Undergraduate Programmes


    History BA

    The history programme offers exciting opportunities to explore diverse past societies and cultures. The History programme introduces you to the study of societies in the past. It looks at the history of Britain, Europe and the wider world in the modern period. Through an examination of life as it was lived in the past, you begin to understand what it means to be human and to understand both...
    Read full course details

    International Politics BSc

    The programme will develop your understanding of the importance of politics in a globalising and integrating world. This degree focuses on politics in an international context. As well as providing a foundation in the approaches to, and theories of, politics and international relations, the programme will develop your understanding of the importance of politics in a globalising and integrating world....
    Read full course details

    Politics and Economics BSc

    You will have good access to some the best research facilities in the UK. This programme allows you to examine how political and economic factors enter into public and private decision-making. The course also aims to impart a range of technical expertise, including quantitative and computing skills in economics and an understanding of micro- and macro-economic principles and of advanced macroeconomics. Economics and Finance brochure Politics and History brochure...
    Read full course details

    Politics and History BSc

    Our unique work placement scheme offers the opportunity to carry out high-quality paid professional placements in the UK or overseas, anywhere from a US Senator's office to HM Treasury. This degree provides an innovative combination of high-level study of both politics and history. As well as gaining a firm understanding of key political institutions and players which form a framework to understanding contemporary issues, you will study complementary courses in history, which span from the 17th to the 20th centuries and cover a wide...
    Read full course details

    Politics and Sociology BSc

    You will have good access to some the best research facilities in the UK. This degree provides an innovative combination of high-level study into both politics and sociology. As well as gaining a firm understanding of key political institutions and players, which form a framework to understanding contemporary social and political issues, you will study challenging sociology topics in one of the best Schools in the country. Politics and...
    Read full course details

    Politics BSc

    You will have good access to some the best research facilities in the UK. Politics is a broad-based degree which provides a good foundation in the various aspects of the study of politics. It offers a grounding in the different approaches and theories, as well as a range of options that focus on European, American and international politics, and political change....
    Read full course details

Why Brunel?

We are a top ranking Department, which focuses on contemporary politics and modern history.

Excellent results in the National Student Survey 2012 and league tables

History is 1st out of 95 and Politics is 3rd out of 72 for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2012 Average Score Rankings. Further to this success, History is placed at number 10 and politics at number 18 in the Sunday Times University League Table 2013 subject rankings.

Research excellence

In the last Research Assessment Exercise run by the government’s Higher Education Funding Council, 75% of the Department’s research was rated as being of international excellence. You will be taught by leading experts and you will benefit from the strong support we offer students. We pride ourselves on being accessible and approachable, with an effective Personal Tutoring system.

We have world renowned experts who are sought-after by the media and policy makers. Find out more about their influential research in the 'Research Expertise' section (see above).

Exciting placement opportunities

We offer four-year sandwich courses (with Professional Development) as well as three year courses. Our award winning Placement and Careers Centre provides high quality work placement opportunities in a wide range of organisations, which will help you to succeed in the job market. Recent placements have included the following:

  • Crime Statistics Unit in the Home Office
  • Local government and Westminster MPs
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Prince’s Trust
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • British Youth Council

A truly interdisciplinary approach

You have the opportunity to study politics or history, or both. At Brunel, you can make the most of the interdisciplinary research our academics undertake fully exploring the interface between politics and history.

Learn more about our scholarships, research expertise, study abroad scheme, activities and course modules in the above sections.


Brunel’s scholarship package

Brunel has introduced over 1,000 new scholarships for undergraduate students. This means that one in every three students who join Brunel in 2012 will receive financial support from the University.

Work Placement Scholarship

Although our work placement fees are competitive at £1,000, a fee waiver scheme is also available for eligible students.

Academic Excellence Scholarship

This scheme offer a £3,000 fee waiver each year to students who achieve three As at A-level (or equivalent in an alternative qualification).

Brunel Access Scholarships

The scholarships will support students from under-represented groups (such as disabled students, mature students, those with a low household income and those in the first generation of their family to go to university), and encourage continuous improvement as the award value rises after each successful year of study.

These scholarships are complemented by a range of further awards as well as the Government’s flagship National Scholarship Programme, jointly funded by Brunel.

For further details, see our Fees and Funding 2012 information.

Research expertise

Experts who are highly sought-after by the media and policy makers

We have talented experts in their field who are engaged in a wide range of influential research activity which is sought-after by policy makers and is regularly covered by the media.

Professor Justin Fisher, Head of the School of Social Sciences

  • Appears regularly on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky TV, Radio 4 and Radio 5 discussing political parties and British elections
  • Acted as an Advisor to the Parliamentary Committee on Standards in Public Life
  • Director of The Electoral Commission’s project on Attitudes of Agents on the Administration of the 2010 General Election

Dr Philip Davies and Dr Kristian Gustafson, lecturers in Intelligence and Security Studies

  • Played a major role in the development of Britain’s current joint military intelligence doctrine

Dr Kristian Gustafson, lecturer in Intelligence and Security Studies

  • Featured on BBC Radio 4 and on Sky News to speak about the death of Osama Bin Laden
  • Appeared on BBC4 covering the story of the CIA

Dr Matthew Hughes, lecturer in contemporary military and international history and politics

  • Appeared on USA Public Broadcasting to talk about Edwardian Britain for a programme to accompany the series Downton Abbey

Dr Tamson Pietsch, Lecturer in Imperial and Colonial History

  • Writes regularly for The Guardian’s Higher Education Network pages

Dr Varun Uberoi, lecturer in political science

  • Written for The Independent newspaper on questions of multi-culturalism
  • Liaised with the Canadian Federal Government’s Citizenship and Immigration Canada project about the backlash against multi-culturalism in Europe and presented his report on multi-culturalism to the No.10 Policy Unit

Dr John Macmillan, senior lecturer in International Relations

  • Spoke to the All Party Group on Disarmament and Global Security at the House of Lords on the subject of military intervention

Study abroad

Fantastic International Exchange Scheme with 13 partner institutions

In today’s globalised world, having the cultural experience of living abroad will give you an advantage in the job market. You can choose to study with one of our 13 partner institutions worldwide and you will spend a full academic year in the chosen country:

  • Ankara University. Turkey
  • The Autonomous University, Barcelona
  • Charles University, Prague
  • FK Institute at the Freie University of Berlin, Germany
  • University of Cyprus
  • University of Helsinki, Finland
  • University of Rennes, France
  • University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • National University of Ireland
  • Universidade NOVA (Lisbon), Portugal
  • University of Nottingham-Ningbo, China
  • American University of Paris, France

For additional information, please see our page regarding International Exchanges.  


Active student societies – Politics Society, History Society

You will have the opportunity to become a member of our student societies, which are run independently by students: Brunel University Politics Society (BUPS) and Brunel University History Society (BUHS). Each society organises a range of events and activities.  

Exciting associated activities

The Department runs a range of extra activities either for students or to which students are invited.  These include field trips, seminar series with external speakers and other events. For example:

  • A trip to the Don McCullin war photography exhibition at the Imperial War Museum
  • Participation in the Model United Nations in Lille, France, in February 2012
  • Visiting diplomats from the Israeli Embassy and the Palestinian Mission in London speaking on the course The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Module guide

Level 1

European History since 1870 (Alison Carrol and Astrid Swenson)

This module examines European history from the nineteenth century to the present. We will study central themes and events in the political, social, economic and cultural history of Europe, including the legacy of the nineteenth century revolutions and nationalism, the challenge of the adaptation to mass politics, the rise and fall of communism and fascism and the impact of total war. Introducing a range of primary sources and secondary literature, the module will examine the role played by individuals in a period dominated by dictatorships and relates this to broader structural developments. Throughout, you will be encouraged to make connections between events in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to draw comparative assessments across Europe. You will be introduced to a range of historiographical debates and reflect on the problems historians face when attempting to write the history of a past that still occupies the twilight zone between history and memory.

Sources, Methods and Perspectives in World History (Alison Carrol and Tamson Pietsch)

This module addresses a number of important areas of history and historiography, laying out the multifaceted ways in which professional history is practiced. It endeavours to demonstrate that history is both an arts subject and a branch of social science, and is a discipline that requires practitioners to be both imaginative and rigorous. It considers the various sources used by historians, before evaluating a range of important methodologies and interpretative perspectives on historical study and the past. The module also offers guidance on writing essays, career advice and familiarises students with the library and other services students will use in the course of their degree.

Britain, 1707-1939 (Thomas Linehan)

This module aims to provide a broad historical perspective of the main political, social, economic, and cultural changes and developments in British history from 1707 to 1939. The module will introduce students to the key historical processes and changes at work in these decades, and will examine the effects of these processes and changes on British society.

The Americas from Conquest to Settlement (Inge Dornan)

This modules examines themes of conquest, empire, and liberty in the Americas from c1492-1830. Beginning with Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors through to the European "invasion" of North America we investigate the myths of conquest that surrounded the Europeans in the Americas. As Indians and Europeans negotiated and fought for territory, we focus on the processes and experiences of European settlement - which include the arrival of the Puritans and Pilgrims, the Salem witchcraft trials, the great awakening, and the introduction of slavery to the American colonies. In the context of discussions over the meaning of liberty and enslavement, we study the American Revolution and Haitian Revolution, and end this module with an examination of the "removal" of the Indians and the corresponding emergence of American "democracy".

Modern British Politics (Varun Uberoi)

This module aims to provide a foundation for the study of modern British politics, introducing students to the main institutions and current issues in British Politics.

Political Science methods (Justin Fisher)

This module provides students with a practical introduction to research methods for the study of politics, which will also provide them guidance on how to prepare and write term-time essays. By the end of the module, students should have a firm grasp of the research process and the different methods available to them when conducting their own research. Students will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to the discipline. The module covers the steps in the research cycle – from the design of research questions to the evaluation of evidence. Several lectures will be devoted to the differences between quantitative and qualitative methodology and the debate about which is preferable. The module ends with consideration of the ethics of social research and its limits.

Central Themes in Political Thought (Mark Neocleous)

This module introduces some of the central themes and thinkers in political thought. It is divided into two Parts: Part 1: Thinkers, in which we examine the arguments of some of the key political theorists such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx. And Part II: Themes, in which we examine the central ideas in political debate, such as democracy, the state, class, the nation, property, gender, justice, equality.

Introduction to World Politics (Stephen Marrin and Kristian Gustafson)

The module is designed to give students a broad understanding of key issues and developments in world politics. It deals with such issues as power, sovereignty, and how states (and other players) interact on the world stage now and into the future.

Introduction to American Politics (Niall Palmer)

This module is designed to provide students with a working knowledge and clear understanding of the American governmental and political system. Beginning with an analysis of the origins of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it moves on to assessments of the role and powers of each branch of the Federal government, the influence of political parties and interest groups, the changing forms and functions of federalism and the development of domestic and foreign policy agendas. The module combines historical perspectives with contemporary political analysis to provide a broad overview of the complex political system which struggles to govern a sprawling superpower.

The above modules are a typical selection and are subject to change. 

Level 2

The Holocaust (Thomas Linehan)

This module will study the origins, causes, nature, implementation and consequences of the Final Solution. In so doing, PX2004 will introduce students to the principal concepts, theoretical perspectives, historiographical debates and ethical issues relating to the Nazi Holocaust.

Britain and the Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850 (Kenneth Morgan)

The module covers the main economic and social changes associated with the birth of an industrial nation in Britain - population growth, agricultural change, new technology in industry, changes in transport, work patterns, the rise of factories, living standards, the poor laws, the rise of evangelical religion, and changes in leisure. Some selective aspects of the political impact of industrialisation (e.g. the Luddites, the Chartists) are are covered. Where relevant, British industrialisation is compared with the economic development of other countries, such as France and the Netherlands.

Democracy and Democratisation (Gareth Dale)

This module looks at democracy, from the vantage points of political and intellectual history, political theory, and comparative politics. The first half of the module charts the changing meanings of democracy and subjects liberal democracy to critical scrutiny. The second half of the module examines democracy in the present era, and includes topics such as ‘cosmopolitan democracy,’ the 'Arab Spring,' and 'democracy and climate change'.

Revolutionary Russia (Elisabeth Schimpfoessl)

The module will provide an examination of the main political, social, cultural and economic issues of the time period in the run-up and the aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917, from Late Imperial Russia through to Stalin’s Great Purges (1890s-1930s). On the one hand, it will examine why Late Imperial Russia did not develop into a constitutional monarchy, why Bolshevism triumphed, how socialism was constructed from 1917 onwards and why it developed into a totalitarian regime. On the other hand, it will look at the impact of social change and revolution on society and culture, literature and the arts as well as everyday life, gender, youth and sexuality.

Total War in the Modern Era (Matthew Hughes)

This level two module examines the concept and development of ‘Total War’ in the period from the French Revolution to the end of the Second World War (1789-1945). The two main aims are: firstly, to introduce students to the changing nature of warfare in the nineteenth century (1789-1914); secondly, to show students how this change related to the two world wars and how they were fought. As part of this analysis, the students will have a greater understanding of how and why ‘total wars’ are won and lost. This will help them understand more fully the interaction between war and society in the modern era.

Asia-Pacific International Relations (David Scott)

This looks at the international relations of the Asia-Pacific region. As such, it deploys relevant international relations (IR) theories to explain the role and relationships between actors like the US, China, Russia, Japan, Australia and India in the Asia-Pacific. It also looks at regional issues (like for example the South China Sea dispute and Korea), as well as ideas like the Pacific/Asian Century and mechanisms for regional integration.

US Foreign Policy from World War II to the End of the Cold War (Martin Folly)

This module provides students with understanding of the history of the post-World War II role of the United States as a superpower, and enables students to engage with ongoing historiographical debates over the conduct of American foreign policy in the Cold War era. It addresses the relationship between domestic politics and culture in the United States and the development of various strategies of containment by successive US Governments.

Issues in American Politics (Niall Palmer)

The aim of this module is to examine the impact of ideology and partisanship upon key issues in contemporary U.S. politics and society. Deploying a thematic focus on the changing strength and character of American conservatism and liberalism, the module examines how key issues such as taxation, crime, environment, race, gender, sexuality and welfare are converted into partisan battlegrounds. Examining case studies from the period 1981-2011, students will gain an understanding of how ideology, partisanship and pragmatism interact to influence legislation, congressional behaviour and executive leadership.

Comparative Politics (Peter Thomas)

Comparative Politic is one of three central component parts of modern political science. In the first part of this course, students learn about the historical emergence of comparative politics and its relation to other fields in political science, comparative methodology and critical perspectives. A range of representative political systems are then studied, in a domestic and international perspective. The course also includes the study of varieties of democracy, the comparative politics of revolution, comparative political economy, transitology and decolonisation.

International Relations (Elke Krahmann)

In this module you will discuss the major theoretical schools of thought in International Relations and learn how to apply these theories to the analysis of contemporary international affairs. Key issues and actors which will be examined through the lens of specific International Relations Theories include, among others, international interventions, terrorism, the United Nations, the CNN-Effect and Private Military Companies. In the first term you will be asked to collect newspaper articles on a topic of your choice in a 'Media Dossier' which will provide the background for your essay.

The above modules are a typical selection and are subject to change. 

Level 3

Fascism in the Twentieth Century (Thomas Linehan)

This module will study the origins, nature and development of fascism in Europe between 1918 and the present. In studying this module, students will gain an understanding of the main intellectual, ideological and cultural features of fascism, acquire knowledge of the political, social and cultural contexts in which fascist movements emerged, and become familiar with the historiography of fascist studies.

The Second World War (Martin Folly)

The module explores the military, political and socio-economic events and developments of the Second World War. It focuses on the historiographical and cultural significance of the war up to the present day. It adopts an “international history” approach by building its analysis around the interaction of states and peoples in this global conflict.

Slavery and Abolition in the Atlantic World (Inge Dornan)

This module explores the evolution of the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on the European colonies in the Americas. After examining the purpose and character of the slave trade, using primary source documents - such as the TAST database and oral testimonies by slaves, slaveholders and merchants - we explore the development of slavery in the British West Indies. The second part of this module investigates the rise of the abolitionist movement in Britain and its impact on the West Indies, leading to the abolition of the slave trade and the end of slavery in the British Caribbean.

Australia and the World, 1788-2000 (Kenneth Morgan)

This broad module examines Australia's relationship with the wider world from the beginnings of European settlement in the southern hemisphere until very recent times. It explains the manifold reasons for British connections with Australian, in relation to exploration, trade, free and convict migration and the role of Australia within the British Empire. It pays attention to racial factors (e.g. the characteristics of Aborigines, the evolution of a White Australia Policy for immigration). It explains the emergence of Australia as a nation and Australia's participation in the two world wars of the 20th century. It also accounts for the growth of multicultural Australia since 1950.

Late Soviet Union (Elisabeth Schimpfoessl)

The aim of this module is to examine and evaluate the major issues and controversies in the Soviet Union after 1945. The module seeks to provide an examination of the political, economic and social challenges faced by the Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev regimes. It will discuss how the dynamics of the respective period reflected in society; in culture, the arts, education, popular culture and everyday life. The module will also look at the legacy post-Communist Russia took over from Soviet times.

The Politics of Heritage: Historical Perspectives (Astrid Swenson)

How do societies decide which parts of their history they want to remember and what they want to forget? Why are the battles of what constitutes a group’s ‘heritage’ often so fierce? And where does the idea that nations have a shared heritage (which can include any kind of object, nature or immaterial tradition) come from in the first place? The module studies how the idea of ‘heritage’ originated, what meaning ‘heritage’ had in the past and which role it plays today. The module examines how ideas about heritage were shaped by political, social, economic and cultural factors since the 18th century and how, in turn, ideas about ‘heritage’ were central to the French Revolution, nationalism, imperialism, total war, genocide, fascism, communism, decolonisation, Europeanization, globalisation. The modules shows the impact of well-known figures such as Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin, but also examines how the unofficial nature of ‘heritage’ gave ordinary people and marginalised groups a change to rewrite their place in history and claim a place in the nation. Offering a possibility to think about the relevance of ‘history’ beyond the university, the course draws on a broad range of textual, visual and material sources, and lectures and seminars are complemented by excursions in the London area. For historians, the module provides the opportunity to build on Level I and II history modules and deepen understanding of European, British and World history. For politics students and combined degrees, it offers the opportunity to reflect on how much politics are shaped by ideas about history. The module also offers an introduction to a career in the heritage sector.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict (Matthew Hughes)

This module examines the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1948 to the present. The module looks at the development of Zionism and Arab nationalism before 1948 but the focus is on the period after 1948, the year when Israel was formed. The module studies the causes of the Palestinian refugee crisis, the causes of the Arab-Israeli wars, and it introduces students to the Arab-Israeli peace process. It also familiarises students with the polarised historiography surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lectures also look at Nasserism in Egypt and the Lebanese civil wars.

Politics of Monstrosity: Normality and Conflict in Modern European Culture (Filippo Del Lucchese)

This course examines major texts in the modern history of political thought and literature and the questions they rise about normality, monstrosity and conflicts. The Monster (from Latin "monstrum") in its broader meaning suggests the astonishment produced by an irregular and unusual phenomenon. In the modern age, it becomes the key figure which allows us to reflect on the ideas of norm and anomaly within the natural as well as the political order. The course aims to place the works studied in the context of the history and of political as well as philosophical debates of the early modern period. These aims are to be achieved through a close reading of original texts (such as Montaigne'sEssays, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, Shelley's Frankenstein, Stoker's Dracula) in the seminars, supported by contextual and background information provided in lectures.

Globalisation and Governance (John MacMillan)

This module critically analyses the development and condition of the global political system through a number of different conceptual and theoretical frames and relates this to debates within the field of globalisation studies.

Empire, Imperialism, Hegemony (Gareth Dale)

This module examines the mechanisms by which dominant polities exercise power and influence over external territories, and the driving forces of power projection. It includes discussion of the dynamics of expansion and contraction of empires; the causes and nature of European imperial expansion; and contemporary debates over the USA’s role in the world economy and inter-state system.

India and the World (David Scott)

This focuses on the international relations of India as a rising power in the international system. As such, it deploys relevant international relations (IR) theories to help explain this rise. It uses a concentric circles format by looking at (1) India's power potential, (2) its relations in its immediate neighbourhood of the South Asia region, (3) its relations in its wider extended neighbourhood of the surrounding regions, (4) its relations with other Great Powers like the US, Russia, China, Japan and the EU and (5) its role in global issues like climate change.

Media, Politics and Power in America (Niall Palmer)

This module assesses the changing roles and significance of the media in American politics. Divided into themed sections, it covers (a) the evolving relationship between the White House and news reporters from the 1890s to the present day; (b) the dilemmas of news reporting in wartime; (c) the protection of journalists’ rights under the First Amendment; (d) the theories of Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti on the media’s role as a mouthpiece for capitalist elites; (e) the influence of the FCC in shaping media markets and diversity in broadcasting; (f) the influence of election campaigns and new technology on journalistic practices and (g) representations of the presidency and Hofstadter’s ‘paranoid style’ of American politics in Hollywood film.

Marx and Marxism (Mark Neocleous)

This module is designed to facilitate an understanding of the works of Marx, Engels and some key Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century. It aims to place the work studied in the context of the history, philosophical debates and political movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to consider what, if anything, may be gained from studying their work now. These aims are to be achieved through a close reading of original texts.

Parties & Voters in the UK (Justin Fisher)

This module examines and evaluates the major issues and controversies in the study of elections, voting behaviour and political parties in Britain, and provides a basis for comparative analysis. It is a sophisticated examination of changing electoral behaviour, party ideology and the party system and covers the following broad topics: party systems; partisan identification and class voting; issue voting; economic voting; electoral turnout; party campaigns; party leaders; electoral systems; party ideology; party organisation; party members and activists; party cohesion, and party finance.

Intelligence and National Security (Stephen Marrin)

Intelligence plays a role in ensuring that national security is protected and the interests of the nation state advanced. This module examines the purpose, functions, and processes associated with the governmental use of intelligence to protect national security

Theory and Practice of Cultural Diversity (Varun Uberoi)

The module gives students an understanding of various debates that have emerged in political theory as Western societies have grown more culturally diverse. Such debates include whether to restrict immigration, defend and promote national identity, how multiculturalism and feminism might conflict, whether ethnic minorities should get special political representation and so on. Students study the conceptual and ethical arguments surrounding such issues, learn how to analyse and find fault with them, whilst also taking their own positions in relation to them.

The above modules are a typical selection and are subject to change. 

Page last updated: Wednesday 28 March 2012