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'To Become a Sought-After Specialist, It Is Necessary to Study Political Science and International Relations Together'

'Political Science and World Politics' is an English-taught Bachelor's programme which offers subjects in both political science and international relations. Students gain knowledge and skills which will help them to develop in various career directions ranging from state service to business. Yury Kabanov, Academic Supervisor of the programme, explains how the learning process is structured.

'To Become a Sought-After Specialist, It Is Necessary to Study Political Science and International Relations Together'

HSE University-St Petersburg

Prof. Kabanov, what lies ahead for students of the programme 'Political Science and World Politics' in the next academic year?

— Our programme still includes two main components: Political Science and World Politics. We offer a comprehensive interdisciplinary perspective on the political decision-making process and how the 'rules of the game', which states and citizens have to live, by are formed.

All over the world, there is an increase in the interconnection between global processes and the changes happening in the politics, economy and social life of individual countries. That is why to become a sought-after specialist, it is necessary to study political science and international relations together. It helps to understand the context of the work done by politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and journalists, as well as forecast changes and prepare for them better.

The programme will suit those who are into politics, social science and international relations, and who want to study them more profoundly or pursue a career in these spheres. At the same time, we follow the labour market and offer other sought-after skills in data analysis, decision-making and public administration. Over the past few years, we have created new subjects and projects which develop such skills. Another similar sphere is government relations—relations between the state and business. The demand for such specialists is increasing, so from the next academic year, this direction will be developed in our programme more profoundly.

Have the admissions rules for international applicants changed this year?

— The admissions rules for international applicants are the same. To enrol in our programme, applicants have to take two entrance exams: History and English. Of course, it is possible to enrol without the entrance exams too—via the olympiad (HSE International Olympiad).

Will the programme still be English-taught?

— Yes, the programme remains in English. You should be prepared to study in this language. But don't be afraid of it. Even now, we have students for whom English is a second language and those who were enrolled via olympiads. First- and second-year students still can take optional courses to improve their English language skills.

Sometimes applicants ask why the programme website says that the studies are in both Russian and English. This is because some components of the curriculum can be studied in Russian at the students' choice. Examples include the courses in Mathematics and Economics and some elements of practical training, including term papers and final theses. But other than that, the studies are in English.

What are the advantages of studying in English?

— We have students from different parts of the world: Europe, Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia. Some courses are delivered by international lecturers such as András Gál and Iain Ferguson. Without teaching in English, it is impossible to create such an international academic environment. Besides, English remains the language of contemporary social sciences.

Moreover, in my opinion, studying in English is much better than studying English. Few people would argue that English language proficiency is a sought-after skill in any profession. But it also allows you to study in a master's programme abroad. In the last three years alone, over 30 of our graduates have enrolled in master's programmes in Europe, the USA and China, and some of them are already studying in PhD programmes.

What tracks does the programme offer?

— The programme has three regional tracks—on Europe, China and the post-Soviet space. Each track is a set of courses on the particular politics, society and international relations in the selected region. Besides, all students can choose what second language to study: Spanish, Chinese, German, Portuguese or French.

It helps to form a knowledge base to delve further into the region. Together with the main focus of the programme and analytical skills, regional expertise is another advantage for graduates—one which is very valuable to both authorities and companies aimed at foreign markets.

What competencies do graduates gain and where do they work?

— First, our graduates understand the political, administrative and international context of public decision-making. They can evaluate and develop public policy measures in various fields. Secondly, they can use the latest data analysis methods, work with texts and statistics, and know two programming languages—Python and R. Thirdly, they are aware of the unique features of different regions and know at least two foreign languages. This set of skills is supplemented by others that students gain during minor courses.

The list of professions which graduates can choose is rather long. It includes public administration, consulting, applied analytics for business, government relations, and political and business journalism. We are very proud that the graduates of our programme build very different successful career paths depending on their interests.

It is worth noting that many graduates enrol in prestigious master's programmes both in Russia and abroad. For instance, last year alone, more than half of our graduates enrolled in master's programmes, 14 of which are abroad.

Where and how can students undertake an internship during their studies?

— Internships take place in the third and fourth years. In the third year, the choice of place depends on what field a student wants to get familiar with. In the fourth, this choice is related to the topic of their thesis. 

They can undertake an internship at government agencies—for instance, the Committee for External Relations and other committees of the city administration, the St Petersburg governor's office, and the human rights ombudsman office in St Petersburg. Besides, every year, our students undergo practical training at the Accounts Chamber of Russia while working on the report 'State's Openness in Russia'.

Plenty of students opt for an internship in the GR- and other departments at commercial organisations. Among them are the St Petersburg Technopark, the Russian-Chinese Business Park, 'Northern Capital Gateway', 'Lukoil' and other well-known companies. They have an opportunity to participate in analytical and research projects of the 'Leontief Centre', the 'Strategy' centre, the Centre for Current Politics, and other analytical institutions. And finally, our students can undertake internships at leading scientific laboratories at HSE University.

It is important to note that practical training is not limited to internships. There are research and applied projects, including those carried out together with external partners. 

Can you tell us about the programme's achievements?

— Our programme has not just Russian, but international accreditation from the 'ZEvA' agency, which we received in 2020. It is an indicator that our programme meets international quality standards of education.

What's more, every year we are ranked among the top programmes for admissions quality that take into account average exam scores of first-years in various fields. For 2022, we took second place in Russia for the quality of both state-funded and fee-paying admissions. If you enrol in our programme, you will study with the most prepared and motivated students. This immediately increases the quality of education as well as interest in studies. It is a great pleasure to teach and study alongside the country's best students.

What international opportunities does the programme offer?

— We have a double-degree track with the University of Rome Tor Vergata. One can get there only through competition. In the third year, four students of our programme can go to the University Tor Vergata and study in the 'Global Governance' programme there. If the studies go well, our students get two diplomas—one from us and one from Tor Vergata. Moreover, each student can take part in international academic mobility and spend a semester at one of HSE's partner universities.

Apply for the Programme