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MA Politics and Political Theory

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  • Entry requirements
    If you wish to apply for these programmes, you should normally hold a good honours degree (upper second class or first class) in a Social Science discipline, or an equivalent professional qualification. Relevant experience will be taken into account.

    However, if you have a good degree in, say, the natural sciences, humanities or languages, you may also apply, particularly if you have appropriate work experience.

    If you narrowly missed securing an upper second result, you should inform us of your circumstances so that your case can be considered on an individual basis.

    Language requirements

    Successful completion of a postgraduate degree demands facility in English. It is a requirement that essays and dissertations be well-written. Prospective and intending students whose first language is not English will need to ensure that their linguistic proficiency is adequate. They may need to undertake some language training in the University or elsewhere.

    The School has a minimum requirement.

    * TOEFL score on the paper-based test: at least, 580 with 4.0 on the Test of Written English (TWE).

    * TOEFL score on the internet-based test: 94, with minimum scores of 20 in listening, 23 in reading, 23 in speaking and 24 in writing.

    * TOEFL score on the computer-based test: at least, 240 with 4.0 on essay rating.


    A minimum IELTS (academic) score of 6.5 with at least 6 in all components.

    University Language Centre

    The School keeps its requirements under review and may request a higher level of proficiency.

    The University's Language Centre offers specialised pre-sessional English language programmes, which are suitable for students going on to study in the Institute. These programmes are also useful in helping students acclimatise to the UK academic environment.
  • Course description

    This course offers you...
    • a flexible and student-centred approach to political thought
    • theory as a mode of active political engagement in modern society
    • practical application of political ideas 

    If you ...
    • would like to work alongside research-active academics
    • would like to engage in enduring debates in political theory
    • wish to examine the nature of freedom, justice and democracy and the relationship between politics and morality
    • wish to gain skills in political and conceptual analysis

    ... then MA Politics and Political Theory could be the right course for you.

    MA Politics and Political Theory deploys theory as a mode of active political engagement in modern society.

    The programme provides a flexible and student-centred approach to political thought which emphasises the contemporary relevance and practical application of political ideas. Working alongside research-active academics in deliberative research seminars, you will engage in enduring debates in political theory concerning, for example, the nature of freedom, justice and democracy and the relationship between politics and morality. You will address the practical implications of these ideas for pressing problems such as terrorism, global poverty, social cohesion, immigration, censorship, war and the environment.

    You will play an active role in the thriving political theory research culture of the School. You will participate in both the Centre for Democratisation Studies, which brings together staff and students interested in the ideals and practices of democracy in the contemporary world, and also the White Rose Association for Political Philosophy (WRAPP) which brings together political philosophers from the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds, and York to create the largest national research network in the discipline.

    This course is ideally suited to advanced students who seek the space to think for themselves, but also the opportunity to work with academic experts. It will appeal to those students who are enthused by political ideas not merely for their own sake, but who wish to make use of those ideas in the analysis, critique and transformation of practice.

    MA Politics and Political Theory is available on a 12-month full-time basis or 24 month part-time.

    The course has three compulsory modules, with a further 60 credits of optional modules to total 180 credits.

    Compulsory Modules

    Advanced Political Analysis (30 credits) concentrates on the development of analytical and research skills in the study of politics. It examines key concepts such as 'power' and 'the political'.

    Concepts and Issues in Political Theory (30 credits) How can political theory be used to analyse, criticise and transform practice? This module will introduce the activity of political theory as a mode of enquiry and enable you to apply the tools of conceptual analysis to a range of practical issues reflecting your own skills and interests. The module first addresses central methodological questions concerning the nature of political theory and the application of theory to practice. It then proceeds to explore in depth four key concepts in political theory from a list including: freedom, justice, equality, rights, toleration, democracy, obligation, identity, violence, community, revolution, the political.

    Poltical Theory Dissertation (60 credits) leads you through the process of developing a deeper understanding of a particular topic in political theory through independent research and the preparation of an extended piece of writing. You agree a research topic with your supervisor and write a 12,000 word dissertation that demonstrates your research skills, your ability to assess information, and appraise relevant concepts and theories.

    Optional Modules

    In addition to the compulsory modules, you also choose 30 credits of modules from the following list:
    • Debates about the Just Society (30 credits)
    • Politics and Morality (30 credits)
    • Democratic Theory and Political Transformation (30 credits)
    • Relations of Theory to Practice (30 credits)

    and to complete a total of 180 credits, choose 30 credits from:
    • Contemporary British Politics (Thatcherism, New Labour and Political Change) (30 credits)
    • Developments in British Politics (30 credits)
    • Political Transitions in S.E. Asia (30 credits)
    • Environmental Policy and Politics (30 credits)
    • The Politics of the European Union (30 credits)
    • European Union Public Policy (30 credits)
    • The Making of Modern Europe (30 credits)
    • Debates About the Just Society (30 credits)
    • Politics and Morality (30 credits)
    • Democratic Theory and Political Transformation (30 credits)
    • Relations of Theory to Practice (30 credits)
    • Politics of Intelligence (15 credits)
    • European Defence and Security Analysis (15 credits)
    • Conflict, Complex Emergencies and Global Governance (30 credits)
    • Contemporary Politics of the Middle East (30 credits)
    • Contemporary International Security (15 credits)
    • World Politics and the Environment  (15 credits)
    • International Political Economy (30 credits)
    • Political Economy of Resources (30 credits)
    • Democratisation and Multi-Party Politics in Africa (30 credits)
    • The Politics of Trade and Industrial Policy (15 credits)
    • The EU and the Developing World (30 credits)
    • Parliamentary Studies One (30 credits)

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