The MSc in Contemporary Political Theory offers advanced training in key issues and thinkers in contemporary political theory, from both Anglo-American and Continental perspectives. The department’s theory group has research and teaching interests in applied analytical political theory (with issues including immigration, citizenship and the politics of recognition), post-Nietzschean theories of identity and post-identity politics, democratic theory and pragmatist philosophy.
You will study a mixture of core and elective units, including a generous choice of free options, and write a supervised dissertation over the summer. Teaching is conducted primarily in small group seminars that meet weekly for two hours, supplemented by individual tuition for the dissertation.
This course is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Masters degree. The structure of the Diploma is identical except that you will not write a dissertation. If you are successful on the Diploma you may transfer to the MSc, subject to academic approval.
- The Department of Politics and International Relations is a young, vibrant and rapidly-rising department and was ranked in the Top 10 small politics departments in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
- The course is taught by world-class scholars and informed by cutting-edge research.
- The course offers an advanced grounding in international relations while allowing you to specialise in particular issues or regions of interest.
- Our international cohort of students will provide you with excellent opportunities to obtain genuinely global perspectives.
Department research and industry highlights
- The Centre for European Politics was officially launched by Lord Mandelson in September 2007, with the mission of producing research in two principal areas: the study of democracy in Europe, and Europe as an actor in world politics. Under the leadership of Co-Directors Dr Alister Miskimmon and Dr James Sloam, it has recently hosted a number of high-profile speakers, including Lord Mandelson, Professor Simon Hix (LSE), Roger Liddle (Policy Network), John Peet (The Economist), Sir Stephen Wall (former European policy advisor to Tony Blair), and David Willetts MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Innovations, Universities and Skills). Recent funded research projects include: a European Union Committee of the Regions consultancy on EU External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy; an EU-funded Workshop on the Review of the European Union Budget; and Teaching Democracy.
- The Centre for Global and Transnational Politics is devoted to the multi-disciplinary exploration of global and transnational processes. Led by its Co-Directors Dr Chris Rumford and Professor Sandra Halperin, its central concern is to theorise and conceptualise the substance of, and connections between and among, political processes that operate at all levels or scales: the local, national, international, transnational, and global. The Centre recently won £54,000 from NORFACE, a partnership of European Research Councils including the ESRC, for a pan-European research network on globalisation and the transformation of Europe's borders, and £20,000 from the joint AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society programme for a research network on the normative foundations of public policy in a multi-faith society. Dr Yasmin Khan’s recent book The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan (Yale University Press) won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Book Prize of 2007.
- The New Political Communication Unit’s research agenda focuses on the impact of new media and communication technologies on politics, policy and governance. Dr Ben O'Loughlin and Akil N. Awan, together with colleague Andrew Hoskins at the University of Warwick, were awarded £300,000 from the ESRC for a study of terrorist networks on the internet. Unit Co-Director Professor Andrew Chadwick is one of the founding members of the US National Science Foundation's International Working Group on Online Consultation and Public Policymaking, a three year project focusing on how political interaction on the internet can contribute to better government policy. It is funded through part of an overall grant of $1m to the State University of New York at Albany, from the NSF Digital Government Programme. Andrew Chadwick’s recent book Internet Politics (Oxford University Press) was awarded one of the American Sociological Association Best Book Prizes in 2007.
- The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group was founded in October 2009, as a result of the development of political theory at postgraduate level and growth in academic staff numbers having created the critical mass it required. The group organizes its activities collectively, and its work focuses on issues around contemporary pluralism, liberalism, democratic theory and radical politics. It brings together staff working in contemporary Continental philosophy, normative political theory, and American pragmatism, and its postgraduate members include two students on the College’s most prestigious studentship, the Reid Award. The group also has ties to the College’s Philosophy Team and the interdepartmental Humanities and Arts Research Centre.
Course content and structure
You will study four core course units (chosen from a total of six options), two elective units, and write a dissertation over the summer. Core course units include one of three disciplinary training pathway courses and a course in research design.
On completion of the course graduates will have:
- an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, theoretical debates, and developments related to politics and international relations
- a sound knowledge of the texts, theories and methods used to enhance understanding of the issues, processes and phenomena associated with particular fields of politics and international relations
- an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of research methods within the discipline
- a solid foundation for progression to either a politics-related career or continued academic study.
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.
Employability & career opportunities
Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different politics and international relations-related areas, including roles as officials in local government, personnel officers and higher education lecturers. This course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.