Politics Birkbeck, University of London

Undergraduate

Awarded by: University of London

When the right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in July 2011, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his country’s appropriate response would be 'more democracy, more openness, but not naivety'. Other leaders might have reacted differently to the same event. The purpose of this undergraduate programme is to offer you the skills to not only understand major political issues that affect the lives of millions of citizens in the UK and beyond - such as populism, terrorism, war and peace, Euroscepticism - but also develop your own views about them.

Politics can be understood as decisions about who gets what, when and how, as American political scientist Harold Lasswell famously put it, but complex issues are rarely the result of a single factor or process. This means that students need access to a very broad range of expertise. This is what our Department of Politics - one of the best known in London and beyond - offers.

Our academics are experts in a very broad range of geographical areas, including Britain, America, Europe and the Middle East. They publish in major academic journals on several sub-fields in the study of politics such as:

  • public policy (ie when faced with an economic crisis why do some governments opt for funding cuts in what is known as ‘austerity’?)

  • international political economy (eg why do some governments try to expand while others restrict it?)

  • voting behaviour (whether different groups of people vote for different political parties)

  • how the European Union works

  • whether and how emerging powers such as Brazil and India seek to affect major international political and economic decisions.

In other words, you will be taught on the basis of new knowledge generated by the people teaching you. We seek to engage not only with the wider public by publishing articles in newspapers and journals, but also to engage with politicians who make actual political decisions.

Two special features of this programme are:

  • an option module on Parliament called Parliamentary Studies, which is taught in conjunction with the House of Commons outreach service

  • several study skills workshops including ones on note taking, how to write an essay, and exam preparation.

Highlights

  • Birkbeck is a distinguished centre of research and teaching excellence in politics. Our central London location puts us at the heart of the UK's political life and at the centre of academic London. Our courses are designed to encourage independent thinking and hone your argumentative, analytical and critical skills, while our teaching uniquely moves across the boundaries between subjects, encompassing, among others, economics, history and sociology.

  • Our Department of Politics is over 40 years old and has a reputation for the excellence of its teaching and its internationally significant research.

  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17thin the UK.

  • In the 2017 National Student Survey, our courses came top in London and fourth in the country for overall course satisfaction.

  • Our departmental building was once a key location for members of the Bloomsbury Group, so you could be studying in rooms that have hosted distinguished visitors, including T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw and Maynard Keynes.

  • Read more about our Department's top news stories, our world-class research, our 40-year history, and what it's like to study with us.


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