This wide-ranging programme explores key concepts, methods, debates and applications in social and political theory.
Core modules will introduce you to social and political thought and its relation to economic, social, political and cultural problems in a fast-changing, globalised world. From the seminal works of Karl Marx to contemporary thinkers such as Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek, you’ll think about how these approaches can help us understand social change on the global stage.
Beyond this, you’ll choose modules that suit your own interests – you could specialise in gender, racism and ethnicity studies, social policy, globalisation, care, health or disability among others. You can also pursue research training to prepare for further study.
Research insight - the Bauman Institute
You’ll become part of the Bauman Institute, launched in honour of Emeritus Professor Zygmunt Bauman to analyse social change around the world. It’s an exciting and stimulating research environment where you’ll learn from experts in their fields.
The Bauman Institute is inspired by Bauman’s sociological imagination, and has earned an international reputation for teaching and research. Bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines, it investigates the ways in which societies continue to evolve in areas such as power and resistance and the sociology of capitalism.
You’ll take core modules during the year that introduce you to different areas of social, sociological and political thought, from Marx and Weber to the Frankfurt School and recent feminist and psychoanalytic thinkers. You’ll consider the positioning and relevance of critical theory in relation to contemporary social phenomena.
These modules lay the foundations of the programme; you’ll build on them through your choice of optional modules which give you the chance to specialise. You could focus on areas such as research methods and design, healthcare, disability theory, globalisation, gender, racism and ethnicity studies or policy analysis and evaluation. If you’re planning to progress to PhD study, we’ll recommend you take modules focusing on research and data analysis.
At the end of the programme, you’ll submit your dissertation – an independent piece of research on a related topic of your choice, which allows you to demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during the year.
Most of our modules are taught using lectures, seminars and tutorials. Optional modules may also include workshops, online learning or other methods. However, independent study is still a crucial element of this programme, allowing you to develop your skills, pursue specific research interests and form your own ideas.
Core modules are assessed using essays, as well as your final dissertation. Depending on the optional modules you choose, you may also be assessed using research reports, project work, presentations, literature and book reviews among other methods. If you select research methods modules, you’ll also be expected to engage with some data analysis in your essays.
This programme will enable you to think critically with an ethical awareness and to understand how a consumer society has transformed social and political realities.
These qualities are crucially important for a wide range of potential careers from policy research to local authority and government roles, campaigning and political lobbying, work with development agencies and NGOs, and even entry to the academic profession and research-based employment.
We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.
The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.
This MA programme provides you with a thorough grounding in the classics of Social and Political Thought and a deep and varied engagement with their 20th and 21st Century offshoots. This course addresses a range of key concepts and ideas that are central to the analysis of contemporary society, politics and culture, including debates over the basis of contemporary capitalism, neoliberalism, biopolitics, ideology, and the fundamental question of what it means to be ‘social’ and/or ‘human’.
The degree is structured around two core modules. The first of these is State, Capitalism and Market (convened by Professor Nicholas Gane), which uses theoretical resources such as Michel Foucault’s writings on biopolitics to think analytically and critically about capitalism and its recurrent crises. This module looks in particular at the recent financial crisis and the role this crisis has played in the reconfiguration of structural relations between the market and the state. A key part of this module is the critical analysis of political-economic discourses of neoliberalism that argue for the sovereignty of markets and economics over all things ‘social’. The second core module is Politics and Social Theory (convened by Dr Charles Turner) uses the work a wide-range of classical thinkers (for example, de Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim and Weber) and Twentieth Century writers (Arendt, Schmitt and Rorty) to consider the possibility of developing a sociological understanding of politics.
Beyond these two core modules, you can pursue your own research interests and specialisms by choosing four modules from a wide range of options, and then progressing to research and write their own 15,000 word dissertation.
The MSc by Research in History is aimed at students who have a specific topic of interest into which they wish to conduct their own research.
The programme provides structured research training while at the same time enabling you to pursue a research project that you design yourself, in consultation with supervisors. It serves as both a self-contained research degree and a preparation for further study for the PhD degree.
History at Edinburgh is one of the largest and most distinguished departments of its kind.
Research interests within History are extremely wide-ranging and include medieval culture, religion, gender, and law; historical theory; early modern witchcraft and the occult; the Italian Renaissance; North America from the colonial era; intellectual history from Machiavelli to Marx; genocide; Nazi and post-war Germany; Russia and the Soviet Union; the Cold War; and political, social, and cultural aspects of the history of China, Japan, and India in the modern era.
In particular, we host expertise in:
The programme consists of two compulsory training courses common to all History MSc degrees, two directed reading and research courses and a dissertation on a topic chosen by the student.
Two supervisors are assigned at the outset of the course for each student's dissertation.
This programme requires completion of a long dissertation of 30,000 words. Students will additionally audit two training courses Historical Research: Skills and Sources and Historical Methodology.
You will be assigned two supervisors who will provide expert academic guidance on your chosen research topic. You will meet regularly to discuss your progress and research plans, as well as drafts of your thesis/dissertation chapters, conference papers and potential articles.
In addition to individual supervision, you will also have access to research training and postgraduate seminars.
Our home is the William Robertson Wing, an A-listed building on the southern edge of Edinburgh’s Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Designed by the distinguished 19th-century architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, the building – part of the University’s Old Medical School – has recently been refurbished to an exceptional standard, providing state-of-the-art facilities for research, teaching and study.
Graduate students are able to use two further large School study and resource rooms, which are open to all staff and students. There is access to lockers equipped with laptop charging facilities as well as standard lockers.
The building is wireless enabled and includes state of the art teaching rooms, meeting rooms, a common room, a refreshment area, and open social/breakout areas.
The programme will enable you to:
The concentration on research under supervision makes this degree suitable for those contemplating doctoral study, whether in our own School or elsewhere, and many who take this degree follow that route.
But undertaking substantial and independent research and a writing project is equally excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers.