Politics and History with Integrated Foundation Year BA

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This is a four-year version of our popular BSc (Hons) Politics and History course with an integrated foundation year. Understand contemporary society by studying the past. Consider the development of political thought from a historical and a political perspective. Engage with current events in British and American Politics and the global war on terror.

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Politics and History course, with an integrated foundation year. You will study Politics and History under academic staff who are experts in their field, on a small and friendly course.

Politics and history are closely interconnected. For if politics is about power, then history records the struggle for power over time; and if politics is about our public values, then history records how these values have been forged.

This course allows you to engage with history topics ranging from the 16th Century to the present day, giving you the foundations to understand and contextualise the political concepts that you will study on the course.   

You will also learn the democratic principles of liberalism, of the socialist challenge to liberal ideas, and some of the darker political events of the recent past including the Soviet gulags and the Nazi genocide; as well as engaging with current events in British and American politics and the global war on terror.

Why us?

  • We are a University that is nationally recognised for supporting learners particularly from non-traditional backgrounds and many students come to us with no formal qualifications but with valuable work experience
  • 93.4% of our graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • ‘World-leading' research in History according to the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • Principal Lecturer Dr Simon Henig is currently Leader of Durham County Council
  • A unique approach to generic and employability skills and a stand-out student experience
  • Lecturers have extensive practical experience and engagement in politics

Course structure

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules: a module about the foundations of humanities, journalism and media theory, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and a multimedia communications module or a new century module depending on your degree choice. After completion of this foundation year, you will then move onto Politics and History honours degree course.

A typical week will include lectures, seminars, workshops, group work, independent study and computer based research. Politics and History staff have developed a distinctive approach to the delivery of modules, one that is based around dialogue, active citizenship and a research-active curriculum. It enables you to develop advocacy skills and increase your awareness of interpreting and understanding political and historical issues. We develop your capacity to sustain a reasoned line of argument in the face of others; to listen, to respect the views of others and to amend views in the light of argument and evidence.

Assessment methods include web-based exercises, archive exercise, time-limited essay tests, document exercises, book reviews, traditional essays, extended individual projects, individual and group presentations, poster presentations and formal (unseen paper) examinations. 

The study of Politics and History here at Sunderland involves participation in public matters. This is formalised in an assessed project where you will take up a matter of public concern in which you have a personal interest. Projects range from national matters, such as the policy on drugs, to local ones, such as the threat to a local health facility. The final year module, Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective allows for specialist presentation of staff research areas.

Foundation Year

The Humanities, Journalism and Media Theory Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules: 

  • Foundations of Humanities, Journalism and Media Theory (40 credits)
  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)


Depending on the degree you wish to study after the Foundation Year, you will also take one of the following modules:

  • Multimedia Communications (20 credits)
  •  The New Century (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article

Year 1 (national level 4)

Core modules:

  • Introduction to Politics 1: Democracy and Tyranny (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Politics 2: British Politics since 1945 (20 credits)
  • Introduction to History (40 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Introduction to American Studies (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Sociology (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • The Foundations of Modern Europe (20 credits)
  • The Transformation of Britain: British History since 1750 (20 credits)
  • English Cultural and Social History: 1500-1750 (20 credits)



Year 2 (national level 5)

Optional modules (choose three):

  • European Political Ideas (20 credits)
  • British Politics and Government (20 credits)
  • Protest and Terror (20 credits)
  • The American Century (20 credits)
  • Geographies of Social Exclusion (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose three):

  • Local and Regional History (20 credits)
  • Britain’s Age of Reform (20 credits)
  • Experiencing Twentieth Century Europe (20 credits)
  • History of Early Modern Political Thought (20 credits)
  • Special Project (20 credits)

Final year (national level 6)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Mass Movements and Ideologies (20 credits)
  • From Labour To New Labour (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues In American Culture and Society (20 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose two):

  • Europe From Revolution to War (20 credits)
  • The English Working Class 1750-1950 (20 credits)
  • Northumbria in the Age of Bede (20 credits)
  • Heresy, Intolerance and Beyond: Early Modern Europe 1550-1765 (20 credits)
  • A Brave New World: Interwar Britain (20 credits)

Optional modules (choose one):

  • Politics Dissertation (20 credits)
  • History Dissertation (20 credits)
  • History Lab is a student-run society which organises history-related guest lectures, discussions, and social events.

    It’s a chance to hear about little-known histories. Recent topics include: Political Caricatures in 19th Century France, Pharmacy in Ancient Egypt, and Sedition in 17th Century America.

    History Lab
  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands of History books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful for Historical Research MA include:

    • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers including bills, registers and journals
    • Early English Books Online, which provides digital images of virtually every work printed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British North America during 1473-1800
    • Eighteenth Century Collections Online, which provides 136,000 full-text publications from 1701-1800
    • Periodicals Archive Online, which provides digitised literary journals
    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers, with full runs of 48 titles
    Library Services - history
  • The University’s Murray Library is home to the physical archive of the North East England Mining Archive and Resource Centre. This contains mining records, technical reports, trade union records and health and safety information.






    Mining Archive and Resource Centre
  • Map and directions


You'll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, situated on the award-winning St Peter's riverside campus. The location benefits from dedicated library services and has superb transport links with the city centre and City Campus.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


On successful completion of the course you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to enter a wide range of professions including local government, teaching, public relations and positions in the heritage industry.

Graduates often go on to become politically active in non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as political researchers and councillors. Many of our graduates also choose to continue their studies at masters and PhD level.

Career options

You will be well suited to careers that involve developing policy and weighing up policy options: undertaking research, developing and presenting position papers, and writing analytical reports. These skills are sought after in many professions including those found in local government, NGOs and charities, think tanks, research work for political parties, liaison work between corporations and with public bodies, careers in media and in public relations. Students who wish to go on to undertake a teaching qualification have the knowledge basis for combining the teaching of history and citizenship.

History Lab

History Lab is a student-run society which organises history-related guest lectures, discussions, and social events.

It’s a chance to hear about little-known histories. Recent topics include; Political Caricatures in 19th Century France, Pharmacy in Ancient Egypt, and Sedition in 17th Century America.

Research-active staff

You’ll be taught by a dynamic, diverse team of research-active staff whose research interests include the history of early modern political thought, resisting tyranny, local history, political ideology, political constituencies, the history of trade unionism, affirmative action, gun control and suicide.

Meet the team

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