Undergraduate prospectus 2021


Politics and International Relations BSc

The new BSc in Politics and International Relations is designed for people who are passionate about politics, and who want to look in-depth behind the headlines to understand the forces shaping today's world. The degree will empower you to assess some of the most pressing challenges of our time, both domestically and globally. Our training will equip you with the tools through which to analyse data, conduct research, and write persuasively.

Covid-19 programme updates

Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2020
UCAS code
Full-time: 3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2020
London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A Levels

No specific subjects. An essay based subject is preferred but not required.
At least two A level subjects should be taken from UCL's list of preferred A level subjects.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students, a grade C or 5 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

Contextual offer

ABB (more about contextual offers)
No specific subjects. An essay based subject is preferred but not required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5. For UK-based students, a grade C or 5 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 18 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5. An essay based subject at HL is preferred but not required.

Contextual offer

34 (more about contextual offers)
A score of 16 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5.

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.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme

D3,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects.

AAA at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and AAA at Higher).

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades AAA

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.

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

    • Learn from world-leading experts in politics and international relations in the UCL Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy, who will teach your classes. 
    • Acquire the knowledge and know-how you need to analyse the major political problems of our time -- and evaluate how we should respond to them. 
    • Link your studies with real-world political developments, both through coursework that engages with current events and by learning from eminent practitioners at our flagship Policy & Practice Seminar Series.

    • Develop a portfolio of skills -- in how to undertake research, analyse data, argue persuasively, and communicate effectively -- valued by employers in both the public and private sectors. 

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

The three-year curriculum delivers both structured training in political science, and the opportunity for you to focus on the questions that interest you most. The first year begins by investigating some of the great political challenges in the world today. You will also explore some of the main subfields of politics, including international relations, comparative politics, public policy, and political philosophy. During the first year, you will also develop your writing skills, and learn about the use and misuse of data in politics.

The second year deepens your substantive knowledge. You will choose modules from a wide variety of options offered by the department. You will also delve deeply into the main methods in political science, learning the skills to do a wide array of research. Additionally, you will engage with practitioners from the world of politics and policy.

Finally, in the third year, you are free to concentrate on the particular subfields, issues, and methods that interest you most, choosing several options from the full array of intermediate and advanced undergraduate modules offered by the department (and, subject to approval, offered by external departments). You will also undertake a final research project on an approved topic of your choosing, culiminating in a dissertation. 


An indicative guide to the structure of this programme, year by year.

Core or compulsory module(s)

The compulsory modules for the first year are:

  • How to Argue About Politics
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Bullshit: Evidence and Inference for Citizens and Social Scientists
  • International Conflict and Cooperation
  • Democracy and Authoritarianism
  • Policymaking
  • Justice: Moral Foundations of Politics

You will also take modules in which you explore controversial contemporary political "hot topics" in detail. Topics vary in response to current events. These may include: Protest and Revolution; Political Violence; Refugees; and Identity Politics: Prejudice, Inclusion, and Equal Rights.

Please note that the exact details of these modules may change. Please check the department website for updates on the specifice details of these modules here.

Optional modules

There are no optional modules in year one.

Core or compulsory module(s)

The compulsory modules for the second year are:

  • Quantative Data Analysis
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Ethics & Public Policy
  • Solving Social Problems with Economics
  • Politics and Policy in Practice

Please note that the exact details of these modules may change.

Optional modules

Current details of optional modules for the second year and third year may be found here. This list is subject to change. 

Core or compulsory module(s)

During the final year, the only compulsory module is the year-long final research project, which culiminates in a dissertation.

Optional modules

Current details of optional modules for the second year and third year may be found Here. This list is subject to change.

Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study. These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available

Your learning

Teaching is usually conducted through lectures and seminars delivered by the teaching staff of the UCL Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy. Lectures are typically accompanied by seminars that enable an in-depth and participatory discussion to the topics each week.

Covid-19 contact hours on campus
In Term One, while campus will be open, all the learning activity for the core content of your modules will take place online – including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By “core content” we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. In addition to these online contact hours, we will be offering some face-to-face educational activities for students on campus, and we will provide alternative online activities for those students unable to join us on campus. These activities, which will include contact with academic staff, will be relevant to your programme of study may include seminars, academic and employability skills workshops, small-group or individual tutorials, lab and practice-based teaching. UK Government safety guidelines will limit the amount of ‘in person’ activity we can offer and while it will vary from programme to programme, is likely to be no more than 1-2 hours per week. This will vary across departments, particularly if your programme includes laboratory/practical/studio/workshop sessions. You will be updated with more specific details as they are available and your timetable will indicate which sessions will be on campus and which will be available online.
Communicating further Covid-19 mitigation plans
We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention, to make sure UCL is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it becomes necessary to make further changes to your programme as a result of new guidance/regulations, UCL and your department will communicate these as soon as this becomes clear. We will keep you up-to-date with our plans throughout term one, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances. Please ensure that you keep in touch with your department by regularly checking your UCL emails, Moodle courses, the Coronavirus FAQs for Students page and any UCL online groups or social media you follow.


Assessment includes essays, problem sets, examinations, presentations, literature reviews, policy briefs, and a final research project, culminating in a dissertation. 

Covid-19 assessment updates
There may be changes to the format of assessments for modules in this programme due to COVID-19. These will be summarised for each module on the module catalogue from 17 August 2020.   If any changes to assessments need to be made during the academic year due to updates in government guidance, these will be communicated to you as soon as possible from your department.    

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: Politics and International Relations BSc.


Our goal is to produce graduates who can undertake independent research on complex questions, collecting and analysing data and other forms of evidence; who can express complicated ideas clearly and communicate them effectively in speech and writing; and who can construct and defend reasoned arguments about politics and public policy.

The BSc in Politics and International Relations will equip you with a range of skills. Your training in independent research, data analysis, writing, and logical reasoning -- alongside the breadth of knowledge you will acquire -- will be valued by employers across the public and private sectors. 

Alumni of the UCL Department of Political Science have gone on to careers working for the civil service, members of parliament, domestic and international NGOs, management consultancies and other private sector organisations, news organisations, and think-tanks, as well as undertaking postgraduate study.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2020/21 academic year. The UK/EU fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2020/21 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

UK/EU students
£9,250 (2020/21)
Overseas students
£21,260 (2020/21)

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.


Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.

Departmental scholarships

Funding opportunities relevant to the department may appear in this section when they are available. Please check carefully or confirm with the programme contact to ensure they apply to this degree programme.

The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Application and next steps

Your application

We are looking for applicants who have a passion for thinking critically about the world in which we live. We value applicants who express themselves clearly and without jargon, and who have a proven track record of academic success and engagement in their community.

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 2020


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

Page last modified on 8 October 2020