Politics and International Relations BA (Hons) module details

Year one | Year two | Year three

Year one

Block one: Politics, People & 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 develop a range of skills, including teamwork and cooperation, digital capability, and information literacy; how to identify, scope, plan, gather, evaluate, manage and present information – including academic referencing. In addition, you will build knowledge and application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the concept of social value.  

Block two: Ideas and Change in Politics and International Relations

This module introduces key ideologies, explaining their origins, concerns and influence on processes of political change at different levels (from the local to the global). It provides the basis for level four modules on global challenges and democracy and more advanced studies in political ideas and social change.

Block three: Global Challenges: Politics and Social Policy

Contemporary politics and international relations are 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. You will challenge these from a critical political economy perspective. You will learn about various contemporary challenges, constraints and opportunities for their resolution.

Block four: Democracy in Times of Crisis

Democracy has developed in symbiosis with political and economic crises, often in resolution to them. Contemporarily there are vivid debates about the health and future of democracy, which is perceived to be under threat from secular developments in global politics and economics, leading to authoritarianism and declining trust in democratic processes. This module examines the relationship between crisis and the evolution of democratic systems, using historical examples to understand the drivers of the democratic expansion. It then considers the contemporary state of democracy, analyse the challenges it faces, and the potential for further democratisation in the 21st century. 

You will study the potential for the diversification and expansion of democratic processes and engage with various contemporary issues, including competing for democratic theories, economic crises, migration and cultural conflict, authoritarian populism and democratic backsliding, and the impact of new technologies on democracy.

Year two

Block one: Making Public Policy

This module provides you with an understanding of the application of politics in different scenarios. You will be allowed to participate in projects collaborating with DMU Local or external bodies. The aim is to enhance your engagement in politics, public policy, and other spheres, building upon volunteering undertaken during your first year. 

The module aims to enhance your employability skills by providing opportunities to develop your team-working and project management skills. The project is an innovative task in which students are encouraged to link theory and practice in a way that has a demonstrable positive impact on the broader community. Students are offered a range of scenarios where they take responsibility for designing responses. These can be linked with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

You will consider the characteristics of politics through how decisions are made and how management and decision making operate in a politics related setting. In so doing, you will understand the nature of policymaking, consider the characteristics of the policymaking environment, and examine the nature of the scenario's activity through self-appraisal and reflective analysis.

The teaching team and colleagues from DMU Local and/or other external agencies work with you on the module to develop appropriate responses within their given scenario. 

Block two: Political Research in Action

This module critically introduces the approaches and methods that shape the creation of empirical knowledge in politics and international relations. The module advances the significance of the relationship between empirical knowledge and the methods used for investigation. The module provides an up-to-date understanding of research methods and how 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. It teaches you practical skills in research methods that can be applied in your future academic and professional work, thereby enhancing your employability.

Block three: Politics pathway

Political Theory: Why Big Ideas Matter

The world is made up of ideas. Brexit hinged on a sovereignty narrativeyet 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? What is intersectional politics? Is the personal political, or should we keep politics out of some things? 

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 we in this, and who isn't? What is a 'political community?' For that matter, what is the 'political'? Big Ideas Matter because they have shaped the present and will shape the future.

This module teaches you to think analyticallycritically, and creatively about the principles and ideas behind our lawspoliticsstructuressystems and institutions. Students learn the connection between theory and 'the real world' and how it applies to different spaces and people.


Block three: International Relations pathway

Contemporary International Relations Theory

The module introduces students to a wide range of approaches to theorising the international. 

The module explores the necessity of theory for understanding and explaining key contemporary issues and events in international politics. It then explores debates over what constitutes 'the international' and how it should be studied. The bulk of the module content focuses 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 international theories in 'domestic' and normative political thought, epistemological commitments, and 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, and its efforts to incorporate critical theories into its disciplinary framework. 

The latter part of the module explores 'state of the art' debates and cutting-edge approaches in international theory concerning specific issues, including terrorism/counter-terrorism and ecology.

Block four: Politics pathway

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.

The module starts with an overview of 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 (e.g. covering fundamental topics and issues such as multi-level governance, devolution, local government, democratic innovations, community power, etc.). Finally, the module focuses on the tension between structures and agency, looking at why local democracy matters and what we can do to affect and improve politics through individual, group, and community action.

You will have an opportunity to experience local democracy first-hand through various activities, field trips and engagement with local democracy institutions, groups, activists and practitioners.


Block four: International Relations pathway

Global Political Economy: Gender, Race and Class

What is the relation between the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and the election of Donald Trump as thepresident of the USA? Is there any relation between the contemporary manifestations of climatechange and prevailing economic paradigms? Was the impact of the Covid pandemic the same acrossdifferent geographies and communities globally; if not, how do we explain the difference? Is politicscompletely removed from the monetary policy-making of the independent Bank of England?

This module aims to equip students with the knowledge and lens through which to answer questionssuch as those above and make sense of the complex ways economics and politics interact on a globalscale. Rooted in the tradition of political economy and its critique, Global Political Economy can bedefined as the study of power and politics (who gets what, when, why and how) in the global economy.Starting with the constitution of global capitalism, students are introduced to both conventional andalternative theories and approaches to global political economy and examine key topics and issues ofcontemporary capitalism, including finance, trade, production, social reproduction, environment, work,development, and governance of capitalism. There is a particular emphasis on unevenness andinequalities in contemporary capitalism through the notions of class, race, and gender and the dynamics of Global North-Global South relations.

Year three

Block one: Politics pathway

The Politics of the Americas

This module takes a thematic approach to the study of the Americas, offering a comparative examination of key areas in the north and south of the continent. A political, historical, social, cultural and international focus enables you to engage and consider government and the governed from various perspectives.

From bureaucratic corridors of power to activism and street protests, all levels of political participation are discussed via a theoretical and practical lens.

You are encouraged to consider different and sometimes conflicting participants in the political process. This may cover multiple levels, from national leadership in times of foreign policy crisis to sub regional political coalitions in their fight against US imperialism to grassroots and international activism bringing 'bottom-up' change.

The module allows you to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners, for example, via University research seminar series and events.


Block one: International Relations pathway

Global Inequalities

This module focuses on the global dynamics of inequality in different countries worldwide and the structuring conditions of international politics and the global economy. It focuses on inequality in specific world regions, for example, in the global south, and on thematic areas and comparisons including, but not limited to, racial capitalism, global labour and social movements, social reproduction and the global politics of care, and global politics of development.

This module's emphasis is on how the global constitutes the entry point for our understanding of contemporary inequalities and on identifying transformative pathways beyond them. It allows you to engage with different theoretical perspectives on inequality – including Gramsci, Nussbaum, feminist theory, settler-colonialism and more – to understand different worldviews on the causes, consequences, and solutions to global inequalities.

The module allows you to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners, for example, via University research seminar series and events.

Block two: Politics pathway

Decolonising Politics

This module focuses on the growing canon of work around decolonising politics. The module will address the legacies of empire and imperialism and their continued impact on politics today. The module draws on and critically examines the contemporary intersections of colonialism and colonial legacy on the experiences of marginalised communities with increasingly diverse societies, and the bodies of theory associated with these often-politicised lived realities, including queer theory, disability theory, black feminisms and intersectionality, and critical race theory.

The module will continue to draw on common themes throughout the programme, such as the centrality of place in the decolonisation of politics through the explicit focus on national case studies and how these address the lasting impacts of colonialism both inside and outside of the former colonial metropole. The module also problematises notions of decolonising within the frame of current political, social and cultural debates.

Additionally, the module invites students to develop a critical understanding of how colonial legacies impact the political representation of minorities and policies around minoritized communities across a range of political settings, both at the structural and interpersonal levels.

The module ties into DMU initiatives such as Decolonising DMU, EDI groups and the extracurricular student-led anti-racist reading group. The module will allow students to speak with leading scholarly experts and practitioners in the field of decolonising politics.


Block two: International Relations pathway

Security, Peace and Conflict

In a world marked by rapid geopolitical shifts and evolving threats, understanding security, peace, andconflict has never been more critical. This module offers a comprehensive exploration of the intricate landscape of security in today’s world. It underscores the increasing integration of security at varying levels of analysis, spanning from the global to the individual, which has given rise to a host of new security challenges. Students engage in a thorough examination of the transformation of war, security, and peace; analysing a wide range of conflict constellations, including civil wars, counterinsurgencies, and counterterrorist campaigns. The module also sheds light on the emerging challenges presented by information warfare, cyber threats, and hybrid warfare. To grasp the complex, dynamic and contested global security landscape, the module introduces students to both traditional and non-traditional/critical theories of international security. Through hands-on learning experiences such as simulations and role-playing, students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of international security and develop the practical and industry-relevant skills necessary to tackle these contemporary challenges effectively. Upon completion, students are well-equipped to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of security and peace in the 21st century.

Block three: Politics pathway

Sustainable Futures

This module explores the most urgent challenge facing humanity: transforming our economic, political and social systems to ensure long-term sustainability. It focuses on how we understand the politics of such transformations, how environmental problems are managed (or not) through the political system and how alternative perspectives are articulated, advocated and accommodated.

The module explores the challenges of the transition and transformation towards sustainable living. It then engages students in the critical evaluation of alternative approaches to sustainability, exposing competing models of the politics of transition, alternative visions of the public good, and different perspectives on our relations with nature and other species. 

It then examines how we build progressive coalitions for change, investigating current debates on contemporary environmental issues such as transport and mobility, food production, health and air pollution, energy futures, biodiversity and the commons, and alternative forms of consumption. Finally, you are encouraged to critically reflect on how current policies and alternatives move the sustainability agenda forward.

The module allows students to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners, for example, via University research seminar series and events.


Block three: International Relations pathway

Tackling Global Crises

This module allows you to apply learning from across the International Relations pathway, developing 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 are provided with a series of simulation exercises in which they play the role of different stakeholders within a relevant international institution. 

Learning activities focus on introducing you to key practices and structures of these institutions while they undertake independent, collaborative research on their assigned stakeholder role and interests to develop policy positions for negotiation in the roleplay scenario.

The module allows students to participate in and hear from external research experts, politicians and/or practitioners, for example, via University research seminar series and events.

Block four: Politics and International Relations Project

This module offers a capstone experience, culminating in an individual final year project. It comprises an extended piece of work conventionally seen as a dissertation. 

Other forms of extended coursework could be applied, for example, a politics or international relations real-life project.

You are encouraged to work with a supervisor to develop, negotiate and agree on an area of focus and project feasibility. This relationship and scoping work develop during Block 3 and culminates in the final project delivery in Block 4.

If you wish to pursue a traditional dissertation, you must undertake a research project, which may form the basis of an extended essay or include primary research, subject to ethical approval.

Other options for real-life learning projects are possible in the module. However, these also need to be informed by academic literature and evidence.

This final module is the culmination of the degree and offers opportunities to support students in their next steps beyond the qualification, for example, further study and/or working in politics and international relations careers.

Note: Once you have selected a specialism pathway, you cannot switch to an alternative pathway for the remainder of the course. All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.