BA in Politics


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

We live in a time of great social upheaval and dramatic political change. This degree will allow you to explore political ideas, structures and approaches that will help you to understand these complex circumstances.

Core modules in this programme will give you a grounding in political theory, international relations, development studies and systems of government used around the world.

As an undergraduate student of politics, you will pursue topics that suit your own interests and concerns: we offer a wide range of optional modules exploring topics, from political psychology to security studies, supported by the unique breadth of research specialisms within the School of Politics and International Studies.

Specialist pathways - parliamentary studies and quantitative research

At the end of Year 1, you'll have the opportunity to apply for

  • The Parliamentary Studies Pathway includes a year spent on a related placement.
  • The Quantitative Research Methods pathway which will enhance your quantitative skills.

Course content

Year 1 provides the foundation of your studies with a set of compulsory modules. You’ll be introduced to all of the core areas of the School’s expertise, covering topics including political theory, comparative and British politics, international relations and development studies, as well as gaining the research and academic skills you need to study politics. You’ll also have the choice of an optional module, to help you start developing your own research interests.

You’ll then build on your knowledge in the following year, with compulsory modules that allow you to gain new skills in political research and explore different areas of political theory. Around this, you’ll choose from more advanced modules in topics such as UK politics, electioneering and the political systems of different countries and regions. In addition, you can select options from a range of modules on broader topics like approaches to development, security studies or international relations.

In your final year, you’ll pursue your own specialist study. You’ll produce an extended piece of individual research on a topic of your choice when you complete your dissertation and select from a wide range of specialised modules delivered by staff in areas of their own research expertise. Topics could include feminist political thought, human rights, political psychology, political extremism, the relationship between the EU and the wider international community, the politics of aid, terrorism or violence and reconciliation in African states.

Parliamentary Studies Pathway

At the end of Year 1, you’ll have the opportunity (exclusive to BA Politics students) to apply for one of a limited number of places on our four-year BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies pathway, transferring into Year 2 of that programme if you are successful. You’ll take some of the same modules as BA Politics students, but you’ll also have a closer focus on topics such as the UK Parliament, in preparation for your placement year. This will prepare you to spend Year 3 on a related placement before returning to Leeds for your final year of study. On your return, you will have a wide range of module options to choose from, including options specific to British politics and parliament, whilst also developing your dissertation.

This exciting placement year could mean working with an MP at Westminster, at a party headquarters, in a constituency office or another political organisation. It’s an excellent opportunity to gain an insight into the workings of parliament and government, put your knowledge and skills into practice and gain valuable work experience to support your future career plans.

Quantitative Research Methods (QRM) Pathway

At the end of Year 1, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for a place on our BA Politics with Quantitative Research Methods pathway. This pathway will help you develop advanced analytical skills, which are in high demand across the public, private, and third sectors. You will learn statistical analysis techniques and their application to real data (e.g. survey data, countries’ statistical data) using statistical software. You will also write a dissertation in which you will analyse quantitative data to examine questions about politics, development or international relations.

You are not required to have done Mathematics at A level, this pathway is open to all students as long as you have attained an overall 2.1 in your first year and a 2:1 in the Comparative Politics module.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time.


Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Studying and Researching in POLIS
  • British Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • Making of the Modern World
  • International Politics
  • Freedom, Power and Resistance: An Introduction to Political Ideas

Optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Global Development Challenges
  • Contemporary Africas: Politics, Society and the Environment

Discovery modules

  • You may choose to take up to 20 credits of discovery modules.
Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Approaches to Analysis

Optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • The Conservative Party Since 1945
  • The Labour Party Since 1945
  • Spin Doctors and Electioneering
  • Politics of Contemporary China
  • United States Politics
  • Security Studies
  • Revolution and Reaction: Political Problems in the 20th Century
  • The UK Parliament: Between Tradition and Reform
  • Analysing Data in Politics, Development and International Relations

Discovery modules

  • You may choose to take up to 40 credits of discovery modules.
Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation

Optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • The End of British Politics?
  • The Politics of national identity in the UK
  • The Politics of Aid
  • Extreme Right Parties in Contemporary Europe
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Dirty War: Insurgency, the State and Cities
  • Terrorism: Concepts, Debates, Cases
  • Radical Political Ideas: Marx, Nietzsche, Schmitt, Foucault, Kristeva

Discovery modules

  • You may choose to take 20 credits of discovery modules.

125950_photo-1529107386315-e1a2ed48a620.jpg Marco Oriolesi / Unsplash

Broadening your academic horizons

At Leeds we want you to benefit from the depth and breadth of the University's expertise, to prepare you for success in an ever-changing and challenging world. This course gives you the opportunity to broaden your learning by studying discovery modules.

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods to help you gain diverse skills. These will include seminars and workshops where you can discuss in more depth the topics set out in traditional lectures. We emphasise the importance of participation, presentation skills and group work.

Independent study is also a vital element of the course, as it allows you to develop your research and critical skills while preparing for taught sessions.

You’ll also have a personal tutor – one of our academics – who will be on hand to offer you guidance and support on academic issues, such as module choices, as well as career and personal matters.


Modules will use a variety of assessment methods. As well as traditional exams, you could also be asked to complete projects based on essays and case studies, policy briefs, group presentations, work logs, research briefs, project proposals or development agency reviews. In your final year, you’ll also submit a 10,000-word dissertation.

Entry requirements

A-Level: AAB

We don't ask for specific A-level subjects however, in general, you should be in the process of studying Social Science, Arts and Humanities subjects for A-level.

When an applicant is taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) this can be considered alongside A-levels and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A-levels, this would be ABB at A-level including grade A in the EPQ.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low-income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications.

International foundation year

If you have the ability to study for a degree but don’t have the qualifications to enter directly to level one, you might consider studying a foundation year. We have formal links with the following foundation year programmes:

  • University of Leeds International Foundation Year (IFY)
  • Northern Consortium of UK Universities (NCUK)
  • Study Group Leeds International Study Centre (LISC)

If you are applying from an alternative foundation year provider, please contact our admissions team to find out if your qualification is suitable for entry to our courses.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.


See our website for the latest fee information.

Tuition fees for 2020 entry

For the UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2020, the fee for 2020/21 will be £9,250.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation, and as permitted by law. Fees for the UK and non-UK EU undergraduate students are decided by Government and may vary if policy changes.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students starting in the 2020/21 academic year will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans for the duration of their course. The UK government has not confirmed the situation for future years, so keep checking our website for updates.

Career opportunities

This versatile degree will allow you to gain in-depth knowledge of an important area of public life, as well as key transferable skills in communication, research, analysis, critical thinking, presentations and group working. It’s a strong basis for a variety of careers in organisations as diverse as interest groups, research bodies, think tanks, the media, the civil service, local government and political consultancy as well as professions like law, finance and teaching.

Graduates from BA Politics and BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies have pursued a wide range of careers as parliamentary advisors or researchers, civil servants, diplomats, advocacy workers, parliamentary assistants, lobbyists, special advisors to senior ministers, political researchers and local government officers – and some have even gone into elected office as MPs.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate.

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

Our wide range of research-informed courses encompass undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research degree programmes, as well as online and professional development courses.

Our wide range of research-informed courses encompass undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research degree programmes, as well as online and professional development courses. Read less