BSc (Hons) Politics and International Relations

On the BSc Politics and International Relations, you will study emerging security challenges across the globe.

Cyber threats, conflict over vital resources such as food, water and energy sources and regional instability caused by civil war are among the pressing challenges for the international community you will address on BSc Politics and International Relations. You will have the opportunity to participate in international study visits to learn from policymakers working in national and international organisations, including to the United Nations in New York.

You will also develop an applied awareness of the skills required to navigate these new challenges, from lobbying and campaigning to negotiation and political leadership. Our students also benefit from lessons from speakers who have worked at the highest levels of international politics, from government ministers to senior diplomats.

BSc Politics and International Relations teaches you about how the world is changing and equips you with the experience and skills to make your mark on it.

This course is subject to validation.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
L222 Full-time 3 Years September Treforest A

At each level of study, BSc Politics and International Relations follows three themes. Firstly, you will develop a core stock of knowledge about aspects of international relations and international security. Secondly, you will learn acquire an applied understanding of key skills and competencies of professionals working in this field. Finally, you will have the the opportunity to learn about challenges and changes facing societies in different parts of the world through an international study visit.

In addition, as part of our Global Choices programme, we offer an extensive range of opportunities, rare for undergraduate courses, to meet senior politicians, diplomats and business leaders, with experience of working at the highest levels. This ensures our students learn about the complex, ‘real world’ challenges of decision-making, often in highly pressured environments. Former British Cabinet Minister, Lord Peter Hain, is a Visiting Professor, and runs a number of ‘masterclass’ sessions each year, as does Sir Emyr Jones Parry, former British Ambassador to the United Nations. From the world of politics, we have welcomed to campus a series of British Cabinet Ministers, including two British Home Secretaries, a former Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence and former British Prime Minister, Sir John Major. We have heard from high-ranking diplomats who have been involved in decisions which have had a profound effect not only on the UK but on the world more widely, including those who have served as the UK’s Ambassadors to the EU, the USA, France, the UN and NATO. Among these have also been two heads of the British Diplomatic Service. Our students have been also been able to put questions directly to individuals charged with the security of the UK, from the three branches of the intelligence services, the Heads of MI5 and MI6, senior figures from GCHQ, the Secretary General of NATO and the UK’s National Security Adviser, who reports directly to the Prime Minister, and the former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

BSc Politics and International Relations - Year 1:

The first year provides you with an understanding of some the major global trends of development and change and of the emerging security challenges facing the international community. Through studying the work of non governmental organisations, you will work on developing your knowledge of a key political skill: campaigning. You will also learn about the working on major international organisations such as the European Commission and NATO on a study visit to Brussels.

Modules will include the following (all modules are 20 credits):

  • Foreign Policy Analysis (core)
  • Global Inequalities (core)
  • The Making of Modern Europe (core)
  • Security Studies (core)
  • Activism and Campaigning (core)
  • Brussels Study Visit (core)

BSc Politics and International Relations - Year 2:

In your second year, you will have the opportunity to investigate some key security challenges, such as conflicts over access to water supplies and cyber attacks, and how governments, businesses and other non governmental organisations respond to emerging risks and threats. You will look at how different types of deals, agreements and treaties are made and of the importance of negotiation as a core skill required for this work. Through a study visit to New York, you will also have the opportunity to develop your awareness of one of the most important international organisations, the United Nations.

Modules will include the following (all modules are 20 credits):
Political Risk (core)
Resource Wars (core)
Cyber Threats and Cyber Security (core)
Lobbying and Influence (core)
New York Study Visit (option)

BSc Politics and International Relations - Year 3:

In your third year of study, you will have the opportunity to address security challenges which have come to dominate the news in recent years, and which show little sign of diminishing in importance including, among others, energy security, terrorism and civil wars. You will also study political leadership, perhaps the most important skill required for confronting major challenges and changes. Your final international study visit will be to a major Asian city, such as Dhakha in Bangladesh, to examine the work of organisations leading on the development of emerging economies.

Modules will include the following (all modules are 20 credits):

  • Frontiers (core)
  • The Geopolitics of Energy (core)
  • Conflict Resolution (core)
  • Political Leadership (core)
  • War on Terror (option)
  • Asia Study Visit (option)


For the most part, modules run across the academic year. Some modules will be delivered in a shorter, ‘block’ format, most notably the international study visits. Students participate in a range of class formats, from lectures and workshops through to simulation activities (designed, for example, to replicate the conditions of what it might like to respond to a breaking emergency) and study visits to local, national and international locations.

The course has been designed to enable Politics and International Relations students to experience challenges and change on three continents in their three years of study, one of the distinctive features of studying at the University of South Wales. Therefore, at each level, we offer our students the opportunity to engage in an international study visit. The European study visit in the first year is core. At the second and third years, the international study visits are optional. Unless there are reasons why a student is unable to participate, we expect most students will take the USA and Asia study visits. There are no additional costs for the international study visits.

The international study visits are important opportunities for learning about organisations with which students may wish to work after graduating. In addition, as part of our Global Choices programme, we host networking events which enable students to meet and develop contacts with prospective employers from the business, government and non-governmental sectors.

Each module will be based on 200 hours of study during the academic year, which will include class based learning as well as independent study. On average, students should expect a minimum of 13 contact hours each week, though this will increase when we are hosting talks and masterclasses by guest speakers as part of our Global Choices programme. Your classes will be scheduled to run across three or four days each week during term time. The exceptions may be for some of the block delivery modules.


Assessment will be varied and include simulation, report-writing and presentations. Written examinations may be a component of some modules.


Opportunities for placements will be supported as an extra-curricula offer.  USW's placements team will support this. Placements are predominantly, but not exclusively, local.  Students will be actively encouraged to undertake placements and work toward the GradEdge certificate.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

Find out how to pay your tuition fees in full or by payment plan.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

International Scholarships are available for self-funding international students.

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

Apply directly to the University if you are applying for a part-time, professional or postgraduate course, an Erasmus/Exchange programme, the Legal Practice (part-time) course, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution.

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Admissions statement

BSc Politics and International Relations will equip you with a range of skills which are transferable into the modern workplace in the UK and overseas. We have consulted with senior figures in business and government to ensure the skills with which we equip our students are relevant to the changing needs to modern organisations. Your assessments will hone your skills in producing reports and delivering presentations, as well as teamworking and problem-solving. Some of these exercises will be ‘timed simulations’, intended to replicate experiences faced by many organisations of responding quickly to an emerging challenge. Each year of study, too, focuses on a particular skill, from campaigning in your first year, to negotiation in your second year and, in your final year, to political leadership.

As part of the international study visits, you will participate in a team project with an organisation, addressing challenges they face in their work. Exposure to different cultures is a hugely valuable skill, not least because it provides you with an awareness of some of the barriers which can exist in trying to work with people from different nationalities.

The opportunities you will experience as part of the Global Choices programme means that you will develop your communication and networking skills. Meeting senior figures from business, diplomacy and government builds your confidence, too, and encourage you to look at graduate careers in the civil and diplomatic services as well as with multinational companies and non governmental organisations.

Graduates of BSc Politics and International Relations will be equipped to apply for graduate career options in a range of sectors. These will include:

  • Civil Service ‘fast stream’
  • Diplomatic Service
  • Political risk analysis
  • Political communications
  • Public affairs
  • International development
  • Political casework and research
  • Management consultancy
  • International NGO advisory

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