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Politics and International Studies (Certificate of Higher Education)

What are the main issues in politics and international relations today? This course allows you to develop an understanding of the nature of politics and government in contemporary societies.

You will compare and contrast the institutions and practices of government in different societies, and analyse different theories of politics and government. You will also address various international topics, learn about the processes that give rise to international conflict and the ways in which co-operation is promoted, and explore the impact of globalisation on political, economic and social life. Our Politics and International Studies Certificate of Higher Education will also teach you the skills to continue onto further study in politics and the social sciences.


  • We have built up a strong reputation over more than 50 years for the excellence of our teaching and the international significance of our research in politics.
  • 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.
  • Some of the world’s most famous libraries are on our doorstep in Bloomsbury, central London, and you can walk down to Whitehall, where Parliament and the UK’s most influential and important think-tanks and centres of political research and analysis are located. 

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

If you complete 90 credits or more on this Certificate of Higher Education, with a pass mark of 50% or above, you may be admitted (subject to interview) to either our BA Global Politics and International Relations or BA Politics, and you can transfer credit from the modules on this certificate to your degree studies.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education you must register on and successfully complete individual modules worth a total of 120 credits, consisting of:

  • three compulsory modules, including either Comparative Government or Introduction to Global Politics (90 credits)
  • one option module (30 credits).

If you are already studying with us and continuing on a course, you can take any modules that you have not previously completed.

Module groups

You can take these modules as part of this certificate, or as standalone short courses.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    All modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. If you need extra language support you should consider enrolling on one of our academic English and language development modules.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

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

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose. 

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    Lectures, discussions, seminars and oral presentations, use of visual material, and individual and group work.

    Each module requires about eight additional hours of independent study per week, at home or in the library.


    100% coursework, which may include essays, presentations and take-home tests.

  • 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
    • research
    • journalism.

    We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire course). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.

    For more information, please .