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Which UK University Should I Study at to Be a Politician?

Which UK University Should I Study at to Be a Politician? main image

Politicians need to have excellent verbal communication skills; a strong understanding of politics, society, and culture; logical and analytical thinking skills and the ability to pay attention to detail. To be a politician, you will need to have a strong academic background, as well as active involvement in campaigning and other political activities.

The United Kingdom is home to some of the top politics schools in the world, including five universities in the world top 20.

There are 29 British universities featured in the QS World University Ranking by Subject 2020 for politics and international studies. So, if you’re looking to become a politician, you have plenty of outstanding institutions to choose from.

Read on as we reveal the top 10 politics and international relations schools in the UK, and dive into what makes these schools so attractive to future politicians.

Top 10 Schools for the Politics and International Studies Subject Area in the UK

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020

UK Ranking

World Ranking




























10. Durham University

Durham University

Flickr: alanhowe

Topping off our list in 10th place is Durham University, which ranks 51-100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 for politics and international relations. The school’s politics and international relations course offers research-led teaching combining established and cutting-edge research.

Outside of the classroom, Durham University United Nations Society (DUUNS) helps organize the Durham University Model United Nations conference, as well as trips to the Model United Nations conferences. The Durham University Politics and International Relations society regularly organizes events with political figures, including a recent event in February with Reigate MP, Crispin Blunt, and a talk with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs (2011-2015), John Baird.

9. The University of Warwick

The University of Warwick

Ninth in the UK and 49th in the world for politics and international relations is the University of Warwick.  Its politics department was recently included in the Political Studies Associations’ UK ‘big five’ politics departments and received a 91% overall student satisfaction rate in the 2019 National Student Survey.

The University of Warwick’s UN society attends a variety of conferences around the UK. They aim to help students improve their public speaking and negotiation skills by hosting debates and conference-specific training sessions, as well as holding their own conference, WARMUN, which includes both a simulation of the UN Security Council as well as simulations of country cabinets.

8. UCL (University College London)

UCL (University College London)

Eighth in the UK and joint 44th in the world for politics this year is University College London (UCL). UCL’s politics department aims to provide students with a broad and deep understanding of all fields of politics, including international relations, political theory, human rights, public policymaking, and administration.

UCL’s politics department runs an assortment of events throughout the year, including the ‘Policy and Practice’ seminar series which includes presentations by high profile policymakers, practitioners and academics. UCL’s politics department also offers a specialist careers consultant who helps students looking to get into careers in politics.

7. University of Edinburgh

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh places seventh in the UK for politics and international relations and 42nd in the world. Here, politics students will explore the origins and present-day contexts of domestic and international conflicts, as well as the processes of governance at various levels and the morality of political action.

The University of Edinburgh also offers its own politics society – Edinburgh Political Union – which is one of the oldest and largest societies at the university. The society hosts a multitude of speakers - including Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former ambassador to the UN, Lord Hannay of Chiswick - and produces Leviathan, a politics and current affairs journal.

6. University of Essex

University of Edinburgh

Flickr: Alvin Leong

Sixth place in the UK and 29th worldwide for their BA Politics and International relations program is the University of Essex. The course offers access to a wide range of modules and topic areas that will help any political career, including elections, referendums and the psychology of voters; civil war and international peacekeeping; and protest, revolution and democracy.

Outside of the classroom, the university offers a range of societies for politics students, including debating and the Model UN, as well as a series of seminars and events run by the politics department.

Essex also has a wide range of successful political alumni, including the former president of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Oscar Arias, as well as the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. 

5. SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

SOAS - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is ranked fifth in the UK for politics and international relations, and 18th worldwide. Teaching international politics from a non-Western angle, from a diverse range of scholars, SOAS’s politics courses offer both a theoretical and a hands-on approach to politics. The university also holds a wide scope of talks and events.

SOAS is located in the political and cultural hub of London, and the university has a wide choice of societies that politics students might wish to be part of, including debating society, free speech society, policy forum, politics society, and UN society.

4. King's College London (KCL)

King's College London (KCL)

Fourth in the UK this year for politics and international relations is King’s College London (KCL), taking 15th place globally. The course covers international politics, comparative politics, and political theory and there is an emphasis on developing students’ analytical and research skills. The department’s faculty members advise the UK government, serve on commissions and public bodies and support national and international organizations engaged in the world of public affairs.

The KCL Politics Society host a variety of high-profile conferences, workshops and publish a quarterly journal. They regularly organize talks by politicians, journalists, scholars and diplomats. The King’s Think Tank is a student-led policy organization dedicated to opening up political debate and policy to students at King’s College London. They hold twice-monthly panel events with renowned experts. 

3. University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Third in the UK, and sixth in the world for politics and international relations this year is the University of Cambridge. Their program explores politics within and between countries, covering a wide range of topics from human rights to international conflict. It aims to build analytical and critical skills, as well as intellectual versatility and an international outlook – skills that are vital for any aspiring politician. Indeed, 15 UK prime ministers and many other world leaders are counted amongst the university’s alumni. 

Those looking to get involved in politics in a more hands-on way may want to join one of the universities many political clubs, each of which regularly host high profile speakers and panel discussions on contemporary topics. There are several campaign groups available to join, including Cambridge Defend Education, Cambridge Zero Carbon, and the CUSU Ethical Affairs Campaign. 

2. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Fifth in the world, and second in the UK for politics is the London School of Economics (LSE). LSE’s politics and international relations courses compare political processes and empirical analysis to answer questions about the political world.

LSE offer plenty of political societies for students who want to get involved. The LSE Government party gives students the opportunity to socialize and attend academic events with political thinkers both inside and outside LSE. The United Nations society encourages students to engage with a network of organizations and individuals within the professional world. They also run the university’s Model United Nations team, which won 74 awards in the 2018-2019 academic year.

1. University of Oxford

University of Oxford

The top university for studying politics and international relations in the UK is the University of Oxford, placing fourth in the world. The program aims to teach three different areas of the subject: the study of government and politics, the study of international relations and organization, and the study of political theory and philosophy.

The University of Oxford is also home to a variety of individual political party groups, each of which are active campaigners and hold events with local MPs and political figures, whilst also participating in charity work. An impressive 28 British prime ministers have been educated at Oxford University, including the current prime minister, Boris Johnson.

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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