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Course content

The MPols is a one-year (full-time) degree, which encompasses both coursework and research. The coursework component is spread across two semesters. It consists of four papers including the core paper, 'The Political': Theory and Practice, which introduces students to the contested notion of politics and key methodological issues in theory and practice. Students also undertake a research dissertation of 20,000 words under the supervision of a politics staff member over a 12 month period and are expected to attend workshops designed to assist with the process of writing a dissertation. The degree is also available to part-time students.

Students may enrol in the MPols either for first semester (February) or second semester (July).

Graduates will be prepared for careers in the private and public sectors as researchers, policy makers, advisors and analysts. The degree also provides a pathway to doctoral-level study in Politics.

Structure of the Programme

  • The programme of study shall consist of
  • four 30-point 500-level papers, which must include POLS 501 and three further POLS 500-level papers;
  • a 60-point research dissertation (POLS 590).
  • The research dissertation shall be completed over the course of one calendar year. It should be started at the beginning of the programme and submitted no later than twelve months following first enrolment. The limit is 20,000 words of text, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tabular material, bibliography or equivalent.
  • Before commencing the investigation to be described in the research dissertation, a candidate shall obtain the approval of the Programme Co-ordinator and the supervisor(s) of the proposed topic.
  • A candidate may not present a dissertation which has previously been accepted for another degree.

Duration of the Programme

  • A full-time candidate shall normally complete the requirements of the degree within twelve months, and a part-time candidate within twenty-four months, of commencing the programme.


  • Students will be assessed through a combination of examinations and internal assessment.
  • The research dissertation shall be examined by two examiners internal to the University of Otago, neither of whom will be the candidate's supervisor, and assessed externally.
  • Where the examiners cannot agree on a result, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) shall reach a decision after consulting a referee.

Visit the Master of Politics (MPols) page on the University of Otago website for more details!




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