Politics is everywhere. From Brexit to the cost of living crisis, politics plays a critical role in our daily lives. It’s probably why so many students are interested in studying politics at university. In fact, one in six politics undergraduates go on to study postgraduate degrees, according to Uni Guide, But what actually is politics and what types of things do you study? And importantly, what can you do with a politics degree in the future? Our guide to studying politics answers all the big questions to help you out.

What is politics?

what is politics

We always hear talk about politics, but what exactly is politics? Essentially politics is concerned with how government works, why governments implement specific policies, and their connections with international relations.

Politics refers to the activities, principles, and structures that govern the relationships between people, organisations, and governments. It involves the process of making decisions that affect society, including the distribution of resources, the enactment and enforcement of laws, and the allocation of power.

Politics encompasses a broad range of activities, including campaigning for office, voting, lobbying, and participating in public debates. It also involves the formulation of policies and programs that seek to address various social, economic, and environmental issues. Politics is often driven by a diversity of opinions and interests, and it can be contentious and challenging.

In short, politics is the art of governance and the exercise of power to shape the social and economic environment of a society. It is a complex and dynamic field that involves a range of stakeholders and interests, and it has a significant impact on the lives of people and communities.

Why study politics at university?

study politics degree UK

There are many reasons why people want to study politics. One common reason is that politics is an ever-evolving subject that has many applications on a day to day life. Political science students generally have inquisitive minds who want to use their curiosity and thirst for knowledge to not just understand the modern world, but also to make a change in society.

Studying politics can be rewarding for many reasons; firstly, it allows individuals to develop critical thinking skills. These are essential to understand complex issues, analyse policy proposals, and evaluate different perspectives on important topics. These skills are also transferable to other areas of study and can be useful in many different professions.

Secondly, studying politics can help individuals become better-informed citizens. It provides a deeper understanding of how the government operates and the impact of policies on society. This knowledge is particularly important in a democratic society, where citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process and make informed decisions on important issues.

Finally, studying politics can open up a wide range of career opportunities. Politics is a broad field that includes careers in government, law, international relations, journalism, and public service, among others. A degree in politics can prepare individuals for these career paths by providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills.

What do you study for a politics degree?

politics degree

A politics degree typically covers a broad range of topics related to political science, political theory, and public policy. The exact curriculum may vary depending on the institution and program, but here are some common subjects and themes that are covered in a politics degree:

  1. Political theory: This involves the study of different political systems, ideologies, and philosophies, such as democracy, liberalism, Marxism, and conservatism.
  2. Comparative politics: This involves comparing and analysing the political systems and structures of different countries, including their governments, elections, and political parties.
  3. International relations: This involves the study of the relationships between countries, including issues such as globalisation, diplomacy, conflict, and cooperation.
  4. Public policy: This involves the analysis of policies and programs created by governments to address social, economic, and environmental issues.
  5. Political research methods and analysis: This involves learning research methodologies and techniques, such as statistical analysis, surveys, and case studies, which are used to investigate political phenomena. This module teaches how to use SPSS software to input and interpret data to evaluate political statistics
  6. Political communication: This involves the study of how political messages are created, distributed, and received by different audiences, including media, political parties, and interest groups.
  7. Political economy: This involves the study of the relationship between politics and economics, including issues such as trade, finance, and regulation.
  8. Contemporary security challenges: this module deals with contemporary debates on social, economic, and geopolitical security.
  9. Development: This module involves a close analysis of the development of various nations and offers a fantastic insight into how states work.

Overall, a politics degree is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of politics, government, and public policy, as well as the skills to analyse and critique political systems and policies. No matter what modules are offered, expect modules to heavily rely on debates.

Which are the best universities for politics?

UCL study politics degree

According to the Complete University Guide, outside Oxbridge, some of the top universities where to study politics include UCL, the London School of Economics and Politics, The University of Durham, and King’s College University. You can see the top 10 universities for politics in the UK ranked in our article.

What can I do with a politics degree?

A politics degree can prepare you for a wide range of career paths in different fields. Here are some examples of what you can do with a politics degree:

  • Government and public service: A politics degree can prepare you for a career in government or public service, including roles in policy development, administration, and analysis at the local, state, or federal level.
  • Law: A politics degree can be a good foundation for a career in law. Many politics graduates go on to law school, and the knowledge and skills gained through a politics degree can be valuable in legal practice.
  • International organisations: A politics degree can prepare you for a career in international organisations, such as the United Nations, World Bank, or International Criminal Court. These organisations deal with a wide range of global issues, and often look for candidates with a strong understanding of politics and international relations.
  • Non-profit and advocacy organisations: A politics degree can be useful for a career in non-profit and advocacy organisations, including those that focus on social justice, human rights, and environmental issues.
  • Journalism and media: A politics degree can prepare you for a career in journalism and media, particularly in areas such as political reporting, analysis, and commentary.
  • Education: A politics degree can prepare you for a career in education, such as teaching political science or social studies at the high school or college level.

In addition to these fields, some of the most popular and sought-after jobs for politics students include:

Public Relations Officer

what can i do with a politics degree?
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A career in Public Relations(PR) involves using media to engage with clients and maintain a high profile for the firm being represented. A degree in Politics can transfer to this dynamic career path because there is an expectation to regularly work in teams and share ideas on how to better engage with clients. Other responsibilities include using social media to communicate with clients and commission market research.

Salaries, at entry levels, can be anywhere between £18,000 to £ 24,000. Experienced PR Officer’s salaries are between £24,000 to £40,000, and at the director level salaries could reach up to £ 100,000

Public Affairs Consultant

what can i do with a politics degree?
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As a Public Affair Consultant, you will use your knowledge of politics to advise and implement strategies with clients. This job allows you to work with a range of institutions ranging from the Parliament to work with non-profit organisations. In a junior position, you will be mainly responsible for conducting the research, whilst at the managerial level you will respond by implementing decisions.

Salaries at graduate levels are between £ 18,000 to £ 25,000, at the managerial level salaries are in the region of £25,000 to £45,000, and at director levels salaries can reach up to £ 55,000.

Local Government Officer 

what can i do with a politics degree?
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Indeed, as suggested by the name, Local Government Officers, are responsible for ensuring that local policies are observed. A career in Local Government could open the door to work in various fields such as education, tourism, and housing.

Entry salaries are around £17,500 to £ 20,000, and at managerial levels salaries can be in the region of £38,000.

If you’re not sure what career path you want to take, then getting work experience in politics is a good place to start. You’ll be able to sample what it would be like in a particular role/organisation while also making your CV look great!

There’s plenty of reasons why so many students want to study politics. Politics and History is a popular dual degree, so check our articles on What can you do with a history degree? and Here’s why you should study for a joint honors degree.