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BA (Hons) Politics

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This degree gives you the opportunity to consider how power is allocated, who takes part in collective decision making at multiple levels, the meaning and experiences of justice, conflict, (in)equality and citizenship, and consider these in the context of the most pressing contemporary global issues. At the same time, whether talking about the UK’s negotiation to leave the EU, the conflict in Syria, North Korean nuclear testing, the global response to climate change, or NHS funding, politics exists in a hyper-mediated environment, which raises challenges and opportunities for citizens, commentators, politicians and political organisations.

Combining insights from economics, psychology, history and philosophy, you will evaluate the interplay between citizens, media, politicians, political organisations and political systems. This degree also examines the opportunities and challenges that come with doing politics in a hyper-mediated environment.

The first, foundational year will give you a grounding in the theories and practices related to political philosophy, sociology and international relations. In the second year, you’ll also encounter political journalism, digital communications, marketing and campaigning, and advocacy. You will also have the opportunity in your second and final year to tailor the course by selecting options that help bring your studies in line with your passions, interests and ultimately your career aspirations.

Outside the classroom you can expand this acquired knowledge through study abroad opportunities and a range of internationally focused activities on and off campus, such as conferences and speaker seminars as well as fieldtrips to locations such as Westminster and Brussels, and local government and charities. You are also encouraged to engage in current research, working alongside staff as student research assistants which can lead to publications in peer-reviewed journals.

This is a new course, 85% of students on similar courses found that they have been able to access course-specific resources (e.g. equipment, facilities, software, collections) when needed. Join us on live chat now to find out more, or register to meet us at an open day.  

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Read more about our academics Research on Soft Power.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


3 years including a 4-week placement (or 4 years including a minimum 30-week placement). Full-time

Entry requirements:

For 2018 entry: 104-112 tariff points from 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM.  For more information check out our 2018 entry requirements page.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component or equivalent. For more information check out our International entry requirements page

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Year 1

Core units

  • History of Political Thought: You’ll be introduced to classical texts and ideas in political theory – from Plato to Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx and Rawls. This unit will relate historical debates and disputed meanings to contemporary political realities.
  • Critical Debates in Contemporary Politics: This unit considers current debates in politics and helps situate these issues in historical, social, and cultural contexts
  • Political Sociology: You will explore how social factors shape, enable and change power structures and political processes. The unit examines social attributes such as race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, and sexuality and how they influence political engagement and behaviour and the distribution of political power.
  • Global Governance & International Relations: You will develop an understanding of the historical and political context in which different countries are operating and the ideologies which shape a nation’s political culture and institutions.
  • Researching Politics: This unit will introduce you to a variety of research methods that you are likely to use throughout the course, such as secondary research, interviews, focus groups, content analysis and discourse analysis. It will also offer transferrable skills for your future employability.
  • Public Opinion & Persuasion: The aim of this unit is to provide you with an introduction to the theories of persuasion in contemporary society and the concepts publics and public opinion, as well as to help locate these theories in the broader academic context of critical and social theory.

Year 2

Core units

  • Digital Politics: This unit will enable you to understand the impact of emerging digital technologies, to assess, apply and evaluate the role of digital communications in the promotional and media communications industries. The unit will equip you with practical skills in designing, implementing and evaluating digital communications strategies and campaigns.
  • Political Psychology: This unit will provide a broad grounding in political psychology, and aims to establish psychological perspectives as an intrinsic element in the systematic study of politics, especially in relation to a focus on politics and media.
  • Political Journalism: You will analyse the news media’s role in civic education, democratic accountability, and political engagement, as well as the extent to which news media fulfil these normative roles. You will also have the opportunity to develop core journalistic skills.
  • Civil Society & Social Movements: This unit will assess and evaluate the phenomenon of civil society, through an examination of the various organisations, associations, approaches and activities involved.
  • Political Marketing & Campaigning: You will be equipped to debate how marketing theory can explain processes of policy development, campaign design and execution, integrated marketing communication and governance and the impact this has on citizens..

Option units (choose one)

  • Global Current Affairs: You will engage with current debates in international and multimedia journalism, and be introduced to major global developments and their impact on news reporting. The aim is to develop your judgment and ability to link developments from different localities, periods and spheres of human activity, while dealing with issues of, and challenges to, professional practice.
  • The Cold War 1945 - 1991: You will examine key events such as the Berlin blockade, the Korean War, the Hungarian uprising of 1956, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as the ideological struggle behind the Eastern and Western blocs.
  • Migration Histories 1800 - 1989: You will explore histories of migration and will examine different historical and geographical examples such as the Swedish, German, Italian and Eastern European emigration from Europe to North America in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Caribbean and Asian immigration to Britain in the post-war period, and East-West migration in the Cold War.
  • Strikes, Riots & Blackouts - Britain in the 1970s: You will explore the intense political and ideological social divisions of the time, often expressed in cultural forms including Punk and alternative and community media.
  • Women & Equal Rights 1850 - 2000: This unit traces the campaigns and changes in British society that led to women being granted equal rights. It explores the background to significant events such as the 1866 suffrage petition, the 1919 Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act and 1970 Equal Pay legislation as well as evaluating the part played by key individuals for example Millicent Fawcett, Viscountess Rhondda and Barbara Castle.
  • Youth Culture & Politics 1945 - present: You will be introduced to the dynamics of youth-led and youth-majority political movements, exploring how campaigns can travel and spread across cities and nations
  • Globalisation & Marginalisation: You’ll explore how a series of global processes, institutions, and flows (of people, capital and commodities, for example) generate complex forms of inequality and marginalisation in the contemporary world, as well as some of the ways in which these developments are challenged and opposed.
  • Trafficking, Migration & Criminality: You will consider the relationship between trafficking, migration and criminality. The unit looks at different forms of trafficking (including human trafficking, the drug trade, the global sex industry, organ trafficking and the smuggling of commodities) across a number of countries in Europe, North Africa, South East Asia and the United States and considers the trafficking industry in relation to South to North migration flows.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Year 3

Choose either a 4-week or optional 30-week (minimum) placement, giving you the chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future.

Year 3/4 (final year)

Core units

  • International Relations, State Power & Public Diplomacy: By focusing on primary texts (From Thucydides to the Westphalia Treaty, contemporary thinkers, and policy reports) this unit will encourage you to think about, and comment critically on the relevance of thinkers and different approaches to practices in international relations.
  • The Philosophy of Politics: You will explore fundamental questions about the study and practice of politics and develop an analysis of where power lies within different contexts, who has access to power and resources, which groups in society are marginalised and how can marginalisation be overcome.
  • Academic Dissertation or Consultancy Dissertation: The dissertation offers you an opportunity to become an expert on a topic of particular interest. You can develop a study that connects you're learning with real-world observations enabling you to develop and demonstrate your critical, analytical and research skills.

Option units (choose two)

  • Aesthetics & Politics: This unit will look into the interplay between art and politics by drawing on a wide range of examples from political portraits as a means to construct and communicate political power to the role of art in contentious politics.
  • Promotion, Power & Democracy: You will be exposed key theoretical ideas from social and critical theory, political economy and political philosophy.
  • Environmental Communications: You will explore and understand how significant environmental communication is for organisations and will be equipped with critical and practical skills in this area.
  • Social Communications: This unit will encourage you to create new ways of using promotional communication perspectives, insights and skills for social purposes.
  • Media (In) Equality: You will critically examine the ways that the mainstream media maintains and perpetuates social inequalities with a specific focus on race, gender and class, both as a topic of academic study and social and political practice.
  • Persuasion & Influence: You will explore theory and practice as it relates to persuasion and influence.
  • Health & Science Communications: You will engage critically with health and science communications concerns.
  • The Shaping of the Middle East by Colonial Britain: This unit explores the post-First World War origins of today’s Middle East countries, and how and why they were created by the Allied victors.
  • History & Political Struggle: International Perspectives through Film: You'll explore how key political events, ideas and conflicts in history are represented in fiction and non-fiction film.
  • Terrorism, Protection & Society: The aim of this unit is to introduce you to many of the complex issues involved in conceptualising and responding to terrorism and protection in contemporary societies. You will be introduced to protection and counter-terrorism as a form of social regulation and control of individuals and ‘deviant’ groups (micro and meso issues) and prescribing ways in which society is ordered in an age of terrorist threat (macro-political issues). You will develop a deep critical understanding of the ways in which meanings are constructed and how these impact on social life. 
  • Seekers, Believers & Iconoclasts: Sociology of Thought: This core unit explores belief systems as a sociological phenomenon contextualised within a cultural and social analysis, as well as a philosophical and historical one.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

The emphasis of this course is in guided independent learning, which helps you develop into a self-motivated learner. When not attending lectures and seminars, you will be expected to read around the subject. Your typical week’s activities will include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments. The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course.

Year 1 – 17% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 216 hours
  • Independent learning: 984 hours

Year 2 – 15% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 180 hours
  • Independent learning: 972 hours
  • Placement: 228

Year 3/4 – 16% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

Learning and teaching: 192 hours
Independent learning: 1008 hours

How you will be assessed

You will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, and you will also undertake group work and written exams. The assessment methods for each unit can be found on the programme profile in the programme specification for your course. As an indication, 83% of the most popular units on this course in 2016/17 were assessed by coursework.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for BA (Hons) Politics.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career; therefore we now offer every new student the opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of their course.

We will provide a great deal of help and support to ensure you achieve a rewarding and satisfying placement. What’s more, you can also choose to undertake your placement abroad, giving you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market.

A placement should be a highly rewarding experience for you and the employing company and we do our best to ensure that everyone involved feels that they have got the most that they can from the experience. Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?

The benefits to you as a placement student are many. You will have the chance to:

  • Put the theory learnt throughout the course into professional practice
  • Enhance your study and help you decide on subject options (where appropriate)
  • Learn a wide range of skills such as time management, problem solving and team work (all of these are important to succeed in any career)
  • Make contacts, as it is not uncommon for our students to be offered permanent positions to return to after graduating
  • Gain a real insight into how the industry operates in roles that would be almost impossible to achieve for an outsider
  • Many of our students, during their placement, are given responsibilities normally associated with graduate trainees.

Our student have previously worked for:

  • Lucy Allan MP
  • Strategy Digital
  • Dawbell PR

How long is my placement?

You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and you can choose to complete 4-weeks or a minimum 30-week placement.

Your application

Background and experience

We are an inclusive, friendly university and we value the different skills and abilities that a wide range of people can bring to our courses. That’s why we welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds with varied and different experiences. We consider lots of different qualifications, to make sure that those who have the talent and the ability to study and learn with us are given the chance to do so. If there’s anything in here that isn’t clear, or we don’t answer your questions, get in touch with the askBU Enquiry Service.

Selection method

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications, there are no interviews or selection activities needed. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply web pages.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme

Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.

You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-level or equivalent.

2018 entry requirements

We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.

The entry requirements for this course are 104 - 112 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent. BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM.

Excluded subjects: General Studies

GCSEs: This course requires GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the Future Students Enquiries Team to find out more.

Other qualifications

We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the Future Students Enquiries Team – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: 102-112 tariff points with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades.

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit (112 tariff points) 
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.
  • BTEC National Foundation Diploma/90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 104-112 tariff points from 2 principal subjects.

Cambridge Technical qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit (112 tariff points)
  • Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.
  • Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.
  • Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 28-30 points overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Advanced Highers: 104-112 tariff points from 2 Advanced Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent.

Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 2 A-levels or equivalent.

Deferred entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

International entry requirements

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.

Options include:


The world of politics is constantly evolving and in today's hyper-mediated environment, there is an even greater need for people who understand the role the media plays within politics. This course will prepare you for working in various roles within this fascinating area, including in local and national government, non-government organisations, think-tanks, lobbying groups and emerging political industries such as soft diplomacy and nation branding.

This is a new course, 85% of our students from similar courses are in work or further study within six months of completing their course, with an average salary of £23,500 per year*. Among the roles you will be prepared for are:

  • Political press officer/spokesperson
  • Campaign strategist
  • Digital communication strategist
  • Political project manager

Industries worked in

  • Politics
  • Diplomacy
  • PR
  • Marketing
  • Journalism

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the politics sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.

Dr Shelley Thompson

Shelley Thompson is the Politics programme leader and a senior lecturer in the Corporate and Marketing Communications Academic Group in The Faculty of Media & Communication, Bournemouth University. Her research centres on media framing of social and political issues, especially emerging/controversial science.

Shelley is a former US journalist who worked at a variety of publications covering finance and securities regulation in New York City to politics, education, crime, and health at the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle-Tribune in it's New Hampshire bureau. While working at the Eagle-Tribune, she received several awards for her reporting, including investigative reporting awards and a First Amendment award for a series on a secret government payment to a public employee leaving his job.

Shelley teaches on a variety of degrees including the Politics, Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing Communications. She is also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide.
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies (with or without attendane), you may be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit. 

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Course changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.

Date Changes to this course Where the change was made Previous text

After an annual review of the placement year tuition fee,  a price increase in line with current inflation, equating to 3% has been introduced.

Fees £790
22/9/2017 The short placement is now a minumun of 4-weeks Duration and Placement section Short placement of 6-weeks

Changes to core and option units for students starting in September 2018 onwards

Course details Please view the previous programme specification

2018 entry requirements have changed to 104 - 112 tariff points including a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent.

Key facts and 2018 entry requirements 

The entry requirements for this course are 104 tariff points from 3 A-levels or equivalent qualifications. 


2018 GCSE entry requirements have changed to This course requires GCSE English and Mathematics grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

2018 entry requirements

This course requires a minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.

What our students say

Joe Bulman

Discussion is key to the course. You'll always be encouraged to express your opinions, even if the majority in the group disagree with them.

Hear from our staff

Dr Anastasia Veneti

Learn to conduct research, form opinions and critically assess political matters, marshal arguments in a clear logical fashion and communicate their thoughts.

What our students say

Elina Kuusio

It's a very interesting course that will give you a new perspective on the media, international relations and political communication.

How you can get involved

Your Election 2015

Your Election 2015

Take a look at our coverage of the UK General Election which includes written features, interviews, blogs and videos.
BU Politics blog

Politics blog

To stay informed on our staff and students, you can read the Politics blog.

Additional information

Students in Dylans Bar

Fees and funding

Find out about fees and funding, including scholarships and bursaries.

Open Days

Open Days

We give a warm welcome to anyone who comes to meet us and we love showing off our campuses and Bournemouth to prospective students and their families. 

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.