The BSc IR is a 'single-subject' degree, for which the Department of International Relations is wholly responsible. The BSc IR and History (IR&H) is a 'joint' degree, in curricular terms: it is so constructed as to ensure that students on this programme study an approximately equal number of courses from International History and from International Relations. But admissions, tutorial and administrative aspects of the IR&H degree are exclusively the responsibility of the Department of International History, on whose initiative this degree was established.
IR&H students take the same four IR courses that are compulsory for BSc IR students (Concepts of International Society, International Political Theory, Foreign Policy Analysis and International Organisations). They are also able to choose either one or two other IR courses (or half units to the value of) (but not the Dissertation) in their third year. They do not have an automatic right of transfer into the BSc IR degree programme (but please see FAQ Qn 20 below).
The main difference in academic content between the two degree programmes is the amount of history to be studied. On the BSc IR degree programme, students have to take the compulsory course HY116 and may take one other history course in their first year; and they may, but do not have to, take a history course as their outside option in each of the following two years. So for BSc IR students the maximum possible is four history courses, or one third of the whole curriculum, and the minimum is one.
In contrast, IR&H students have to take HY116 and may take two more history courses in their first year; have to take two history courses (chosen from a range of options) in their second year; and have to take one and may take two history courses in their third year. So for IR&H students, history is studied to a minimum of four courses and a maximum of seven courses, with IR courses making up most of the balance of the curriculum. There is correspondingly less opportunity to study any subjects other than history and IR.
In the BSc IR degree, on the other hand, beyond the IR core curriculum, there are a number of specialist options in the third year that allow you to study a wide range of topics or focus on a particular area, such as international political economy. Alternatively, there is scope for you to pursue a foreign language - either a modern European language or Mandarin. These can build on existing language skills or start from the beginning.