History and International Relations (BA): 3-year, full-time

This course meets the rising demand to study the history of the twentieth century alongside international relations. It is a joint degree, offered by our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology and our Department of Politics, so you will be taught by world-class academics across two research-active departments. The course examines the global evolution of international relations, with an emphasis on in-depth historical studies supported by political and sociological analysis.

You will take introductory modules in international relations and modern and contemporary history (particularly related to Asia and Africa) in the first part of your degree. You will then take modules that offer both contemporary and historical approaches to Africa, Middle East, Asia (South Asia and East Asia in particular), as well as European countries. These choices are supported by a compulsory advanced module addressing conflict and war through the lens of international relations theory, as well as optional modules on foreign policy and historical studies of cases which have been central to the development of international relations such as the Cold War.

This course is also available for part-time evening study over four years.


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • Our Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), History at Birkbeck was ranked sixth in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
  • Birkbeck is also a distinguished centre of research and teaching excellence in politics. Our Department of Politics is over 40 years old and has a reputation for the excellence of its teaching and its internationally significant research.
  • Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, delivering stimulating teaching.
  • Our wide-ranging programmes encompass fascinating periods and areas of study, from human prehistory through to classical civilisation, the medieval and early modern periods, and on to twenty-first-century history, politics and international relations.
  • 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.

Course structure

Our new survey course options range from the ancient to the contemporary world and will introduce you to the key themes you need to know about when studying the past. In keeping with our tradition of teaching an impressive chronological breadth within one department, these modules cover the time from prehistory to the present, moving across continents and cultures.

In parallel with these cutting-edge surveys, we offer a range of compulsory 'How to' modules which bring you together with academic staff to explore the study of the past and develop the skills needed to research and write history. Every year, as you build your studies and progress towards your degree, you will take one of these courses, helping you to develop your own unique perspective on the past.

Both the survey courses and our ‘How To’ courses run annually so that it doesn't matter whether you study part-time or full-time with us - you will be able to make the most of them.

This course consists of modules of 30 credits each and you must complete modules worth a total of 360 credits.

There are three kinds of module: compulsory Level 4 modules in core skills; Level 5 option modules which develop knowledge across broad areas of study; and Level 6 option modules which provide focused study on advanced topics. You take a balance of modules between the two disciplines - history and politics - or focus on either one of the disciplines at Level 6.

In Year 1, you take two history option modules and two compulsory politics modules.

In Year 2, you take a compulsory history module, a compulsory politics module, a Level 5 history option module and a Level 5 politics option module.

In Year 3, you take a compulsory politics module, a Level 6 history option module, a Level 6 politics option module, and a further Level 6 option module from either discipline.

    Module groups

    Year 1 compulsory modules

    Year 2 compulsory modules

    Year 3 compulsory module

    Indicative Level 4 option modules

    Indicative Level 5 option modules

    Indicative Level 6 option modules

    • 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. 

      UCAS tariff points


      The UCAS tariff score is applicable to you if you have recently studied a qualification that has a UCAS tariff equivalence. UCAS provides a tariff calculator for you to work out what your qualification is worth within the UCAS tariff.

      Foundation Year Degrees

      You can progress onto this degree if you successfully complete the foundation year of our BA Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year or BSc Social Sciences with Foundation Year course. This is an ideal route onto an undergraduate degree if you are returning to study after a gap, or if you have not previously studied this subject, or if you didn't achieve the grades you need for a place on this degree.

      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.

      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


      Full-time home/EU students: £ 9250 pa
      Full-time international students: £ 13350 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.

    • Teaching and assessment


      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

      Teaching will be through a mixture of lectures, seminars and one-to-one 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
      1 156
      2 132
      3 192


      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 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

      Most modules are assessed through a balance of examination (held in the summer term) and coursework, with coursework usually comprising two essays of c.2000 words for each module taken.

      Every module you take includes some form of assessment and, in addition, an attendance requirement, so you will need to attend at least 60% of classes in order to pass.

      You can choose whether or not to pursue a final-year dissertation project.

      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 56 0 44
      2 61 0 39
      3 73 0 27
    • Careers and employability

      Careers and employability

      Graduates can pursue careers in research, education or national/international government. This degree may also be useful in becoming a political activist/lobbyist, journalist or charity officer.

      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: £28000

      Go on to work and/or study:

      Go on to work and/or study
      Now working: 60%
      Doing further study: 25%
      Studying and working: 0%
      Unemployed: 5%
      Other: 5%

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

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      If you are applying for a three-year, full-time undergraduate degree at Birkbeck, you have to apply through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). To apply, go to the UCAS homepage and click on 'Apply and Track'. You will have to register, giving UCAS a few personal details, including your name, address and date of birth, and then you complete an application form.

      We assess each individual application for potential and talent and admission is by a combination of application and interview.

      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.

      UCAS Code


      Application deadlines and interviews

      15 January is the first UCAS deadline and the majority of university applications through UCAS are made by then. We welcome applications outside of the UCAS deadlines, so you can still apply through UCAS after 15 January, depending on the availability of places. We also take late applications via the UCAS Clearing system in August.

      Read more about key dates for UCAS applicants.