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Politics BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time See course combinations for joint honours UCAS codes 2015
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2015

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Why choose this course?

Politics is fundamentally about power, the ways in which it is organised and expressed, and the way it flows throughout society. This joint honours course explores questions related to power and politics, such as the tension between freedom and equality, ethics and obligations, the nature of war and terrorism, and the development of human rights.

See the course combinations section for more information about the different joint honours options.

Watch a video to find out why you should study politics at Kingston University:

What will you study?

A focus on the interaction of people, ideas and institutions provides the basis for understanding how values are allocated and resources are distributed at many levels, from the local through to the sectoral, national, regional and global. Ultimately, politics is about who gets what, when, how, why and where, directing you to key questions of power, justice, human rights, order, conflict, legitimacy, accountability, obligation, sovereignty, decision-making and governance.

This degree will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the political issues that affect societies across the world. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, examining political life from a wide variety of perspectives, including area studies, cultural politics, international politics, human rights, political theory and political sociology. Throughout your studies you will be supported by an integrated programme of study skills development, employability training and one-to-one academic support from a personal tutor. You do not need to have studied politics and international relations before, and the course is not just for those who want a career in politics-related fields.

Year 1 is designed to provide a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for your university studies. You will be introduced to some of the key themes in political thinking and ideology that have guided political practice during the past 200 years, as well as the controversies associated with institutions and systems of power in the UK. The first-year curriculum is also accompanied by a focus on academic skills development, helping you to hone your abilities and approach to learning.

Year 2 allows increasing flexibility in your choice of study topics. The focus on political theory continues in more depth, and you will also have the opportunity to explore international relations, human rights and the politics of Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. During the second year, many students also take the opportunity to study abroad in mainland Europe, North America or Australia.

Year 3 centres on your final-year research project, which explores a topic of interest in depth. You will be supported by a supervisor, receive training in research skills, and will participate in discussion forums to explore your developing ideas with course colleagues. The project culminates with the presentation of your project at our end-of-year student conference. You will also study taught modules and will have the opportunity to study issues of political violence, political extremism, and the influence of popular culture on political processes and ideas.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1 (Level 4)

  • This module provides an introduction to some of the major strands in radical political thought, in both their historical and contemporary contexts. We will be looking at some of those ideas and ideologies which have emerged throughout recent history, and which have sought to bring about widespread political, social and economic reform. We will be examining the ideas themselves, and the ways in which they were seeking a fundamental change in the existing system. We will also be placing the ideas in the particular political and social contexts of their time, and will study some of the people and movements who have been key in developing these radical arguments. However, we will also focus on the contemporary relevance of radical thought, and consider whether these ideas have purchase in today's world. As such, this module is well-suited to both Politics and History students, and forms a core module for all those taking Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.

    This module is also aimed at preparing new students for their time at university, and will provide advice and training regarding academic skills and personal development.

     
  • This module will supply students with a comprehensive overview of the historical background of the UK’s current political system and its current operation. One of the key factors in understanding the politics of the UK, and indeed any given nation, is how a political system has evolved to its current state. The module is divided between providing a historical overview of how we got to where we are today and a survey of how the most important elements of UK politics work.

    A key element of the module is putting the UK in a comparative context. By doing so it will help students better understand the idiosyncrasies of UK politics and how the way the UK operates differs from and is similar to other democratic nations.

    The module is broadly speaking divided into four parts:

    1. A political history of the current UK system.

    2. Key political institutions.

    3. Politics of the masses (e.g. elections, parties and the media)

    4. Politics below the national (local politics and devolution).

     

Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This module is a core module for Full-Field Politics & International Relations students and Half-Field Politics students. It can be taken as an option by Half-Field International Relations and Human Rights students.

    The module offers a critical introduction to the foundations of modern political thought. It is organised around an examination of the work of several major political philosophers and the concepts associated with their writings. Beginning with an exploration the origins of modern political theory in Machiavelli, it goes on to look at debates about of human nature, the state, and property within social contract theory, and the development of political thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by thinkers such as Mill, Marx, and Rawls. The module will examine a number of core political concepts, including freedom, justice, gender, equality, democracy, and tolerance, and address the central questions of moral and political philosophy: How should we act? How can we live together? Why should we obey the state? Throughout the module students will be encouraged both to challenge the arguments and assumptions of the thinkers that they study and to consider their contemporary relevance.

     
  • This module is a Level 5 option that introduces students to area studies. The module identifies the political debates concerning selected regions of the world and guides students to evaluating these key debates. Students are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach connecting the study of political processes in their historical context, and applying development studies, international relations or human rights perspectives.

    Students are introduced to assessing qualitative and quantitative data in teaching block 1. Analytical skills are deepened in teaching block 2 through comparative studies of countries within an area. The module provides an excellent foundation for more advanced area studies at Level 6.

    Depending upon staff availability, students select from a list of available area case studies. In teaching block 1 students select Introduction to Middle East Studies or Introduction to African Politics. In teaching block 2, Introduction to Latin American Countries or Comparative European Politics.

     
  • This module will introduce students to the controversies and debates over various forms of extreme violence that have been committed against groups of people in the modern world and their longer-term consequences. Beginning in 1492 with the development of a modern racism and antisemitism, it looks at a number of cases in both the New and the Old World. Cases to be examined will be selected from: the destruction of indigenous peoples in the Americas and the subsequent development of American Slavery; and the destruction of indigenous peoples in Australia and Africa in the pursuit of overseas empire and colony. These will be compared to the global attempt in the middle of the 20th century by an “advanced” modern state in Europe to annihilate a whole group – the Jews in the Holocaust, which will take up the second half of this module. The module as a whole will encourage the critical analysis and assessment of the various interpretations that have been put forward and facilitate the development of students’ research skills, ability to work together and communicate their ideas.

     
  • Contemporary international politics are operating through a complex system of international relations that include multiple political processes, networks and institutional arrangements, put in place to respond to the challenges of a global world, one of the most important being that of development. The understanding and analysis of this international politics system can be approached through contrasting explanatory and theoretical frameworks, the knowledge and use of which is necessary in order to start analysing international relations and crucial international policy-making areas such as that of development.

    In this context, this module has a dual purpose:

    -       It introduces students to the study of the organisation and processes of international relations in general, including that of international development policy-making;

    -       It provides tools for the understanding and analysis of IR and development by introducing and contrasting the main relevant explanatory theories and conceptual frameworks.

     Therefore the module explores topics such as:

    -       The main theoretical paradigms and perspectives used in the analysis of international relations;

    -       Critical approach of mainstream development theories and their alternatives;

    -       Organisation of global governance: institutions, international law, regimes …;

    -       Role and evolution of the UN system in global governance, collective security and human development;

    -       Place and evolution of regional institutions and regional integration in international relations and development;

    -       NGOs and civil society in international relations and their role within the development paradigm.

     
  • This module is a core requirement for students taking Human Rights at level 5, and can also be taken as an option by students in related fields. The module introduces the contested and evolving relationships between the theory and practice of securing human rights. It starts with an overview of key frameworks and mechanisms designed to secure rights at the international, regional and domestic levels. A central feature of the module is to introduce critical themes, from which issues can be dissected and analysed through a range of contemporary and international case-studies.  The themes to be examined will be selected from a number of themes, such as:

    Theme 1: Human Rights, Security and Forced Migration’ analyses the way in which the issue of forced migration brings together a variety of legal, political and security debates. ‘Theme 2: The Politics of Human Rights in Development’ examines the recent convergence of the fields of human rights and development (inclusive of ‘the right to development’ and the proliferation of ‘rights-based approaches’). ‘Theme 3: Rights in the aftermath? Truth, Justice and Reconciliation’ examines the globalization of transitional justice discourses and the propagation of different mechanisms (inclusive of International Criminal Tribunals, national truth commissions, and local justice initiatives). ‘Theme 4: Indigenous Peoples, Rights and Beyond’ engages with central issues surrounding indigenous peoples’ claims, whilst also probing the gravity of particular contested issues.

    The module concludes by asking: what is the future for human rights?

     

Year 3 (Level 6)

  • This module is the 'capstone' module for all half-field Politics, International Relations or Human Rights students. Working in small groups, students will be provided with the skills and support necessary to embark upon, complete and present a final year research project. The initial focus of the module will be on small groups of students working to familiarise themselves with an area of staff research expertise, under close supervision of that subject matter expert. This will be made possible through the establishment of a range of staff-led, research-orientated 'reading groups', to which students will sign up. During the first half of the module, students will also receive training in project design and implementation, to complement and consolidate the research methods training received at Levels 4 and 5. The research skills and foundational subject knowledge acquired in the first part of the module will allow students to embark upon their own research project as the year progresses. Individual projects will reflect student interests and desired focus, but will remain embedded within one of the areas of Politics, International Relations and/or Human Rights offered by staff as an initial 'reading group'. The student-led research projects will be presented at the end of the year in an undergraduate academic conference: Themes and Issues in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.
     
  • This module is the 'capstone' module for full-field Politics and International Relations students. Working in small groups, students will be provided with the skills and support necessary to embark upon, complete and present a final year research project. The initial focus of the module will be on small groups of students working to familiarise themselves with an area of staff research expertise, under close supervision of that subject matter expert. This will be made possible through the establishment of a range of staff-led, research-orientated 'reading groups', to which students will sign up. During the first half of the module, students will also receive training in project design and implementation, to complement and consolidate the research methods training received at Levels 4 and 5. The research skills and foundational subject knowledge acquired in the first part of the module will allow students to embark upon their own research project as the year progresses. Individual projects will reflect student interests and desired focus, but will remain embedded within one of the areas of Politics, International Relations and/or Human Rights offered by staff as an initial 'reading group'. The student-led research projects will be presented at the end of the year in an undergraduate academic conference: Themes and Issues in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.
     
  • This module is a Level 6 option that develops students’ skills and knowledge in area studies to an advanced level.  It can be taken by students in Politics, International Relations, History and Human Rights fields.

    This module guides students through different theoretical frameworks for engaging academically with contested political issues. The case studies focus on the impact of globalisation, contemporary (post 1945) social movements and nationalism in the selected regional areas. 

    The module consolidates skills that students have been introduced to at Level 5 in terms of awareness of debate, inter-disciplinarity, the use of quantitative and qualitative sources, and comparative methods.  Students’ skills are further developed in drawing on research, in combining research from a range of sources in their own investigation in order to make a synthetic, evaluative study.

    Depending upon staff availability, students select from a list of available area case studies:  in semester 1, Themes in Latin American Politics or Contemporary European Protest Movements; in semester 2, The Politics of Nationalism in the Middle East or The Contemporary  Balkans.

    Although there is no formal pre-requisite for this module, IN5004 Area Studies is recommended. Students who have not taken area studies at Level 5 will be encouraged to do special preparatory reading.

     
  • This module can be taken as an option by Full- and Half-Field Politics, International Relations, and Human Rights students.

    This is a portmanteau module that allows students to undertake detailed, specialised studies of radical and critical perspectives on traditional political concepts and themes such as power, representation, freedom, and political action and agency. Using a mixture of theoretical, historical, and empirical analysis, students will be encouraged to question and challenge dominant narratives concerning political institutions and actors and to investigate the relationships between individuals, the state, corporations, and mass political movements. Although this is a politics module, the theories used will draw upon a range of disciplines, including history, sociology, political economy, and critical anthropology.

    This is a flexible module in which students choose two of the following streams (dependent on staff availability):

    • Marxist Political Thought
    • Gender and Politics
    • Crimes of the Powerful
    • Issues in Political Philosophy

    Each of these streams reflects staff expertise and teaching and learning will be research-informed.

     
  • This module will be examining some deeply troubling events in recent history and politics and the various ethical, legal and political responses that they have generated. It has been argued that the Holocaust was a critical turning point, a catastrophe which required a fundamental ethical, legal and political rethinking of how the rights of human beings could be protected when states in the modern world engage in the systematic attempt to murder large numbers of people, including many of their own citizens. The module begins with reflections on the Nazi attempt to eliminate a whole group of people (the Jews) and to murder and enslave millions of others. It then considers a range of responses, including the Nuremberg trials, the Genocide Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It examines a number of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity that have nevertheless occurred subsequently. It evaluates the repeated failure for decades to halt or prevent these crimes and then considers the rethinking caused by the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the setting up of ad hoc tribunals and an International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators and provide justice to victims. It concludes with reflections on how much progress has been made in protecting citizens in a world of sovereign nation states and what forms of justice can work after such crimes have been committed. These are highly contested questions and the module is designed to encourage the critical analysis and evaluation of a wide range of arguments that have been put forward from a variety of perspectives.

     
  • Conceptions of self and other are deeply embedded in violent conflict, an activity which typically results in the most egregious violations of human rights.  Highly polarised identities often sit uneasily with a universal humanity.  Based on the broad theme of the universal versus the particular, this module explores the interaction between identity, violent conflict and the abuse of human rights.  It provides students with the opportunity to consider how protracted conflicts may be better resolved more effectively and human rights better protected.  The module blends theoretical discussion of political violence with an analysis of recent conflicts and the legal and institutional mechanisms which have emerged to reduce their detrimental impact on human rights.

     
  • This module will investigate films and popular music that have intersected with ever changing political, social and historical circumstances. Film and music are both influenced by and, ultimately, inseparable from the social and political context, cultural traditions and institutional frameworks within which they are created. As such, understanding the mindsets, intentions, desires and wants of those individuals involved with making films and crafting music will form a central plank of the module. The broad spectrum of material covered in the module, in terms of geographic locations, film and music genres and political mindsets, will ensure a spotlight is shined on the creation of new compositions, the evolution of new styles and the formulation of collective identities. Throughout the module academic frameworks for the examination of film, popular music and social movements will be utilised to tie together events that are separated by geographic location and historical periods. The module assumes all films and music to be `political’ and explores in what sense some are more political than others.     

     
  • This module explores the social, cultural and political history of Britain from 1960 to the present day.  Particular weight will be attached to considering the changes and continuities in ordinary people's lives and leisure in this period, through an examination of the impact of such phenomena as the Beatles, Eastenders and Facebook.  These cultural aspects will be complemented by an evaluation of the role of such social factors as class, gender, ethnicity, and education as well as the place of individual character in influencing people's experiences and opportunities.  The inter-action between socio-cultural changes and politics will also be a major theme, with analysis of changes in government policy, ideology and leadership style from Harold Wilson through Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.  The issue of a changing British national identity and character will also be addressed.  This is contemporary history, with a firm emphasis on the relationship between the near past and the present, encouraging students also to reflect on their own experiences of a very recent period of history.  A range of contemporary sources, including film, television, music and memoir will be used to foster engagement with the period.  This is also an era increasingly attracting the attention of historians both of society and political culture, and this growing historiography will be analysed, with a particular focus on debates over the leisure, habits and attitudes of 'the people'. 

     
  • This research-led module explores the rise and impact of the Extreme Right in the 20th and early 21st centuries in Britain and in three other countries in Western Europe (namely France, Germany and Italy). It adopts a historical and comparative approach, and focuses on fascist, populist and authoritarian ideas, parties and movements in Britain and across Europe, and the challenges these posed for the liberal democratic state and its main institutions. The relationship between democracy and dictatorship proved to be a major source of controversy and change in the 20th century, and the question of how the liberal state 'managed' (or mis-managed and succumbed to) the threat from the Extreme Right has been a major theme in the historiography in recent years. In fact, such issues remain very prominent today. The first half of the course thus describes and analyses the historical developments, main patterns and key controversies engendered by these events and challenges in the interwar period. The second half of the course explores the extent to which these historical developments and the associated challenges were possibly replicated in the post-1945 period, especially with the more recent resurgence of the extreme Right across Britain and Europe in the early 21st century. 

     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Most of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's study abroad programme or Erasmus programme.

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