Politics (BA): 4-year, part-time

When the right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in July 2011, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his country’s appropriate response would be 'more democracy, more openness, but not naivety'. Other leaders might have reacted differently to the same event. The purpose of this undergraduate programme is to offer you the skills to not only understand major political issues that affect the lives of millions of citizens in the UK and beyond - such as populism, terrorism, war and peace, Euroscepticism - but also develop your own views about them. 

Politics can be understood as decisions about who gets what, when and how, as American political scientist Harold Lasswell famously put it, but complex issues are rarely the result of a single factor or process. This means that students need access to a very broad range of expertise. This is what our Department of Politics - one of the best known in London and beyond - offers. 

Our academics are experts in a very broad range of geographical areas, including Britain, America, Europe and the Middle East. They publish in major academic journals on several sub-fields in the study of politics such as:

  • public policy (ie when faced with an economic crisis why do some governments opt for funding cuts in what is known as ‘austerity’?)
  • international political economy (eg why do some governments try to expand while others restrict it?)
  • voting behaviour (whether different groups of people vote for different political parties)
  • how the European Union works
  • whether and how emerging powers such as Brazil and India seek to affect major international political and economic decisions.

In other words, you will be taught on the basis of new knowledge generated by the people teaching you. We seek to engage not only with the wider public by publishing articles in newspapers and journals, but also to engage with politicians who make actual political decisions. 

Two special features of this programme are:

  • an option module on Parliament called Parliamentary Studies, which is taught in conjunction with the House of Commons outreach service
  • several study skills workshops including ones on note taking, how to write an essay, and exam preparation. 

This course is also available for full-time evening study over three years.

Highlights

  • Birkbeck is a distinguished centre of research and teaching excellence in politics. Our central London location puts us at the heart of the UK's political life and at the centre of academic London. Our courses are designed to encourage independent thinking and hone your argumentative, analytical and critical skills, while our teaching uniquely moves across the boundaries between subjects, encompassing, among others, economics, history and sociology.
  • Our Department of Politics is over 40 years old and has a reputation for the excellence of its teaching and its internationally significant research.
  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17thin the UK.
  • In the 2017 National Student Survey, our courses came top in London and fourth in the country for overall course satisfaction.
  • Our departmental building was once a key location for members of the Bloomsbury Group, so you could be studying in rooms that have hosted distinguished visitors, including T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw and Maynard Keynes.
  • Read more about our Department's top news stories, our world-class research, our 40-year history, and what it's like to study with us.

Course structure

You take 12 modules over four years, including eight compulsory modules. Each module is worth 30 credits (360 credits in total).

In Year 1, you take three compulsory modules including either Modern Political Analysis or Comparative Government, and choose one option module.

In Year 2, you take three compulsory modules.

In Year 3, you take two compulsory modules and choose one option module.

In Year 4, you choose two option modules and then either choose a further option module or undertake a dissertation.

Module groups

Year 1 compulsory modules

Year 2 compulsory modules

Year 3 compulsory modules

Indicative option modules

BA Politics dissertation

Please note that not all option modules are available every year and option modules are subject to change. Please check with the Department which option modules will be available for your year of study.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    We welcome applicants without traditional entry qualifications as we base decisions on our own assessment of qualifications, knowledge and previous work experience. We may waive formal entry requirements based on judgement of academic potential.

    Alternative entry routes

    Access to Higher Education Diploma with a minimum of 15 credits achieved at Merit or Distinction in humanities or social science units.

    Students who have completed Birkbeck's Certificate of Higher Education in Politics may be given entry to the second year of the degree.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £ 6935 pa
    Part-time international students: £10025 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Tuition fee and maintenance loans

    Eligible full-time and part-time students from the UK and the EU don’t have to pay any tuition fees upfront, as government loans are available to cover them.

    Maintenance loans are also available for eligible full-time and part-time UK students, to assist with covering living costs, such as accommodation, food, travel, books and study materials. From 2018, maintenance loans are available to part-time students for the first time. The amount you receive is means-tested and depends on where you live and study and your household income.

    Find out more about tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time and part-time students at Birkbeck.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures and seminars, with some workshops and tutorials.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    The following information gives an indication of how many contact hours you can expect for each year of this course:

    Year Contact hours
    1 126
    2 99
    3 180
    4 117

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Coursework and examinations.

    Breakdown of assessment on this course

    The balance of assessment by examination and assessment by coursework will often depend on the option modules you choose. The approximate percentages for this course are as follows:

    Year % Exams % Practical % Coursework
    1 75 0 25
    2 75 3 22
    3 75 0 25
    4 75 0 25
  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Our graduates go on to careers in local and national government, the diplomatic service, policy work, the voluntary sector and as researchers and journalists.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

    Graduate Destinations

    Average salary six months after the course: £38000

    Go on to work and/or study:

    Go on to work and/or study
    Now working: 60%
    Doing further study: 10%
    Studying and working: 10%
    Unemployed: 10%
    Other: 10%

    Read more of the statistics for this course on the Unistats website.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    Birkbeck offers a range of free face-to-face advice and support to help you make a successful application.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    Please apply before the end of August, although later applications may be accepted, subject to availability of places.

    Interviews are held from February onwards.