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BA (Honours) International Studies

Our world is divided into different societies, yet it is increasingly interconnected. Relationships between nations, companies, cultures and individuals extend across regions and the globe. In this course you'll explore the political, economic and cultural issues that these complex interconnections create – focusing on international politics, diplomacy, cooperation, war and security; international development; interactions between different societies; and global environmental problems. You'll be able to choose a specialism from politics, history or the environment as one core area of concern to international studies. 

Key features of the course

  • Engage with the most pressing issues in the world today and address key questions about conflict, cooperation and international order
  • Explore the overall political make-up of the international system
  • Gain insight into development issues and the challenges faced by developing countries
  • Shape your studies to specialise in politics, history or the environment.

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Course Summary

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Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters degree.
Course code
Q11
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits. 

  • You’ll begin Stage 1 with a choice of two introductory modules – focussing on social sciences or the environment. You’ll follow this by examining the issues that face contemporary society. 
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study a core module in international development followed by a module selected from politics, history or the environment. 
  • Finally, in Stage 3, you’ll take a core module in international relations and conclude your degree by building on your study in your chosen specialism. 

Optional Access module – visit Am I ready? to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 starts with one of two options – a core social science module covering geography, economics, sociology, psychology, politics and international studies; or an interdisciplinary exploration of key environmental issues. Finally, you’ll continue your investigation of the issues that face contemporary society through the different disciplines that make up the social sciences.

Environment route

ModulesCredits
You'll begin with:
Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116)60
You'll complete Stage 1 with:
Investigating the social world (DD103)60

History; Politics routes

ModulesCredits
You'll begin with:
Introducing the social sciences (DD102)60
You'll complete Stage 1 with:
Investigating the social world (DD103)60

Stage 2 (120 credits)

The core of your studies at this stage includes such vital issues as the rise of China, India and Brazil; international efforts to tackle poverty and inequality; the impact of conflict and civil wars on development; and the role of technology in changing patterns of development. You'll also study a further module in the politics, history or environment and we recommend that you study the modules in the order shown below for each route.  

Stage 3 (120 credits)

In Stage 3, you’ll deepen your understanding of international relations; global politics; international economics; and the problems of international justice, governance and security. You’ll also study a further module in the environment, history or politics depending on your choice of route.

Environment route

ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
International relations: continuity and change in global politics (DD313)60
Environmental policy in an international context (DD319) – planned for October 201960

Politics route

ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
International relations: continuity and change in global politics (DD313)60
Modern political ideas (DD316) – planned for October 201960

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 25 October 2018.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) International Studies uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • working in a group with other students
  • finding external/third party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BA (Honours) International Studies degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Counting previous study

You could save time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study towards this qualification if you have:

  • already studied at university level (even if you didn't finish your studies)
  • other professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

Find out more about credit transfer

Preparing for study with an Access module

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:

  • a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:

People, work and society Access module

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you.

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,928*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £5,856*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £17,568*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.


Skills for career development

Employers value the diversity of transferable skills that this degree course develops. You’ll be able to analyse problems relating to a range of international issues including: co-operation and conflict; cultural difference; development and international economic change. Key transferable skills include the abilities to:

  • use a range of communication technologies to independently research, select and present information
  • analyse and critically evaluate information and data
  • write and communicate concisely and clearly
  • assemble reasoned arguments for particular audiences
  • use a range of formats: essays, presentations, reports, collaborative working, online forums
  • use strategies to update your knowledge
  • value critical feedback to reflect on your progress and improve your work.

Career relevance

An international studies degree is applicable to a wide range of professions in the private and public sectors, including international agencies and government bodies (national and European), businesses and non-governmental organisations.

Other careers

Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers will require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

  • government social research officer
  • diplomat
  • charity officer
  • politician's assistant
  • public relations account executive
  • social researcher
  • diplomatic services operational officer
  • market researcher
  • newspaper journalist
  • civil service administrator
  • risk analyst
  • investment banker
  • international trade researcher
  • TEFL teacher
  • terrorism analyst.

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.


Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 06/12/2018

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