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History and International Relations BA(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time VLC2 2019
4 years full time including foundation year V1L2 2019

Why choose this course?

How do historical events affect global politics today?

On this course you will gain knowledge of historical events and their impact on international politics today. The course covers a wide chronological span and geographical reach, with modules on the UK, Europe, Americas, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. You will learn to critically analyse historical interpretation and the political ideologies of international institutions and organisations.

There is focus on practical projects such as presentations, blogs and podcasts, to help you develop a range of transferable skills and become an effective communicator in person, in print and online.

Kingston is a great location for history students. You'll have easy access to the UK's major historical research centre, the National Archives. Kingston is also home to historical landmarks such as Hampton Court Palace, Marble Hill House and the medieval Clattern Bridge. In addition, our close proximity to central London gives you access to more historic and political destinations.

Foundation year - Humanities & Arts

If you are thinking of returning to education after a break you could apply for our foundation year course. This course will provide you with the academic and transferable skills you need to study an undergraduate degree in any of the humanities or arts. At Kingston these include Creative Writing, Dance, English Literature, English Language and History.

Throughout the year-long course, you can study a range of these subjects, allowing you to get a better idea of which ones you prefer. It'll guide you in the direction of a humanities or arts degree that you're particularly interested in. The foundation year will develop your independent study skills and help you to better understand your academic ability, a potential career path and how to develop the skills that employers look for in graduates.

Watch this video to find out what our students have to say about studying this course at Kingston University:

What this course offers you

  • The University recently won the Guardian University Award for teaching excellence.
  • Our diverse modules on global and imperial history explore European encounters with India, Africa, China and Japan. You will debate issues of slavery and race, the foreign policies of America and Britain, and the origins and impact of imperialism.
  • Our British history teaching spans from 1500 to the present day. You'll examine the social and cultural history of early and modern leisure pursuits, such as seaside holidays, cinema, music and television. You will explore political debates over changing British identity, general elections and Brexit. See our research centres in these fields at Cultural Histories at Kingston and Centre for the Historical Record.
  • You can also choose to specialise in revolutionary France, modern Germany, or eighteenth century history. Have a look at our latest publications and television work in these fields.
  • You'll have the opportunity to undertake our Victorian archives and history online (blogging) module, and receive training in digital history, ensuring you are well equipped for the workplace once you graduate. You will also benefit from the support of our Centre for Academic Support and Employability.
  • You will benefit from a wide range of events and extracurricular activities, including our student History Society, guest speaker programme and departmental blog History@Kingston.

What you will study

In Year 1, you will gain the historical knowledge and skills to engage in informed debates about history and international relations. There is a focus on developing key study skills, such as the ability to read critically.

In Year 2, you will delve deeper into theory, historical records, data and interpretation to enable you to engage in comparative historical analysis. You will take core modules in Life among the Victorians, Modern Political Thought, and International Relations and Global Governance. You will also start to specialise in your main interests through a choice of flexible modules.

In Year 3, you will undertake an advanced research project with a real focus on expanding your research skills. You will also choose from a range of specialist modules such as Beatles to Blair, and Britain, Europe and the Extreme Right.

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.

Foundation year

  • This module aims to prepare you for undergraduate study and to give you the skills and knowledge related to the study of humanities, arts and social science subjects. The main areas covered will include research skills (like using a library and electronic resources), planning, note taking, building a bibliography, and avoiding plagiarism. You will also develop your communication skills, especially focusing on essay and report writing, delivering presentations and being an active participant in debates and discussions. The module will encourage you to develop the independent learning, critical analysis, and reflective skills crucial to succeeding in a degree.

  • Introducing ways in which written texts are reimagined, adapted and transformed by creative artists, including writers, theatre makers, choreographers and film directors, this module explores in both theory and practice the relationship between page and stage, word and image, and in doing so enables you to explore creative imagination at its most radical and relevant.

    How and why do television dramas such as Sherlock and Elementary create dramatic interventions into established narratives? How has innovative, controversial and experimental work made by contemporary playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, debbie tucker green and Sarah Kane drawn on classic texts to challenge and alter our perceptions of the world? What does The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter's creative appropriation of various fairy tales, reveal about this genre and by extension what does Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves tell us both about Carter's stories and the tales that informed them?

    Questions such as these, addressed in a series of interrelated case studies, will enable you to examine the practices and negotiations involved in work of transition and appropriation. You will develop skills in textual analysis required for writing effective argumentative essays that engage with diverse literary and cultural materials. In addition the module will harness and develop your creative skills: through a series of workshops you work on short creative writing and group performance projects that respond to the texts and contexts introduced on the module.

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  • Throughout time, people have drawn on history and on ideas to explore, question and record the experience of being human.

    This module provides an introduction to the study of that experience, in all its variety. It considers how people, events and ideas, past and present, shape our thinking about society, politics, race, gender, art, culture - and life. It enables students to learn how knowledge and awareness of the past is formed and shaped; how it changes and yet in some ways also remains the same. Students debate and reflect critically on the nature of historical knowledge and how 'history' may differ from 'the past', and they consider the ways in which contemporary cultures and societies are shaped by histories of ideas.

    The module draws on a rich store of experience, knowledge and expertise relating to history, philosophy and the history of ideas. It asks students to consider how history relates to memory and how history is used, and mis-used. History is personal and also communal. It is national, international and global. How are all those histories linked? How did people in the past experience things in terms of equality and inequality, in terms of gender, sexuality and race? Why and how was that experience documented, if at all? What can we learn from it?

    Artists, writers, historians, philosophers, musicians, filmmakers and journalists: all have responded to those and other questions. For this module we introduce students to a range of texts and other representations, using history and the history of ideas to explore and debate what it means to be human. 

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  • This module introduces you to spoken and written communication and will explore a range of texts on a variety of subjects, for varying audiences and purposes including: media discourses and planned and spontaneous texts using written, spoken and electronic formats. You will learn ways of classifying these modes and how to describe significant features of texts using linguistic frameworks. You will demonstrate your new knowledge in an assessed presentation.

    You will also explore the importance of the audience, aka the reader or listener, for effective communication in different contexts Through considering and critically analysing the structure, style and content of articles published on websites, in newspapers and magazines you will begin to develop an understanding of how journalism is directed at specific readerships.

    You will also learn the practical conventions, contexts and functions of written journalism. You will study how to: originate ideas, undertake journalistic research, interview, organise your material, write well and adhere to house style.

    By examining and practising skills needed to develop and write pieces you will aim to produce a journalistic feature that is suitable for publication. Development of practical skills such as asking the right questions, note-taking, identifying quotes, finding information and assessing the reliability of sources will be measured in an accompanying research log.

    This module also includes a personal tutorial hour, which provides an additional forum for you to discuss work undertaken across all of your modules, and to undertake additional personal development and study skills activities.

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Year 1 (Level 4)

  • World History, 1700-2000
  • This core module for first year history students explores the domestic history of Britain in its first half century of democracy. The module will range widely over leisure, society, politics and national identity, from the lives of ordinary people to influential film stars, like Charlie Chaplin, and wartime leaders, such as Winston Churchill. It will consider debates about whether the 1920s and 1930s were mainly a time of economic depression and hunger marches, or actually an exciting, socially mobile 'Jazz Age' of dance, motoring, radio and suburbanisation. There will be particular emphasis on visual culture, from people's enjoyment of film in the 'dream palaces' of cinema, to the role of television in the affluent 1950s.

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  • 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.

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  • This module provides students with an introduction to foundational concepts in the study of international relations and significant issues in contemporary international politics through which these concepts can be understood and interpreted.  The module is designed to help students to reconcile the more abstract concepts that frame the academic study of international relations, with the empirical issues they may more familiar with from news media and their day-to-day engagement with international politics.  The module is designed to provide a foundation for the study of international relations theory at Level 5 and to help students develop skills in academic writing, researching and writing a report for a non-specialist audience.

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Year 2 (Level 5)

  • This is a core module for full field history students at level 5 but is also offered to half- and minor-field students. It introduces students to life in Britain during a period of great reform, both in terms of the relationship between government and the people and in the way people see themselves. We explore the transformation of a rural society into one concentrated in large towns and cities and the challenges this creates. We draw in issues of class, religion, race and poverty; changing attitudes to private and public lives; emergence of leisure as a commodity and consumerism as past-time; responses to new understandings of disease; debates about the role of women and changing ideas about family and children. Alongside these debates in social history, the module will investigate the politics of an era which saw a slow transition into a modern democracy, focusing on iconic figures such as Disraeli and Gladstone. It forms a logical companion to Nationalism and Empire (HS5003).

    The module also serves as an introduction to independent study, working (under close supervision) on a primary-sources based research project of the students' own choice, related to themes covered in the module. This helps to prepare them for their final year dissertation project.

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  • 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.

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  • Contemporary international politics involves a plethora of global actors, institutions and processes that provide governance at an international level.  They help to regulate the behaviour of states, maintain stability in global politics and encourage cooperation between.  Moreover, in an increasingly inter-connected world, global governance mechanisms provide the starting point for a fuller sense of international community – a platform for the peaceful resolution of disputes and an environment in which human rights and international development goals might be realised. 

    At the same time, contemporary global governance mechanisms are also affected by important limitations, with states demonstrating the frequent tendency to pursue their own narrow national interests, rather than working towards a global common good.  Students taking this module examine these themes by exploring different theory perspectives and by learning about the characteristics of the existing global governance structures. 

    The module begins by introducing students to some of the key tools for understanding and analysing international politics. International relations theory has played valuable role in helping us to understand the nuances and underlying processes that influence state behaviour and the development of foreign policy.  It follows on by introducing students to the study of the organisation and processes of international relations in a wider sense, examining the ways in which international development policy is formulated and the systems of global governance are organised.

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Option modules

  • A L5 option module informed by research-led teaching and of particular value to students of many disciplines including History, Politics and International Relations, ‘Nationalism and Empire: Britain and Germany, 1815-1914' explores some of the most interesting and complicated aspects of modern European history. Rivalry between Britain and Germany found intense, violent expression in two world wars. The century preceding the outbreak of war in 1914, however, was marked not by rivalry and suspicion alone (of which there was a good deal), but also by shared interests political and diplomatic, social and cultural. What mattered to one of those countries was often also of interest to the other. Britons and Germans had more in common than might be assumed from their relationship in the years since 1914, not least a preoccupation with nationhood and with overseas empire. Reflecting this variety and complexity, the module ranges widely within and beyond Britain and Germany, also taking in the European and imperial contexts. Through contemporary and historical accounts and primary source materials, it examines over the course of a hundred years the varied ways in which Anglo-German and international affairs influenced politics, the economy and society in two major European states.

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  • In the past, as today, within the legal frameworks laid down by governments and authorities, perceptions of what constitutes criminal or deviant behaviour are both shifting and contested. The function of a protest over food supplies, for example, may be viewed differently by those engaged in the action than by those enforcing the law. Similarly, in many early modern societies, it was deemed acceptable for the man, as head of the household, to exert ‘moderate correction' on his wife and children to ensure they continued to uphold acceptable standards of behaviour. However, exactly what constituted ‘moderate correction' meant different things to different groups.

    This module will give students an understanding of the cultural and social history of crime and deviance in Britain and Europe c. 1450 - 1850. Although broadly following the chronology across the 400 years, the approach is primarily thematic. Aspects of criminality covered include historical approaches to the study of homicide and violence; the relationship between gender and crime, for example, in attitudes towards prostitution and infanticide, and in the prevalence of domestic crime; attitudes towards sexual crimes such as rape and sodomy; and notions of ‘social crime' within acts of riot or protest. Aspects of deviancy considered include women's adultery and effeminacy in men, as well as the behaviours and lifestyles that left many vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft. Within the overall structure there will be two elements of greater focus. Firstly an examination of witchcraft, a crime which combines the aspects of violence, sexuality and gender, and one which was classed as ‘exceptional' by the authorities in their attempt to demonstrate the reality of the ‘Satanic Pact'. The second focus will look at crime in eighteenth century Britain, a period of unprecedented social change and wealth creation that witnessed an explosion in the number of crimes for which a person could be hanged, and the widespread adoption of transportation overseas as penal policy. The course ends with a look at the works of Enlightenment thinkers such Beccaria and Bentham and the impact of such ideas on a changing penal policy that moved swiftly from maiming and attacking the body, to the rise of new penitentiary systems in the nineteenth century where, arguably, the mind became the focus for punishment.

    Through the use of primary source materials in a variety of formats (imagery, written documentation, statistical data, web-based resources), and through comparison of alternative historiographies this module will enhance student's analytical skills in history.

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  • This research-led module will explore the history of leisure and consumerism during the long eighteenth century. During this period, England was experiencing significant social change alongside rapid economic and urban growth. This led to demand for new forms of leisure activity and the emergence of a new commercialised leisure society. Drawing primary on social, cultural and gender history, this module will cover a wide variety of topics. Part 1 will look at ‘Leisure and Pleasure', considering urban and rural leisure activities, with a particular focus on polite, commercialised forms of entertainment. Part 2, ‘New World of Goods', will use case studies of new goods to explore habits of consumption and gain an understanding of social and economic trends. The module will build on some of the key historical themes introduced at Level 4. Most notably, it will expand on the leisure history studied as part of Chaplin to Churchill: Britain 1901-1959, as well as developing the ideas of gender that students examined as part of Private Lives, Public Roles. Complementing Level 5 core module, Life Among the Victorians' focus on social history and independent research, this module will allow students to focus on the eighteenth century as a pivotal period in the history of English leisure and consumption.

    Lectures, combined with weekly set readings, will consider a wide range of eighteenth-century leisure practices, situating attitudes and experiences in the context of social class, gendered spaces, consumerism, industrialisation, and urbanisation. In seminars, a wide range of primary source material will be used to develop critical analysis skills and to provide a basis for group discussion. These will include guide books, trade directories, diaries, visual representations, material culture, newspapers, government records, novels, and architectural evidence. Students will be encouraged to make independent use of the digitised primary source material, both within seminars and as part of formative and summative assessments. The study of Britain in the eighteenth century has been transformed by the introduction of searchable online document databases. Forming an increasingly important part of researchers' exploration and analysis of the past, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) provides a comprehensive online library of book titles published between 1700 and 1800. Guided throughout the module in the use of ECCO, students will learn to locate, manage and critically assess primary source material, whilst seminar discussions and formative assignments will encourage students to reflect on the benefits of online document databases for their own research.

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  • 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 key critical themes, from which issues can be dissected and analysed through a range of contemporary and international case-studies.

    Themes may include:

    • Human Rights, Security and Forced Migration', which analyses the way in which the issue of forced migration brings together a variety of legal, political and security debates.
    • The Politics of Human Rights in Development', which 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 to development').
    • Rights in the aftermath? Truth, Justice and Reconciliation', which examines the globalization of transitional justice discourses and the propagation of different mechanisms (ranging from International Criminal Tribunals, to national truth commissions, to local justice initiatives).
    • And, ‘Indigenous Peoples, Rights and Beyond' that engages with central issues surrounding indigenous peoples' claims, whilst also probing the gravity of particular contested issues (such as ‘the right to self-determination' and broader ‘sovereignty' challenges).

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

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  • This module begins with a survey of the main sweep of historical, political and economic developments, social actors and movements that gave shape to Latin American politics from its colonial beginnings to the early modern era.  The over-arching theme in the first teaching block is the contentious development of the nation-state and national economy in the global system, the legacy of which continues to shape the political landscape of the region.  In the second teaching block, students will engage with substantive themes in contemporary Latin American politics, and examine current flashpoints in regional politics through the eyes of a range of actors.  We explore and evaluate the range of new forms of participation that have emerged since the 1990s to contest the limitations of formal democracy under neoliberal globalization: from the barrio to factories, communities taking root on occupied land and urban spaces, constituent assemblies, popular assemblies and UN summits – or if all else fails, the streets.  We end by examining national and regional development strategies that emerged at the beginning of the 21st century as a response to the perceived failure of neoliberalism, and ask, is there a new politics emerging in the region?

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  • This module will introduce students to the controversies and debates over slavery and other forms of violence committed against groups of people in the modern world and their responses seeking emancipation. Beginning in 1492 with the development of a modern racism, it looks at the destruction of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the subsequent development of US Slavery, and the struggles of African Americans into the twentieth century. These cases will be revisited from the perspective of gender, and compared to other forms of structural oppression of colonised peoples and workers.

    The module will consider the challenges in identifying the standpoint of the oppressed and study examples of how ‘subaltern' oppressed groups enter politics.   There are case studies of different historical and contemporary movements for emancipation, exploring some of their key debates and the challenges of constructing unity whilst respecting diversity. 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.

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  • This module is a Level 5 option that introduces students to the multi-faceted entity called 'Europe' and looks at key political, social and cultural trends in today Europe, including its geo-political role in a globalised world. Teaching block one focuses on political parties and party families, the growth of populism and of xenophobic parties. Attention is also paid to changing patterns of political participation and the rise of protest politics, which is analysed via a variety of case studies such as environmental organisations, feminist groups and student anti-tuition fees protest. Teaching block two starts by asking a key question: what is Europe? followed by equally important questions such as how Europeans feel about Europe today? Why is Euro-scepticism on the rise throughout Europe? It also investigates European integration and European Union enlargement: does an integrated Europe still make sense as a political project? Was the euro a good idea? Should Turkey be part of the EU? By posing these questions, the module attempts to capture different voices of contemporary Europe in order to equip students with solid grounding to make sense of what is happening in the contemporary world.

    The module will be delivered through lectures and seminars.

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  • ‘Development' is a troublesome term. While the notion of development as a discrete project for improving human well-being emerged in the aftermath of World War II, the notion of making planned interventions towards ‘social progress' and the ‘greater good' arose much earlier, in step with the global system itself. Whilst the post-war development project seems now to be in jeopardy, there is still little consensus over what development actually is: whether it is a ‘one size fits all' measure of progress, or whether more than one path is possible, and desirable; whether development as a project is meant to include everybody or whether it necessarily involves ‘winners and losers'; what scale and conception of society and economy we're talking about; how current projects relate to more long-standing processes and structures that gave rise to the global system; and whether in fact development goals (however defined) should intersect with an ethics of social justice, equity and equality, and anti-oppression.

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Year 3 (Level 6)

  • A core module for full field students and available also to half field students, the dissertation provides an opportunity for students to work independently under the personal supervision of research-active staff. Supervision is complemented by personal tuition (separate personal tuition arrangements are put in place for minor field students). In undertaking a lengthy research project students exercise and deploy historical knowledge and skills acquired earlier in the History programme, notably at Level 5. Using their experience and research skills they now focus in depth on a specific and discrete topic that they have chosen in consultation with their supervisor. Nothing else in the History undergraduate programme is quite like a dissertation. The experience is unique, as each dissertation is unique. For the History student it is a culmination of undergraduate study. It is an exercise in preparedness for postgraduate and professional life, and it is also evidence of that preparedness.  

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  • In this L6 core module students engage in historical activities both individual and collaborative. They provide material for and assist in the running of ‘Capstone', an ‘in house' History e-journal, developed by History staff and colleagues in the LRC and the ADC. The material will be both text-based and visual. Students may submit short research-based essays, book, film and exhibition reviews and reports on events and current affairs from a historical perspective. They may also submit their own photographs. Supervised by History staff with experience and expertise in publishing and editing, students work in teams to apportion reporting and editorial responsibilities among themselves. Their objective is to create over the course of two semesters at least one edition (and no more than two editions) of ‘Capstone', with a focus on one or more historical themes. This e-journal provides students with the opportunity to display and share the results of their work with other students and with staff. It provides them with invaluable experience in working together towards a common objective with a historical focus. The module has considerable employability benefits. Not only that, it encourages student awareness of and participation in an electronically linked ‘community of scholarship' within and also perhaps beyond the university.

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  • 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.

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Optional modules

  • This research-led module is devoted to a study of two of the most important phenomena to bring about the shift between the early modern and the modern world. The first of these is the body of transformative ideas about science and the nature of human society known as the Enlightenment. The second is the  French Revolution, which brought down the old regime in Europe and laid out the foundations of the modern political world. A key part of the module will address the relationship between ideas and revolution. The module will also increase the students' depth of knowledge of key issues in ideas, including the scientific revolution, the rise of the novel, the role of gender in eighteenth-century politics and society; and shifting attitudes towards race and slavery.

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  • 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'. 

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  • Of interest and value to students of history, politics, international relations and economics, this L6 option module examines offers a comparative historical perspective on twentieth British, American and world affairs. That century was of immense significance for both countries. At its outset Britain, with a worldwide empire, appeared to be the primary global power. At century's end (and with the demise of the Soviet Union), it had been supplanted by the United States. Now, in the twenty-first century, there is speculation as to whether and for how long American primacy may endure. The prospect of American 'decline' is currently a source of anxiety among American policymakers. Historians have identified many reasons for American ascendancy and British ‘decline' during the period 1900-2000. Were these two phenomena related, closely or otherwise? The answer to that question is by no means straightforward. Vitally important as were internal social and political changes, study of relations between the two countries – and of their relations to other states and nations – also provides us with insight into the scale and nature of historical change on a global scale. Focusing on key case studies in twentieth century British, American and international history the module provides stimulating study into issues of power and 'decline'.     

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  • This L6 module is a special option, taken by students after consultation with the module leader, to whom they must apply in person prior to making their module choices for Level 6. Emphasising employability, it enables students to build on skills and knowledge already acquired in the course of their studies, especially through Historians Craft at Level 4 and Extended Essay/Research Project at Level 5. It enables them to further develop those skills and knowledge and in the process also acquire practical work experience. The module takes the form of an innovative combination of lectures/seminars, workshops and work placements within and outside Kingston University. The placement element of the module acquaints students with the varied ways in which historical knowledge is applied beyond the environment of the university. In this module students learn about the ‘business' of History, in the form of  institutional research projects and in the activities of archives and record offices. Students gain from experience and expertise built up over many years by the Centre for the Historical Record (CHR), which has undertaken pioneering work in the creation and dissemination of digitised historical records. The CHR offers practical work experience within the university. It also arranges placements at external history-related institutions with which it has developed excellent links over many years.

    The module differs from many others in History at Kingston in that its theme relates not to particular historical events or people but to ‘Public History' – in effect the ways in which history is understood and used in a public context, in the United Kingdom and other countries. Students learn about Public History in seminars. They choose a historical topic, related to the work of the institution where they undertake their placements. In workshops they discuss and reflect on Public History as practised at large and in their placement locations.

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  • 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. 

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Culture and politics are often taken for granted; we tend to assume we know what they are. However, when it comes to defining either culture or politics, much uncertainty arises. Does culture mean a collection of artefacts or a ‘web of meaning' as anthropologists would put it? Is culture part of a superstructure or part and parcel of hegemony? Is it part of structure which constrains human behaviour? What is politics? If the personal is political as feminists have claimed, is everything and anything politics? Is the distinction between the public and private no longer tenable? What is the relationship between culture and politics? Is there any? Is culture driving politics or the other way round? And where is identity situated in this relationship? The module explores these fundamental questions using identity politics as an overall framework.

    Identity politics is an umbrella term that refers to a type of politics which does not appear to be class based, such as environmental politics or the LGBT movement. While the traditional political parties are generally losing their members, these often single-issue based movements attract more participants, thus facilitating political participation of a different form. The central contention in the idea of identity politics is that the focus of politics has shifted from industrial values to post-industrial values (Inglehart), and that we are witnessing the rise and development of new types of politics in which identity and culture play as major a role as class position, if not a more important one. This is a contestable claim which deserves careful examination. For instance, is the idea of identity politics a form of ideology in the Marxist sense?

    The module use the idea of identity politics as a starting point to investigate culture and identity in today's politics through thematic studies and case studies.

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  • This module takes a critical look at the concepts of crime, power and class in the contemporary world, and the impact of ‘crimes of the powerful' on the struggle for human rights and social justice.

    The gaze of many political scientists and criminologists tends to be focused firmly ‘downwards', towards analysing the misdemeanours of the poor, the dispossessed, the underclass

    This module, in contrast, will focus ‘upwards', in an attempt to understand and explain deviant actions by states, corporations, and the ruling class more broadly. Through the use of case studies, presented by the teaching team but also generated by students, we will examine issues such as war crimes, torture, corruption, global supply chains, police abuses, and state terrorism. 

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  • Cold War, Hot War examines various events in the Middle East from past to present and will provide a comprehensive outlook on a troubled area.

    It begins by studying the historical foundations in the region and then explores the impact of the Cold War on the region through case studies such as the Eisenhower Doctrine; the Baghdad Pact, the Suez Crisis and the 1973 war. All this would be assessed against the wider framework of nationalism and regional politics from the early 1950s to the collapse of the USSR in 1990s. Using primary documents we will then assess the consequences of the end of the Cold War on the current crisis and the rise of religiopolitics. The theme of nationalism and leadership will be further explored during the second half of the module, focusing on a number of case studies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Israel) their ‘hot wars', foreign policy and current upheavals and challenges.

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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 or Erasmus programme.

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*5p per minute from a BT landline. Call charges from other providers may vary.


This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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