At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.
Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.
Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.
In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.
Methods of teaching on this course
A mix of lectures and seminars for taught modules, employing a variety of formats.
On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.
On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.
On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.
Indicative class size
Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.
On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.
Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.
On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.
Study skills and additional support
Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:
- academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
- written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
- numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).
Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.
Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.
Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.
Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.
Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.
Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.
Methods of assessment on this course
Modules are assessed by coursework and written examinations. You will also write a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words.
Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time
This programme is no longer accepting new applicants. It will officially be closed in September 2017 once the 2015/16 intake of students has completed the 2-year degree.
The MRes Politics with [Language] is a two-year degree programme designed to prepare students for further research, particularly PhD research, in politics with an area specialism. It allows students to combine the study of politics with advanced methodological training in the social sciences and extensive study in an African/Asian/Middle Eastern language. As such, the programme provides two years of intensive language study at SOAS (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, Swahili, etc.) along with two years of high-level social science methodology training at neighbouring Birkbeck College. Applicants are also invited to apply for ESRC funding to support a 2+3 programme of MRes/PhD study.
Year 1 - TWO courses from List A, ONE course (or TWO half-courses) from List B and ONE course (or TWO half-courses) from List C
List A - TWO Core Research Methods Modules (taught by Birkbeck College)
- Qualitative Social Research
- Quantitative Social Research
List B - ONE Language Module (or TWO 15 Credit modules) offered by the Faculty of Languages and Cultures (taught by SOAS)
Students should choose the language they wish to take from the list below. They should then make contact with the relevant Module Convenor during welcome week who will assess which level of module would be appropriate, and will advise re. changing module enrolments if necessary.
List C - ONE 30 Credit module or TWO 15 Credit modules offered by the Department of Politics and International Studies (taught by SOAS)
Year 2 - ONE course (or TWO half-courses) from List D, ONE course (or TWO half-courses) from List E, ONE course from List F and the Dissertation in Politics with (language).
List D - ONE Language Course (or TWO half-courses) offered by the Faculty of Languages and Cultures (taught by SOAS)
Students should choose from the languages under list B above. The level of the Y2 language course will follow on from the level of course taken in Y1.
List E - ONE Course or TWO Half-Courses offered by the Department of Politics and International Studies (taught by SOAS)
Students should choose from the options under list C above. Courses taken in Y1 may not be taken again in Y2.
List F - ONE core research methods module (taught by Birkbeck College
- Masterclass in Social Research
Compulsory Dissertation (undertaken at SOAS)
This is the structure for 2017/18 applicants
If you are a current student you can find structure information on Moodle or through your Faculty.
Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules
Teaching & Learning
Modules are taught by a combination of methods, principally lectures, tutorial classes, seminars and supervised individual study projects.
Most modules involve a 50-minute lecture as a key component with linked tutorial classes.
At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work. Students make full-scale presentations for each unit that they take, and are expected to write papers that often require significant independent work.
A quarter of the work for the degree is given over to the writing of an adequately researched 25,000-word dissertation. Students are encouraged to take up topics which relate the study of a particular region to a body of theory.
SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world.
The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.
Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.
This is a Band 3 tuition fee.
Fees for 2018/19 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year.
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section