Faculty of Economics and Social SciencesPolitical Science

Students of the degree programme in Political Science primarily study 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.

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.

Special Features and Characteristics

The Institute for Political Science (Institut für Politische Wissenschaft (IPW)) at Heidelberg University ranges among the older political science institutes in Germany. Since the first teaching assignment for the “Science of Politics” for Dolf Sternberger in 1947 and the foundation of the institute in 1958, the IPW was able to gain a high scientific reputation. The research excellence of the institute is reflected by reputation studies of the German Political Science Association (GPSA) and numerous national and international research projects (German Research Foundation, Thyssen Foundation, VW Foundation, Bertelsmann Foundation, EU, etc.), as well as a diverse publishing activity of its researchers with high international visibility. 


The Institute for Political Science covers all core research areas in political science:

  • empirical-comparative democracy and autocracy research,
  • comparative research of international policy areas and government activities, with a focus on the labour market, energy, climate, sustainability, welfare, and environmental policies,
  • analysis of decision-making processes and governmental activity in the Federal Republic of Germany,
  • European integration, international organisations, and comparative research on foreign policy, especially within Germany,
  • comparative and international Political Economy
  • international security architecture, security policy, and weapons of mass destruction
  • history of political precepts and theories
  • institutional theories and urban research
  • urban policy research
  • theories of and discourses on justice
  • concepts of modern governance
  • comparative analysis of political systems in the global South, particularly in Pacific Asia and Western Europe,
  • empirical analysis of inner-state conflicts and disputes in international relations

Occupational Areas

Political scientists find employment in the following areas:  

  • editorial departments of newspapers and publishing companies 
  • radio and television broadcasting 
  • public administration 
  • political institutions like the Federal German Parliament and the regional parliaments 
  • political parties, political foundations, labour unions and associations 
  • institutions for adult education 
  • market and opinion research institutes 
  • public relations agencies 
  • organisations for development cooperation 
  • universities and research institutes


Studierende Politikwissenschaft Uni Heidelberg

Why do I study political science? Because political decisions influence almost all areas of life. An academic programme in political science provides the best opportunity to uncover all relevant aspects and comes with a whole host of exciting future careers. Politics concerns every single one of us!

Janika Lohse, 22, Political Science, 4th semester Bachelor