BA Politics and International Relations

UCAS code4519
Duration3 Years
Typical offerAAB-BBB; IB: 34-30
DisciplinePolitics and International Relations
Location Cornwall (Penryn Campus)


This distinctive programme is one of the few in the UK which enables you to combine politics and international relations to gain a well-rounded perspective on some of the most important issues shaping our world.Field work overseas and a focus on career-related experience and skills, ensure learning is both research-led and relevant to your future career aspirations.

The study of Politics in Cornwall is characterised by its focus on some of the biggest political challenges facing the world today such as inequality, climate change, the global financial crisis, conflict, the depletion of natural resources and the changing balance in world power. We believe Politics shouldn’t just be an intellectual exercise; it’s the means by which people change the world. So, although we’ll teach you about political systems and theories, we’ll apply these to world events and the major issues setting the modern political agenda.

We’ll also take you out of the classroom to get a bigger perspective. Whether you’re visiting the United Nations HQ in New York, working as an intern in Westminster, or providing consultancy for a community organisation in Cornwall, you’ll have opportunities to experience how Politics operates in practice.

Our programmes produce graduates who can engage imaginatively in the process of understanding and analysing complex and sophisticated problems by using critical approaches that blend detailed and broad levels of analysis.

Programme variations

When I visited the Cornwall campus for the offer-holder open day I fell in love with the campus, the course, and the people. The academics cared so much about their subjects, but also about sharing their expertise with the students and I was quickly sure I had made the right decision about Politics and Cornwall.

The Cornwall Campus was perfect for me. The people were like-minded (even if our politics didn’t line up!) and the atmosphere made me feel at home. Within the first week the academics knew the names of everyone in my cohort which, combined with the availability of the academics, meant that my University experience was different to many of my friends from school. I was supported with decisions about my course and I could even take modules outside of Politics, broadening my experience. 

My degree enabled me to study a Masters (MA Critical Global Politics) which led me into my volunteer role as a trustee for Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services (DRCSAS). Both my Masters and undergraduate degrees developed my critical thinking skills and my ability to analyse complex information effectively, essential skills for a trustee. DRCSAS is a feminist organisation and my degree helped me to become clearer on my own feminism, so I certainly wouldn’t have this role without it!


Rachel Sloan, Curriculum & Work-Related Learning Co-ordinator at the University of Exeter.

I would say to a student that there is no better learning environment than being surrounded by the Cornish countryside and seaside - you find it hard to believe that you could be at university in such a beautiful place.

The student-to-lecture ratio is one of the smallest in the country, allowing great contact with the lecturers and with classmates. The Politics department brings in local MPs and political science speakers as well as hosting political debates every week. The lecturers give brilliant classes as well as seminars of intense discussion over hot political topics.

The campus has so much to offer: societies, sport and general activities - it has everything you need and when you get involved your university experience is so much greater. There is so much to do - swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, rugby, great nights out, coastal walks, barbeques on the beach. I have almost completed the Exeter Award which has been a lot of fun. I also took part in Grand Challenges, which was close to one of the best weeks at University I've had.

Joel Horne, BA Politics and International Studies (Penryn Campus; 2nd year 2013/14 - 2015/16).

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Full-time undergraduates need to take 120 credits each year and choose from modules worth 15 or 30 credits. Core modules are mainly designed to develop applied research skills and include a third year dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Year 1

Your first year will introduce you to the foundations of the discipline. In addition to learning about how government and politics work in Britain, you’ll be introduced to key concepts in political theory and learn why the ideas of political thinkers of the past are still relevant today. You’ll also investigate some of the most important challenges facing global politics such as conflict, the environment, HIV/AIDS, poverty and inequality.

Module examples

POC1003British Government and Politics15
POC1014The Public Policy Process15
POC1015Power, Conflict, Inequality: Issues in Global Politics15
POC1018Foundations in Political Thinking: From Early Christianity to the Renaissance15
POC1019Green Politics in Theory and Practice15
POC1020Global Environmental Politics15
POC1017Classical Political Ideas: And Why They're Still Useful15
POC1016Resistance and Transformation: Struggles in Global Politics30

Year 2

At the end of your second year (usually taken in September before your third year), you’ll have the chance to travel to the United States to get a better understanding of this global superpower. In addition to developing applied research skills, you may also choose from modules on Chinese politics, the role of NGOs in responding to key global challenges, the politics of protest and radical political theory. You may also opt for an internship in Westminster or work experience with an organisation.

Compulsory Modules

POC2021Research Inquiry in Practice 15
POC2052NGO's: Responding to Global Challenges 15
POC2023Doing Politics Research 30

Optional modules

POC2024 The Politics of Protest (Stage 2 students only) 15
Plus in year 2 you can choose selected optional modules also available in year 3 - see examples below

Field Work - United States Field Course

This is usually taken in September before your third year.

Your studies will include a field trip to the United States where you’ll gain insight into the latest global issues and a first-hand perspective on the American political system. Taken before the start of your third year, the field trip to New York may include a visit to the United Nations where you’ll speak to experts about the most important issues on the UN agenda such as human rights, climate change and children in armed conflict. Your field work may also include the opportunity to share the experiences of fire fighters involved in the response to 911 and a visit the memorial at the site of the World Trade Centre; a trip to City Hall to gain insight into efforts to protect New York from the effects of climate change and to learn how the city coped with the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy; a tour of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange to hear more about the world financial crisis; and visits to city locations associated with key milestones in the civil rights movement.
Please note field course destinations and the exact itinerary may be subject to change.

Year 3

In your final year you’ll carry out a piece of independent research and write a dissertation under the supervision of a member of academic staff. You will also choose a number of optional modules covering issues such as the politics of war, political psychology, activist politics, the ethics of humanitarian intervention, EU politics, and global governance.

Compulsory modules

The dissertation module will equip you with a detailed knowledge of one particular topic within the discipline. You’ll gain an ability to design and carry out independent research and will benefit from the support and supervision of a member of academic staff.

POC3040Dissertation 30

Optional modules

90 credits of optional modules in Politics and International Studies. There are some examples below. Further optional modules will be announced in Summer 2015.

POC2031/3019China in World Politics30
POC2027/3020The Politics of War30
POC2029/3022Global Governance and International Relations 30
POC2059/3059The Political Psychology of Elites15
POC2051/3051Political Psychology of Masses15
POC2061/3062Order out of Chaos: Radical Democracy in Theory15
POC2062/3062Order out of Chaos: Radical Democracy in Practice15
POC3066Security and Liberty (Stage 3 students only)15

Entry requirements 2017

Typical offer

AAB-BBB; IB: 34-30

Additional selection criteria

We are looking for well-qualified students with a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subject.

We receive a large number of applications from well-qualified applicants and may not be able to make offers to all those applicants who have achieved or are predicted to achieve grades in line with the typical offer shown above.

In addition to the specific requirements listed above, we look for excellent A level* results/predictions and we may also take into account results up to and including GCSEs* and AS Levels* as part of our holistic assessment of an application.

*Equivalent qualifications will be considered. For more information about our equivalencies for specific qualifications please contact our Admissions Office.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Your teaching will include lectures, tutorials and seminars, with a growing emphasis at each successive level on student-led learning.

We place considerable emphasis on teaching in small groups, which gives you ample opportunity to participate, as well as providing close contact between you and members of staff. In the third year much of your learning occurs in seminar groups led by a member of faculty on a specialised area of their research.

You'll have a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies.

Research-inspired teaching

Teaching that is inspired by research ensures lectures are up-to-date and relevant and you will benefit from access to the latest thinking, equipment and resources. All staff teach final year options which are linked to their own interests.


You will be assessed through a variety of tasks, including essays, individual and small group presentations, projects and exams. You may also complete a dissertation and/or project work, including a work placement project. You must pass your first year modules in order to proceed but your performance at this level does not count towards your final degree classification.

I looked at other universities which are well known for international studies and I’d have been in lecture groups of 200 plus. The smaller class sizes at Cornwall enable an amazing teaching programme. You collaborate with your lecturers rather than just being talked at, and lectures themselves are almost like seminars; you’re encouraged to ask questions, raise points, and start the thinking process in the lecture rather than afterwards. It’s not just lecturers but other students doing different readings who are contributing to your learning.

Janika Hauser, Politics and International Studies, Penryn Campus, Cornwall.


Studying politics involves not only desk-based research but often undertaking field work within a given context, in order to witness the evolution of political processes and their impact on society first hand. Such field work can take a variety of different forms, ranging from interviews with important stakeholders, to focus group discussions with community members, and the analysis of politicised spaces and public forums.

Your studies will include a departmentally-subsidised* field trip to the United States where you’ll gain insight into the latest global issues and a first-hand perspective on the American political system. Taken before the start of your third year, the six-day field trip to New York will provide you with the basic training required to carry out ethical field work under a controlled, supervised setting. This is a unique opportunity which is only available to students studying Politics at our Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Sample programme^

(each day begins at 09:00 with a briefing)


  • Statue of Liberty
  • Ellis Island
  • Debrief in study groups
  • Portfolio development


  • World Trade Center
  • Global capitalism, American wealth, power, and inequality – a walking tour which includes The Bowery and Chinatown to Wall Street and South Seaport
  • Portfolio development


  • America in the News - collection of newspaper clippings discussing current affairs in the USA and New York
  • Group discussion about what these newspaper reports say about contemporary USA
  • NYU - seminar and discussions with NYU students about life and politics in the USA
  • Portfolio development


  • City Hall
  • United Nations
  • Close of scheduled activities, portfolio development


  • ABC News: How are editorial decisions about the news made? What kind of operational considerations are taken into account?
  • A behind the scenes look at 'The View' (current affairs), and the US Presidential race
  • Walking tour - the High Line and the west River Park from W 67 St. Private vs public spaces
  • Whole Group Conference

You will keep an ethnographic notebook of your travels, collect photos of meaningful sites, conduct interviews with key individuals and critically assess the politics of commemoration and the negotiation of space in New York, so as to produce a report on the city's politics.

* Flights, hostel accommodation, breakfast, metro pass, entrance fees, and transfers to and from JFK Airport are included. Other meals will need to be paid for, although the hostel has excellent kitchen facilities. You will also need to have a valid passport and the necessary visas. Guidance on how to prepare for the visit will be provided by the module tutor.

^Please note field course destinations and the exact itinerary may be subject to change.


Your brilliant career

Find out how we can help you build your brilliant career.

Politics and international relations graduates from the University of Exeter are highly successful in obtaining graduate employment or moving on to further study. Whilst studying for your degree, you will develop a number of skills that are useful in professional and managerial careers. The ability to research and analyse information from a variety of sources, together with the written and verbal skills needed to present and discuss your opinions and conclusions, are attributes that many employers look for in graduates. Your understanding of complex political and cultural issues, often in continually changing environments, can also be relevant to both business and public sector appointments.

Many students from the department take part in the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award. These schemes encourage you to participate in employability related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.

Work placements

We are building a network of placement providers through our Exeter Politics Internship Programme, which provides you with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during the summer vacation of the second year (mostly based in Westminster working with an MP, although they can also be in an MP’s constituency office. The internship programme is just one of several opportunities to obtain work experience including optional work placement and introduction to teaching practice modules.

Graduate destinations

The University has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Many employers target the University when recruiting new graduates. Below are a few examples* of initial jobs undertaken by Politics and International Relations graduates. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job title Organisation
Management Consultant
Parliamentary Caseworker and Researcher
Civil Servant
Film Production Coordinator
Officer Cadet
Trainee Insurance Broker
Investment Assistant
Estate Agent
Communications Officer
National Health Service
Barclays Bank PLC
Ogilvy and Mather
Treehouse PR Ltd
Easton Aerospace
Orchards of London
Arcadia Group

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation. Below are a few examples* of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes. Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Subject area Institution
MA Crisis Management
MSc Public Policy
MA EU Politics
MA Globalisation and Communications
MA International Relations in the Middle East
MA Public Policy and Administration
University of Leicester
University of Exeter
King's College, London
University of Bristol

Find out more

Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise our graduates' employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website. Our Penryn Campus in Cornwall also has a dedicated Careers Advisory Service (CAS) which provides high quality careers information and guidance to students of all disciplines.

* This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey

Contact us

Streatham Campus, Exeter

Phone: +44 (0)1392 723192

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

Website: Visit the Politics and International Relations website

How to apply Get a prospectus Visit subject website 2016 degrees

View our Politics and International Relations brochure

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Studying Politics at the Penryn Campus

We asked our current Politics students at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall what they love most about their programmes.