Politics and International Relations

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1 Undergraduate Politics and International Relations Politics is one of the most important of all human activities, and its study is central to the social sciences. Central to the study of politics and international relations is a consideration of the problems that humans face in living together in organised societies and the solutions that they have attempted. Politics and international relations is concerned with how societies make decisions, such as about governmental power or the allocation of resources. It involves considering how and why different decisions are made and how they might be changed over time. The subject matter varies from a traditional focus on individual governments to wider and more abstract issues such as the nature of power and justice; there is often no agreement about these topics. Examining diverse views adds to the interest. Why study Politics and International Relations at Bristol? Politics at Bristol involves a wide yet detailed introduction to these themes, including modern political institutions in specific countries, contemporary international relations, analysis of political behaviour, and philosophical discussion of continuing controversies in the discipline. It provides the opportunity to analyse politics in many different contexts and to consider different interpretations. If you are interested in these kinds of questions, have an enquiring mind, and are keen to engage with both theoretical and practical issues in politics, you should apply to study politics and international relations at Bristol. Our courses are acknowledged to be among the best in the UK, attaining a score of 23 out of 24 in the most recent Quality Assurance Agency review. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 75% of our work was judged to be of international quality. Staff research interests and expertise are at the cutting edge of the discipline in a variety of studies, including international relations, European politics, gender, international development, British politics, and international security. The School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) brings together internationally recognised expertise in three interrelated areas of study. This provides you with unique opportunities to benefit from courses offered across the school, and to participate in a vibrant research community. Thirty permanent members of staff and a number of regular visiting academics teach on the politics courses. This is an optimum size allowing for a wide range of units to be taught. However, the school is not so large as to be impersonal; instead the school is friendly and social and provides individual teaching and attention. For these reasons, Bristol is an ideal university at which to study politics.

2 What will I study? The school offers Single Honours BSc Politics and International Relations and ten Joint Honours courses. Single Honours course BSc Politics and International Relations, three years Joint Honours courses BA Politics and French, four years BA Politics and German, four years BA Politics and Italian, four years BA Politics and Portuguese, four years BA Politics and Russian, four years BA Politics and Spanish, four years BSc Politics and Sociology, three years BSc Economics and Politics, three years BSc Philosophy and Politics, three years BSc Social Policy and Politics, three years L200 RL12 RL22 RL32 RL52 RL72 RL42 LL23 LL12 VL52 LL42 Year one Our first-year units are suitable both for those who have already studied some politics and for those who have not. Our core (mandatory) units comprise Political Concepts, Introduction to International Relations, Comparative Government and Politics, and Approaches to the Study of Political Science. These provide an introduction to key issues in politics, including concepts such as power, the state, freedom and citizenship; political institutions and practice in a range of different countries; theories and controversies in international relations; and how we go about researching and studying the political. Single Honours Politics and International Relations students will also be able to choose open units from other schools within the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, as well as from Geography and Historical Studies. Joint Honours students will generally take additional mandatory units from their joint degree school. Year two The second year introduces you to the major subfields of the discipline (political theory, world politics, political systems). Options include units such as The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa, Contemporary Political Theory and UK Politics. Joint Honours students will divide their options between those from politics and those available in their joint school. Year three The final year offers a wide choice from a changing menu of more specialist units to cater for most academic preferences, for example, the Politics of the European Union, Peace building, the Politics of Gender or Critical Security Studies. Single Honours students will write a 10,000-word dissertation, which provides the opportunity to concentrate on a single topic of special interest. Joint Honours students can choose to take the dissertation as an option. Teaching methods In the first two years, teaching is by seminar (about ten students) and lecture ( students). In the final year, teaching in most units is by seminar (with a maximum of 18 students). First- and second-year seminars are one hour in duration, with two hour lectures; third-year seminars are just under three hours long. Seminars give you the opportunity to clarify, consolidate and develop your learning in discussion with your peers and with the guidance of an expert tutor. Teaching methods may include formal lectures; seminars; student presentations; formal debates; role plays; and field visits. Assessment You will be assessed through a variety of means appropriate to the specific courses. Types of assessment include short essays; research papers; presentations; and examinations. You will receive substantial written and oral feedback on all assessed material. Further information about all our

3 units, including free access to our syllabus library can be found at: bristol.ac.uk/spais/current/ currentug/ugunitguidelib. What support is available? The personal tutoring system is very important to us. It is the key mechanism for academic support for students on all our undergraduate courses. You will be assigned a personal tutor within the school, whether you are studying Single or Joint Honours Politics, who will work with you throughout your studies at Bristol. Tutors offer general advice and support within the University environment and deal with issues that may affect your work. Personal tutors will take an overview of your academic trajectory and offer advice accordingly. All teaching staff also have two office hours a week during term-time during which they are available to meet with you. This gives you an opportunity to make use of all the expertise available in the school, even if you are not currently being taught by a particular tutor. In addition, there is an active Staff- Student Liaison Committee, which meets regularly to discuss matters of mutual concern. What s life like as a student? Politics students organise their own time around a range of activities. You are expected to spend a considerable amount of time working independently in addition to formal contact hours. This may include researching in the library, preparing for presentations and classes, participating in school events, talking to your tutors during their office hours, or working on your essays or dissertation. During your time with us you will also have the opportunity to attend regular optional events and activities, including reading groups, visiting speakers and school research seminars. All things considered, we recommend a working week of 40 hours for our undergraduate students, inclusive of teaching contact hours. What are my career prospects? A degree from the University of Bristol is highly valued by employers. In our most recent survey of graduates, 76% of Bristol politics and international relations undergraduates were in graduate employment or engaged in further study six months after completing their degree course. Our graduates enter employment across a wide variety of careers, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, International Non-Governmental Organisations (such as OXFAM), finance, law, the media, education and research, and public and voluntary sector work. Popular areas of further study include the law conversion course and Master degrees in British Politics, International Relations, Journalism, Management and European Business. There are many skills of a broad application that will be developed or enhanced by the process of academic study in politics and international relations. You will learn good work habits by operating in a deadline-driven environment and having to judge competing demands. You will learn to work independently, as well as how to access a variety of information when required. Seminars will develop skills in meeting participation and in leading discussion when making presentations; some of these are done in teams or groups to improve teamworking skills. You will enhance your IT, communication, learning and interpersonal skills and you will develop your ability to make critical and incisive judgements and reach evaluative conclusions. All these will stand you in good stead when you enter the world of work.

4 Is there any advice you can give me on making my application? As well as predicted or achieved A-level grades, we pay particularly close attention to the personal statement and reference on the UCAS application. We are looking for signs of individual engagement with the political as well as empirical evidence of a commitment to the subject that goes beyond the A-level (or equivalent) syllabus. Interviews are used only occasionally, for example, for mature applicants. Successful candidates tend to be those applicants that demonstrate independent, critical engagement with the themes and controversies that underpin the discipline. This is not simply a case of describing the issues you are interested in or listing the books you have read (though relevant reading or research beyond the A-level syllabus is strongly encouraged). It is about addressing the why question. What is it specifically and explicitly that so enthuses you about the debates you engage with, the books you read and the ideas you discuss? In most successful applicant cases, there is a clear sense of the applicant s own intellectual journey and how this has forged their interest in and passion for the subject. In all cases a sense of individual commitment to the study of politics is key. A personal statement should be just that a personal reflection on what it is that interests you about the subject and why. We are not looking for a model answer and use of templates is strongly discouraged. Generic or formulaic statements are rarely successful. Can I participate in an exchange programme abroad? The School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies has exchange links with universities and colleges in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong. Single Honours students can go abroad in their second year, subject to certain restrictions. Arrangements for the year abroad are made in the first year. Normally your time abroad will be part of your degree course. The marks obtained will be translated and will count towards your degree in the same way as marks obtained in Bristol. If you are applying for Joint Honours Politics courses, you should ensure your discussion addresses both elements of your proposed degree course. Strong applications will also generally be bolstered by a range of additional activities that might broadly be described as political. These might include involvement with a political party, local council, activist group or campaign, or particularly relevant gap year work.

5 Entry data Typical offer for BSc Politics and International Relations Please visit bristol.ac.uk/ug14-politics for Joint Honours and other qualifications A-levels Typical offer AAA (contextual offer AAB ) to include an essay based subject AS-levels At least one subject must have essay-writing as a core means of assessment IB Diploma 37 points (contextual offer 35 ) with 6, 6, 6 at Higher level Access Pass Access to HE Diploma with at least 30 credits at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit IELTS 6.5 with minimum of 6.0 in each part GCSE No specific subjects required Selection UCAS form Part-time study Yes, typically six years, daytime, weekday teaching Deferred applications Welcomed Related courses Economics, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Sociology, Social Policy The University assesses applications on their individual merit and in accordance with a set of clearly defined principles as described at bristol. ac.uk/ug-admissions-principles. Admissions statements for all courses are available from bristol. ac.uk/ug-admissions-statements. A contextual offer (UK only) might be given when the educational context of the applicant is taken into account. The University is committed to ensuring that it attracts highly motivated students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our definition of educational disadvantage is reviewed annually and each case is considered on an individual basis.

6 Contacts School information For more information about Politics and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, please visit: bristol.ac.uk/spais/prospective/prospectiveugs/ ugt-politicsprogs University guide to the city of Bristol bristol.ac.uk/citybristol International Advice and Support Advice and Support for International Students Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/international/studentsupport bristol.ac.uk/spais Useful contact information Admissions Undergraduate Admissions Office Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0) Accommodation Office Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/accommodation Disability Services Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/disability-services If you need all or part of this publication in an accessible format (eg in Braille, in larger print or on CD), please contact Undergraduate Customer Relations and Student Marketing Tel: +44 (0) Student Funding Office Tel: +44 (0) bristol.ac.uk/studentfunding Photographic credit: Nick Smith, William King, Destination Bristol; other photographs University of Bristol. The information contained in this leaflet is correct at the time of printing (June 2013). Courses and facilities are liable to alter or be withdrawn at the University s discretion.

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