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Your learning experience

Studying politics and international relations at Reading is not just about learning what other people already know. It is about developing an in-depth knowledge and understanding, and having the opportunity to put your ideas to the test. 

You will develop your critical thinking and analytical skills, and learn how to work both independently and in a group.


Learn on exciting modules

In this video Dr Brian Feltham, Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations, gives you a taster of the Freedom module that you'll do in your first year on our courses.

Our teaching methods

Lectures and small-group seminars

In our small-group seminars, you'll have plenty of opportunities to develop your own ideas, present them, and hear what others make of them, as well as interact directly with our academics.

Our lectures will give you a framework of knowledge within which you can develop your thinking.

Visiting speakers

To complement our academics’ expertise, we have hosted a variety of guest speakers, including Alastair Campbell, former political aide; Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP; and Matthew Barzun, United States Ambassor to the UK.  

Interacting with our regular visitors provides an insight into the different opportunities available to you after graduation and gives you the chance to build your network.

Independent study

In each module you will read material (and sometimes also watch films or videos), then analyse what you have found in order to develop answers to particular questions in written assignments. 

The biggest piece of analysis you will do is your final-year dissertation, when you will write a paper of 8,000-10,000 words on your own original research project. 

Group work

You'll have plenty of opportunities to work in groups with fellow students on projects and presentations.

For example, in the first-year Freedom module, you will work in small teams to give presentations on key issues.

Data and IT projects

Numeracy and IT skills are increasingly important in the contemporary workplace, which is why we give you opportunities to hone these skills during your degree. 

Our Study of Politics module requires students to learn Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software, while Politics of the Welfare State tasks you with engaging with data about social policies.

Research methods

We provide extensive research training to our undergraduate students, including how to collect and make sense of various types of data.

You'll learn the different theoretical approaches to politics, as well as different methodological approaches to political analysis. You will also have opportunities to develop core skills of political research. 

The seminar-focused format of the BA Politics and International Relations course helped me develop my confidence in public speaking and generating informed opinions, while also understanding the importance of listening to others and taking in information.

Olivia Highwood

BA Politics and International Relations graduate

Learn through practical experience

Placement opportunities

Doing a work placement allows you to gain practical experience and transferable skills that employers value, so we encourage our students to undertake placements during their degree.

We have connections all over the world in our field, including in government, charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This means we can help you to find exceptional placement opportunities that reflect your ambitions.

You can undertake a short placement as part of a module or over the summer vacation, or undertake a year-long placement in industry and turn your degree into a four-year course.

We offer several modules with embedded placement opportunities, where you can gain experience in the UK or abroad in a field relevant to your career ambitions. For example, in the British Government and Politics module, you could have the opportunity to undertake a two-week placement at a charity, media organisation, or with an MP or local councillor.

Securing a placement can be competitive, which is why we have a dedicated placement co-ordinator who'll provide you with one-to-one support in applying for opportunities. 

Read about Peter Stockdale's placement year experience

Innovative modules

We offer a number of exciting practical modules that enable you to follow your passions, develop relevant, practical skills and gain real-world experience.

Examples of our innovative modules include:

  • Model United Nations, where you'll visit an overseas conference and take part in a simulation of the United Nations in action. It gives you the chance to engage with students and academics from other universities across Europe and the UK.
  • The Middle East – participate in a crisis simulation, involving negotiation and conflict resolution.
  • Media and Politics, where you may get the opportunity to produce a politics radio show. This module teaches you the skills required to successfully run a radio show, but also requires you to engage in political research and discussion around media theory and how it's applied.

Meet our experts

Our staff have exceptional knowledge in an impressive range of political topics and issues. Many of our academics are directly involved in international politics, sharing their expertise with governments and policymakers.

Life in the Department

Learn in an exciting environment where you'll be challenged and supported to thrive and grow as an individual. You'll join a passionate community of students and academics from around the world. 

Dr Mark Shanahan's story

Our graduates go into all sorts of jobs, so we give them analytical skills, strong communication skills and the ability to investigate, find solutions and use knowledge that can be applied across a whole range of occupations.

Dr Mark Shanahan

Head of Department