University of Chester

Programme Specification
International Relations BA (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2016 - 2017

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

International Relations

International Relations

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September

various

L250

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Social Science Social and Political Science

Politics and International Relations

N/A

Department of Social and Political Science

Wednesday 27th January 2016

The educational aims of the programme are consistent with the educational aims of a politics degree as set out in the benchmark statement for Politics and International Relations. They are also consistent with the QAA's FHEQ stipulation for a 'bachelor's degree with honours' level descriptor as referred to in the benchmark statement and as mapped across this programme specification under the learning outcomes section.

They have been adjusted to speak specifically to the discipline of International Relations and are as follows:

  • To place questions of politics and international order and decision-making at the centre of analysis
  • To ensure that students acquire knowledge and understanding in appropriate areas of theory and analysis
  • To enable students to understand and use concepts, approaches and methods of their discipline and develop an understanding of their contested nature and the problematic character of inquiry in the discipline
  • To develop in students a capacity to think critically and independently about events, ideas and institutions
  • To encourage students to relate the academic study of international relations to questions of public concern and to relate the academic theory to policies in practice
  • To assist students to develop a range of cognitive and social skills relevant to their intellectual, vocational and personal development
  • To provide a curriculum supported by scholarship, staff development and a research culture that promotes breadth and depth of intellectual enquiry and debate
  • To create a learning environment that is receptive to the needs and views of students and encourages them to achieve their full potential


Specifically, graduates will be able to demonstrate a wide range of abilities and skills in:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the subject
  • Generic intellectual skills
  • Personal transferable skills


(benchmark 4.12 and 4.13)

In addition, the programme-related educational aims are for students to achieve the learning outcomes linked to the individual modules, which in turn link back to the programme-wide educational aims.

Learning outcomes for the International Relations Combined Honours Programme conform to the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement (February 2015). Individual modules have set their own learning outcomes to reflect these as appropriate and to link with the programme learning outcomes shown above. The programme as a whole delivers all these skills and individual modules will incorporate some or more of the skills. The learning outcomes for the modules are written to reflect both knowledge and understanding and the more applied skills for the modules.

 Knowledge and Understanding represents a key area of the Subject Benchmark (4.14). As noted in in the Subject Benchmark (4.6) combined honours International Relations learners are not expected to engage with the subject breadth and depth expected of the single honours learner but, given this qualification, the curriculum similarly exposes learners to elements as shown below.

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • understand the political significance of multiple polities coexisting and of political boundary drawing and transforming practices
  • apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of international relations to the analysis of political ideas, practices and issues in the international system

These will be taught in:

  • Comparative Politics (SO4703)
  • Thinking about Politics and International Relations (SO4704)

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to: 

  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the origins, evolution and contemporary dynamics of the international system and the challenges to it

These will be taught in:

  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)

FHEQ Level Six

Depending on the weighting of the learners chosen degree programme, on completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • evaluate different interpretations of world political events and issues.

These will be taught in:

  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704);
  • The Art of War (SO6055)

Cognitive Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15)

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
  • reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback
  • recognise the importance of explicit referencing and the ethical requirements of study which requires critical and reflective use of information and communications technology in the learning process 

These will be taught in:

  • Comparative Politics (SO4703)
  • Thinking about Politics and International Relations (SO4704)

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to:

  • identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems
  • manage their own learning self-critically
  • use communication and information technology, including audio-visual technology, for the retrieval and presentation of information and where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • apply employability skills 

These will be taught in:

  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (SO5051)

FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • construct reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement
  • utilise inter-cultural skills/global awareness, particularly in relation to employability
  • collaborate with others to achieve common goals through, for example, group work, group projects, and group presentations. Employers regard collaboration and the identification of common goals highly. This is especially so as public sector organisations and other

These will be taught in:

  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704);
  • European Project (EU6302); and
  • The Art of War (SO6055)

Practical Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15).

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback 

These will be taught in:

  • Comparative Politics (SO4703)
  • Thinking about Politics and International Relations (SO4704)

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to: 

  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing.

These will be taught in:

  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (SO5051)

FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to: 

  • progress through the degree programme to become mature, independent learners who can demonstrate initiative, self-organisation and time management attributes. The ability to identify opportunities for continuous learning and development, leading to future continuous professional development, is particularly valued by employers
  • critically analyse and disseminate information

These will be taught in:

  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704);
  • European Project (EU6302); and
  • The Art of War (SO6055)

Communication Skills are drawn from the Benchmark Statement’s section on Generic Intellectual and Transferable Skills (4.15).

FHEQ Level Four

On completion of FHEQ Level Four and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to:

  • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources

FHEQ Level Five

On completion of FHEQ Level Five learners will be able to:

  • use communication and information technology, including audio-visual technology, for the retrieval and presentation of information and where appropriate, statistical or numerical information
  • communicate effectively and fluently in speech and writing. 

These will be taught in:

  • Global Politics and International Relations (SO5703)
  • Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism (SO5051)

FHEQ Level Six

On completion of FHEQ Level Six and in line with the Subject Benchmark learners will be able to: 

  • collaborate with others to achieve common goals through, for example, group work, group projects, and group presentations.

These will be taught in:

  • Security and Insecurity in World Affairs (SO6704);
  • European Project (EU6302); and
  • The Art of War (SO6055)

The subject benchmark statement suggests that 'all that can be asked of institutions is that they should continue to develop their teaching and research and to offer to their students a curriculum which is founded on the discipline which has developed to date; which reflects their particular approach to the discipline and which draws on their specialist strengths'. It therefore acknowledges the broad scope of the subject area and the opportunity for individual programmes to tailor the guidance to their own strengths. The benchmark points out that 'perhaps in no other academic discipline are the subject matter and approaches so much in contention and in flux'. In line with this guidance, the subject is taught at the University of Chester from an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on the strengths of our staff and their particular subject expertise. This results in a wide-ranging curriculum, reflecting a number of discipline areas (as sanctioned and encouraged by the benchmark) but also providing key central level-related building blocks. The Department already has staff specialisms that focus on International Relations theory, International Political Economy, Security Studies and foci on particular regions. The programme will also draw on the sociological strength of the Department with the Level 4 module: International Political Sociology

At the programme's core is an emphasis on employability skills, which is evident throughout the curriculum, within individual modules and in the way in which modules link. Employability skills are delivered in both a broad manner- encompassing for example inter-disciplinary perspectives; but also with the emphasis on relevance and the application to practice. The curriculum makes links throughout between the theoretical base and practice, using case studies, scenario planning and re-enactments. There are visits to political institutions, and guest speakers invited to the University. These opportunities for real work exposure become especially important at a time of recession, where graduates are less in demand and where honing relevant skills is all the more crucial. Alternatively, Work Based Learning offers students the opportunity to undertake a 5-week placement. During the placement, students have the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and abilities appropriate to any work setting. Students are free to arrange their own placement, or undertake one arranged by the Work Based Learning Office. The placement need not necessarily be related to a student's academic discipline(s). Whilst all efforts are made to match students to placements which align closely with their academic interests and /or prospective career, this is not always feasible. The number of placements available is sometimes restricted, particularly in certain specialist areas, and some students may have to complete placements in organisations or roles outside their preferred specialism.


The curriculum addresses the local targets set out in the Departmental Learning and Teaching Strategy which are: work towards facilitating employability; lifelong learning and reflective engagement with the wider society; develop assessments which support student learning, engagement, progress and achievement; promote diversity in the student experience and academic practice; use technology to underpin the educational provision; provide professional development which enhances learning and teaching, and pursue innovation, scholarship and research.

In the first year there are three core modules. In the second year, students can decide on the weighting for their subjects and in addition they will have the option of taking Enhancing your Employability through Work-Based Learning (WB5101).

Students combining International Relations with Politics share the module SO4704. They will therefore take both options offered (SO4105 and SO4005) as well as SO4701.

In the final year, students can select the modules they wish to take depending on their interests, and the double module International Relations Dissertation is an individual piece of research in which they can follow up their interests further.


EXCEPTIONS to 24b

Box 24b represents the standard Module Structure. The below, however, is applicable for certain combinations. These are:

  • Level Four – International Relations Combined with Politics
  • Level Five – International Relations Combined with Politics

Level Four – International Relations Combined with Politics

Students combining International Relations with Politics share the module SO4704. Therefore they will take the following:

  • CORE: From International Relations: SO4105, SO4703, SO4005
  • CORE: From Politics: SO4701, SO4704, SO4103

Level Five – International Relations Combined with Politics

Students combining International Relations with Politics at Level Five share SO5051 and SO5703 and therefore take the following modules with one option from the list below.

  • CORE: From International Relations: SO5703, SO5051
  • CORE: From Politics: SO5701, SO5702, WB5101
  • OPTIONS: (choose one) SO5103, SO5004

 

Study Abroad:

Students can take the programme as a four year rather than three year route which offers the possibility of one year abroad. Study Abroad students taking their third year abroad need to register on WB5008. This module will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year (Level 5) of study.  Students for Study Abroad must be recommended for the module, and the study programme that the student undertakes must be agreed with the department(s) that the student is studying in. Students must have successfully completed Level 5 with an overall average of 55% or higher (2.2 average), to receive final approval to participate in WB 5008.

Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
SO4005 4 Economic Thought and International Politics 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO4105 4 International Political Sociology 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO4703 4 Comparative Politics 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO4704 4 Thinking about Politics and International Relations 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5004 5 Globalisation and International Trade 20 Optional Optional N/A
SO5051 5 Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism 20 Comp Comp Comp
SO5103 5 Research Methods 20 Optional Optional N/A
SO5702 5 The Individual and the State 20 Optional Optional N/A
SO5703 5 Global Politics and International Relations 20 Comp Comp Comp
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional Optional Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional Optional Optional
EU6302 6 European Project 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6051 6 International Political Economy 20 N/A N/A N/A
SO6053 6 Politics of the Middle East 20 N/A N/A N/A
SO6054 6 International Relations Dissertation 40 Optional Optional Optional
SO6055 6 The Art of War 20 Optional Optional Optional
SO6104 6 Debates in Sociology 20 N/A N/A N/A
SO6704 6 Security and Insecurity in World Affairs 20 Optional Optional Optional

120 credits at Level 4 leads to a Certificate in Higher Education

240 credits gained from Level 4 and Level 5 leads to a Diploma in Higher Education

360 credits gained from Level 4, Level 5 and Level 6 leads to an Honours Degree

N/A

The entry requirements will be:

UCAS points: 280 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - BCC/BBC
BTEC:

BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM

BTEC Diploma: D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects
International Baccalaureate: 26 points
Access Access to HE Diploma to include 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 level 3 credits at Merit
OCR:

OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 2

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DMM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 points from GCE AS Levels and that Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A level General Studies will be recognised in our offer.  We will also consider a combination of A levels and BTECs/OCRs.


Please note: A BTEC National Award, OCR National Certificate or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.

In keeping with the mission statement of the University of Chester and the Department’s commitment to widening access and participation, we will offer a flexible entry system for mature students and for those who possess non-standard entry qualifications.

The subject benchmark provided the basis for skills development across the modules, and the broad template for the mix of learning, teaching and assessment on the programme as a whole (and within specific modules). It is non-prescriptive, which means that the programme has been able to apply the guidance in accordance with available resources. The curriculum development process started with the proposed content suggested by the benchmark; the methods of teaching and learning and the methods of assessment were all checked off against the benchmark with the result that we have committed to deliver (where appropriate) the recommendations found therein. We needed to weigh this with our own expertise and existing resources, as programme development takes place within a clear institutional context.

In keeping with the University's commitment to diversity, progression and retention, teaching and learning methods on this programme are diverse and enable students of varying abilities to develop to their full potential. The teaching team will use their knowledge of learning and teaching methods to create a strong team teaching ethos with an emphasis on evaluation and reflection. Formative work is linked to the skills required to pass the summative assessment. The team work with Student Support and Guidance to ensure that all learning and teaching is accessible to all students.

Sources which have informed the programme's teaching and learning strategy include the Departmental Teaching and Learning Strategy, HE educational theory (for example as gained from interaction with the University of Chester's Learning and Teaching Institute) and the Subject Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, which has extensive resources on teaching and learning. In addition, guidance has been sought from the Political Studies Association, specifically the Learning and Teaching Specialist Group, and the British International Studies Association and the Higher Education Association Learning and Teaching Working Group, and from academic sources such as journals on learning and teaching, with an emphasis on International Relations.

The result is a wide range of forms of teaching and learning, in keeping with the template set out by the benchmark statement.

The benchmark statement identifies teaching and learning methods designed to:

  • meet aims and objectives of the programme
  • foster knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject
  • stimulate engagement and participation in the learning process
  • encourage deep rather than surface learning by students
  • encourage students to reflect on and take responsibility for their own learning
  • take account of the different circumstances and needs of students (benchmark 5.1)

All assessments (formative and summative) have been developed with the above criteria in mind.

The benchmark suggests that forms of teaching include an appropriate balance drawn from among the following:

  • lectures, tutorials, workshops
  • whole group, small group, individual teaching
  • student-led and tutor-led sessions
  • skills-based, discussion-based and knowledge-based classes
  • tutor-student interaction including face to face, via IT and in some cases, specially designed learning materials (benchmark 5.2)


The benchmark emphasises that student learning takes place in a variety of settings and that politics students learn through:

  • speaking, listening, reading, writing
  • engagement with printed, oral, broadcast and electronic sources
  • group and individual work
  • observation participation and reflection

And are expected to use a range of learning methods which include:

  • critical reading of a wide range of texts
  • independent research using both primary/ secondary sources
  • group discussion
  • contact with political actors (benchmark 5.5 and 5.6)

All the above are addressed across the modules. In addition, some modules are more likely than others to draw on guest speakers, and undertake visits which would result in 'contact with political actors'.

Each module descriptor specifies the learning and teaching methods appropriate for that module, and which will build formative development towards the achievement of learning outcomes through summative assessment.

The overall strategy is one of supporting students in reaching their potential, and mindful of the various agendas within the University, to ensure retention and progression. Members of the teaching team are familiar with the requirement to provide a positive learning experience for our students, and to put an emphasis on formative and developmental work.

In keeping with the learning and teaching methods outlined in the benchmark statement, assessment will be varied across the modules and across levels. Given the USP of employability skills for the programme, assessments also reflect the needs of employers for graduates with skills requisite with an International Relations degree, and include for example report, policy and executive summary writing skills. All summative assessment is preceded by formative assessment which will underpin the skills needed for achieving the learning outcomes through the summative assessment. The benchmark suggests that assessment methods are designed to:

  • meet the aims and objectives of the programme
  • promote student learning
  • be capable of being used for diagnostic, formative and summative purposes
  • be valid, reliable and fairly administered
  • allow students to demonstrate their learning according to explicit and transparent assessment criteria
  • provide appropriate opportunities for feedback (benchmark 5.7)

and that forms of assessment can include an appropriate balance of a wide range of options, which the benchmark lists.

The benchmark statement is clear about the characteristics of an International Relations graduate (with a 'bachelor's degree with honours') and in its aim to define 'graduateness' in International Relations. It describes it in terms of three areas of performance, knowledge and understanding; generic intellectual skills and personal transferable skills. Student achievement is expressed according to the benchmark in terms of learning outcomes on the successful completion of the programme. The benchmark identifies in some detail typical and threshold standards in the three areas of performance (above).

The overarching graduate profile will depend on the other subject with which International Relations is combined. However, the Department is confident that the students who take combined honours at Chester will have gained the knowledge understanding and skills expected of a combined honours graduate in International Relations, given the strong employability skills theme.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

In practical terms, the Department works with colleagues from Student Support & Guidance, Academic Study Skills and from Marketing Recruitment and Admissions to ensure the various agendas are taken into account. In addition, the Institution's Teaching and Learning Strategy (reflected in the Departmental and the Programme strategies) sets out specific aims as part of the diversity agenda. The programme team will provide support and guidance for students with for example, diverse abilities, through the formative approach to teaching and learning which is embedded in the programme. The Disability Link Tutor works with colleagues in the Department and in Student Welfare to address specific student issues. The drive to retain students, and to enable them to progress, also means that the teaching team are strongly student-focused. The programme team will be working with statistics in order to identify trends in intake related to progression and retention, and with colleagues in Aim Higher and MRA for access to HE. We are mindful of statistics which identify trends in recruitment and retention, and will endeavour, through working with colleagues in for example Aim Higher, as well as working with local Colleges to encourage Access entrants, to address diversity and equality issues. The subject matter of a number of the modules is likely as well to challenge and to analyse particular economic positions on these agendas.

In summary, the programme aims to achieve breadth and relevance through delivering employability skills, and to ensure that all students, regardless of their other subject, achieve the outcomes expected of a combined International Relations graduate.

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