Political Studies focuses on matters associated with power and authority in the state and government, but also in the broader society. As students of politics, we are focused on “the games people play” to wittingly and unwittingly drive political agendas. Politics revolves around resource allocation in society and how formal (e.g. policy) and informal habits maintain or transform such resource-allocating practices.

International Relations, on the other hand, focuses on relationships among nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental institutions, environmental politics and security, among other things. A student of International Relations will acquire skills in diplomacy, conflict management and the critical analysis of global affairs.

Political Studies explores a range of current study terrains or sub-disciplines. These include:

  • Comparative politics
  • Political theory
  • Political philosophy
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • Intergovernmental and non-governmental relationships
  • Security studies
  • Theories of international relations
  • International institutions
  • International relations, with its particular set of subdisciplines
  • Political economy and regional focuses such as African and South African politics
  • Political systems

Significance and application

It is undoubtedly true that the topics studied in Political Studies shape the societal context of an individual’s way of life. Life is ultimately no more than a politically driven reality in which people have to negotiate their own path.

Students gain knowledge of and insight into politics – political processes, institutions and consequences for society and the environment. Students will therefore be better able to understand and address the demands and challenges of their way of life. This applies equally in their capacity as citizens of the country and in a specific profession, and is accompanied by the necessary realisation that nothing constructive can be achieved in the country concerned, or in world politics, without mobilising people regarding political objectives and policy.

In an increasingly globalising world, international relations has become a more relevant interdisciplinary field of study. Issues such as climate change, security (human, food, state, etc.), the global economy, international law, foreign policy and multi-national corporations continue to be of major concern in developed and developing states. The complex interdependent nature of the global system calls for academic interrogation of 21st-century global politics.