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Course content


The nature and role of the state and its institutions and the relationship between the state, these institutions and society are undergoing fundamental transformations. Arguably, nowhere are these developments more evident than in contemporary Europe.

On the one hand, European integration has undoubtedly challenged the role and powers of the nation state. While nation states remain in control of many aspects of domestic politics and policy, more and more policies are being shaped by decisions made at the European Union level. While these trends raise all sorts of questions about issues of sovereignty, democratic accountability, representation and efficiency, they also open up new opportunities for the nation states to cooperate more closely, and for the EU itself to develop further as a regional and global actor.

On the other hand, developments within nation states have challenged the ways political decisions are made and how citizens are linked with this decision-making. Traditional communities have become less cohesive, political loyalties have waned, and trust in democratic institutions has declined. At the same time, however, we have also witnessed the rise of new values, identities and actors. Together, these developments are putting pressure on longstanding patterns and processes of representation, political intermediation and decision-making and are challenging the traditional way of conducting politics.

This course is unique in the UK in that it examines developments within Europe through an interdisciplinary lens, combining political science and international relations perspectives with historical and cultural ones. This broad outlook is made possible by the range of expertise of the teaching staff at Keele and by SPIRE’s research strengths.

The course is taught over a 12 month period (September-September; January-January). It is available as a full-time and/or part-time mode of study. Students completing the course have gone on to a variety of careers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

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Course Aims

The aims of this Masters course are to provide students with the conceptual and analytical skills and the factual knowledge to think critically about and develop an understanding of the political and cultural dynamics of contemporary Europe, viewed in a global, regional and national context.

In addition, the course aims to assist students in developing a range of cognitive and social skills relevant to their intellectual, vocational and personal development. In pursuing these aims, the course seeks to prepare students for a variety of professional careers, including those in governmental and non-governmental organizations, the European institutions, the media and business, or for research beyond the Masters level.

Course Content

Taught masters programmes require satisfactory completion of at least 180 credits, made up of 6 taught module (120 credits) plus a 15,000 word dissertation (60 credits). The MA and MRes programmes differ in that the MA programme contains more subject-specific modules and less research training, while the MRes programme contains more research training, in preparation for a research career or for undertaking a research degree such as a PhD.

• Power, Knowledge and the World (30 credits)
• Perspectives in Politics and International Relations (30 credits)
• Research in Action (15 credits)
• Three (15 credits) optional modules chosen from the list below
• 15,000 word dissertation on an approved topic in European Politics and Culture (60 credits)

• Research Design and process (20 credits)
• Two 15 credits optional modules chosen from the list below
• Perspectives in Politics and International Relations (30 credits)
• Quantitative Data Analysis I (20 credits)
• Qualitative Data Analysis (20 credits)
• 15,000 word dissertation on an approved topic in European Politics and Culture (60 credits)

Optional modules can be drawn from modules such as those listed below, although the precise list of available modules may vary from year to year.

• Approaches to European Integration: History and Practice (recommended)
• Comparative European Politics (recommended)
• Comparative Public Management Reform
• Diplomatic Law
• Diplomatic Practice
• Dimensions of Environmental Politics
• Environmental Diplomacy
• Environmental Politics and Policy in India and China
• Environmental Movements: North and South
• Parties and Democracy
• Right-Wing Radical Parties
• The Changing International Agenda
• The Politics of Global Security
• The Theory of Global Security
• US Environmental Politics and Policy
• US Foreign Policy

It is also possible to take a modern foreign language (other than English) as one of the optional modules. Language modules run over both semesters. Languages currently available are:

* French (beginners, intermediate, advanced, post A-level 1 or post A-level 2 level)
* German (beginners, intermediate, advanced or post A-level 1 level)
* Spanish (beginners, intermediate, advanced or post A-level 1 level)
* Japanese (beginners, intermediate or advanced level)
* Russian (beginners or intermediate level)

Teaching & Assessment

Postgraduate teaching and learning generally takes place in a combination of large seminars and smaller discussion groups. Our academics typically lead the sessions, encouraging discussion between all students. Sometimes students will give presentations, either individually or in groups.

There is a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are expected to work on their own to produce their essays and dissertation. Most modules are assessed by a diverse range of coursework (e.g., essays, critiques, reports, presentations), though some modules may also be assessed by seminar contributions and/or written exams. Students take three modules in each semester. The taught modules are completed by May, leaving the summer months for students to write their dissertation.

Additional Costs

Apart from purchasing textbooks and other sundry materials, no significant additional costs are compulsory for this course.


SPIRE is a thoroughly international school, and is particularly welcoming to international students, as well as providing plenty of opportunities for home students to broaden their horizons.

We have staff with educational backgrounds in a wide variety of countries, such as Sweden, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Turkey, who present their research all around the world. Students have the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers from various different countries, arranged through our ERASMUS partnerships.

International students will join established international communities at Keele, and will find plenty of support mechanisms in place to help them make the transition to study in the UK.

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Visit the European Politics and Culture (MA/MRes) page on the Keele University website for more details!





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