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Guide to studying Politics

The world of politics is constantly changing. So, if you literally want to learn something new every day, this could be the course for you.

Guard standing outside 10 Downing Street door

CONTENTS

  1. What's Politics?

  2. Why study Politics?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Politics graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Politics?

Politics was an Ancient Greek idea that provided the basis for the modern word we use today – it derives from 'politikos', meaning 'of, for, or relating to citizens'.

Nowadays, politics is the process of gaining and exerting governance – organised control over a state or local community. Studying Politics involves looking at how that power is handled, and where the power lies.

Why study Politics?

Nowadays, the study of Politics is arguably more exciting than ever. Widespread constitutional reforms have changed the political map in the UK and beyond. During a degree course, you'll learn how political systems operate, and be encouraged to think about what works and what doesn't.

Politics courses look deep into political theory, without which we wouldn't understand many of the crucial elements of our own society. You'll consider key areas of this such as the nature of freedom and the strengths and limitations of democracy.

Read our six reasons to study Politics for more information on why you might choose this subject area.

Young politician speaking in press conference

What jobs can you get as a Politics graduate?

You don't have to aim to be an MP if you graduate in Politics. There are several career paths for you to follow.

Particular job areas include in the civil service, social research, PA, consultancy work, charity work, HR, local government, market research and sales, journalism and PR.

Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Politics graduates, such as Macmillan.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Politics have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Politics students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Entry requirements vary and depend on the institution and course. Make sure to check with your chosen university or college.

What degrees can you study?

  • BA Politics and International Relations
  • BA Politics and History
  • BA Social and Political Sciences
  • BA Politics with a foreign language

How will you be assessed?

Degree modules are assessed by a mixture of essays and examinations. The weight given to either mode of assessment depends on the course you choose.

It's commonplace for you to write a dissertation in your third year. This allows you to explore a topic of your choosing, under supervision in one-to-one sessions with a tutor.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include a master's in International Social Policy, which can either last one year or two years with a year abroad. There are also MAs in Art and Politics, British Politics and Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies.

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