Tag Archives: Politics and International Relations at Aston

Studying Politics at Aston

This blog post comes from Silvia Grant, our former undergraduate Politics Student, who is now completing a PhD at the School of  Languages and Social Sciences at Aston. 

Here, Silvia highlights some of the things students can expect when studying at Aston. 

I started studying Politics and International Relations (BSc) at Aston University in autumn 2008. I had come from Rome, and it was my first time abroad. At first I was a bit bewildered; cars driving down the wrong side of the street, the local Brummie accent sounding nothing like the edulcorated BBC English we were taught, and always thinking ‘I think it’s about to rain any moment’, but then it doesn’t. Within a few days, however, my worries were blown out the water with Freshers week. During this induction week we were all introduced to one another, I made lots of friends I still keep in touch with, we were introduced to the wonders of the city centre, were introduced to the dozens and dozens of different student societies and clubs, and were taught how to navigate the main building. The main building is huge structure with different wings, and takes some getting used to. I prefer it to other universities which have a number of scattered smaller 2-floored buildings because it’s as if it were a microcosm in itself, you bump into lots of people, and you can spend years trying to find your favourite corridor.

My Politics and International Relations (PIR) course was the exemplar politics course. Our first year had a lot of ‘Introduction to’ courses, which I first thought was slightly redundant as we had been ‘introduced to’ topics at school. Didn’t take much at all to realise that these were instead crucial, as there are some topics which deal with very sophisticated and complex notions. You have some liberty in choosing which modules to take, but overall in my three years I studied UK Politics (history, domestic, and foreign policy) political economy, philosophy and ethics, US politics, comparative European politics, EU (history, relations, institutions, and law), politics and law, international relations (history, theory and application), security studies, terrorism, charismatic leadership, political communication, and post-Cold War conflicts. At points I felt stretched, because there is plenty of reading to do, but then I got back into the flow of it. What really made the difference were the lecturers. The PIR team was incredible, and still is. We really got involved in discussions in the seminars, and we could feel a real sense of urgency in what was being debated. Politics students also read lots of news, as they feed into Uni studies. Amongst other things, we are given a distinct advantage in critically interpreting and understanding the news, their spin, and the world around us.

Our shiny new library

Politics courses are ‘sandwich’ degrees in the sense that you can decide to have a placement year in your third year. Aston is really strong at offering placements, and it’s a great opportunity to get some work experience, to get a prestigious internship, to travel abroad to learn a language, get a taste of studying abroad at one of Aston’s partner Universities, or otherwise pursue the beginning of your post-degree professional interests. Our Uni has a great close-knit community, is walking distance to Birmingham city centre (and its multi-million pounds regenerations), and is top ranked in many tables. Aston also has a reputation for matchmaking powers, as many students have found their other halves during their degrees, including me.

Our Campus
Our Campus


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Student Guest Post on Studying Politics at Aston

This week, we were particularly inspired by a student’s view of studying at Aston. This guest post is by Final Year Politics and International Relations student, Silvia Maglione.

Studying here for Astonishing results

“Medicine students will go on to be doctors, engineering students will become engineers, but then will our European Studies students become…. Europeans?” This was the witty opening remark of our senior Politics lecturer and Associate Dean Jörg Mathias at the induction meeting for first year Politics students. And indeed, what title can one ascribe to itself after studying Politics, International Relations, and/or European Studies at Aston? The answer is: one clever soul.

Our programme is intense, challenging and inspiring. Here you will never hear the same comment twice and lectures promptly become the centre stage of thought provoking ideas, culminating in restlessly intellectual seminar discussions. It is during these very seminars that students are struck by fulgurating ideas on which they later base their essay and dissertation arguments. Most final year students also get the chance to choose their own assessment question which is the apex of independent thought and spirit of initiative. We are encouraged to keep ourselves informed on everything, from the Libyan civil war and inflation figures, to the latest IR publications and political journals. However, this never becomes a daunting task because our staff is very flexible, approachable and phenomenally brilliant. This bustling intellectual environment is the principal drive behind Aston’s Politics group, which is also supported by the main university’s network of opportunities; for instance, I have studied both Mandarin and Arabic at the highest levels offered through the UWLP programme and this has enhanced my knowledge and employability. Similarly, the placement scheme and career services are very useful indeed.

Aside from excellent credentials, invaluable knowledge, commendable employability boosts and cherished experiences, Aston’s Politics group offers us the opportunity of  thinking with our own heads about serious issues. So we might not become doctors or engineers, but our ideas and actions are the ones that will, one day, change the world.