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Undergraduate course

Politics BA (Hons)

Considering local, national and global politics, study who and what dictates how we exist and coexist.

Students working in a group

Our Politics course is about more than the sound and fury of the daily headlines. It examines the point where power, principle and policy intersect and gets to grips with the practical implications of the most pressing questions of our time.

York campus

  • UCAS Code – L200
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

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

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

Discover why York St John is The One

Course overview

How should the state respond to the challenge of climate change? How are new communication technologies changing the way we engage with politics? What are the new horizons for social justice? How might we imagine the good society in an era of globalisation? These questions along with many more are addressed on this exciting and contemporary programme.


This degree covers a wide-range of themes and approaches which will be examined with increasing depth as you progress through the programme. You’ll learn the skills of political analysis, exploring the complex and contested definitions of the political and develop a rich understanding of political issues through interdisciplinary explorations.

You’ll develop a fundamental understanding of the institutions and processes of modern states, both democratic and non-democratic. This will include a focus on the domestic government and politics of the UK whilst an international exploration will provide a comparative perspective. Going beyond local and national level analysis, you will explore politics from a global perspective. How do states interact with each other and how has this been theorised? What is the role of the state in the context of globalisation? How do states respond to collective dilemmas such as inequality, threats to national security and climate change?

Upon completion of this Politics degree you will be able to explain the historical drivers of social change, analyse the current political landscape and be equipped to take on the challenges that will shape our shared future. In these increasingly politically turbulent times you’ll be set with skills and knowledge to pursue a range of careers in the political sphere and beyond.

Course structure

Level 1


Modules include:

Introducing Politics: Key Concepts 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.

Political Philosophy: Themes and Thinkers
The module takes a thematic look at key issues in political philosophy, locating the ideas of thinkers throughout the span of the history of political thought within these. The themes will be organised in response to fundamental questions of political thought, such as: Who should rule? Why should we obey the state? What does a just society look like?

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.

Comparative Politics
The module exposes students to the comparative method in studying modern polities. There will be a focus on theoretical and methodological approaches, ensuring students develop a solid grounding in these key tools of political analysis. These will then be applied to authoritarian and democratic regimes.

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.

All modules are worth 20 credits, unless otherwise stated.

Level 2


Modules include:

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.

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.

Using Political Philosophy
The module aims to examine contemporary issues in society and explore how political philosophy can help us to understand and develop arguments and perspectives in response to these. Furthermore, the module aims to show the impact that political philosophies can and do have on decision-makers, as well as social groups and wider society.

British Government and the State
The module takes students through a detailed breakdown and analysis of the institutions and workings of British government, taking the Westminster Model as constitutional starting point. This is then situated within broader analysis and debate around the location of power in the British state in the context of evolving domestic, international and global developments.

Political Parties and Politicians in the UK
The module examines the rise and evolution of political parties in the UK. The will be an initial focus on the two main parties of government of recent years, Labour and Conservative. Examining arguments surrounding class and partisan dealignment along with rising voter apathy, there will also be a consideration of nationalist parties at the devolved and national levels, as well as the rise and influence of smaller, issue-based political parties. Students will also examine the fundamental function of MPs as representatives, and considers notion of ‘good’ political behaviour in light of a variety of political scandals.

The module explores the development and evolution of democracy from concept and various models of democracy to institutions (executives, legislatures, judiciaries) and processes (electoral and party systems), engaging students in a comparative analysis of democratic states throughout the world. The module will examine established democracies, and also democracies in transition.

Participation and Engagement: Elections and Beyond
The module examines contemporary ways in which citizens engage with and participate in politics. Students will examine trends and theories of voting behaviour, then focus on wider forms of participation, such as community action, membership of and activity in political and non-governmental organisations, demonstration and protest.

The European Union
The module examines the historical origins of European integration and the theoretical and conceptual approaches that have developed to explain and understand the European Union. The institutions and policies of the EU will be explored. Contemporary debates and issues surrounding the EU’s existence and functioning will also be analysed, such as the democratic deficit, enlargement and withdrawal, the Euro.

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.

Foreign Policy
The module examines the decision making of key actors in national governments with regard to entities and events external to the state. Students will explore the key actors, both individual and institutional, the contexts in which they operate and the motivations and rationale behind their decisions and actions. This will be approached theoretically and conceptually, as well as examining case studies to illustrate and evaluate approaches to foreign policy analysis.

All modules are worth 20 credits, unless otherwise stated.

Level 3


Modules include:

The Social Contract: Justifying the State
The module constitutes an in-depth study of perspectives on the social contract, primarily through the works of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Through an examination of the social contract tradition, this module allows students to critically explore possible justifications for why we need government and state.

Contemporary Political Philosophy
The module explores a range of developments in modern political philosophy, involving an in-depth study of works by scholars which may include John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Susan Moller Okin, Brian Barry, Michael Sandel, and Gerald Cohen. In doing so, the module aims to cover several key themes, which may include: Justice; Libertarianism; Marxism; Feminism; Multiculturalism; Citizenship.

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.

Global Justice
The module explores how longstanding questions and concerns over social and distributive justice are of increasing concern at the global level, for both philosophers and activists. Starting with fundamental questions of justice – Who should get what? What are our duties to each other? – The module examines how approaches to justice have evolved through social, international and global conceptions. The module will cover various issues within the scope of global justice, which may include: human rights, humanitarian intervention, poverty and economic inequality, gender, natural resources, migration, the environment.

Hived Out, Hived In: Delegation in the Modern British State
The module takes students through the infrastructure of the British state, expanding and deepening student knowledge of the structures and processes of governing, from beyond government into the realm of governance. Students will be guided through the history of delegated governance in the UK, and examine the theoretical and conceptual perspectives that have attempted to explain and understand delegation. The module will also address some of the fundamental issues surrounding delegation in the UK, such as autonomy and control, accountability, patronage, and devolution.

Revolutions are infrequent but hugely significant phenomena, drawing on and impacting political ideologies, the futures of wholes societies and the balance of state relations. The module explores the theoretical explanations that have developed to account for social revolutions, examining the works of scholars like Barrington Moore Jr, Theda Skocpol and Jack Goldstone, and applies their work to major social revolutions such as in America, France, Russia, China, as well as more contemporary situations such as the Arab Spring.

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.

Politics of the Environment
The module examines the nature and causes of environmental problems, and the political response to these. In the continuing context of global climate change, the focus is placed on the international system as a means to address environmental problems, and the level of success in doing so. As such, students will apply theories of international relations to analyse the actions of states and global governance institutions to national, regional and global environmental issues. Students may also examine the role civil society as an actor in environmental politics.

The Middle East
The module explores the politics of the Middle East. Starting with the historical context, students will examine interconnected internal and external factors affecting the region, such as rising Arab identity and nationalism and a rejection of colonial rule. Students will then explore a range of more contemporary issues, which may include the regional economy, the role of Islam, conflict, women, dictatorship and democracy. Students will also examine the Middle East from an international relations perspective, focusing on the interests of the international community in the area – particularly the USA and Russia. As part of this students may study critical and ongoing situations such as the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Arab Spring.

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.

Short Dissertation 
The Short Dissertation is a single-weighted module that will involve the student working independently to research a topic in the field of Politics. The purpose of the module is to enable students to plan, research, and write a 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.

Assessment & Feedback

The Politics degree is committed to authentic, real-world assessment. As such, assessment is entirely through coursework, with no exams. 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. 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, individual and group presentations, video presentations, posters, group reports, book/article reviews, and case study reports.

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 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:

104 UCAS Tariff points

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

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

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.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 202 entry onto this course is

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time.

These prices apply to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

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