History, Politics and International Relations BA (Hons) module details

Year one | Year two | Year three

Year one

Block 1: Politics, People and Place

This module introduces you to the international political economy of everyday life and considers the impact of national and international policy decisions on local communities and community empowerment and engagement.  You will explore Leicester and identify how different intersections of identity (e.g. class, ethnicity, religion, gender, education, location) interact to determine experiences and the ability and/or willingness to engage, influence, and belong. You will engage, firsthand, with issues of power, place and social value in their day-to-day manifestations.


Portfolio, 100%: You will produce a portfolio, with multimedia, exploring the themes of the module. Examples of portfolio tasks could include a collection of group photos, an individual research interview or an individual photo essay.

Block 2: Empire, nation and revolution in the 19th century

You will explore the role of nations, empires and revolutions in 19th-century global history, developing an understanding of these “building blocks” of modern history. Topics covered will include revolutions both in Europe and the “Atlantic World”, the rise of the nation-state as a unit of political organisation, and the expansion of empires (European and non-European) in the “long” nineteenth century. You will also develop an understanding of different historiographical approaches and an awareness of the diverse types of historical questions.


Secondary source analysis, 35%: You will write a comparison of two journal articles, analysing their historiographical and methodological approaches.

Essay, 65%:  You will write an essay focusing on the history of either nations, revolutions or empires, and analyse examples from at least two case studies.

Block 3: Global Challenges: Politics and Social Policy

Contemporary politics and international relations is marked by an acceleration in social and political challenges associated with the pace and nature of capitalist development. This module builds on previously introduced ideological perspectives to understand the material drivers of contemporary challenges, from sustainability, poverty and inequality and inclusion. It introduces you to these challenges from a critical political economy perspective. You will learn about different contemporary challenges, as well as constraints and opportunities for their resolution


Essay, 100%: You will write an essay exploring the themes of the module.

Block 4: Ideology, War and Society in the 20th century

You will examine the centrality of revolution, war and ideology in the twentieth century, especially upon the evolution of European societies, focusing especially upon the years from the First World War until the collapse of communism in 1989 in a global context. The module explores key ideologies such as nationalism, liberalism, communism and fascism and examines economy, society and politics, including the impact of revolution, war and ideology upon everyday life. You will be introduced to key historiographical approaches which have shaped historical writing over the past two centuries, such as the Whig interpretation, Marxist approaches: and postmodernism.


Historiographical essay, 40%: You will write an essay.

Seen exam, 60%: You will answer 2 exam questions.

Year two

Block 1: Global Cold War

You will develop an understanding of the roots of the Cold War and how it was played out in specific theatres such as Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America between 1945 and 1991. The module explores a variety of historical topics, which might include global geopolitics, sport and diplomacy, the nuclear arms race, the space race, and culture and society in the Cold War era. It also explores the ideological underpinnings of the Cold War, the role of propaganda as a weapon of the conflict and how these ideologies functioned in practice in different societies. You will expand your understanding of historiography, investigate competing interpretations of the Cold War and assess the global legacy of conflict.


Weekly mini quiz, 10%: An online quiz covering different regions, events and historiographies.

Group project, 40%: You will work as a group to produce a report, each focusing on one specific conflict of the Cold War.

Seen exam, 50%: You will answer one exam question on the themes and contexts of the Cold War.

Block 2: Select to study one specialism from the list below:

Multicultural Societies in History

This module explores the centrality of multiculturalism and ethnicity in the development of the modern world. Focusing mainly on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, you will tackle themes that might include theories and criticisms of the concept of multiculturalism, histories and experiences of migration, theories of diaspora, the social and economic status of minorities, the ways in which ethnic, racial, migrant, religious or other types of minorities interact with the dominant society and culture, and the representation of these experiences in sports and visual culture. You will examine case studies which may include the Jewish community in Britain, the global African diaspora, the origins of multicultural Britain, among others.


Primary source analysis, 40%: You will analyse one primary source related to the topics of the module.

Essay, 60%: You will answer one essay question.


Political Research in Action

You will discover the approaches and methods that shape the creation of empirical knowledge in politics and international relations. You wil gain an understanding of current research methods and the ways these methods are applied in contemporary politics and international relations research. The module considers the characteristics of quantitative and qualitative approaches, and the comparative strengths and limitations of these approaches. You will develop practical skills in research methods that can be applied in your future academic and professional work.


Portfolio, 100%: You will produce a portfolio which for example could include an individual research report critically analysing methods of published work or an individual statistical analysis paper.

Block 3: Select to study one specialism from the list below:

Contemporary International Relations Theory

This module is designed to explore contemporary debates over what the ‘international’ is, and how it may be theorised. You will focus on a wide array of popular contemporary theoretical approaches, from postcolonial and feminist global social theory, to Marxist and poststructuralist theories. You will reflect on the roots of these international theories in ‘domestic’ and normative political thought, on their epistemological commitments, and on the connections and distinctions between traditions of international theory emanating from different geographical, social and historical contexts. This discussion is complemented by an introduction to the specific sub-field of international theory known as International Relations (IR) Theory, its history and its ‘traditional’ realist, liberal and constructivist approaches, as well as its efforts to incorporate critical theories into its disciplinary framework.  You will learn about ‘state of the art’ debates and cutting-edge approaches in international theory, in relation to key specific issues including terrorism/counter- terrorism and ecology.


Portfolio, 100%: You will produce a portfolio related to the themes of the module.


Political Theory: Why Big Ideas Matter

The world is made up of ideas. Brexit hinged on a narrative of sovereignty, yet people disagreed on what sovereignty meant. Equality is the watchword of many political movements, but what are the different types of equality and which ones do we prioritise? Who owns your data? When do natural disasters become human-made?

These, and many other questions, are asked in this module. The reason for this is simple: political theory starts with the question, ‘how should we organise our political communities’, or more simply: ‘how should we live together?’ This immediately leads to more questions.  Who is the we in this, and who isn’t?  What is a ‘political community?’ Big Ideas Matter, because they have shaped the present and will shape the future.


Presentation, 40%: You will deliver an 8 minute presentation.

Essay, 60%: You will write an essay.

Block 4: Continue with the specialism selected in Block 2:

Investigating the Past

This module will introduce you to a range of historical sources and research methods used in project work to prepare you for your final year dissertation. You will examine core themes in history and the sources/methods associated with them which may include maps; economic data; census; national and local government records; diplomatic and military records; press and media; records of education, health, poverty/charity and criminality; church and religious history; oral history; visual sources. Your learning will be enriched by visits to archives and relevant research depositories.


Primary source analysis, 40%: You will investigate an individually chosen topic through a selection of primary sources.

Project portfolio, 60%: You will produce a portfolio comprised of an annotated bibliography of relevant secondary works, a list of relevant primary sources and a detailed project proposal.


Not in Westminster: National and Local Politics

Far too often, we think about politics as a set of remote processes that happens in the corridors of Westminster, far away from our day to day life.  This module seeks to challenge this, focusing on the ‘everyday’ dimension of politics and assessing how/why local democracy matters.

You will discover the key principles of the ‘British political tradition’ and then challenge them by exploring what’s happening beyond ‘the Westminster bubble’ and central/formal institutions/loci of power. You will cover key topics and issues such as multi-level governance, devolution, local government, democratic innovations and community power. The module focuses on the tension between structures and agency, looking at why local democracy matters and what we – through individual, group, and community action – can do to affect and improve in politics.

You will have an opportunity to experience local democracy firsthand, through a range of activities, fieldtrips and engagement with local democracy institutions, groups, activists and practitioners.


Portfolio, 100%: You will produce a portfolio which for example could include an individual reflection on fieldtrips and experiential learning or an individual campaign or project.

Year three

Block 1: Culture, Society and Conflict

This module explores the social, political and cultural aspects of global conflicts focusing on case studies such as the German home front during the Second World War, Britain and the home front, everyday life under conflicts through cultural objects and sources such as the Mass Observation archive and the development of conflict photography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You will have the opportunity to engage with different historiographical traditions on the cultural and social interpretations of conflicts as well as different types of sources.


Primary source essay, 50%: You will analyse several sources related to a case study

Podcast or video, 40%: You will choose to produce either a podcast or video of 5-10 minutes. You will work in pairs to examine one of the module themes and bring in primary source analysis.

Content notes, 10%: You will write to introduce your podcast or video.

Block 2: Select to study one specialism from the list below:

Independence Movements

This module introduces you to the history of anti-imperialist independence movements and the creation of new nation-states. It explores the ideologies and histories of independence movements, post-colonial conflicts, nation-building processes as well as the social and economic legacies of imperial rule in the post-colonial world. You will explore specific case studies which might include South Asia, Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Balkans. You will develop an understanding of the ideologies of resistance against imperial rule, as well as decolonisation processes, and critically reflect on these.


Thematic essay, 40%: You will write an analysis of the ideologies of independence movements, such as anti-imperialism, nationalism, or self-determination, paying particular attention to the historiographical approaches which historians have employed in their writing about these movements.

Regional portfolio, 60%: You will choose one region or country’s nation-building and post-colonial legacies to explore in more depth, building a portfolio comprising responses to several distinctive essay prompts and primary source analyses.


Contentious Politics in the City

By 2050, it is estimated that 75% of the world population will be living in urban areas. This phenomenon brings centre stage the politics and the processes for democratising urban spaces. This module focuses on the challenges of governing urban spaces and the tensions existing to democratise them. It critically explores how cities respond to different aspects of political economy: from the development of urban capitalism to the different relationships between the urban state and society actors throughout several policy areas and cities comprising both the global north and south. The module explores key research themes with the Department of Politics, People and Place to equip you with a critical knowledge of the intersections of urban studies and governance, austerity, racialised inequalities and knowledge of these across different urban global contexts. You will have the opportunity to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners.


Presentation, 40%: You will deliver a 12 minute presentation.

Essay, 60%: You will write an essay.

Block 3: Tackling Global Crises

You will build on your existing knowledge to develop collective policy proposals through negotiation and collaboration to resolve a range of contemporary international crises. Focusing on issues that may include global development, international trade, corruption, global conflict and (in)security, migration, and the environment, you will be provided with a series of simulation exercises in which you will play the role of different stakeholders within a relevant international institution. You will be introduced to key practices and structures of these institutions, and undertake independent, collaborative research on your assigned stakeholder role and interests to develop policy positions for negotiation in the roleplay scenario. You will have the opportunity to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners.


Portfolio, 100%: You will produce a portfolio which for example could include an individual repot on the scenario or an individual reflection on the roleplay.

Block 4/ Year long: Select to study one specialism from the list below:

History Dissertation

The dissertation provides an opportunity for sustained work of an independent nature in an area of personal interest, allowing the exploration a particular issue, topic or problem in considerable depth. You will define and analyse a question or problem, or test a hypothesis, arising from your personal historical interest. The dissertation provides an opportunity to look beyond the textbooks and other secondary sources and to get to grips with primary evidence including textual, material or visual sources. You will develop key skills in research, critical thinking and writing.


Presentation, 10%:You will present a 10 minute summary of your work in progress to peers and a member of the History team, enabling you to receive feedback on your ideas and research plan.

Dissertation, 90%: A piece of writing on a topic related to your own historical interests.


Politics and Interational Relations Project

Your studies will culminate in a final year project which comprises an extended piece of work which could be a dissertation or real-life project. You will work with a supervisor to develop, negotiate and agree on an area of focus related to your own interests. Those wishing to pursue a traditional dissertation are required to undertake a research project, which may form the basis of an extended essay, or include primary research. Alternatively, you can undertake a real-life learning project informed by academic literature and evidence.