How are we to understand political life – as the expression of violence, tradition, domination, the search for freedom, the struggle for equality? How should we think about democracy – as the participation of citizens, the contest of representatives or the search for a common good through deliberation? What is justice – equality for all human beings, solidarity among some human beings or the free play of personal choice?
These questions have exercised minds since ancient Athens and, in recent years, they have received new interpretations in political theory, one of the most intellectually fertile sub-disciplines of politics.
Our MA Political Theory will help you secure a solid grasp of key debates in social and political thought, give you a strong foundation in theoretical principles. You explore topics including: -Research methods in critical political theory and analysis -Classical and contemporary texts of political theory -Democratic theory and social justice -Philosophy of social science -Ethics and public policy
Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began. Ranked top 10 in the world for political science and international relations according to the Centre for World University Rankings (2017)
Our expert staff
Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.
The key member of our academic staff for this course is Professor David Howarth, who works on faith, politics and public space in democracies.
You join an active and prolific research team, with the opportunity to work alongside a member of staff on their research instead of completing a dissertation; some of these projects have even resulted in joint staff/student publications.
Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis A programme of seminars and events run by the department Your future All Essex politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.
This course will instil a wide range of analytical, critical, and communication skills that will enable you to pursue the career of your choice, whether in the public, private, or third sector, whether with a domestic or international focus.
Recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations: -The Civil Service -Local government -The World Bank -The United Nations -NATO -YouGov and YouGov America
We also offer supervision for PhD and MPhil in the following fields: government; ideology and discourse analysis; international relations; political behaviour; and politics.
Our academic reputation is illustrated by the fact that many of our graduates now teach or research at universities, colleges of higher education and schools. For example, recent graduates are now research fellows and academic staff at: Mannheim, Germany; ETH Zurich, Switzerland; Duke University, USA; NATO/SHAPE, Belgium; and University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
-MA Dissertation -Political Theory -Research Seminar in Political Theory and Methods -Advanced Research Methods (optional) -Comparative European Politics (optional) -Conflict Resolution (optional) -Contemporary Theories of Justice (optional) -Ideology and Political Discourse (optional) -Environmental Politics (optional) -International Security Studies (optional) -Political Economy (optional) -Political Explanation (optional) -Political Parties in Britain and Europe (optional) -Public Opinion and Political Behaviour (optional) -Research Design (optional) -Theories of International Relations (optional) -Theory and Explanation in Political Science (optional) -Survey Measurement and Question Design
“After I completed my BA within the Department of Government at Essex, I decided that I wanted to stay in higher education and work towards a PhD. From my experience of Essex as an undergraduate, I felt that I simply could not get a better education anywhere else, so there was no reason to move. I really wanted to remain part of the intellectually stimulating atmosphere at Essex. The Department has always had a uniquely friendly ethos where students are treated as real people with real opinions.
I am currently in my first year of PhD research, studying political discourse in education. After my PhD proposal had been accepted by the Department, I felt the best Masters programme to get me ready for my research was MA Ideology and Discourse Analysis. It provided me with the theoretical and methodological tools I needed for political research and has allowed me to excel in critical modes of thinking. In particular, the type of challenging poststructuralist and post-Marxist political theory I have studied has been incredibly interesting and really helped me to progress as a theorist and as a researcher.
One thing I have cherished over the last five years has been the ability to meet new people. The fact that Essex has such a high proportion of international students has meant that I now have a network of friends from over 30 countries, spanning five continents. It has been remarkable mixing with people from other cultures. I feel I have learned as much from this social aspect of the University life as I have from the academic.
After completing my PhD here at Essex I will be looking to continue my academic research into education policy and hopefully make a real impact on the way our schools are run.”
Nazli Sila Cesur
"I wanted undertake my postgraduate study at Essex as I knew the Department of Government was one of the best in the UK. I was then really pleased with my MA Political Theory, so decided I wanted to stay here for my PhD.
I am really enjoying being a research student at the University. By that, I mean I have been given the opportunity to choose my own topic for my PhD and am able to lead my own research; I’ve found the experience of taking a huge responsibility for my own self and my success very exciting. I also like attending the research seminars offered by my Department, as I find it a great way to meet others and exchange ideas.
The Colchester Campus is quite compact, which I think is advantageous for students as you have everything you need like a post office, library and banks on site, and can easily meet up with your friends. The University is also close to London, which makes day trips to the capital possible.
After completing my PhD, I would like to have a career in academia and am particularly keen to stay in the UK. Having studied at the UK’s top department for politics will certainly help my future plans."
ESRC Doctoral Training Centre scholarships
For 2011-12, our ESRC Doctoral Training Centre will offer 16-fully funded ESRC studentships, most worth £18,000 per year, across over 20 doctoral pathways. The University of Essex has become one of only 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the UK Economic and Social Research Council following a highly competitive selection process. Our Doctoral Training Centre will fund 16 doctoral students each year across many different social science disciplines. It also offers excellent training opportunities and a highly stimulating research environment to hundreds of postgraduate students, researchers, professionals, practitioners and users.
Value of Scholarship(s)
Up to £18,000
We encourage applications from top students seeking to research over a range of social science areas, including: criminology and socio-legal research; economic and social research; economics and econometrics; environmental governance; finance; health and organisational research; human rights; language and linguistics; management and accounting; politics and international relations; political economy; psychoanalytic studies; sociology and social change.
A degree with an overall high 2:2. We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email [email protected] for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
Recipient: University of Essex
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