Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2016

European Social and Political Studies BA

This challenging, flexible and diverse programme offers specialisation in any one of nine humanities and social sciences, combined with a broad base in European history, law, philosophy and politics, and fluency in a European language. Year three is spent at a European university.

Key Information

Degree Programme
European Social and Political Studies BA
UCAS code
4 years
Application deadline
15 January 2016
Subject area
European Social and Political Studies
Total intake (by subject area)
69 (2016 entry)
Applications per place (by subject area)
8 (2014 entry)
Research Excellence Framework
Interdisciplinary programme: see contributing departments

Entry requirements

A Levels

A humanities or social science subject (or Mathematics) preferred. Mathematics at A* required for full Economics specialism if chosen. French or Spanish required if taken as a major language.
AS Levels
For UK-based students a pass in a further subject at AS level or equivalent is required.
English Language at grade B, plus Mathematics at grade C. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A score of 19 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5. Higher level subjects to include French B, or Spanish B at grade 6 if either of these are to be studied as a major language. A humanities or social science subject (or Mathematics) preferred. Mathematics at higher level at grade 7 is required for the full Economics specialism if chosen.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme

Pass in Access to HE Diploma, with a minimum of 28 credits awarded with Distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the Level 3 units awarded with Merit.

D2,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects. French or Spanish required if taken as major languages, plus a social science or humanities subject (or Mathematics) preferred. Mathematics at D2 required for full Economics specialism if chosen.

A1,A,A at Advanced Highers (or A1,A at Advanced Higher and A,A,A at Higher). French or Spanish required at Advanced Higher if taken as a major language, plus a social science or humanities subject (or Mathematics) preferred. Mathematics at A1 required for full Economics specialism if chosen.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Diploma Core with grade A, plus 2 GCE A-levels at grades A*A. French or Spanish required if taken as major languages, plus a social science or humanities subject (or Mathematics) preferred. Mathematics at A* required for full Economics specialism if chosen.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL offers intensive one-year foundation courses to prepare international students for a variety of degree programmes at UCL.

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

For more information see our website: UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • Benefit from UCL's world-class teaching system and the insights of its renowned humanities, language and social sciences scholars, and from the expertise of their European counterparts.
  • A year abroad at a continental university – exchange places with partner universities in Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Seville and Rome.
  • Undertake a dissertation on an independently chosen research topic, with specialist supervision. Outstanding dissertations are published as articles in European Social and Political Research, the ESPS journal.
  • Wide ranging employability: 15% of ESPS graduates have gone into European, international or British politics, 20% into law, business and commerce.

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual courses, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Courses are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional courses varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Introductory courses in the first year allow you to develop your interests and identify an area of specialism for later years. Your courses then fall into three groupings: common core courses; language (and culture) courses; and a specialism in the humanities or social sciences.

The European common core involves working in a multidisciplinary environment, gaining insights into a range of academic disciplines and engaging critically with competing analytical perspectives.

You will undertake language study throughout the programme, selecting one language, or in some cases two, on which to concentrate.

Your third year is spent abroad, in a country where your choice of major European language is spoken. In your final year you return to UCL to continue with advanced courses in your language(s) and your humanities/social science subject, and also write your dissertation under the supervision of a member of staff.

You may specialise in any of these major subjects: Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, International Relations, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Urban Planning.

The major European languages that you can study include: Danish, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

You may also take a second language as a minor language from those listed above, as well as from a wide range of other languages, including Arabic, Czech, Finnish, Hebrew, Mandarin, Polish, Serbian, Yiddish, Classical Greek or Latin.

Year One

Compulsory courses

Language-based courses
Introduction to European History, Law, Philosophy and Politics

If you are taking the full Economics specialism you will also take 1.5 credits from Economics, and will take no optional courses, or minor language.

Optional courses

You will select 1.0 credits in a humanities or social sciences subject, or in a minor language.

Year Two

Compulsory courses

1.5 credits in the department of your major language. (For students taking Danish, Dutch, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish or Swedish as a major language, this can include a 0.5 credit ELCS optional course in the School for European Languages, Cultures and Society.)

Optional courses

You will select 2.5 credits in your chosen area of specialisation.

Year Three

Year abroad

Final Year

Compulsory courses

Language-based courses

Optional courses

You will select 2.0 credits in your chosen area of specialisation.

Your learning

Your formal timetable will involve a programme of lectures, seminars and workshops. As well as the core courses, and courses designed specifically for ESPS students, you will choose options in other departments according to your area of specialisation. This gives you access to a range of UCL's successful teaching approaches.


Your work will be assessed by written examination, assessed essay and presentation.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: European Social and Political Studies BA.


ESPS gives you the wide-ranging employability of graduates in PPE or International Relations, but with the added maturity of a year abroad, and the advantage of fluency in a European language – essential for anyone seeking a career in a European context, and increasingly valuable for the financial sector or media posts.

ESPS graduates combine specialised knowledge of a humanities or social science with a broad foundation in European philosophy, law, history and politics and, importantly, proficiency in another language or languages. On top of this, they have the independence born of a year studying abroad. In particular, students are able to demonstrate their aptitude for research by writing a dissertation.

This unique combination yields a significant advantage when it comes to securing funding for further research or getting a foothold on a competitive career ladder.

Outside academia, potential careers may include politics, law, business, commerce, teaching, public relations, journalism or IT.


First career destinations of recent graduates (2010-2013) of this programme include:

  • Commodities Analyst, Macquarie (2013)
  • Full-time student, MSc in Economic Policy at UCL (2013)
  • Full-time student, MPhil in International Relations and Politics at University of Cambridge (2013)
  • Financial Analyst, HSBC (2012)
  • Civil Servant (Fast Track), UK Government (2012)

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2010-2013 graduating cohorts six months after graduation and, where necessary, department records.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies here: Careers and skills.

Fees and funding


UK & EU fee
£9,000 (2016/17)
Overseas fee
£16,130 (2016/17)


Details about financial support are available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/study/ug-finance


The Scholarships and Funding website has a comprehensive list of scholarships and funding schemes available for UCL students. These can be available for specific nationalities, regions, departments or open to all students.

Application and next steps

Your application

When we assess your application, we will be looking for a firm interest in social and political issues, including a demonstration of your ability to grasp theoretical concepts and analyse social trends. Your achievement in examinations is crucial but we also pay careful attention to your motivation and interests as expressed in your personal statement, and your referee's report.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2016


If you live in Europe and you meet (or are expected to meet) our selection criteria, you will be invited to an assessment day. This will involve sitting the Thinking Skills Assessment Test (at UCL) and taking part in a discussion group chaired by ESPS staff.

If you are resident in a country outside Europe you will be interviewed by telephone, and asked to submit an essay on a set topic written under examination conditions.

You should state clearly on your UCAS application which modern European language you wish to study as your major language. Please state both if you are taking two major languages. It is not necessary to state the minor language if you choose one.

Further information about the languages offered and their specific requirements can be found on the ESPS website.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students