Undergraduate BA (Hons)

Contemporary History and Politics

School of Arts and Media




Three year

Next enrolment

September 2020


In a nutshell

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 variety 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.

What's more, our history courses had 95% overall student satisfaction in the latest National Student Survey (University of Salford analysis of unpublished NSS 2020 data).

You will:
  • Develop crucial skills, such as research, writing and organisation
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of contemporary history and politics
  • Explore key concepts and theories in politics and in politics and history

options available


students accepted

This is for you if...


You have a real enthusiasm for the study of history and politics


You are keen to take part in debates on a range of issues


You are eager to engage in independent research

Course details

All about the course

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.

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 one

Issues in Contemporary History

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.

Britain and the World

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.

International History I

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.

International History II

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'.

International Politics II

Here you will explore a range of topics that are studied in international politics as well as gaining a more detailed introduction to the study of International Relations. You will analyse the core theories of International Relations including: Classical Realism, Structural/Neo-Realism, Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism, The English School, Marxism/Historical Materialism, Postmodernism, constructivism. Through an understanding of these approaches, you will also discuss contemporary developments (e.g., globalisation) in International Politics.

Politics and Democracy

This module examines concepts, theories and problems related to representative democracies and representative institutions. Hence, it analyses the nature of different types of democracy, participation and citizenship and representation. The module considers the apparent growing dissatisfaction amongst citizens over past two-three decades and growing generational divides over politics.

Year two

Theories of Power and Domination

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.

You also choose one of the following:

International History 1789-1914

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.

British Political History 1945-2007

This module explore the major themes and issues in post-war British History. It examines the evolution of key policy sectors foreign, economic policy, heath and education, as well as the rise of the welfare state. You will also examine the growing importance of new issues and policies such as gender and sexuality, environment and popular culture. There will be opportunities to examine some issues in more depth  through case studies such as abolition of capital punishment, the deployment of troops in Northern Ireland, and the creation of comprehensive education.

You then choose the rest of your modules from the below options:

Britain and the Cold War, 1945-1991

Using newly declassified archival material, oral testimony and popular film and television, the module charts Britain’s Cold War, both at home and abroad, from its origins through to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The story is told through the eyes of those working in Britain’s ‘secret state’ – intelligence officials and Whitehall Mandarins – through to ‘fellow-travellers’ and the fantasy world of James Bond. Subjects covered include Britain’s covert struggle against the Soviet Union, nuclear deterrence, popular media and the Cold War, and the recently released plans for World War III and the post-apocalyptic survival of the United Kingdom.

US Foreign Policy Since 1945

This module enables you to examine the role of the US in contemporary international relations. You will engage with US Foreign Policy after World War Two and understand key domestic and international factors that have shaped US Foreign Policy. You will also have a greater appreciation of the historiography and contemporary trajectory of US Foreign Policy, as well as engage with the diversity of perspectives on the subject.

Russian Foreign Policy

Here you will examine the foreign policies of successive Russian governments since 1991. In particular you will be assessing Russian bilateral and multilateral relations in an international environment and in doing so will gain an understanding of long-term developments in post-Cold War Order debates. More specifically the module examine the legacy of soviet union; foreign policy under Putin; relations with the west and particularly the US under Obama; Russian policy in the middle East; and Russia’s relationship with Europe particularly in the context of the Ukraine conflict.

Political Communication: Media and Democracy

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.

Intelligence, Security and Politics in Britain 1909-1994

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.

Researching in History

The primary purpose of this module is to prepare you to write a successful 12,000 word undergraduate history dissertation in Year three. It will also give you a wider insight into the historical research methods appropriate to military and/or international history.

Year three


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 modules from a range of options. Typically, they include:

The History and Politics of Socialism

This module examines the rise and fall of the main socialist traditions from their origins in 19 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.

The First World War

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.

Corruption in Contemporary Politics

Studying political corruption in detail you will explore the dynamics and impact of this problem for western democracies through key theories and case studies.

Politics and the Internet

This module assesses the growing influence of internet on democracy and politics. The study of the internet is placed in context of the evolution of media technologies over past thirty years. In doing so, you examine whether the internet: is stimulating more global protest movements and also new form of terrorism; is a liberation technology potential undermining the power of authoritarian regimes; or alternatively is a tool for increased surveillance and control; is changing the nature of lections and election campaigning. These issues are explored through case studies such as: the rise of Corbyn in the Labour Party and the role played social media or, how the rise of so-called fake news is impacting on political debate.

Spanish Civil War

This module examines the Spanish Civil War from its origins to its aftermath in the formation of the Franco dictatorship. It considers the national, regional and international dimensions of the conflict. The Spanish Civil War can be seen as the result of class conflict; a crisis of an old regime faced with the pressures of modernity; a chapter in the larger European civil war of the first half of the twentieth century; a struggle of extreme ideologies – fascism and communism; a prelude to world war. It excited the interest, passions and participation of people all over the world. It ended with the creation of a dictatorship which lasted until the mid-1970s and left divisions which Spain is still in the process of coming to terms with.

Britain and the European Resistance 1939-45

This module explores Britain’s role in encouraging and supporting resistance movements in Europe during the Second World War through the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the organisation established in July 1940 and instructed by Churchill to ‘set Europe ablaze’. The module makes extensive use of surviving SOE documents, now available at the National Archives, and considers their value within the context of official release policy and censorship under Section 3 (4) of the Public Records Act. 

Politics Placement

An exciting and unique opportunity to work with a MP in London or in their constituency office as part of your degree. There is also the chance to develop your own placement which would be accredited by us. 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.

What Will I be Doing?






Other coursework


You will benefit from a diverse range of teaching methods, including:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • debates
  • individual supervision
  • student-directed study
  • dedicated Study Skills support.

You will also 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.


School of Arts and Media

The School of Arts and Media has more than 4,000 creative students. Across sites at MediaCityUK and the University's Peel Park campus, we offer a huge variety of courses, from fashion image making and styling, television and radio, creative writing and music to journalism, animation, design and performance.

This broad range of disciplines offers enhanced opportunities for specialist and interdisciplinary study, including collaborative work across subject areas.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


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.


Graduates from this course can go on to study at postgraduate level, including the below:

MA/PGDip Intelligence and Security Studies

MA/PGDip Terrorism and Security

A taste of what you could become

A Historian

A Politician

A Civil Servant

A Publisher

And more..

Career Links

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


What you need to know


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.


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.


Please note: The entry criteria below are related to entry onto this course in the 2020/2021 academic year. If you’re interested in a future intake year, please check the course entry on UCAS.



Standard entry requirements


English Language at grade C/level 4 or above (or equivalent) is required. Maths at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) is preferred but not essential.

You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.

A level

104-112 points. General Studies accepted, History or Politics desirable. Key skills accepted.

UCAS tariff points

104-112 points

BTEC National Diploma


Access to HE

Pass Level 3 Access to HE Diploma with 104-112 points 

Scottish Highers

104-112 points

Irish Leaving Certificate

104-112 points

International Baccalaureate

30 points

European Baccalaureate

Pass Diploma with 71% overall 

Alternative entry requirements

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.

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home/EU 2020/21 £9,250per year
Full-time international 2020/21 £12,960per year
Additional costs

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

Scholarships for international students 2020/21

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our international scholarships worth up to £5,000. Our international scholarships include the Salford International Excellence Scholarship.

For further information, go to International Scholarships.

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2020

UCAS information

Course ID LV21

Institution S03

Start this course in September. Call 0300 555 5030 to apply through Clearing.

Our phone lines are open during the following hours:

  • 13 August: 07:30 – 19:00
  • 14 August: 08:00 – 18:00
  • 15 August: 10:00 – 16:00