An Introduction for Undergraduates
Joint Honours degrees in Politics and Economics have been offered in Durham since 1946. Subsequently further Joint Honours degrees were established and, in 1973, a Single Honours degree in Politics was instituted.
The main strengths of the School are: political thought, public policy making, European politics (including British and American politics), and international relations. Students have the opportunity to concentrate on one or more of these areas in their second and third years.
At present, the usual conditional offer made to candidates applying to read either Single or Joint Honours in Politics, or Single Honours International Relations is AAA, and PPE is A*AA at A level (see table for other offers). It is not necessary to have taken Politics at A level to be considered for a place. Qualifications other than A levels are accepted, e.g. Scottish Highers or the International Baccalaureate. The School of Government and International affairs do not interview UCAS applicants. Mature students are also welcome to apply, and their qualifications are considered on an individual basis and they may be asked to attend for interview.
Modules with large numbers (mainly in the first and second years) are taught by means of lectures backed up by regular tutorials. Smaller modules (mainly in the third year) are normally taught by means of seminars. In all cases, there is ample opportunity for discussion in small groups.
First Year Studies
All first year Single and Joint Honours Politics students are required to take three modules, namely,
- Ideas and Ideologies
- Democratic Political Systems
and one of the following:
- International Security, Interdependence and Organisation
- Global Regions in International Relations
- Theory and History in International Relations
These modules are intended to lay the foundation for more specialised work in the second and third years.
Students are also required to take three modules selected from related fields of study, e.g. Economics, and Philosophy if Joint Honours students (see the Preliminary Honours Faculty Handbooks).
Single Honours Politics, and Politics (Year Abroad) students are required to take three of the SGIA modules mentioned above plus a further three SGIA modules; OR two further SGIA modules and one module from another department; OR one further SGIA module, a module from another department and a module from the Centre for Foreign Language Study.
Single Honours International Relations students are required to take the three International Relations modules named above, together with three further SGIA modules; OR two further SGIA modules and one module from another department; OR one further SGIA module, a module from another department and a module from the Centre for Foreign Language Study.
Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) students are required to take Ideas and Ideologies plus one of the other Politics modules named above, they are also required to take Ethics and Values and Knowledge and Reality taught by the Philosophy Department, and Elements of Economics and Economic Methods taught by the Economics Department.
At the end of the first year, there is a qualifying examination in each of the six modules taken. Successful candidates may then proceed to the two year Final Honours programme. See further information on Preliminary Honours and SGIA first year modules.
Transfers - to ensure the quality of student experience, we have a target quota for each of our degree courses and winning a place on these degree courses is very competitive. It is possible to change degree programmes, but there is no automatic right to do so. The factors that we take into account are academic merit as well as availability of places on particular programmes.
If you wish to change one or more modules, or even the degree programme you are studying within or across departments, you must seek advice from the department(s) concerned at the earliest opportunity. Although we do our best to help students who wish to change module(s) or programme, it becomes progressively more difficult to change as time goes on, because of the amount of work which you will have missed. You will also normally need to satisfy any pre-requisites for the module(s) or programme to which you wish to change. If you are permitted to change modules or programme it is your responsibility to catch up the work which you have missed The factors that we take into account are academic merit as well as availability of places on particular programmes.
'In-year requests for transfers in Year 1, ie in the first 4 weeks of term or prior to the end of Year 1 will not be supported by the 'receiving' department, except where students have met the standard offer if they had applied through UCAS for that course
Transfers from one degree programme to another may be possible at the end of the first year, subject to the availability of places in the receiving programme, the approval of both Heads of the Departments concerned, if a joint honous programme, Faculty approval and providing students have passed their Preliminary Honours examinations.
Colleges and Societies
Students at Durham belong to one of the colleges and societies, which have their own distinctive characters and offer many opportunities for social and academic contacts, in addition to providing accommodation. There is no requirement for candidates applying to Durham to specify a college or society, but they may if they so choose.
Careers for Politics/International Relations Graduates
Durham graduates have an enviable record of employment, and those graduating in Politics are no exception. In recent years, Politics/International Relations graduates have taken a wide variety of jobs in many different fields including law, accountancy, financial services, manufacturing industry, newspaper and TV journalism, publishing and public service, including the civil and armed services. So far as we know, only one Politics graduate from Durham has entered Parliament.
The School of Government and International Affairs has an active programme of graduate studies leading to the degrees of MA, MPhil and PhD.
There are also taught MA courses in:
- Politics and International Relations (Political Theory)
- International Relations
- International Studies
- Research Methods in Politics and International Relations
also MSc programmes in:
- Global Politics
- Defence, Development and Diplomacy
- Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding
- Arab World Studies
All programmes comprise seminar work, summative essay submissions and a dissertation with some modules being examined. See School postgraduate web pages for further information.