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Political Science

Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Application: mandatory
Course commences: winter semester only
Standard course duration: 6 semesters
Focus options: 75%; 50% (with Teaching Degree option); 25%
Language requirements: none
Language of instruction: German and English

Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Note for prospective students interested in coming to Heidelberg University to take the Teaching Degree course qualifying its graduates to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany:

In accordance with the statutory provisions laid down by the State of Baden-Württemberg, students wishing to embark as of winter semester 2015/2016 on a Teaching Degree qualifying them to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany can only do so by enrolling in two-tier courses with a Bachelor/Master structure (polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor programme with a Teaching Degree option; Master of Education course scheduled to start in winter semester 2018/2019).

As of winter semester 2015/2016, the subject described on this page can be studied in a polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor course with a Teaching Degree option. It has to be combined with another 50% subject of relevance for secondary-school education.

For more information, go to

Note for students already enrolled in a Teaching Degree course in the framework of the Examination Regulations for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (GymPO I):

In the winter semester 2015/2016 and later, students enrolled by 31 July 2015 in a Teaching Degree course regulated by the provisions of GymPO I (2009) are entitled to switch to a different main subject under the conditions set out in said GymPO provided that the change is in accordance with the statutory provisions.

In this case, the following transitional regulations apply:

For more information, go to

Course outline

Political science is the study of the organisation and functioning of political institutions, the agencies and processes operating between state and society, the complexion of governance as a function of state policy, and international relations. To this extent, Political Science is the designation for scholarly analysis of the “striving for a share of power or for influence on the distribution of power” (Max Weber) and the binding settlement of societal conflicts over desired values and goods in domestic policy, foreign policy, and international relations.

In Germany, Political Science was only established to any significant degree as a scholarly discipline after World War Two. However, its traditions are in part much older. Ultimately, philosophical engagement with policy and politics dates back to the theories of governance advanced by the Greek philosophers of antiquity, notably Plato and Aristoteles. But Political Science also has a younger component. As a social science, it is a modern empirical discipline initially established largely in the United States and Europe.

Contemporary Political Science is characterised by a high degree of diversification in its subdivisions, theoretical approaches, and methodologies. Today, Political Science largely revolves around the following key concerns:

  • the history of political ideas and political theories
  • the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union
  • comparative analysis of political systems
  • government policy research and analysis
  • foreign policy and international relations
  • empirical methods in Political Science

Both in the specialised and in the superordinate issues addressed in this domain, Political Science has many points of contact with neighbouring subjects in the humanities and the social sciences, notably History, Sociology, Philosophy, Economics, Psychology and Law.

Given the unusual scope of Political Science, successful students will need to have a broad range of interests and a capacity for interdisciplinary thinking. A good reading knowledge of English is indispensable for engagement with the specialist literature.

Course structure

Broadly speaking, the B.A. course in Political Science at Heidelberg University covers the core areas referred to above.

Major research interests of the staff of the Institute include comparative national research, government policy and analysis of the connections between political institutions, conflict and consensus. The following topics have for some time been of central concern at the Institute both in research itself and in the publications produced by that research:

  • decision-making processes and government policy in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • comparative analysis of political systems in western Europe and North America, central and eastern Europe and Latin America
  • comparative analysis of political systems in the Near and Middle East and Asia (including cooperative ventures with the South Asia Institute)
  • theory of democracy, democratisation and system transformation, comparison democracy-autocracy
  • government policy in international comparisons, with special reference to social, economic and ecological policy
  • comparative and international Political Economy
  • theories of will-formation and decision-finding
  • international comparisons of election laws and election systems
  • analyses of the course, regulation, and prevention of conflicts in international relations

For more detailed descriptions of the courses available, please consult the relevant examination regulations and the PhD regulations of the Institute of Political Science or the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. The standard course duration for the B.A. course is six semesters and for Political Science as a main subject in the framework of a Teaching Degree (for higher secondary-school teachers) 10 semesters.

Formal requirements



Admission is restricted (numerus clausus). Click here for the Selection Regulations for the B.A. course. The application process takes place online.

International students

Special regulations apply for international study applicants. For more information please consult Heidelberg University’s International Relations Office (Dezernat Internationale Beziehungen, Seminarstraße 2).

Subject combinations

Potential subject combinations are listed in the Catalogue of Subjects.

Study and examination regulations

Prüfungsordnung Bachelor (vom 25.07.2013, letzte Änderung vom 28.09.2016)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

M.A. course

Heidelberg University offers a consecutive M.A. course in Political Science.

Academic advisor

Tobias Ostheim,
Bergheimer Str. 58, 3rd floor, Office 03.037
Thursdays 10.00 – 11.30 am
phone: +49 (0)6221 542878



Contact and Location

Institute of Political Science
Bergheimer Str. 58
D-69115 Heidelberg

Secretaries' office:
phone: +49 (0) 6221 542860
fax: +49 (0) 6221 542896

Student representation:

E-Mail: Seitenbearbeiter
Letzte Änderung: 2018-07-10
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