Social sciences

Top universities where you can study politics & international studies (incl development studies)

Politics is the study of how governments function, how public policies are made, international relations and political ideas, ranging from democracy to human rights.

Any politics degree will include the examination of current and past political conflict around the world; different models and mechanisms of government; ideologies such as communism, anarchism and liberalism; and concepts such as freedom and equality. This is achieved through engaging with the work of significant historical figures, such as Machiavelli, Plato and Confucius and more recent theorists like John Rawls and Karl Marx. There is always a contemporary practical thread, examining the impact of developments in new technology and the mass media, for example.

Politics students will learn to collect, analyse and present political data, to understand the processes, theories and problems that push forward and shape politics and to interpret political events. Other skills gained include communication, creative and critical thinking and the construction of coherent arguments. Politics graduates are adept at solving problems, negotiating and influencing decisions – all of which are desirable assets in many industries, some of which can be incredibly lucrative.

Most politics graduates don’t pursue a career in politics – although some do, as researchers, fundraisers and activists. Other common routes are into marketing and PR, management consultancy, youth and community work, the finance industry, the defence industry and academic research (although postgraduate study would be required to do so). Politics is a popular postgraduate degree and statistics suggest one in six politics graduates pursue further studies in their subject.

Other subjects within the discipline of social sciences