Politics is the study of the way power and influence are distributed within society and how this affects decision making within and among countries and states.
You will study a wide variety of topics including courses in international relations, political theory and British politics. You will have the opportunity to take part in our growing study abroad programme.
At all levels of study, politics is a subject that is open to interpretation and debate. Our methods of teaching, therefore, are based largely on classroom discussion. You will attend lectures that identify themes and then explore these themes in depth during seminars.
You will think about ethical questions such as the role and limits of state power, the nature of a "good society" and the obligations that one state has to another. You will also consider empirical questions such as how we explain differences in political institutions and culture, and the relations between nation-states in the international system.
Introduction to politics examines the British and Scottish political systems in a comparative perspective to introduce key concepts in the study of politics and foreign policymaking.
Introduction to international relations uses the ideas of important writers to explain key aspects of the international order.
History of political thought examines political thought from the ancients, primarily Aristotle, through Machiavelli, Hobbes and Locke to Rousseau and Karl Marx.
Introduction to comparative politics explores and compares different countries to introduce students to the variety of political regimes that exist in the contemporary international system.
You will also study other subjects in years 1 and 2: see Flexible degrees.
Years 3 and 4
If you progress to Honours (years 3 and 4) you can select from over 40 courses in Politics and International Relations, including Citizenship & democracy, International political communication, Protest politics in a post-political age, Social network analysis and Israel/Palestine: a narrative approach.
Years 1 & 2
- POLITICS 1A: INTRODUCTION TO POLITICS
- POLITICS 1B: INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
- POLITICS 2A: HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT
- POLITICS 2B: INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS
Years 3 & 4
The honours programme covers the third and fourth year of study and can be taken as single honours (specialising in politics) or joint honours (politics plus another subject). In both cases the programme adds to 240 credits. However, the type and number of optional courses students must take depend on their choice of programme. Note that entry into Honours is automatic but only if you obtain the required number of credits and grades in Years 1 & 2.
The Honours programme aims to provide a rigorous and wide-ranging education in the study of politics and international relations in both its empirical (scientific) and normative (philosophical) aspects. Students can choose from a wide range of options based on different approaches to their subject area and a variety of teaching methods. The diversity of available options (there are usually about 30 different courses available per year) allows students to tailor their curricula to match their personal and academic interests. Moreover, it means that they benefit both from the specialised knowledge of staff in areas where they have made a particular research contribution, and from teaching methods which are tailored to the particular aims and intended learning outcomes of the options studied.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who graduate with a degree in Politics will have:
- A general knowledge of comparative political analysis and acquaintance with the range of methods in the study of politics;
- A detailed knowledge of the political institutions and political behaviour within a variety of political systems;
- An ability to evaluate political systems and theories, and analyse critically the arguments of scholarly authorities;
- Acquired the disposition to approach any subject of enquiry in an open-minded, rigorous and undogmatic manner and the skill to construct arguments and express their own views in a logical and lucid fashion.
Methods of teaching and assessment
There are a variety of teaching methods employed in the subject of Politics. Some options are taught by lectures and tutorials, others mainly in seminars. The method used is that thought most appropriate by the lecturers concerned and depends to some extent on class size.
There are also a variety of assessment methods used. Many courses use a combination of unseen written examination at the end of each year with a continuous assessment element, usually based on essays. Other courses only use continuous assessment, combining essays with other types of written assignments such as critical reviews or reflective journals.
Programme alteration or discontinuation
The University of Glasgow endeavours to run all programmes as advertised. In exceptional circumstances, however, the University may withdraw or alter a programme. For more information, please see: Student contract.
Special Glasgow feature
Glasgow Q-Step Degrees
The University of Glasgow's Q-Step Centre offers programmes which develop your quantitative skills, or in other words, your ability to handle data and use numerical evidence.
Developing quantitative skills and your confidence in using them, will really enhance your insight and understanding of the key issues you encounter in your chosen field of study.
The University of Glasgow Q-Step Centre offers five degree programmes that integrate quantitative skills training within the School of Social and Political Sciences. All of these programmes aim to engage you with meaningful ways of understanding the social world.
We will teach you how to understand and analyse quantitative results, as well as how to present your own, and how to discuss their substantive implications. These are essential skills for understanding quantitative evidence presented in academic literature, but also for interrogating data in public media and government reports.
Around one quarter of your study time will be devoted to quantitative methods. And our degrees also offer you the possibility to gain valuable experience by participating in internships with selected high-profile employers.
MA (SocSci) Politics with Quantitative Methods
Politics is the study of the way power and influence are distributed within society and how this affects decision-making within and among countries and states. You will study the ideas which inform and explain political activity alongside political institutions and behaviour.
- For more information visit: Q-Step Centre
Our international links
You will have the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner universities as part of your degree. This won’t add any extra time to your studies: see Study abroad.
for entry in 2024
You should refer to the entry requirements for both subjects and the degree award when applying for a joint honours degree programme. The higher entry requirement (where applicable) and additional requirements must be met for both subjects.
Summary of entry requirements for Politics
SQA Higher entry requirements
- AAABB is the minimum requirement from S5 to be reviewed for an S6 offer
- Offers are not guaranteed to applicants who meet the minimum from S5
- Typically offers will be made at AAAAAA by end of S6. B at Advanced Higher is equivalent to A at Higher
- Additional requirements: Higher English and a Higher Humanities subject at AA. (AB may be considered)
- Higher Mathematics is recommended.
SQA Higher adjusted entry requirements* (by end of S5 or S6)
- MD20: ABBBB (also other target groups*)
- MD40: AAABB (ABB S5 minimum for consideration)*
- Additional requirements: Higher English and a Higher Humanities subject. Higher Mathematics recommended.
Successful completion of Top-Up or one of our Summer Schools.
Widening Participation Articulation Programmes
The University has bespoke HNC Articulation Programmes running at various colleges, offering direct entry to Year 2 of this degree.
A-level standard entry requirements
- AAB – BBB
- Additional requirements: A-level English or Humanities subject.
IB standard entry requirements
- 36 (6,6,5)
- Additional requirements: HL English or Humanities subject.
Glasgow International College
International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of foundation certificates.
For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.
English language requirements
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)
- 6.5 with no sub-test under 6.0.
- Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Applicants must meet the overall and subtest requirements using a single test.
Common equivalent English language qualifications
All stated English tests are acceptable for admission to this programme:
TOEFL (ib, my best or athome)
- 90 with minimum R 20, L 19, S 19, W 23.
- Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Combined scores from two tests taken within 6 months of each other can be considered.
- 60 with minimum 59 in all sub-tests.
- Tests must have been taken within 2 years 5 months of start date. Combined scores from two tests taken within 6 months of each other can be considered.
Glasgow International College English Language (and other foundation providers)
- Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.
University of Glasgow Pre-sessional courses
- Tests are accepted for academic year following sitting.
Cambridge English Qualifications
- Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): 176 overall, no subtest less than 169
- Cambridge Proficiency in English (CPE): 176 overall, no subtest less than 169
- iGCSE English or ESOL 0522/0500, grade C
- International Baccalaureate English A SL5 or HL5
- International Baccalaureate English B SL6 or HL5
- SQA National 5 English or ESOL, grade B
- SQA Higher English or ESOL, grade C
- Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, English Language grade 4
- West African Examination Council, Senior Secondary School Certificate, English grade C6
Alternatives to English Language qualification
- Undergraduate degree from English speaking country (including Canada if taught in English)
- Undergraduate 2+2 degree from English speaking country
- Undergraduate 2+2 TNE degree taught in English in non-English speaking country
- Masters degree from English speaking country
- Masters degree (equivalent on NARIC to UK masters degree) taught in English in non-English speaking country.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:
- School of Modern Languages & Cultures: English for Academic Study
- BALEAP guide to accredited courses
What do I do if...
my language qualifications are below the requirements?
The University's School of Modern Languages and Cultures offers a range of Pre-sessional courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching.
my language qualifications are not listed here?
Please contact External Relations
If you require a Tier 4 student visa, your qualification must be one of the secure English language tests accepted by UK Border Agency:
- UK Border Agency Tier 4 English Language requirements
- UKBA list of approved English language tests [pdf]
Visa requirements and proof of English language level
It is a visa requirement to provide information on your level of English based on an internationally recognised and secure English language test. All test reports must be no more than 2 years old. A list of these can be found on the UK Border Agency website. If you have never taken one of these tests before, you can get an initial idea of your level by using the Common European Framework self-assessment grid which gives you a level for each skill (e.g. listening B1/writing B2 etc.) However, please note that this is not a secure English language test and it is not sufficient evidence of your level of English for visa requirements.
Further information about English language: School of Modern Languages & Cultures: English for Academic Study
Studying Politics will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. You will develop your research and analytical skills, writing abilities, and capacity to communicate effectively. You will be able to attend employability workshops and training days, which will provide you with skills and knowledge, essential for success in the job market. You will also be able to attend alumni careers talks. As a Social Sciences student, you may have the chance to take part in one of our many internship placements.
Popular career destinations for our graduates include the civil and foreign service, local government, the charity sector, international organisations, teaching, business, media and journalism and the armed forces.
Degrees and UCAS codes
When applying you will need to know the UCAS code for the subject or subject-combination that you wish to apply to:
Fees and funding
How and when you pay tuition fees depends on where you’re from: see Tuition fees for details.
The University is committed to supporting students and rewarding academic excellence. That's why we've invested more than £1m in additional scholarship funding in recent years.
The Ann Dodgson Foundation Grant
Young people between 16-25 years of age whose intentions for the grant fall within the Foundation's Aims are encouraged to apply for a grant. Through the provision of grants, The Ann Dodgson Foundation endeavours to further the following aims:
To advance in life and help young people in particular by:
- encouraging young people in the United Kingdom to be comfortable beyond the boundaries of their own culture and by promoting French culture.
- helping young people as well as aspiring, training and practising teachers and others involved in education, to enjoy, understand and be inspired by France – its people, its language, its history and its culture.
- helping young people learn about the United Nations – its Charter, its purpose, its range and its value.
- advancing the education of young people in the subject of France – its people, its language, its history and its culture.
Undergraduate Excellence Scholarship
The University of Glasgow has a number of Undergraduate Excellence Scholarships available to new International and EU students for 2024 entry. The scholarship is awarded as a tuition fee discount of £7,000 per year of study and is subject to satisfactory progress for consecutive years of study.
EU Welcome Award
The University of Glasgow continues to be committed to ensuring a strong relationship with our existing and future EU students, and supporting EU talent to make their home at the University of Glasgow.
We appreciate the challenging financial implications that have arisen for our European applicants, and are therefore delighted to offer the EU Welcome Award to new incoming EU students starting an undergraduate programme for Academic Session 2024-25. The scholarship is awarded as a tuition fee discount of £5,000 for every year of study and is subject to satisfactory progress for consecutive years of study. This discount cannot be combined with another University scholarship.
Applicants that completed a Study Abroad year, Exchange programme or International Summer School at the University of Glasgow and therefore eligible for the Alumni discount could be granted the EU Welcome Award as well.
RUK Excellence Scholarship
The RUK Excellence Scholarship of £1,000 for each year of study will be awarded to first degree new entrants who have attained academic excellence in one sitting at A Level (or equivalent).
RUK Access Bursary
The bursary supports talented students who may not be able to take their place at University for reasons of financial hardship. It is available to new entrant full-time, undergraduate students of the University of Glasgow who are fully registered for the up coming academic session, ordinarily domiciled in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and paying annual tuition fees of £9,250 per annum.
James McCune Smith Undergraduate Scholarship
The University of Glasgow has up to 30 undergraduate scholarships available for students of African/African-Caribbean backgrounds. The scholarship supports students who could face financial difficulties taking up their place to study at the university. The value of the scholarship is £2,000, paid in instalments for year one of undergraduate study. The scholarship is open to new applicants to the university for 2024 entry. Current students who have previously been in receipt of the award may reapply, however, preference will be given to applicants entering their first year of study.
The University of Glasgow offer a 15% discount on the first year of tuition fee to students from Beaconhouse Schools and who enrol on an undergraduate programme at the University of Glasgow. The discount does not apply to Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Dentistry programmes.
Republic of Ireland (RoI) Access Bursary
Glasgow has a long and proud tradition of providing financial support to talented students who, for reasons of financial hardship, might not be able to take a place at university. Our RoI Access Bursary is part of our commitment to continue to attract and support students from a diverse range of backgrounds. For 2023 entry, the RoI bursary will be up to £2,000 for your first year of study and £1,000 for continuing years.
Payments of the RoI Access Bursary will be detailed in your Award Letter.
- The RoI Access Bursary will be awarded as a cash payment.
- The RoI Access Bursary will be paid in 10 instalments from October until July; this award is based on household income
- The RoI Access Bursary will only be awarded in years where tuition fees of £9,250 apply
Republic of Ireland (RoI) Excellence Scholarship
The RoI Excellence Scholarship of £1,000 for each year of study will be awarded to first degree entrants who have attained at Irish Higher grades H1, H1, H1, H2, H2 from the Irish Leaving Certificate for 2023 entry. Dentistry, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine applicants are not eligible for this award.
- The RoI Excellence Scholarship will be processed as a cash payment.
- The RoI Excellence Scholarship will be paid in 2 instalments.
- The first payment will be in October and the second payment will be in February.
These payments will be credited to the UK bank account held on your MyCampus profile; therefore, it is vital that this is up to date at the start of the session. By submitting your bank details on the MyCampus system, you are confirming that you agree with the terms and conditions of the award.
Undergraduate Talent Scholarships
The University of Glasgow is awarding c.50 undergraduate Talent Scholarships to support students who could face financial difficulties in taking up their place to study at the University for 2024 entry. The value of each scholarship is typically £1,500 p.a. for each year of the degree programme, subject to satisfactory progress. Talent Scholarships are available to students entering any of the University's Colleges.
Dental School students are eligible for a Talent Scholarship in their first year of study only. They are eligible for the NHS Dental Student Support Grant in the following years.
Cowrie Foundation Scholarship
The University of Glasgow and The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation (CSF) will offer a scholarship to support Black African and Caribbean heritage applicants from socio-economically challenged backgrounds. Applicants must be ordinarily resident in the UK and commencing an undergraduate study in the academic year 2024-25
The Cowrie Scholarship Foundation wants to fund 100 Black British students through UK universities in the next decade. More information on the Foundation can be found here.
The University of Glasgow is offering up to 20 Sanctuary Scholarships for applicants to the University, who have been forced to travel to the UK for humanitarian reasons and are facing challenges in progressing onto Higher Education. The scholarship is open to prospective undergraduate and postgraduate taught students at the University of Glasgow applying for entry in September 2024/25. Please note that you must have applied to the University before submitting an application for this scholarship.
The scholarship will meet the cost of tuition fees for the duration of your programme, for applicants who are unable to access mainstream funding through Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) or Student Finance. The Sanctuary Scholarship also provides a £5,000 per year stipend, to assist with study costs. In addition, if the eligibility criteria for university accommodation is met, this will also be provided for the duration of your degree, if required. For more information on the accommodation criteria, please see the Accommodation Services section on the website.
Undergraduate students with refugee status (or equivalent) and access to funding, are eligible to apply for the scholarship and would receive the £5,000 stipend towards study costs only, if successful.
Postgraduate Taught Masters students with refugee status (or equivalent) and access to funding, are eligible to apply for the scholarship and would receive the £5,000 stipend towards study costs and a partial tuition fee waiver, to cover any shortfall not met by your Postgraduate Masters tuition fee loan.
The Clan Gregor Society Prize
The Clan Gregor Society is offering an award to new entrants to the University of Glasgow who descend from Clan Gregor. Prospective students will be asked to submit an application highlighting areas of consideration such as academic excellence and financial need. The award is open to both Undergraduate and Postgraduate applicants for 2024 entry.
The scholarships above are specific to this programme. For more funding opportunities search the scholarships database
How to apply
Full-time students must apply through the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
SQA applicants who are eligible for our Widening Participation programmes are encouraged to participate in one or more of these programmes, including Summer School, to support your application and the transition to higher education.
International students to Arts, Engineering, Law, Nursing, Science, and Social Sciences can also apply using The Common Application: however, if applying to more than one UK university, we recommend using UCAS. Applications to Dentistry, Education, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine must be made through UCAS.
- 16 October: if including Dentistry, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine or also applying to Oxford or Cambridge
- 31 January: all other UK applicants (unless otherwise stated on the UCAS website)
- 30 June: international students.
We do not usually accept any applications after these deadlines.
It's your responsibility to ensure the accuracy of your application before submission. Requests to correct application content, change degree programme or change college of entry, will not be accepted after these deadlines. This policy is in place to ensure fairness and consistency to all applicants, and no exceptions will be made.
- Apply at www.ucas.com or through your school or college
- Contact UCAS on 0871 468 0468
- Apply at commonapp.org (international students to certain areas only)
More information about this programme
Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide [Politics]