School of Politics and International Relations

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New Student - Frequently Asked Questions

I want to do some pre-reading before my course begins, are there any books you can recommend?
Books – How much and where to buy?
When does the course begin?
When do I get my course pack and what is in it?
When do I get my Teaching Timetable?
How am I assessed?
What and when is reading week?
What is QMPlus?
What is MySIS?
Are you on Facebook & Twitter?
What can I do in addition to my degree to enhance my employment prospects?  *Updated*
What if I can’t find the answer to my question here? 



I want to do some pre-reading before my course begins, are there any books you can recommend?

The following books have been recommended by each of our first year module conveners:
(It is NOT recommended that you purchase these books, unless otherwise stated, as they may only be used for pre-reading, use your library instead)

POL100 Introduction to Politics (Compulsory for all our degree programmes)

Andrew Vincent Modern Political Ideologies 3rd Edition (Wiley Blackwell, 2010); 

an alternative that will also be helpful is:

Goodwin, Barbara, Using Political Ideas 5th edition (Chichester: Wiley, 2007).

Both of these will be used on the course so would be helpful to purchase one of the them in the summer

POL105 Political Analysis (Only Single Honours students take this module)

Colin Hay, Political Analysis: A Critical Introduction (2002), esp. ch. 1, 2, 5
Colin Hay et al (eds.), The State: Theories and Issues (2006), esp. introduction, ch. 1, 3, 8-12

POL106 Introduction to International Relations
(Compulsory for L250 International Relations Students)

Eric Hobsbawm, The AGE OF EXTREMES: THE SHORT TWENTIETH CENTURY, 1914-1991 (London: Michael Joseph, 1994).
Bartlett, C. J. The Global Conflict: The International Rivalry of the Great Powers, 1880-1990 (London: Longman, 1994).

POL107 Background to British Politics (Compulsory for L202 Politics students)

Any ONE of the following should prove useful for anyone keen to give themselves a head-start on the history or – in the case of the last three which may be especially useful for overseas students – more of a sense of how politics and political institutions work in the UK nowadays rather than in the past (although they do contain brief histories, too).  You don’t have to buy any of them, and none of them are the textbook for this course.  But they are chosen to be cheap, accessible and, with one exception (Watts), available on kindle or e-book as well as in paperback.  However, if you do buy one of them, only buy one of them!

History (useful if you’re already reasonably familiar with the UK and UK politics)

Black, Jeremy (2011) A Brief History of Britain 1851-2010: a Nation Transformed (Robinson)

Marquand, David (2009) Britain since 1918: The Strange Career of British Democracy (Phoenix)

Marr, Andrew (2009) A History of Modern Britain (Pan)

Pugh, Martin (2012) State and Society: A Social and Political History of Britain since 1870 (Bloomsbury).

Politics and political institutions in 21st Century Britain (better if you’re an absolute novice)

Grayson, Richard (2010) British Politics: A Beginner's Guide (Oneworld)

Knight, Julian (2010) British Politics for Dummies (Wiley) – don’t be put off by the title!

Watts, Duncan (2012) British Government and Politics: A Comparative Guide: A Comparative Guide, Second Edition (Edinburgh University Press). 

Books – How much and where to buy?

Our Campus Library stocks a wide range of books that you can borrow for free. However, it may be worth investing in Key Texts used for a module. Information on these key readings will be available in your Module Handbook when you attend your first Lecture.

Book prices will vary and will be available from numerous retailers, such as Amazon and John Smith’s Bookshop located on our Mile End campus.

When does the course begin?

Induction Week begins the week commencing Monday 16th September 2013. 
Click here for Induction information.

Teaching begins the following week – Monday 23rd September 2013.

When do I get my course pack and what is in it?

During Induction Week you will be given your ‘Student Handbook’ which includes essential information you will need throughout your first year including College and Campus information, School procedures, useful dates, Programme and module information etc.

You will not receive individual Module Handbooks until the first lecture of each Module.

When do I get my Teaching Timetable?

Teaching timetables will be sent to you, when you have confirmed your module registration during the Induction Week. For each module you study you will attend the lecture and one seminar group.
Provisional 1st Year Timetable: 

SPIR 1st Year Generic Timetable 2013/14 (provisional) [PDF 14 KB]

How am I assessed?

Our Modules are assessed by both Coursework (written assignments) and end of year examination.  The weightings of each may vary between modules, for example coursework could constitute 25% of the total assessment and the Examination the remaining 75%
These and others details will be provided in your Module Handbook, which you will receive on the first Lecture of each module.

What and when is reading week?

Reading week occurs once each semester. It is a week in which all teaching is suspended to allow students to focus on their independent studies and get caught up.

Reading weeks are scheduled:

Semester A:  4th November 2013
Semester B:  17th February 2014

What is QMPlus?

QMPlus is the University’s online learning environment, which you will have access to when you are fully enrolled and registered for modules. Each module you study will have its own individual area on QMPlus giving you access to various information including the module handbook, lecture handouts, extra readings, announcements etc.
You will also need to submit electronic copies of your assignments via the QMPlus site.
You will be given an introductory QMPlus session during the Welcome Week.

What is MySIS?

MySIS is the University’s student information system, which will hold your student record. You will use it when registering for your modules, accessing your result transcripts and various other things throughout your studies. It is important to keep your contact details on MySIS constantly up to date, so that we are able to relay important information to you.

Are you on Facebook & Twitter?

Yes, our School is active on both sites
links to our pages can be found here:

What can I do in addition to my degree to enhance my employment prospects?  

Advice from The Careers and Enterprise Centre:

As you begin your time at Queen Mary, you will be shaping your future employment as well as your academic life.  Take this time before the start of the year to think about the ways in which you could do the following two things, which will make you a more impressive candidate when applying for jobs after graduation:

1) find an extra-curricular activity that you enjoy and use it to develop your skills.  There are a huge number of opportunities available through Queen Mary Students Union: get ideas at and

Queen Mary is well placed to help you get engaged with organisations outside of your academic course that relate to your studies.  Consider organisations such as the student-led London politics society New Turn,  The Mile End Group  - Queen Mary’s politics forum with many high profile speakers - and the think-tank Chatham House which offers student membership. These and many others offer a range of opportunities.  

In additional to any part-time work that you do, undertake at least 100 hours of work experience in a professional organisation before you enter your second year.  This could be in any area of work, paid or unpaid, and needs to challenge you, demonstrating your initiative and a couple of other skills.  Queen Mary is within easy range of a number of organisations that offer excellent opportunities to get experience related to your degree. Consider, for example programmes offered by UpRising, The Three Faiths Forum, Aegis Trust.  Find these and many others by searching on our online library Career Tagged using search terms such as politics, conflict or political risk.

2) You may wish to get work experience that isn’t related to politics or international relations.  We can help you find work experience across all sectors through and

We can assist you with finding and applying for part time work or work experience through one-to-one appointments in the Careers and Enterprise Centre and activities in your School run by your School Careers Consultant. Last year’s events included a politics forum, alumni talks, and workshops on finding work and work experience in politics and international relations.

See our website for more information   

What if I can’t find the answer to my question here?

If you have a question that isn’t listed here, please email Jason Salucideen – who will be happy to help answer your query.

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