BA International Politics and Intelligence Studies

The information on this page relates to September 2016 entry. For 2017 information, including grade requirements, please check our prospectus.

BA International Politics and Intelligence Studies students discussing module choices with a lecturer

International Politics and Intelligence Studies explores the secret world of ‘cloak and dagger’. Secret services don’t just spy. Some of them do ‘covert’ or ‘special‘ operations to help friends and fight enemies. Some states use their secret services to overthrow governments or assassinate enemies. History shows that some of these activities are done by democracies. So how do we reconcile special operations with democratic values and international law? How, indeed do we reconcile secrecy and accountability? How do we make judgements about the morality of intelligence? This degree scheme allows you to learn how spies and code-breakers discover what enemies (and sometimes friends) don’t want them to know. You will scrutinise how knowledge of threats is acquired and analysed and used. You will study how intelligence is central to fighting terrorism and combatting the spread of nuclear weapons. You will assess the value and the limitations of secret services and look at when and where it all goes wrong - from Pearl Harbour to 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq. By exploring intelligence you will deepen and broaden your understanding of international security, international politics, and international history.

Overview

Questions about intelligence - its collection, use, and influence - are central to intelligence activities and the war on terror. They are also central to intelligence when viewed from a longer historical perspective. The BA International Politics and Intelligence Studies degree is not only concerned with the history of intelligence and its contemporary uses, but also the efficacy and morality of ‘covert operations’.

Why study International Politics and Intelligence Studies at Aberystwyth?

Founded in 1919 after the end of World War I, the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth is the world’s first university department of International Politics. The Departemnt has over 30 academic and research staff whom are all research active and all contribute to undergraduate teaching programme. The Department's vibrant and cosmopolitan learning environment welcomes students from all over the world, and provides a lively venue for contemporary and international political debate.

The Department is renowned for its pioneering research and is recognised as number one in the UK for the study of international politics. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (2014), the Department of International Politics was placed best in Wales with 76% of publications submitted rated as world leading and internationally excellent.

The recent 2015 National Student Satisfaction survey results show high levels of satisfaction amongst Politics students, with 92% reporting satisfaction with the quality of the teaching they received, above average for the subject nationally.

Our lecturers are committed to excellence in both teaching and research, providing you with an outstanding and dynamic learning environment. Research excellence feeds directly into undergraduate teaching, so that you are exposed to the very latest and most innovative ideas in the field even before they have become generally available through publication. We firmly believe that the synergy between research and teaching makes for a thought-provoking education.

The Department operates a prestigious Parliamentary Placement scheme, enabling you to gain valuable experience working alongside an MP (House of Commons, Westminster) or an AM (Welsh Assembly, Cardiff) for a period of 4-6 weeks during the summer. During this time you will write reports and speeches, undertake research projects, and respond to constituency issues. There may be further opportunities for you to get involved in elections and various international issues.

The Department also has links with carefully selected universities in Europe, Australia or Canada, offering you an excellent opportunity to expand your academic and social horizons by spending a part of your university experience abroad.

The Department is also home to Interstate, the oldest student-run international politics journal in the United Kingdom, providing a unique opportunity for you to publish your work (particularly advantageous if you wish to progress to postgraduate study) or gain valuable experience working as part of the editorial team.Stimulating student societies foster a strong sense of community within the department, offering a programme of political debates, visiting speakers, conferences and workshops, alongside numerous social activities such as an annual ball.

Last, but not least, the Department also offers a number of degree schemes and modules taught entirely or partially through the medium of Welsh. Further details may be obtained from the Department.

Our Staff

Lecturers in the Department of International Politics are all research active and qualified to PhD level, and most also have a PGCHE.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Year 1 Options All students MUST take the Department's core module Exploring the International 1 and 2 (40 credits over both semesters)

Semester 1

Cyflwyniad I Wleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol 1 GW12420

Exploring The International 1 IP12420

Semester 2

Cyflwyniad I Wleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol 2 GW12520

Exploring The International 2 IP12520

Year 1 Options Single and Major Honours students must take the following module

Semester 1

Y Tu ôl I'r Penawdau GW12620

Behind The Headlines IP12620

Year 1 Options Part One students may take the following optional modules

Semester 1

The Making Of The Modern World: International History Since 1789 IP12820

Understanding The Social World SA10120

Semester 2

War, Strategy And Intelligence IP10320

Approaching The Political IP10820

Year 1 Options Student wishing to study modules through the medium of Welsh can take the following:

Semester 1

Cefn Gwlad A'r Ddinas DA10210

Y Tu ôl I'r Penawdau GW12620

Creu'r Byd Modern: Hanes Ryngwladol Ers 1789 GW12820

Concwest, Uno A Hunaniaeth Yng Nghymru 1250-1800 HC11120

Cymru A'r Byd: Cysylltiadau A Dylanwadau 1860 - 2000 HC11520

Semester 2

Pobl A Lle DA10110

Amgylchedd Cymru DA10810

Rhyfel Strategaeth A Chuddwybodaeth GW10320

Defnyddio Syniadau Gwleidyddol GW11220

Argyfwng, Gwrthryfel A Ffydd Yn Ewrop C.1000-1540 HA10820

Year 2 Options Students must TAKE the following degree scheme core module in International Politics before being eligible for graduation: Intelligence & International Security (IP35620) or Cudd-Wybodaeth A Diogelwch Rhyngwladol (GW35620).

Semester 1

Cudd-wybodaeth A Diogelwch Rhyngwladol GW35620

Intelligence And International Security IP35620

Available both years Options Student must take at least 180 credits of International Politics (GW / IP) modules (students may take 40 credits outside the department). See below for options:

Semester 1

Y Meddwl Cymreig Mewn Syniadaeth Ryngwladol GQ30920

Rhyfel Diarbed, Heddwch Diarbed GQ33420

Amlddiwylliannedd Mewn Polisi Ac Ymarfer GQ33720

Cymru A Datganoli GW35020

Cudd-wybodaeth A Diogelwch Rhyngwladol GW35620

The Vietnam War IP31920

Nato: The Making And Breaking Of Alliances IP33320

European Politics IP33820

The Ethics Of War In Theory And Practice IP34320

Wales And Devolution IP35020

Warfare After Waterloo: Military History 1815 - 1918 IP35320

Intelligence And International Security IP35620

The Past And Present Of Us Intelligence IP36020

Warfare In The 20th Century:technology And Strategy IP36520

Contemporary Latin America IP38720

The League Of Nations IQ32420

Capitalism And International Politics IQ32820

Total War, Total Peace IQ33420

Multiculturalism In Policy And Practice IQ33720

Semester 2

Damcaniaethau Gwleidyddiaeth GW32220

Gwleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol A Bydoedd Anorllewinol GW39220

Theorizing International Relations IP30120

War, Politics And Strategy IP30320

Special Forces: Theory And Practice IP31520

The Cold War IP32020

Political Theory IP32220

Eu Simulation IP34020

Ideas And Practice In American Politics IP34420

The Cuban Missile Crisis IP35520

America At War: A Military History Of The United States IP36920

Britain And Ireland In War And Peace Since 1800 IP38820

International Politics And Non-western Worlds IP39220

Global Economic Governance IQ30820

Espionage Studies IQ31320

Global Health And International Politics IQ32020

Gender And Sexuality In Latin America IQ32320

The Diplomacy Of Decline: Britain & World Politics 1851-2001 IQ32620

Aesthetics, Image And Narrative In Global Politics IQ33620

Final Year Options Students in their Final Year MUST take the core Dissertation module GW/IP30040 which runs over Semesters One and Two.

Semester 1

Dulliau Ymchwil + Traethawd Estynedig GW30000

Dissertation IP30000

Semester 2

Dulliau Ymchwil + Traethawd Estynedig GW30040

Dissertation IP30040

Available both years Options Student must take at least 180 credits of International Politics (GW / IP) modules (students may take 40 credits outside the department). See below for options:

Semester 1

Y Meddwl Cymreig Mewn Syniadaeth Ryngwladol GQ30920

Rhyfel Diarbed, Heddwch Diarbed GQ33420

Amlddiwylliannedd Mewn Polisi Ac Ymarfer GQ33720

Cymru A Datganoli GW35020

Cudd-wybodaeth A Diogelwch Rhyngwladol GW35620

The Vietnam War IP31920

Nato: The Making And Breaking Of Alliances IP33320

European Politics IP33820

The Ethics Of War In Theory And Practice IP34320

Wales And Devolution IP35020

Warfare After Waterloo: Military History 1815 - 1918 IP35320

Intelligence And International Security IP35620

The Past And Present Of Us Intelligence IP36020

Warfare In The 20th Century:technology And Strategy IP36520

Contemporary Latin America IP38720

The League Of Nations IQ32420

Capitalism And International Politics IQ32820

Total War, Total Peace IQ33420

Multiculturalism In Policy And Practice IQ33720

Semester 2

Damcaniaethau Gwleidyddiaeth GW32220

Gwleidyddiaeth Ryngwladol A Bydoedd Anorllewinol GW39220

Theorizing International Relations IP30120

War, Politics And Strategy IP30320

Special Forces: Theory And Practice IP31520

The Cold War IP32020

Political Theory IP32220

Eu Simulation IP34020

Ideas And Practice In American Politics IP34420

The Cuban Missile Crisis IP35520

America At War: A Military History Of The United States IP36920

Britain And Ireland In War And Peace Since 1800 IP38820

International Politics And Non-western Worlds IP39220

Global Economic Governance IQ30820

Espionage Studies IQ31320

Global Health And International Politics IQ32020

Gender And Sexuality In Latin America IQ32320

The Diplomacy Of Decline: Britain & World Politics 1851-2001 IQ32620

Aesthetics, Image And Narrative In Global Politics IQ33620

Employability

Career prospects

This degree scheme opens up a wide range of careers in the political and public affairs arena, such as Security Service officer, Government research officer, public affairs consultant, social researcher, and Civil Service fast streamer, but would also be useful for such roles as local government officer, journalist, public relations officer, market researcher or work in the diplomatic services. The research and analytical skills you will develop during your degree will also provide a sound basis for postgraduate study and for a career in academia.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in International Politics and Intelligence Studies will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. These include:
• the ability to express ideas and communicate information in a clear and structured manner, in both written and oral form
• effective problem-solving and creative thinking skills
• the ability to work independently
• time-management and organisational skills, including the ability to meet deadlines
• self-motivation and self-reliance
• team-working, with the ability to discuss concepts in groups, accommodating different ideas and reaching agreement
• research skills

YES

The University operates a Year in Employment scheme (YES), which offers any undergraduate student a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between their second and third year to work in an organisation in the UK or overseas. YES provides a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement. 

GO Wales

GO Wales is administered by the University’s Career Service, working with local businesses to create paid work placements of a few weeks’ duration for students. It gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience which will enhance your CV and make you more attractive to potential employers.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will you learn?

In the first year you will study a range of modules which will establish a firm foundation for your further studies. A core module will introduce you to the study of international politics and enable you to critically assess central approaches to the study of international relations and apply different methodologies to the analysis of topical issues in world politics. You will also be able to choose other modules from a wide selection reflecting a broad chronological and thematic range, so you can study the topics that appeal most to your own personal interests.

In the second and third years, you will take a core module which provides an analytical foundation to the critical study of intelligence and international security, and will explore key aspects of national security policy-making, counter-terrorism, and the role of intelligence in it. You will also select optional modules from an extensive list designed to broaden your knowledge in the areas of intelligence, espionage and international security. A compulsory dissertation in the final year allows you to demonstrate your substantive knowledge in your chosen subject area, deploying critical research skills and independent enquiry.

How will you be taught?

Students on our International Politics degrees are usually taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. Lectures introduce a topic and raise key points, while small-group seminars allow for more informal discussion and in-depth analysis of a topic. Seminars, therefore, are an invaluable means for you to test out your ideas or reflect on your own experiences, as well as sharing those of others. 


Crisis Games play a very important role in the life of the Department, and form part of a twice-yearly residential course away from Aberystwyth. The Department of International Politics was the first university in the UK to use crisis simulations to connect classroom learning with the real-world complexities of international politics. In recent years the Crisis Games have been based on the humanitarian crises in the Congo and Darfur, an Arctic environmental disaster, nuclear testing in North Korea, Saudi Arabia and the politics of the Middle East, the Northern Ireland peace process, the US presidential election, and war between Russia and Georgia. During the course of the simulation you will learn about aspects of international politics which cannot be taught in lectures and seminars, especially the constraints which political leaders face in responding to various crises. For many students, the Crisis Games are the highlight of the course.

Most modules are assessed through a variety of methods and combinations, including essays, reports,  examinations, book reviews, learning logs and presentations.

Your personal tutor

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

Student Views

The work we do covers a wide and interesting range of topics, whilst probing into the heart of controversial events in current affairs. We have the best building and facilities on campus to work in, and our seminars always result in stimulating discussions which open the mind to perspectives new and old from across the globe. Our department also organises brilliant activities both as part of modules and as extra-curricular events, from tours of the Welsh Assembly with talks from high-ranking civil servants to international exchange programmes and realistic crisis games! Edward Silva

What I love about this course is that we are able to analyse and compare different forms and types of politics, some which may never have been given the light of day beforehand. In this course, there are not only highly interesting lectures but also very engaging seminars. Before coming to Aberystwyth, Politics was an interest of mine but now having been through one semester in this course it has become my passion. This course is perfect for those, who like me, are curious about the workings of politics around the world. Ryan Hunter

Key Information Set