Focusing on the interface of theories of the good society, globalisation, legitimacy and power.
Political theory is the soul of political science: it’s not about determining what the facts are but about determining what they mean and what should be done with them. It’s about the genuine and the deceptive arguments used to interfere in other people’s lives and business. We need political theory anywhere where power is used both covertly and openly, where policies are made and where choices are questioned and criticised.
As a political theorist, you will ask what would be sensible instead of what people call sensible. Just a handful of questions you will be asking and seeking the answers to: Is there a moral foundation for national sovereignty or self-determination? How far should tolerance go? What can and should be our ambitions for local community building? When does a political theory become a weapon or a form of power? Can authority ever be legitimate? Do we owe anything to future generations, animals, the global poor or minority groups?
This Master’s specialisation offers students an unprecedented opportunity to learn to assess political values, aspirations and dreams in terms of their desirability and reasonability. You will also discover how political theoretical work can be introduced fruitfully in other relevant contexts. This will enable you to help civil initiatives and governmental institutions, not to mention the public at large by imagining and designing policies and ambitions that are both viable and defensible.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/pt
- Our programme is consistently ranked the best Political Science/PT programme in the Netherlands
- The programme has a unique focus on justification and recognition, globalisation and their relationship with power
- Teaching takes place in a stimulating, collegial setting with small groups
- You are encouraged to critically reflect on the staff’s ongoing research in the Nijmegen Political Philosophical Workshop
- We are the conscience of real-world politics and policies and prepare you to interpret and contribute to real-world politics
Graduates of political theory are academics, not politicians. We believe that to be a good policy advisor, manager or administrator, you need to have good research skills. Research is what is going to make your advice be both valid and practical: both sides of the coin of policies are equally important to the political theorists.
Our graduates find employment in a variety of settings, including in consulting, national and international diplomacy and EU institutions. They can work as policy advisors, managers and leaders in local, regional and national government, as well as in business, media, NGOs, think-tanks and civic organisations. Quite a few go on to pursue a PhD degree.
Don’t rules, laws, commands and regulations always imply a violation of human autonomy? Are they not insults to humanity? Is there a way to escape from power?
Political theory is the key to good and valid politics. It is practice-oriented and should not be confused with political philosophy. Political theory is more than a reflection on eternal truths and the essence of concepts; it makes the difference between knowing and understanding. Compared to classical political philosophy it is more concrete, more interdisciplinary in nature, and sensitive both to the workings of power and the limits of feasibility.
Political Theory at Radboud University focuses on four aspects:
1. Critical understanding of theories of the good society
Of course, just like most Political Theory programmes we take a critical look at the theories of the good society. Who is – but also who should be – included in the theories: families or individuals, distinct people or everyone, animals and environment or humans only, future or only present generations?
We focus on globalisation in the broadest sense: the globalisation of people, money, technology and values so that we address global, ecological, intergenerational justice, multiculturalism and agonism. We definitely do not limit ourselves to the dominant redistributive justice discourse.
3. Justification and legitimisation
We start off by justifying and discrediting particular policies by the standards of theories of the good society. But we go further. What values, rules, tests and mechanisms are there to help design and assess political choices? Which are appropriate and when? Are they biased? We will discuss deliberative democracy, Habermas’s domination-free discourse, Rawls’s reflective equilibrium, the agora of agonists like Mouffe and, of course, foundationalism.
Power is the mother of all political concepts; it is a concept that is too easily taken for granted or ignored by political scientists, political philosophers and politicians. We recognise that power, ultimately the threat of violence, will always be part of politics and that there will always be a gap between what you think you can justify and what others will embrace. At Radboud University we train students to try and chart where power hides in justification practices, both in political theory and political practise.
The combination of these aspects is what makes the Political Theory Master’s specialisation at Radboud University unique.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/pt
This programme will provide you with a firm grounding in political analysis and a critical insight into the real politics behind the headlines.
You will explore the variety, dynamism and relevance of political theory in the modern world, gaining an insight into political thought and practical application of political ideas.
You will consider the various ways in which theory is vital to understanding a range of urgent and pressing problems (such as terrorism, global poverty, social cohesion, immigration, censorship, war and the environment) in contemporary politics and address the practical implications of these ideas.
Throughout the course you will build a portfolio of in-depth study of many of the defining events and dynamics of modern society, across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, providing an understanding of the world that will prove invaluable in further academic study or a range of postgraduate careers.
The Political Theory and Cultural Values Research Group is an active team of enthusiastic academics, pursuing cutting-edge research into a wide variety of strands of political thought.
The Political Theory Centre is part of the White Rose Association for Political Philosophy, linking you into the complementary political theory teams at York and Sheffield Universities.
Links with the Leeds Centre for Democratisation afford excellent opportunities for discussing the application of many of the ideas studied on the programme. Political theorists form part of a large department of political studies, including International Relations and Development, which additionally provide an auspicious context for the study of applied theory.
Through compulsory and optional modules, this programme will offer you:
You will also be able to hone your research and writing skills in your compulsory dissertation – an independent piece of research on your chosen topic.
The wide-ranging list of optional modules means that you can explore a diverse range of related subjects of interest to you.
If you are a part-time student, you will study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.
Teaching is tailored for interactive small-group work, and uses a combination of lecture and seminar-discussion modes.
Teaching on political theory modules is predominantly seminar discussion-based, while other modules include more lecture-oriented material.
You will be expected to do a significant amount of preparatory reading before each session, and emphasis will be on student-led discussion to build critical and reflective confidence in a group environment.
Modules are assessed by varying combinations of exam and coursework, depending on the module.
The emphasis on applied use of political thought, particularly from a transformative perspective, means the critical analytical skills learnt here are of use in a wide range of employment sectors, including the civil service, public sector organisations and the third sector.
Many graduates go on to complete PhDs in Political Theory, having had the opportunity to strengthen their command of a certain area of political thought during their Masters studies.
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.
The Master’s programme in Political Theory will teach you political theory and applied philosophy in a theoretical, practical and analytical way. You are challenged to critically analyse and reflect on current political contexts and social and political thought.
The Political Theory track provides students with the conceptual tool-kits to analyse the complex normative and methodological issues of contemporary political life. Students are encouraged to take an active role in critical reflection on political practices, institutional arrangements, and social science methods by building on a solid foundation in social and political thought. The track combines analytical rigor with policy relevance.
The Political Theory track provides a unique opportunity to study analytically rigorous political theory and applied philosophy in a political science programme; we apply political theory as a guide to public policy and pressing social problems.
We have an international student body and an international faculty.
The Department of Political Science is consistently ranked among the World’s top-50, and is the largest in the Netherlands. This provides students with a broad foundation in political theory and opportunities for electives and thesis research in a wide variety of related areas of study, from international relations to political economy, from electoral politics to public administration.
The track is designed for independent students that wish to gain a rigorous foundation in political theory and moral philosophy in order to apply these to pressing social problems. It is aimed at students that aim to develop normative and methodological tools that they can apply to complex domestic and international challenges. The programme is writing intensive; students are expected to develop a capacity to work independently and in group settings.
This programme prepares students for careers in government, global business, think-tanks, non-profits, and journalism with a focus on public policy, analysis, and advocacy at the local, national, and international level. The programme also provides a strong foundation for a career in academia. For more information, see the webpage on career prospects.
Political Theory is a track of the accredited degree programme Political Science. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Political Science and the title Master of Science (MSc).
This MA provides students with key analytical skills to study the ethical dimensions of public policy. The programme, drawing on three areas of excellence at UCL, is a unique mix of politics, law and philosophy, centred on the normative evaluation of public policy at both the domestic and international levels.
The programme explores the moral quality of the decisions citizens and professionals take, and the justice of the legal and political structures within which they operate. Students develop the ability to analyse important modern political theories, and justify their position on issues concerning the relationship between politics, law and society.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).
Students choose modules worth a total of 45 credits from the list below (the others remain available as options).
They also choose one further 15-credit module from a list available at: the programme website
All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.
Teaching and learning
Teaching for all modules takes the form of seminars where time is dedicated both to introducing knowledge and materials, and allowing students to test their understanding, knowledge and evaluative skills, through discussion, criticism and debate. Assessment is primarily through long essays, coursework and the dissertation.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Legal and Political Theory MA
This MA provides an excellent foundation for further research in political theory, or a wide variety of careers in this field.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Students of the Legal and Political Theory MA acquire advanced analytical transferable skills and exposure to cutting-edge legal and philosophical work - problem-solving, logical skills - combined with deep understanding of challenges of the contemporary world. As a result our students have an excellent record of employability in leading professions - law, consultancy, politics, journalism and academic careers.
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of legal and political theory.
Weekly interactive seminars offer students an unrivalled opportunity to meet and engage with some of the leading figures in the field.
The Legal and Political Theory MA benefits from the interdisciplinary research culture of the Department of Political Science, as well as from the participation of UCL Philosophy and UCL Laws.
The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.
The following REF score was awarded to the department: Political Science
89% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)
Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.
The MLitt in International Political Theory is a one year taught postgraduate programme run by the School of International Relations. The programme commences in September and ends the following August.
The programme consists of four taught modules taken over two semesters and a 15,000-word dissertation in an area of your choice.
Modules are taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials with average lecture sizes ranging from 20 to 30 students and tutorial sizes ranging from 1 to 15 students. Assessment methods include a combination of examination and coursework.
Every MLitt student is assigned a dissertation supervisor who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process.
All International Political Theory MLitt students take two compulsory and two optional modules over the course of the programme. You may, with permission, take modules from other MLitt programmes in the School of International Relations or from another School.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry.
Political theory is the study of the good society. Public debate is dominated by controversies such as what justice requires of citizens and the state; what the most important rights and liberties are; and what protection there should be for minorities in majoritarian democracies.
Political theory provides a scholarly examination of these questions, informed by adjacent debates in moral philosophy, legal theory, historical study, and political science. Currently, there are eight political theorists in the Department of Government, which is one of the largest concentrations of specialists in the world. Staff research interests are in diverse areas including comparative political theory, contemporary normative theory, the history of political thought, feminist theory, and rational and social choice theory. We aim to address issues in a global context.
The programme includes a compulsory course and a wide range of optional courses, and you will also complete a dissertation on an approved topic of your choice. The programme is a good preparation for further research work, or for a career in education, public administration, NGOs or the private sector.
This programme is a good preparation for further research work or for a career in education, public administration or the private sector.
This programme aims to equip students with the intellectual skills to analyse contemporary international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective, with a particular focus on their ethical dimensions.
In the new and rapidly expanding field of international political theory, issues that relate to justice, rights, political obligation and forms of government have grown beyond their nation-state context, and now need to be examined in light of increasing global integration.
This political philosophy programme looks at these international issues with a particular focus on their ethical dimensions, examining the rights and wrongs of international affairs and their global political and economic consequences.
As well as delving into the history of political thought, you’ll be examining the issues of today, with particular emphasis on normative political theory, learning to analyse contemporary international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective.
Teaching will be by lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.
You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses, after which you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.
With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may select option courses from elsewhere within the University.
Students who follow this programme will be able to:
This programme will give you the theoretical foundation for further study and a career in academic teaching and research. Alternatively, you may apply your learning to a career relating to international political policy.
The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.