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Contemporary History and Politics

BA (Hons)

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Politics and History

UCAS Code: LV21

Start Date(s): September


Three years full-time


UK - £9,250 per year

International - £12,660 per year

In Brief:

  • Highly rated for research and teaching with smaller classes and more support
  • Study abroad; choose from Europe, USA, Australia, and Canada
  • Westminster Parliamentary Placement and television work placement opportunities
  • Overseas study available
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

This exciting degree course offers a thorough grounding in 20th century history and politics as well as a range of module options such as international relations, international history, intelligence and security and theories of power and domination. This wide variety of modules enables you to direct  your studies in line with your own specific interests. Our staff are acknowledged experts in their subject areas and will be joined by a programme of guest speakers from around the world to enhance your learning.

There is also the opportunity to spend some or all of your second year studying abroad and a choice of two excellent placement opportunities to boost your CV, including our Westminster Parliamentary Placement scheme. Students who are in the second year of their studies and spend the full year  studying at an Erasmus (European) university may also qualify for a tuition fee waiver.

This course develops not only your knowledge of contemporary history and politics, but key transferable skills which are vital to a vast range of career prospects. Graduates from this course may progress on a number of career paths, with past students working for international governments and  institutions such as the EU, multinational companies, international charities and local government and political parties.

Course Details

This course is designed to develop your knowledge of contemporary history and politics in a structured manner by first providing a foundational background in history, and in key concepts and theories of politics. Your first year modules are designed to cover these areas.

In your second year, you take two core modules and then develop your interests with four optional modules of your choice. You can also study abroad for a semester or two, or take a language module.

Your third year dissertation gives you the chance to explore a topic you are passionate about under the close supervision of a dedicated supervisor. You also get to choose from a wide variety of module option choices, or take up one of our placement opportunities.


Year 1

Your first year is designed to introduce you to major developments and concepts in recent history and in politics. You will also develop a range of crucial skills (research, writing, and organisation) necessary to complete your studies to the highest possible standard.

This module introduces you to key issues such as how the study and understanding of history has evolved over the decades, different ‘schools’ of history, and how and why historians can produce radically different interpretations of the same events, and the nature of historical evidence.
In this module you will study the British political system, political parties and elections. You will also compare cabinet and presidential government and examine legislatures in detail. This module will also look at the international context, covering British foreign policy, decolonisation, and Britain’s role in Europe and the ‘special relationship’ with the USA.
This is a critical political theory module that covers the most important theories, concepts and thinkers in politics: Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Freud, Schmitt and others. You will develop a critical knowledge of liberalism, power, and the state.
In this module, you will study some of the key debates and topics in international relations and politics today. Globalisation, the problems of democracy and political participation are explored in-depth and critically.
This module examines international history from the 1890s until the post-war period. You will study the European balance of power system, Wilsonian internationalism, the rise of powers such as Japan, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and the outbreak of the Second World War.
You will continue your studies in international history by exploring the Cold War in Europe and Asia, decolonisation, European integration, the superpower relationship and the rise of China and Japan. You will also study the impact of US foreign policy and the global ‘war on terror’.

Year 2

In your second year, you take one core module and choose from a range of others so you can develop your interests and explore new topics. Importantly, dissertation preparation is built into your second year so you are prepared well as this is your most important piece of assessment.

This module prepares you for your dissertation, which is submitted in your third year. It ensures you formulate a viable research question, identify the relevant material you need, develop your research question and structure your dissertation to a high standard. You will be working with your allocated supervisor to develop and hone your dissertation topic.You also take five optional modules. Commonly chosen examples are:
This module introduces you to ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ approaches to defining and conceptualising security. You will study some of the most important issues on the international security agenda such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, resource wars and energy security, the privatisation of warfare, peacekeeping, pandemics and health security, and environmental degradation.
This module examines the British intelligence community from the birth of the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) in 1909 through to the 1994 Intelligence Services Act. You will explore its activities primarily within the context of British domestic policy, while considering the links between the worlds of intelligence and politics.
This module examines international history from the 1890s until the post-war period. You will study the European balance of power system, Wilsonian internationalism, the rise of powers such as Japan, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and the outbreak of the Second World War.
This module explores the claims and evidence about the impact of global media on international politics, particularly on the dynamics of international affairs, power relations among governments, foreign policy-making, conflict, security, diplomacy, development, and civil society.
This module introduces you to the history of the British Labour Party, its ideology, organisation and electoral strategy, while also focusing upon some of the most crucial periods, in particular that of Labour’s early development as well as that of its apparent crisis and transformation.
This module explores the relationship between the media and politics in liberal democracies. You will focus on the nature of political media and reporting, the media’s influence on politics, and how political actors use the media. You will also study the rise of the internet and new media technologies and what this means for democracy.
This module focuses on the impact of globalisation in relation to poverty and development. You will consider the role of the industrialised western states in the global economy, as well as post-colonial states, critically examining north-south relations.
Central to this module is the study of power, and you will explore the theories of Weber, Marx, Gramsci, Foucault and Althusser, with a focus on the social foundations of political power, political power and the formation of the individual, and political power and the role of organisation and bureaucracy.

Year 3

You will complete a 12,000 word research dissertation on the subject of your choice. This is your opportunity to develop your ideas and research a topic that you have selected. The dissertation counts as two modules.

You also study four from a range of module options. Typically, they include:

This module allows you to examine Britain’s varied involvement in counter-insurgency operations since 1945.  After an initial engagement with the theories and principles of insurgency and counter-insurgency, the module will cover the cases of Kenya, Malaya, Northern Ireland, Britain’s continuing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some lesser known cases.
The aim of this module is to examine the planning and operation of British foreign policy from the beginning of the 20th Century until the end of the Second World War.  It examines the main areas of interest for Britain, including relations with Germany, France, Russia, Italy and the United States as well as Britain’s role as an imperial power.
Studying political corruption in detail, in this module you will explore at the dynamics and impact of this problem for western democracies through key theories and case studies.
This module assesses the growing influence of new media technologies (internet, email, mobile phones) on democracy. You will explore questions of censorship, voting, power relations and the effects of new media technologies in society.
This module explores the place of ethical and moral questions in global politics, covering democracy and human rights, humanitarian intervention, just wars, foreign aid and sanctions, and the problems of international society and realising a universal order. You will engage with critical approaches to these topics and explore normative questions.
Aimed at giving you a taste of EU decision making and negotiation, in this module you are assigned to national, EU institutional and other teams and play your role in a simulated decision making scenario that concludes with a final one-day European Council ‘summit’.
This module examines the rise and fall of the main socialist traditions from their origins in 19th Century Britain and France to their global spread in the 20th Century. You will study key aspects of the course of socialism in Germany, Britain, Sweden, Russia, and China.
Develop your knowledge of political economy; this module aims to help develop critical ways of thinking about the contemporary world of work and the political economies of production in our post-industrial world.
This module explores the First World War as a Total War. It alternates between a chronological examination of military operations and thematic coverage of issues such as economics, mobilisation, diplomacy, and revolutions.
In this module, you will assess Islamism comparing it to fundamentalisms in other religions. It includes an examination of Muslim responses to Western modernity as well as the development of modern Islamism from the Muslim Brotherhood to al Qaeda, as well as wider questions of the adaptability of Islamism to democratic practices.
You will learn about the history of EU enlargements, tracing the expansion of the EU to include more member states. You will also study the key ideas behind enlargement and the concepts that guide it.

There is also the opportunity to take advantage of our Westminster Parliamentary Placement for one semester:

An exciting and unique opportunity to work with a Westminster MP in London. You will put your research and communication skills to work in a challenging setting that places you at the centre of British politics.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
VCE A Level 96 - 112 points
European Baccalaureate Pass in Diploma of at least 60%
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
English and Maths GCSE grade C
UCAS tariff points 96 - 112 points
GCE A level 96 - 112 points. General studies accepted, history or politics desirable. Key skills accepted
BTEC National Diploma MMM-DMM
Scottish Highers 96 - 112 points
Irish Leaving Certificate 96 - 112 points
International Baccalaureate 29 points
Access to HE QAA Approved – Pass

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 (no element below 5.5) is proof of this.

Applicant profile

We are looking for students with a real enthusiasm for the study of history and politics. You must be willing to contribute to class discussions and debate, to engage in independent research, and to take pride and care in the quality of your written assignments. The Contemporary History and Politics course itself will play a role in helping you to develop the necessary personal and intellectual skills required to gain success.

Fees and Funding


Fees 2019-20

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Full-time International £12,660 per year

Fees 2018-19

Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9,250 per year
Part-time Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.
Full-time International £12,300 per year

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


You will benefit from a diverse range of teaching methods:

  • lectures: interactive lectures, making use of available audio visual technology
  • seminars: explore the lecture topics and beyond with your fellow students, via groupwork, reviews, debates and presentations
  • workshops: combined lecture and seminar session where discussion and analysis is concentrated
  • debates: debating teams are sometimes a feature of learning
  • individual supervision: students enjoy close supervision of their dissertation topics in the year leading up to submission
  • student-directed study: in some modules, students are assigned tasks with deadlines
  • dedicated Study Skills support: we have our own study skills officer who helps you with exam preparation, essay writing skills, good academic practice and a variety of other skills you need to do well
  • Subject librarian: you will benefit from research training as part of your course and we have a dedicated subject librarian who is on hand to help you locate material and use available resources effectively

Personal tutoring system: you will be assigned a personal tutor who helps you with all aspects of your studies and can offer advice with other issues.


You will be assessed through a combination of exams and coursework such as essays, presentations and portfolios. Most modules incorporate some form of assessment as they progress in order to allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses prior to undertaking your final exam or essay.

A typical selection of modules will result in assessment by:

  • Essay (between 30-50%)
  • Exam (between 40-60%)
  • Other coursework (reviews, presentations, groupwork: around 5-30%)

Exact proportions will vary according to your option module choices: some modules are assessed entirely by coursework, others are a combination of coursework and exam. You may also choose to do a dissertation.


Career Prospects

This course develops not only your knowledge of contemporary history and politics, but key transferable skills which are vital to a vast range of career prospects. In any well-paid job or career, you will need presentation skills and an ability to communicate your ideas clearly. Good writing and research skills as well are essential. Our graduates have found employment in business organisations, heritage, local government and the civil service, consultancy, international organisations (such as the EU), media, and multinational organisations and companies.

Graduates from this course may progress on a number of career paths, and thanks to the transferable skills you will develop, you have many options. Popular career destinations include: business management, heritage, political analysis and research, local government, civil service, international organisations, consultancy, publishing and media, teaching, and further academic work and research.

This course is designed to support your personal development and skills to enhance your employability. You will learn to work to deadlines, write clearly and effectively, present your ideas in a professional style, develop vital research skills and methods of communication. These are all desirable and essential skills necessary for well-paid jobs.

Past students now work for international governments and institutions such as the EU, multinational companies, international charities and local government and political parties.

Alumni Profile

Laura Johnson, currently a third year student on the Politics and Contemporary History course:

“I will graduate in August, but I've already got jobs lined up. I've always known I want to be a journalist so over the course of my degree I've been doing various bits of work experience, and over Easter I worked at the Big Issue North which was really good, I got some work published. In January I interviewed for and got a holiday repping job at Thomson Al Fresco, which I'll be doing from June until August. That involves flying out to Europe for a few months. I've just got a job as the editor of the student newspaper, Salford Student Direct, so when I come back I'll be doing that. So that's pretty good, it'll get my foot on the ladder for my journalism career. I've absolutely loved my degree, the combination of the course and the extra-curricular activities I've done, in addition to juggling part-time jobs, has really made me grow up a bit and think properly about my future, and it's also been a lot of fun. The intellectual side of the degree really challenged me and it's really taught me how to think logically. My favourite modules were the political theory ones; I loved learning about Marx and Plato. But I think my favourite part of the degree was my dissertation, the support I received was unparalleled and I loved the self-motivated study.”

Links with Industry

You may be able to take part in the Parliamentary Placement Scheme, spending six months in the Westminster office of an MP. You are also encouraged to attend seminars throughout the year, which give you the chance to meet with people from the industry.

The placements, guest speakers and seminars help you to understand how the industry works and informs your career path after leaving university.

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