Politics is the broad, universal, and essential study of how governments, policies, and internal relations work. Politics plays a role in every country in the world, whether it be federal, democratic, communist or republic. It’s through politics that many important questions are answered, and global challenge are addressed – including human rights, poverty, equality, and welfare.
Politicians use their broad range of skills to stand up for what they believe in, and what’s right. Using their intelligence and communication skills, along with their powers of persuasion and charisma, politicians fight for the opportunity to occupy a place in government where they can make changes for good. Whether you want to become a politician, or you’re simply fascinated by the subject, a degree in politics will leave you with an arsenal of skills that will service you well in most careers.
There normally aren’t any subject requirements for a politics degree, but each university will have different grade boundaries. Applicants with the best chances will be those who have studied politics, or a combination of economics, history, geography, philosophy or sociology.
Like many degrees with non-specific entry requirements, you should focus on your skills and characteristics, and how they relate to your chosen subject. A politics degree will call for strong communication skills, critical thinking, analysis, an interest in social justice, morals, and ethics. You’ll spend a lot of time studying international and historical politics, so a global interest is also a bonus.
A levels – Entry requirements range from BCC to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for ABB.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAABB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for ABB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by 15 January
- Write a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
While you’ll probably cover international politics and relations in your first year, you can specialise in your preferred subject areas in your second and third years. Even if you’re only interested in UK politics, it’s still important to understand what’s going on around the world.
You’ll be learning about the three main strands of politics: government, international relations, and political theory. Much of your study will focus on controversies in history and how they were resolved, as the primary role of modern politics is to prevent and resolve the same challenges. You can, obviously, expect to be involved in a lot of debates and you’ll learn just as much from your peers as you will from your tutors and your textbooks.
Studying politics will see you spend around ten hours in the classroom per week, which is slightly less than the average across other subjects. With the vast history of politics, and differences between every country, you’ll be spending a lot of time in self-study.
You’ll share many similar modules in the first year, but in the second you’ll have the option to specialise in areas of politics which interest you most, including socialism, communism, anarchism, and neoliberalism. You can also study more refined modules which focus on the European Union, for example, or wartime politics, or third world politics.
The career prospects for politics graduates are strong, with starting salaries of £21k and 96% of students in employment or further study within six months of graduating.
Studying a politics degree will likely involve:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- hearing from local or national politicians
- placements and industry experience
- project, presentation, and group work
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
- Financial adviser
- Improvement practitioner
- Junior management consultant
- Policy officer
- Public relations and communications assistant
- Regulatory compliance officer
- School business professional