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Politics and Security Studies (with placement year)

BA (Hons)
Entry 2018: BBC / 112 UCAS points
Duration: 4 years
Attendance mode: Full-time
Award: BA (Hons)
UCAS code: L259
Placement: Placement year available
Suitable for international students
Faculty of Social Sciences
Apply Prospectus downloads


This new Politics and Security Studies (with placement year) degree for September 2018 entry gives you a thorough grounding in politics, with particular focus on the idea of security and its impact on political systems, both in the UK and around the world.

You will explore the politics and management of non-traditional security threats such as disease, migration, radicalisation, cyber-terrorism, resource depletion, and climate change.

You’ll address the big contemporary political questions:

  • How serious is the terrorist threat and how is it changing?
  • Are we at risk from global pandemics?
  • How do national and regional perspectives on security differ around the globe?
  • How should we be operating nationally and internationally to promote a more secure world for all?

You will have opportunities to learn beyond the classroom through simulation exercises, field trips, and specialist workshops.

Why Bradford?

The University of Bradford has been pioneering and teaching Peace Studies and International Development for over 40 years: we have excellent library collections and our academic staff are experts in their field. We don’t sit in an Ivory Tower – we make knowledge work by collaborating with governments and NGOs around the world. Our research in politics and international relations was ranked 7th out of 56 universities in the UK in terms of its impact on society and public policy (Research Excellence Framework, December 2014).

So, the content of our brand-new degree programmes is informed by the up-to-date expertise of our lecturers and enriched by the experience of practitioners in our field, including our many alumni, with whom we partner.

Our teaching is very interactive and focussed on professionalism and employability. You will study in groups and teams, develop your own research projects, go on field trips, engage in extended simulation games, do ‘immersion days’ on key topics, and develop a wide range of tangible skills directly applicable to careers in politics, international relations, peace and conflict and international development. Our teaching and assessment methods are tailored to a wide range of learning styles, and meant to keep you busy, engaged and enjoying your course!

You will also learn from your fellow students and from the city. The Division is diverse with, typically, over 40 nationalities among our students – meet the world in your classroom! Bradford itself is a fascinating and very multicultural city, as well as being one of the cheapest cities to live and study in the UK, and we make the most of all the city and its beautiful surroundings have to offer by working with community groups.

Entry requirements

Typical offer: BBC / 112 UCAS points

A levels:

There are no specific subject requirements.

BTEC Extended Diploma:

DMM — there are no specific subject requirements.

Applicants on Access Programmes:

Meet UCAS Tariff of 112 — there are no specific subject requirements.

Plus minimum of:

GCSE English at grade C or 4 (equivalents accepted).

Additional entry requirements:

If you do not meet the entry requirements for direct entry onto this course you may be interested in our Foundation Year in Social Sciences and Management or our International Certificate of Foundation Studies.

English language requirements:

Minimum IELTS at 6.0 or the equivalent.

If you do not meet the IELTS requirement, you can take a University of Bradford pre-sessional English course. See the Language Centre for more details.


The modules for this course can be found in the latest programme specification.

Year One

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Global Issues and Challenges Core 60
Histories of the Present Core 20
States and Power Core 20
Analysing violence and security Core 20

Year One introduces you to Politics and Security Studies as an interdisciplinary field of study and gives you a sense of how the analysis of real-world problems can be approached from different conceptual perspectives and approaches to research.

In the 60 credit module Global Issues and Challenges we start exploring how we might tackle the many problems facing the world today: How do we begin to understand the immense problems that face us, in all their complexity, let alone actually tackle them? In this module you will learn how to get started: you will learn some basic tools for beginning to unpick and analyse the pressing problems of our time. You will work to develop your own understanding of key global problems as a basis for beginning to think about how they might be resolved.

Histories of the Present asks critical questions about the historical developments that have shaped present realities, and about the stories we tell about both past and present. If it is true that "History is written by the winners," that is, the powerful get to control the way that historical events are depicted and interpreted, then how, and how successfully, do they do this? To what extent does our everyday understanding of the past reflect the interests of the powerful? And how does this affect our responses to problems of the present? In this module, you will explore the relationship between knowledge and power in constructing our understanding of the contemporary world and the role that institutions such as museums and objects such as memorials play in this. Drawing on the University's own archive of documents relating to the peace movement and its special relationship with the Bradford Peace Museum, you will explore sources and documents relating to historical episodes of war and peace and get the opportunity to design and present your own museum exhibit or memorial presenting an alternative history of contemporary problems.

The modern state is central to the contemporary exercise of power, yet states differ a great deal from one another and political scientists argue about how exactly the state functions in both domestic and international politics. In the module States and Power you will learn about the institutions, ideologies and practices that comprise the modern state. You will compare the traditional "Westminster model", which political scientists have long regarded as the ideal or ‘normal’, with the messy reality of states around the world. You will explore the implications of neo-liberalism and post-liberalism for the welfare state in Europe, consider the challenges of state fragility and state failure in a variety of conflict-affected regions, and evaluate the claim that authoritarian one-party states, such as China's, are proving more effective at grappling with contemporary global challenges. In so doing, you will learn about the way power works, engage with debates on the factors constraining or contributing to social, economic and political change, and explore the interrelationship between state, society, environment, technology and human development.

Analysing Violence and Security provides an introduction to analysing a broad range of contemporary security challenges. Using real world examples of contemporary security problematics such as new wars, nuclear weapons and terrorism, arms control, biochemical warfare, health and biosecurity, risk, environmental security, post colonial security, and gender and insecurity, it will give you the conceptual, methodological and theoretical knowledge to analyse violence and security, insecurity, instability and armed conflict in the modern international system.

Year Two

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Analysing Contemporary Conflict Core 20
Populism, Authoritarianism and Extremism Core 20
Revolutions and Regime Change Core 20
Peacebuilding, Conflict and Security Core 20
Technology, Violence and War Option 20
Terrorism and Political Violence Option 20
The Politics of Development Option 20

Your second year expands and deepens interdisciplinary exploration of the historical dynamics and profound shifts in the politics and security of states. This will include the study of state and nation building, regime types, political processes, violence, conflict, terrorism, peacebuilding, regional politics and security. Both the general knowledge and the specific analytical skills developed by the modules offered in the second year are essential at several popular destinations for Politics graduates, such as government, international organisations and the NGO sector.

In Analysing Contemporary Conflict you will learn knowledge and analytic skills needed for a systematic and critical understanding of the causes, dynamics and impacts of conflict in the contemporary world. You will apply key concepts in various research and analysis tasks, exploring contemporary cases of conflict and the validity or limitations of existing academic thinking. As such, the module emphasises an applied and practical approach to conflict analysis, developing your skills in gathering and analysing information about relevant case-studies and contexts of conflict.

The module Populism, Authoritarianism and Extremism focuses on populist and authoritarian challenges to liberal democracy, and on the phenomenon of contemporary political extremism, in a broad historical context. It looks at case studies of non-democratic and hybrid regimes from the past, assessing the impact of the two world wars, the legacy of the twentieth-century 'revolt of the masses' and the emergence of extremist political ideologies. We then look at democratisation in the post-Cold War era, the latest authoritarian and populist challenges, and the re-emergence of radical and extremist movements, in various parts of the world. from Europe, Asia and the Middle East to Latin America. We examine ongoing debates about autocracy promotion, memory politics, the legacy of political radicalism and extremism, the persistent myth of the 'strong leader' and the populist concept of the 'illiberal democracy'.

The module Revolutions and Regime Change focuses on some of the most important and dramatic features of the contemporary world and its recent history - the twin processes of revolution and regime change. Beginning with the 'classical' revolutions - the French, Russian and Chinese - you will then explore how far, if at all, they have served as templates for modern ones such as those in Cuba and Iran. You will also examine the linked yet more gradual process of regime change through democratization, through case -studies such as the fall of communism in central and eastern Europe and (in some respects) the Arab spring. You will become familiar with, and able to critique, the major theories of revolution (class-based, psychological, modernization and interest group conflict).

How do we deal with situations of conflict and insecurity? Since the advent of peacebuilding as a term in United Nations parlance in the early 1990s, peacebuilding has developed into an industry, operating at a range of levels from village councils to the UN Security Council. In Peacebuilding, Conflict and Security we will consider two sides of peacebuilding. First, we will consider how the term has developed from a radical concept from the ideological fringe to a mainstream element of UN jargon, and the critiques of the way it has been used by liberal peacebuilders. Second, we will look at how peacebuilding is actually done in the field by peace, development and security practitioners. What are the tools and mechanisms that have been shown to work in stabilizing fragile contexts, and what do you need to know to use them effectively?

The module Technology, Violence and War examines contemporary debates about the relationship between society, technology and violence, focussing in particular on the implications for security and arms governance of recent innovations in drone warfare, nanotechnology, biotechnology and cyberwarfare. The module will include a visit and talk at the Royal Armouries in Leeds to familiarise students with the early history of military-technological innovation. You will be taught using a mixture of lectures, group seminar work and assessed presentations on a case study selected by the group. The case study will be chosen from examples of the recent offensive use of a novel technology. Different groups will be tasked with examining the various ethical, legal, strategic and security issues raised by the offensive use of a novel technology.

The module Terrorism and Political Violence is concerned with the phenomenon of political violence in the 20th and 21st century. It covers the politics and strategies of terrorism; the structure and dynamic of terrorist groups/terror group operations; technologies and tactics of terrorist groups; state vs. non-state terror, insurgencies and counterinsurgency strategies. It looks at terrorism and national liberation movements during the Cold War, the Arab-Israeli conflict and terrorism in the Middle East, urban terror in Western Europe and radical Islam. The emergence of Al Quaeda, global terror networks and the threat of weapons of mass destruction are discussed alongside the efforts to counter terrorism and the US led ‘war against terror’.

The global political economy is in the process of fundamental transformation. Power relations between north and south, east and west, are changing rapidly, with huge implications for international collaboration on issues such as trade, aid, global governance and on trans-border problems. In The Politics of Development module we explore the politics of development in the Global South, following the real world links in contemporary policy and practice. We explore the relevant theories and concepts from academic research but also look in detail at the practice of development strategies and policies on the ground in these countries. We will look at the more people-focussed approaches from non-governmental organisations and social movements, as well as the top-down strategies of governments and international organisations. In reviewing ‘what works’ and ‘what happens’ we will explore and practice some of the key professional techniques of impact analysis; monitoring and evaluation techniques; project management; and governance. There will also be opportunities to meet practitioners and policy makers.

Year Three

Module Title Core/Option/Elective Credits
Dissertation Core 40
Politics and Security in Africa or elective Elective 20
Pathways to Professional Practice Core 20
The Politics of International Crisis Response Core 20
Politics and Security in the Middle East Option 20
Creative Conflict Transformation Option 20
Contemporary Development Challenges Option 20

Year Three offers choice and flexibility alongside the core curriculum, with options for developing your own independent research in your dissertation. The core modules further develop key professional skills and competencies. Option modules allow for further specialisation in relevant areas and case studies of regions, in particular Africa and the Middle East.

Your dissertation is a substantial capstone project with which to conclude your degree. It represents your opportunity to undertake an extended piece of research and writing, guided by an academic supervisor. You will draw on the various concepts and theories you have learned and applying these to a case study or issue area of your choice to come up with new understandings of or solutions to pressing challenges in the world. You will learn about doing research, how to set out a pertinent and important research question, using analytical tools to analyse data, developing your ideas into arguments. The dissertation is a very useful signature piece of work to impress future employers and show them your in-depth knowledge of an area.

Bridging the divide between academic theory and professional practice is essential for you to effectively deploy your university studies to make a contribution to the real world outside. Pathways to Professional Practice aims to provide you with preliminary familiarity with the everyday challenges and problems of the practical context of peace and development work, through conducting a placement with a partner organisation in Bradford, or through designing and implenting your own practical project focused on promoting the aims and goals of the university, the student community, or an organisation outside. Under the supervision of your personal academic tutor, you will produce a professional quality project document, and you will maintain a learning journal documenting the challenges and issues you face in the professional context, leading to a reflective report on your experience of professional work. The module also offers an opportunity to interact with peace and development professionals in specially designed workshops to assist you in identifying possible career pathways.

The Politics of International Crisis Response brings you together with fellow students in politics, security, international relations, and development studies. Working across these neighbouring disciplies, you will develop an understanding of the dynamics that bear on international responses to complex crises, including disasters, humanitarian or development emergencies, gross abuse of human or minority rights, violent conflict or inter-state security crises. Through relevant case studies, this module examines existing international and regional mechanisms for crisis response and identifies lessons from past experiences. A crisis simulation game and other simulation exercises will give you the opportunity to develop skills and experience that will help you to engage with the challenges and practices of relevant international policy and practitioner communities.

Politics and Security in the Middle East covers topics such as colonialism, decolonisation, fragility, governance, democracy, gender, development, conflict, security, terrorism, intervention, the formation of nation-state model, the rise and the fall of Arab nationalism, political Islam, regional security and oil politics. The module will allow students to draw on their knowledge of broader frameworks and theories to apply them to a specific region, the Middle East, and to particular case studies or themes in the region.

Creative Conflict Transformation invites you to explore some of these questions, and to look beyond the most familiar peacemaking processes to include the arts (e.g. music, applied theatre, literature), memory work, critical/peace education, conflict resolution and mediation. It starts from the assumption that much work to address conflict and its legacies requires a capacity to both envision and act for change. How might we cultivate this capacity in ourselves and others? While this module can and should not provide final answers, it will draw inspiration from existing experiences and experiments and encourage you to reflect both creatively and critically on how they might help you shape your own approach to conflict engagement.

The global political economy is in the process of fundamental transformation. Power relations between north and south, east and west, are changing rapidly, with huge implications for international collaboration on issues such as trade, aid, global governance and on trans-border problems. In Contemporary Development Challenges students will learn about the challenges of applying theoretical models in a useful, ethical and reflective way, which is relevant to the well-being of people, and to the achievement of social, economic and environmental benefits for communities and societies. This will be done through investigating contemporary development issues which affect the Global South most acutely, and exploring these in case-study countries, by undertaking advanced supervised research projects, negotiated between students and tutors.

Reading lists

All reading lists can be found here.

Career support and prospects

Career support

The University is committed to helping students develop and enhance employability and this is an integral part of many programmes. Specialist support is available throughout the course from Career and Employability Services including help to find part-time work while studying, placements, vacation work and graduate vacancies. Students are encouraged to access this support at an early stage and to use the extensive resources on the Careers website.

Discussing options with specialist advisers helps to clarify plans through exploring options and refining skills of job-hunting. In most of our programmes there is direct input by Career Development Advisers into the curriculum or through specially arranged workshops.

Employment statistics

88% of our 2016 Peace Studies and International Development graduates found employment or went on to further study within six months of graduating.*

Career prospects

On graduation you’ll be equipped to explore a range of career opportunities, in areas such as:

  • international organisations
  • local and national government
  • aid and development
  • charities, NGOs and activist organisations
  • the armed forces
  • police or private security companies
  • education
  • the media

Salary expectations

The average starting salary for our 2016 Peace Studies graduates was £20,571.*

*These DLHE statistics are derived from annually published data by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), based on those UK domiciled graduates who are available for employment or further study and whose destinations are known.


Our research in politics and international relations was ranked 7th out of 56 universities in the UK in terms of its impact on society and public policy (source - Research Excellence Framework, December 2014).


The teaching and learning in Peace Studies and International Development happens in a variety of spaces: lecture theatres, seminar rooms, flexible spaces with moveable furniture where students can work in groups.

We reach outside the classroom – for example, inviting guest speakers from around the world to debate via Skype to debate, and organising study sessions that make use of our innovative eco-friendly campus, and the diverse city of Bradford. We also take students on field trips, in the UK and abroad (for example, around Yorkshire, to Northern Ireland, to The Hague, and to a different African country each year), and extended role plays (in a youth hostel somewhere picturesque).

We have a lot of extra-curricular activity, guest speakers, seminars and training sessions. Our Student Liaison Officer also organises lots of social activity - our central, cosy common room is a great place to meet and learn from fellow students and host to quiz nights, international potluck suppers, free breakfasts, coffee breaks. And don’t let’s forget the annual Peace and Development Ball, and our very own Peace football team…

The JB Priestley Library has excellent resources, especially for Peace, Politics and Social Change, and International Development, in which the university specialises - see details of our Special Collections.

The library is open 24/7, as are other safe, welcoming and interactive spaces around campus designed for students’ to meet and study together.

The University and the Division are very global in outlook, and so are the students we attract. For that reason we offer free Modern Foreign Language classes for beginners in Arabic, French, German and Spanish. These two-hour weekly classes are led by experienced language teachers and result in a certificate of attendance. A much wider range of languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese or Korean, is taught – also for free – under a peer-to-peer scheme. Often PSID students get involved both as teachers and learners.

Fees, Finance and Scholarships

Tuition fees


  • Home/EU: £9,250*
  • Home/EU, sandwich placement year fee: 10% of the applicable full-time fee
  • International: £14,950
  • International, sandwich placement year fee: £1,500

* Fees going forward have been capped by the Government at £9,250 in October 2017.

See our Fees and Financial Support website for more details.

Financial support

Every year the University of Bradford awards numerous non-repayable scholarships to UK, EU and international students on the basis of academic excellence, personal circumstances or economic hardship.

These include:

  • Undergraduate cash bursaries to all Home and EU students whose family incomes are under £30,000 a year
  • Scholarships worth up to £3,500 over three years to all Home and EU students who achieve AAA or higher in their A-levels (or equivalent)
  • Half Fee Academic Excellence Scholarships for International Students
  • Sanctuary scholarships to enable forced migrants seeking asylum, or those already granted refugee status who cannot access student finance
  • Country specific scholarships

Adam Curle and James O'Connell Peace Scholarships

In addition, the Division of Peace Studies and International Development offers two scholarships to students who demonstrate leadership and academic potential.

Any applicant who has formally confirmed acceptance of our offer (either conditional or unconditional) of admission onto any of our undergraduate degree courses is eligible to apply. Each is worth £3,000 (£1,000 a year over three years) and can be used for any purpose – living expenses, books, internships, travel. 

Application is by a short personal statement. Email Dr Fiona Macaulay for more details.

How do I find out more?

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This is the current course information. Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study.