explore the fundamental question ‘what is war’, familiarise students with a variety of disciplinary approaches to the subject, and introduce them to some of the techniques required for its analysis at undergraduate level throughout the rest of the War Studies programme.

Why Wars Begin
You will examine the complex question of why wars occur (and do not occur). In doing so, the module will introduce students to a diverse range of historical and theoretical arguments relating to the causes of war that will have relevance and application throughout the War Studies programme.

War and the Media
Explore the relationship of war and the media on two levels: first in terms of the role of the media in the representation and reportage of war which will likely draw on case studies from the Crimean War to date, and second, in terms of the use of media resources and techniques for researching and understanding war, which potentially could involve case studies from throughout human history.

All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated

Level 2


Political Analysis: Theory and Method
The module provides a comprehensive overview of different theoretical and methodological approaches to studying the political world. There will be critical coverage of schools of political analysis broadly focused around structural and agential approaches. These may include: behavioural analysis; rational choice; institutionalism; Marxism; constructivism; feminist approaches; political psychology.

International Relations: Theory and Practice
The module introduces students to theories of international relations, such as realism, liberalism, neoliberalism, Marxism, critical theory, constructivism, feminism, postcolonialism. Using case studies and coverage of historical and contemporary events, students will critically examine how they can be applied to developments in state relations, taking into account the growing institutions and processes of globalisation.

Political Ideologies

The module explores the origins and evolution of the political ideologies that have shaped major social and political developments from the 18th Century to the present, and those ideological movements that have arisen as critical responses to the mainstream. There will be a broad coverage of ideological traditions, which may include: liberalism, conservatism, socialism, anarchism, nationalism, fascism, feminism, fundamentalism, environmentalism, multiculturalism.

The Face of Battle

History, Film & Television

Reds: Rise and Fall of a Soviet Communism

An Employability module

All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated

Level 3


The Morality of War
The module explores philosophical thinking on war, considering questions such as: Is it ever right to go to war? What constitutes a justifiable reason to go to war (jus ad bellum)? What is the right way to conduct war (jus in bello)? How should wars end (jus post bellum)? In doing so the module will critically review the literature on just war theory, examining arguments dating from Aristotle, early Christianity, the Enlightenment, through the tumultuous 20th century to the contemporary state of the debate. Alternative perspectives may also be considered, such as Asian perspectives of just war, forms of pacifism and advocacy of non-violent resistance.

The module examines the persistence of authoritarian rule in the 21st century. Students will study the characteristics of authoritarian systems, the structures, actors and actions that foster and maintain them, the place of authoritarian systems in international politics, and examine the relationships with totalitarianism and democracy. Case studies will be used to illustrate and analyse theoretical and conceptual approaches to authoritarianism.

Global Governance
The module explores in detail the institutions, structures and processes of global governance. In particular it focuses on the institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, regional organisations such as the European Union, and other intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. Global issues will be examined to analyse the work of these institutions, which may include: human rights, international terrorism, global inequality, the environment, conflict and peace.

Cyber Warfare

Cinema of Conflict: Trauma and American Film and TV

US Conflict on the East Asian Mainland

Origins of the Second World War

Dissertation (40 credits)
This year-long, double-weighted module will involve the student working independently to research a topic in the field of Politics, and is the culmination of the Politics degree. The purpose of the module is to enable students to plan, research, and write a substantial piece of work which demonstrates the ability to structure a sustained argument, think independently, and deliver a document to a required standard of presentation.

All modules are worth 20 credits unless otherwise stated

Teaching & Assessment

Teaching & Learning

We use a range of teaching styles and settings to help support you during your time at University. You will attend lectures, seminars (groups of students with a tutor), tutorials (one-to-one meetings with a tutor), workshops, and experience collaborative learning (working with your fellow students), events, field trips, as well as independent study sessions, and times when you will need to use online resources through the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. In the classroom you may find yourself leading a class discussion, or doing a non-assessed presentation. To gain maximum benefit from class contact time, you will need to engage fully with academic literature, notably academic books, academic journal articles, original texts and official reports, where relevant. The programme exploits its multi-disciplinary origins by drawing its philosophy of learning, teaching and assessment from the best practice that is offered among its contributing disciplines.

Assessment & feedback

The Politics and War Studies degree is committed to authentic, real-world assessment. As such, assessment is primarily through coursework. You will experience a wide range of assessment modes designed to help you develop new skills and prepare for graduate employment, which may include essays, portfolios, examinations (this may apply to relevant modules drawn from the History programme), individual and group presentations, video presentations, posters, group reports, book/article reviews, and case study reports. This is to ensure that the kinds of work you are doing through the degree reflect the kinds of work graduates undertake, in professional employment or further study.

Feedback is essential in identifying what you have done well and how you can improve. Not only will you receive detailed feedback on the summative (credit-bearing) assessments on each module, but you will also have the opportunity to check your understanding and develop assessment skills through formative assessment. Formative assessment moves the focus away from end-result grades towards the your learning process and positive, qualitative feedback. This can take the form of written and oral work, concept checking and mapping exercises, submitted and class-based activities. Ultimately, this will positively impact on your academic performance.

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Foundation Year

This course is available with a foundation year. This option is ideal if you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto a degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education. A foundation year prepares you for degree level study, giving you the confidence and skills needed to make the most of your course. Passing it guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Foundation courses

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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