Philosophy and Politics (BA)

Philosophers investigate the nature of reality using logical reasoning rather than empirical methods. It is therefore integral to the study of Politics.

Combining Philosophy with Politics enhances your ability to explore and test the basic beliefs and values that underpin our ideas about politics, and gives you sophisticated intellectual tools with which to do it.

In your first year you will concentrate on core modules. In your second and final years you can choose from a wide range of optional modules.

Politics as an area of study develops your knowledge and understanding of governments, governance and societies. Politics is central to our everyday lives. It explores people and power and involves drama and events of great significance both today and historically. Think of the electoral struggle between Left and Right, the power play of the Cold War, and the great enterprise of European integration. Studying for a politics degree means investigating how politics works and delves into how parliaments and governments function while also allowing you to evaluate political ideas such as power, freedom, democracy, conflict, legitimacy and accountability.

Philosophy at Cardiff covers the full range of philosophical concerns, with a particular emphasis on ethics and aesthetics. Modules cover both the analytic and Continental styles of Western philosophy, which is unusual in the UK.

Key facts

Duration3 years
Typical places availableTBC
Typical applications receivedTBC
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerABB excluding General Studies
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrades ABB from a combination of 2 A-levels and the Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma Core.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer32 points with 6,5,5 at HL
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Politics and International Relations, Philosophy

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Mr Jonathan Kirkup , Admissions Tutor

    Welsh medium provisionThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.

    The first year is an introductory year. It is the results of the second and final years of study that determine your degree classification. The degree is made up of compulsory modules as well as optional modules, allowing you to tailor it to reflect your specific interests. A particular feature is the option of writing a dissertation in your final year.

    Year one

    You will study 60 credits in Politics and 60 credits in Philosophy during your first year of study.

    Year two

    You will take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in Politics.

    Year three

    You will take 60 credits in Philosophy and 60 credits in Politics.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    The Problem of ConsciousnessSE437920 credits
    Dissertation in PhilosophySE438520 credits
    Philosophy and Literary TheorySE432920 credits
    NietzscheSE530620 credits
    MetaethicsSE436720 credits
    Moral PsychologySE437220 credits
    Politics DissertationPL938620 credits
    Elections in the UKPL938720 credits
    Modern Welsh PoliticsPL938820 credits
    European Mind in the 20th CenturyPL939020 credits
    Cyfiawnder Byd-eangPL937720 credits
    Cenedlaetholdeb, Crefydd a Chyfiawnder: Hanes Athroniaeth yr 20fed Ganrif yng NghymruPL937820 credits
    International Relations DissertationPL938520 credits
    Cyfiawnder Byd-eangSE439420 credits
    Parliamentary Studies ModulePL938020 credits
    International Politics of the Middle EastPL937520 credits
    The Limits of Ethics in International RelationsPL937620 credits
    US Government and PoliticsPL937420 credits
    Philosophy and The ArtsSE432520 credits
    Philosophy of ScienceSE431220 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
    Global International Organisation in World PoliticsPL939120 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
    Advanced Moral PhilosophySE439220 credits
    Hanes Athroniaeth yr 20fed Ganrif yng NghymruSE439620 credits
    The History of Thought in International RelationsPL931120 credits
    Political Economy and the Devolved UKPL931220 credits
    Female Voices in Political TheoryPL931320 credits
    Justice and the Politics of International LawPL939720 credits
    Free Speech in a Multicultural SocietyPL931420 credits
    The Politics of Violence and the Violence of PoliticsPL931520 credits
    Feminist PhilosophySE438620 credits
    Political Philosophy: Methods & ApproachesSE440120 credits
    Devolution in Practice: Welsh Law and Politics Work PlacementPL931020 credits
    The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy offers intellectually stimulating programmes of study, shaped by the latest research. We have a supportive learning environment, where students are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge.

    Our programmes foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory, and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team-working, independent research, and time management. A range of formative and summative assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios, and creative assignments.

    Lectures provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information. These are outlined in course syllabi.

    Seminars provide an opportunity to ask questions and discuss key ideas in a small group environment. Their purpose is to assist you to integrate the information and ideas you receive from lectures and readings and to explore issues critically and in depth. Set questions and readings form the basis for discussion by directing your attention to relevant aspects of the subject matter and to various types of sources of information. Giving presentations develops your capacity to gather, organise and synthesise relevant information and ideas and to communicate these in a logical and concise manner. Tutor-led and student-led discussion hones logical skills and gives you practice in applying different concepts, theories and methods to the subject-matter at hand. It also exposes you to different interpretations of political ideas and events. Group problem-solving helps to develop collaborative skills.

    Essays and examinations are used not only for assessment purposes but also as a means of developing your capacities to gather, organise, evaluate and deploy relevant information and ideas from a variety of sources in reasoned arguments. Prior advice and written feedback (for essays) are used to help you understand what is required.

    School of English, Communication and Philosophy

    In 2013/14, 91% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.


    In 2013/14, 96% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.

    Politics at Cardiff is a respected recruitment pool for a variety of employers within this sector with the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales, the Department for Education, Oxford City Council, the UK Border Agency and a range of political parties all recruiting from the last graduating year.

    Outside of the political sector, the degree is of interest to employers in both the public and private sectors, with graduates taking up management training opportunities within EY, Enterprise Rent A Car, Zurich Insurance and King Worldwide.


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy admits around 360 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

    The School of European Languages, Translation and Politics admits around 230 students every year to its undergraduate degree programmes.

    Applications received

    Typical applications received

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy - 1500

    The School of European Languages, Translation and Politics - 1300


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    Politics and International Relations, Philosophy

    What are the aims of this Programme?


    Politics at Cardiff is an exciting, extensive and challenging academic programme which covers a broad range of areas in the study of Politics, including International Relations, Political Theory, European Union, domestic political systems and public policy.

    Our students can study not just Single Honours Politics, but also International Relations & Politics and Joint Honours Politics with a wide range of other subjects, including Law, Economics, Sociology, History, Languages and other Arts subjects.

    In the Politics programme we aim at

    ·         Providing a flexible structure that facilitates a broad and balanced education in the key areas of politics

    ·         Producing  graduates with the intellectual and employability skills appropriate both for further study and for a range of working environments

    ·         Providing opportunities for students to fulfil their academic potential, acquire research and transferable skills, maximise their career potential and achieve personal growth

    ·         Providing students with a sound basis of knowledge, understanding and skills in the main areas of politics.

    A degree in politics from Cardiff is highly respected by employers, both within the political environment and outside. Our graduates are able to demonstrate a wide portfolio of acquired skills, such as oral and written communication skills, research skills and analysis, teamwork, self-management and problem solving skills which are in demand across both public and private sectors.


    Philosophy is essentially a distinctive set of reading, thinking, and communication skills. Studying for a degree in Philosophy develops your abilities to identify the reasons for people’s claims, find the assumptions lying behind those reasons, critically assess the reasons and the assumptions, find good reasons yourself to see where they lead, and communicate all of this clearly and effectively. Philosophy graduates are known for their incisive analytical abilities and their ability to construct and communicate clear arguments.

    The Philosophy programme at Cardiff University combines breadth of content with the flexibility required for students to pursue specific interests and to specialise if they want to. We offer modules in both the analytic and the continental traditions of Western philosophy, and in all the central areas within the discipline: aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, language, metaphysics, mind, moral psychology and political philosophy.

    Year 1 is a foundation year designed to equip you with the skills for advanced study and to give you an overview of the subject that will enable you to make informed choices from the modules available in Year 2 and the Final Year. You take three subjects worth 40 credits each: these must include Mind, Thought and Reality and Introduction to Moral and Political Philosophy and your other joint honours subject. Joint honours students take 60 credits in each of their two subjects in their second and final years.  In Year 2, you select your 60 credits in Philosophy from a range of modules which encourage you to build on the foundation year, developing a solid understanding of the core areas of Philosophical inquiry. In Final Year there is a range of more specialised modules in which you can pursue interests developed in the previous two years and engage with current issues in research and scholarship, enabling you further to develop analytical and presentational skills that employers will value, as well as equipping you for postgraduate study. 

    What is expected of me?


    ·         Attend all Lectures and seminars

    ·         Engage with all forms of in-course assessment to allow self-reflection on progress towards the learning outcomes

    ·         Engage in independent study in addition to taught study. Increasing independence of learning is expected as the programme progresses

    ·         To complete the required reading and self-directed study.

    ·         Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.


    Students are expected to attend and participate in the lectures and seminars for all modules on which they are enrolled.  In line with University policy, attendance will be monitored at specific ‘points of engagement’ throughout the year.  Students with good cause to be absent should inform the member of staff who convenes module, who will provide the necessary support.  Students with extenuating circumstances should submit the Extenuating Circumstances Form in accordance with the School’s procedures.

    The total number of hours which students are expected to devote to each 20-credit module is 200.  Of these, 30 hours will be contact hours with staff (lectures and seminars); the remaining 170 hours should be spent on self-directed learning for that module (reading, preparation for seminars, research, reflection, formative writing, assessed work, exam revision).

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

    How is this Programme Structured?

    Students need to pass 120 credits each year. Approximately half of these credits come from Politics and half from Philosophy.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    Not applicable

    What skills will I practise and develop?


    This degree programme will allow you to develop a number of valuable skills. Students who are awarded a Single or Joint Honours Politics degree will be able to:

    ·           Gather, organize and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of sources;

    ·           Develop a reasoned argument, synthesize relevant information and exercise critical judgement;

    ·           Reflect on their own learning and make use of constructive feedback;

    ·           Manage their own learning self-critically.

    ·           Communicate ideas effectively and fluently, both orally and in writing;

    ·           Use communications and information technologies for the retrieval and presentation of information;

    ·           Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time-management;

    ·           Collaborate with others and contribute to the achievement of common goals. 


    Many of the learning outcomes listed above involve practising skills that are transferable to numerous areas of employment.  Students who engage with the programme will practice and develop the ability to:

    • Communicate concepts, theories and arguments and the appraisal of them accurately and clearly, both orally and in written form
    • Assess the validity of different evidence and argument
    • Use a variety of sources in a comprehensive and well-documented manner
    • Explore critically their own beliefs and values
    • Display sensitivity to the diversity of beliefs, practices and ways of life
    • Use electronic sources of information effectively

    How will I be taught?


    The Politics programme uses several different methods of teaching and learning. During your degree, you will attend lectures and participate in seminars. The lectures provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information. These are outlined in course syllabi. The Seminars are kept small and usually average between 12-15 students. It provides an opportunity for students to ask questions and discuss key ideas in a small group environment. Their purpose is to assist students to integrate the information and ideas received from lectures and readings and to explore issues critically and in depth. The seminars are also designed to give students an ample opportunity to participate and to provide close contact between them and members of the academic staff.

    Furthermore, the programme is delivered through students’ independent reading, preparation of essays and presentations, as well as feedback on essays and presentations by academic staff.

    We also host guest lectures, as an extracurricular activity, which features visiting guest speakers, usually eminent practitioners and academics involved in various aspects of international relations and politics.


    A diverse range of learning and teaching styles is used throughout the programme. Students will attend lectures, participate in seminars and tutorials, and study independently in preparation for each session. All of the taught modules within the programme are optional. There is also an opportunity to take 20 credit per year as a free standing module from another subject.  All taught modules involve some formative assessment which is returned to you with individual feedback. Generic Feedback is provided for all forms of summative assessment. In the Final Year students can choose to write a dissertation on a topic of their choice (subject to supervisory availability and approval of the title by the Board of Studies).

    How will I be assessed?


    These programmes are assessed mainly by essays and examinations. Other forms of assessment include seminar presentations, class tests, book and article reviews, and dissertation.


    Formative assessment is provided as feedback on coursework through written comments and individual discussion and on oral seminar presentations through individual guidance.

    Summative assessment for most modules takes place through one or more of the following methods: unseen examinations; open book examinations; portfolios of essays; and (if chosen) the dissertation.  The form(s) os summative assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant module description.  Assessment methods are chosen as most appropriate to elicit the skills, knowledge and competencies developed by the module.  Not all skills are assessed directly (e.g. the accurate and clear oral communication of concept and theories).  However, opportunities are made available for the development of such skills in seminar presentations, and their value is emphasised to students.  Details of any academic or competence standards which may limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments for students with disabilities are documented in the Module Descriptions.


    Students will receive written feedback on written assessments, and oral feedback on assessed presentations and their contributions to seminars. The opportunity to understand and use feedback constructively will also be provided through regular meetings with Personal Tutors at key moments every year. 

    How will I be supported?


    • Each module uses the Central Learning website, a Virtual Learning Environment at Cardiff University. Through the Central Learning site you will have access to relevant materials for the module, such as multimedia materials, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises, discussion groups, etc.
    • Academic Tutors have office hours for students to meet and discuss any learning queries as well as the opportunity in seminars.
    • The School has a wide programme of visiting speakers and guest lectures and students are encouraged to attend.
    • There will be an opportunity for you to reflect on your progress and on the skills that you will develop through a section on the Central Learning site called Planning Personal Development.
    • Furthermore, centrally the university has a range of services to support you, including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.


    Every student is assigned a personal tutor and will meet him/her for regular Academic Progress Meetings (one per semester). There is a form to fill in before each Academic Progress meeting which is designed to help you reflect on the written feedback and the reasons for the marks you have received from the previous round of assessment. You will discuss this feedback and your reflections on it with your personal tutor.

    In addition, all staff have weekly office hours during teaching weeks and students may make appointments to see their personal tutor or module leaders on a one-to-one basis about any issues. Staff may also be contacted by email. Details of the office hours and email addresses of staff are provided in the Module Guide for each module.

    Use of Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, will vary from module to module as the module leader feels appropriate for the specific contents of the module but will normally at least include making lecture handouts available online.

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?


    Graduates from this programme will be able to:

    Politics programmes aim  to develop in students a critical understanding of key aspects of modern politics, including International relations, domestic politics of key European states, European Union politics and political theory, along with a command of associated transferable skills.

    Students who are awarded a Single or Joint Honours Politics degree will be able to:

    ·           Identify and explain the central concepts of political science, and demonstrate familiarity with the vocabulary of political discourse;

    ·           Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key aspects of normative and empirical Political Theory;

    ·           Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key aspects of modern politics, including the structure and operation of selected European political systems at the national and European Union levels and international politics embracing global and regional studies;

    ·           Demonstrate particular expertise in Political Theory and/or European Politics and/or international relations in the case of Joint Honours students, and in the case of Single Honours students: for Political Theory this means a critical understanding of key ideas selected from the history of political thought and contemporary political theory; for European politics this means a critical understanding of the structure and operation of selected European political systems at the national, European and/or regional level, along with an awareness of the social, economic and cultural contexts of political behaviour and theoretically-informed views of the factors that account for political change; for international relations this means a critical understanding of the nature of the international system and of global power structures, with main foci in terms of agencies such as States, International Organisations and other Transnational actors, along with an awareness of international political theories;

    ·           Appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;

    ·           Apply different concepts, theories and methods to the analysis of political ideas, institutions and behaviour;

    ·           Examine and evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events;

    ·           Make use of contemporary research, such as articles in refereed journals. 


    Graduates from this programme will be able to:

    ·         Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of important concepts, theories, problems and arguments in the main areas of Philosophy, such as logic, metaphysics, epistemology or philosophy of mind, and moral, political or social philosophy.

    A Knowledge and Understanding

    ·         Demonstrate familiarity with the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, encountered in their own writings

    ·         Demonstrate awareness of some major issues currently at the frontiers of philosophical debate and research.

    ·         Display precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.

    B Intellectual (analytic and cognitive) skills

    ·         Construct and justify arguments whileforming independent, fair and well-supported assessments of conflicting views and opinions

    ·         Explore critically their own beliefs and values, and question their presuppositions

    ·         Appreciate the diversity of competing theories, and of competing interpretations of theories and texts, in Philosophy

    C Subject-specific skills

    ·         Apply philosophical concepts, theories, arguments and methods to some of the major problems, both theoretical and practical, facing human reflection, life and society.

    ·         Read closely philosophical texts from different philosophical traditions, and interpret these texts carefully, with due regard to their context

    ·         Awareness of the bibliographic conventions of the discipline and their role in communicating information.

    Other information


    ·      the opportunity to pursue a degree programme which develops the skills that are relevant to the academic world and the world of work alike

    ·      the emphasis on practical research skills that will benefit you throughout your career

    ·      the emphasis placed on independent learning in a supportive environment

    ·      Further information on schemes, modules, teaching methods and assessment can be found on the Politics website.


    Philosophy at Cardiff is taught by staff with an international reputation for innovative and influential research. Our passion for the subject and the strength and range of our scholarship enable us to offer a degree which is:

    • Inclusive.We teach the central areas within modern Philosophy: aesthetics; epistemology; ethics; language; metaphysics; mind; moral psychology; and political philosophy.  While we concentrate on the argument of philosophers in the modern period, which is to say from the 17th century and Descartes onwards, and are interest in the work of thinkers in both the Analytic and Continental traditions of Philosophy.  You will therefore encounter a broad range of philosophical issues and a broad range approaches and indeed interpretations of what Philosophy is.
    • Challenging. Research-led teaching means students engage with new ideas that are helping to shape the future of the discipline. We see the study of Philosophy in its various contexts as broadening horizons, and as a way of engaging in pressing issues form the world outside of academia.
    • Diverse. After Year 1 there are no compulsory modules. We give you choice – but we also give you the skills and knowledge to make informed choices. The second year of your degree will equip you with a thorough understanding of the core arguments of the principal areas of Philosophy.  This will provide a solid foundation for the third year.  Here modules will focus on the topics that the lecturers themselves are actively researching.  You will therefore have the opportunity to explore issues in greater depth, as your competence. knowledge and confidence increases.  Our teaching varies between modules, ranging from traditional-style lectures to smaller-group seminars in which students develop their writing and presentational skills in a supportive environment designed to help them take responsibility for their own learning.
    • Engaged. At Cardiff we do not think of Philosophy as isolated from the rest of culture or separate from society.  We take pride in an approach to Philosophy that takes notice of the place of philosophy in public life, not least in moral and political decision-making, as well as engaging with such contemporary approaches as Experimental Philosophy.

    Admissions tutors

    Mr Jonathan Kirkup , Admissions Tutor

      Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.