International Politics and Strategic Studies

Key Facts

Code L251
  • Typical A-level offer

    BBB with B in any subject

  • Course Length

    3 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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Among the central concerns of International Politics are questions of war and peace. Why does war happen? How can wars be stopped once they begin? Is it possible to avoid conflict altogether? An understanding of Strategic Studies provides important insights into these fundamental questions by considering the basic tool of war: the use of force. The use of force – and the credible threat of its use – is among the most powerful instruments of contemporary international politics. During the course of this degree, you will examine the application of force and its impact on societies and people, from the advent of nuclear weapons and the development of deterrence theory to the post-9/11 Global War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. This degree is about how force might be used most effectively, when it is ethical to use force and when it is legal. It is also about how wars might be prevented and how weapons might be controlled, including questions of disarmament and preventing or limiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Top 10 in the UK for student satisfaction in the subject area of International Politics (NSS 2016)

Department of International Politics: 95% student satisfaction (NSS 2016)

92% of undergraduates from the Department of International Politics who graduated in 2015 were in employment or further education six months after graduating (DLHE 2015)

  • Overview
  • Modules
  • Employability
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Student Views


The BA International Politics and Strategic Studies degree is concerned with the use of force in international relations for political purposes, and focuses on the threat and application of military force, and the prevention and conduct of war. As a student on the International Politics and Strategic Studies degree at Aberystwyth, you can expect to be introduced to the major strategic issues of the Cold War era, nuclear deterrence, arms control and disarmament, limited war, revolutionary war, crisis management, alliances and the defence policies of the major powers. This degree course also deals with the major debates which have taken place since the end of the Cold War concerning the relationship between traditional Strategic Studies and the developing field of Security Studies.

Why study International Politics and Strategic 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 Department has over 30 academic and research staff whom are all research active and contribute to the 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.

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, Asia, North America and Australia, 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.


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.


Modules delivered partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh

Dulliau Ymchwil + Traethawd Estynedig


Career prospects

This degree scheme opens up a wide range of careers in the political arena, such as 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 and 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 Strategic 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

Year in Employment scheme (YES)
The University operates a Year in Employment Scheme (YES), which offers you a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between your 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

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 approaches 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 war, politics and strategy, and will explore key concepts, theoretical explanations and historical events as they relate to important questions about war, peace, politics, security, force, military power and strategy. You will also select optional modules from an extensive list designed to broaden your knowledge in the areas of international relations, warfare in the modern age and strategic studies. 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 combination of a variety of methods, including essays, reports, examinations, book reviews, learning logs and presentations.

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.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

Student Views

The main thing I love about International Politics & Strategic Studies is the uniqueness of the subject as well as the breadth of options that are available to students. Strategic Studies allows you to examine the nature of conflict, why it occurs in society and what role it plays in the international system. Strategic Studies also allows you branch out into subjects such as geopolitics and national strategy. The course is fantastic, with a wide range of modules you can take to tailor your degree to suit you. Career-wise, the uniqueness and rigour of the modules ensure that future employers take your CV seriously, especially in defence-related areas. All in all, the International Politics & Strategic Studies degree offers a rigorous and fascinating education with great prospects. Alan Jeffrey

What stands out for me about the International Politics department at Aberystwyth University is the excellent standard of teaching, research and environment that the department encourages from its students. The staff are all experts in their field, and the students are passionate about their subject which makes for very enjoyable seminars, very interesting lectures and an all-round excellent experience as a student. I couldn't fault the International Politics department on the standards it upholds: it's a stellar place to study and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the field! Mathew Calfe

Entry Requirements

A Levels BBB with B in any subject

GCSE requirements (grade C min):
English or Welsh

BTEC National Diploma:

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
30 points overall

European Baccalaureate:
70-75% overall

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