Why study politics?
Politics is offered by many universities and each has its own areas of specialism. No two politics degrees are identical, though the following are some of the main areas of study:
- Studying Britain now is probably more exciting that it’s ever been. Widespread constitutional reforms have changed the political map. The establishment of the Parliament in Scotland and the Assemblies in Wales, Northern Ireland and London mean that power is shifting. Not only that, Britain’s membership of the EU, and maybe later the Euro, mean that debates over sovereignty and co-operation rage long and hard.
- As the European Union grows both in size and power, people need to be able to understand and analyse developments. The study of European politics also involves other European nations, comparing them with British and other political systems. Many universities offer courses focusing on the politics of countries in various parts of the world, such as the USA, Latin America, Asia, Africa or Australasia.
- Political theory is vital to the study of politics because without theory we would not know what to investigate. In theory courses, students consider key questions like the nature of freedom and the strengths and limitations of democracy. Other topics include the relationship between government and society, the right of dissent and the limits of toleration, and questions of social justice and equality.
- Few events symbolise democracy better than elections. Elections can change the course of a country. Studying elections can be about predicting results, trying to work out why people vote as they do, or even why they don’t vote at all. Party campaigns, what policies are put forward, how parties select candidates and related questions are all important and fascinating areas of study.
- International relations covers topics such as the role of international organisations (like the UN), the strategies of various actors on the international political stage, the role of international non-governmental actors (for example large corporations) and vital international policy areas like the environment. It addresses questions such as why wars occur, how peace is negotiated and maintained and what is international justice?