Leading social sciences programs for Asian students
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Leading social sciences programs for Asian students

By most experts’ reckoning, Aristotle is the father of politics as a scientific field of study. After watching his home town being destroyed by Macedonians, he set out to determine how to preserve a good society in the face of danger. Above all, he sought to establish how an ideal society would be governed, and who would be allowed to live in it.

Now, more than 2,300 years later, the same questions still perplex us. Given the rapid pace of globalisation and our relatively new capacity to destroy on a massive scale, these questions are more important than ever before. Sociologists and politicians have quipped that the greatest natural disaster facing humanity in the 21st century won’t involve erratic weather, earthquakes or an asteroid on a collision course with earth. Instead, it will involve a breakdown of international relations and foreign policy.

These are fascinating areas of study that draw on diverse disciplines. International relations and politics explore the nature of conflict on a regional or national level, as well the potential for cooperation and resolution. Sociology takes a step back and attempts to understand, quite simply, why we do the things that we do. At first glance, these seem like routine questions with obvious answers, but the reality is much more complex.

To be successful, students and practitioners need to be versatile and well-rounded. Rather than looking for specific subject qualifications in candidates, many universities are more apt to consider applications on a person-by-person basis. A candidate’s enthusiasm and extracurricular merits certainly come into play.

Social sciences and politics in 21st-century Asia

With the rise of Asian economies and the emerging power of China and India, there has never been a more crucial time for students in Asia to consider a career in politics and the social sciences. Foreign policy carved out today is going to have a dramatic effect on tomorrow’s global markets, and graduates with leading international credentials are going to play an important role in drafting these policies and agreements.

Indeed, career prospects are practically limitless. There are obvious avenues to pursue –a degree in political science lays the groundwork for a career in politics – but this is only the beginning of a long list of possibilities. Diplomatic services, non-governmental organisations and transnational regulating bodies are constantly scouting ambitious, internationally minded individuals with backgrounds in politics and social sciences.


Pic: Liverpool Hope University.

Many universities also offer the opportunity to enhance a degree’s marketability by adding a minor subject or offering a joint major. Along these lines, many international students combine their social science coursework with studies in history, economics, philosophy or even a foreign language.

Narrowing down the list of potential schools to a shortlist of prime candidates takes time. For Asian students interested in earning their degree overseas, Europe is one of the best educational destinations to consider, if only because so many nations and governments have been operating here in close quarters for centuries. The UK and Ireland are particularly strong contenders in this field of study.

With that in mind, the following are among the leading social sciences, politics and international relations programs for Asian students:


Located in Ireland’s capital city, the University College Dublin hosts a student body in excess of 17,000, making it the largest university in the Republic of Ireland. Likewise, UCD operates the oldest and largest school of political science and international relations in the country. Inclusion in the EU and a history of facing down and resolving significant socio-political conflicts make Ireland an excellent place for international students to earn credentials in international relations and global politics. The UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) is a dynamic and international school with multifaceted course offerings for undergraduate and postgraduate students, alike. Read the full profile here…


Pic: Students walking at UCD.


Based out of London, Middlesex University (MDX) also has satellite campuses in Dubai and Mauritius, encompassing a network of higher education that spans the globe. In all, more than 40,000 students are involved, learning from world-renown academics and participating in cutting-edge research. On the London campus alone, more than a third of the students hail from abroad, representing 140 countries and contributing to a diverse and dynamic class atmosphere. Through the Middlesex University School of Law, students from Asia are earning high-powered credentials in Sociology, Global Governance and International Relations. Read the full profile here…


Dating to the mid-19th century, Liverpool Hope University has undergone substantial growth over the last decade. With students from 65 countries around the world, this is a thriving international learning centre with attractive offerings in social and political sciences. Students with interests in these areas of will find offerings on the main campus in Childwall as well as the second campus in Everton. Over the past five years, 92 percent of new graduates were either employed or pursuing further studies within six months of completing their first degrees. Furthermore, international students appreciate the fact that Liverpool Hope is one of the most affordable universities in England. Read the full profile here…


Relatively young by UK university standards, Bradford is well-known as an innovator. It operates the largest university centre in the world dedicated exclusively to the study of peace and conflict; was the first university in the country to open a Department of Peace Studies; and became the first outside of London to offer part-time coursework in any subject. Today, that same spirit of innovation and going against the current makes the University of Bradford one of the most attractive places in the world to pursue a degree in international relations. Read the full profile here…


Pic: Academics at Bradford University.


The School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh undertakes scholarship in international relations, anthropology, social policy, politics and a range of other related subjects. Research is paramount here, with several prominent centers and institutes on campus through which students can pursue postgraduate credentials while making meaningful contributions to modern society. Among these is the Centre for South Asian Studies, the only academic institute in Scotland dedicated to studying this particular region.


Since its founding in 2001, the King’s College of London’s SSPP has been taking on some of the most important ethical, political and social issues facing the world today. The school operates multiple departments that collectively comprise one of the UK’s largest university groupings focused on policy-oriented research. The SSPP maintains close ties with international policy makers, practitioners and activists, ensuring that students have ample opportunity to network and gain relevant experience.