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Course content

At the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, we conduct research and offer MPhil supervision in all major fields of politics, including: international and global politics, governance and political organisations, and political theory.

We can offer you excellent supervision for your Politics MPhil, in a vibrant and supportive research environment.

We have a Politics Postgraduate Society, which organises:
-The 'New Voices' seminar series, with both internal and external presenters
-Round table discussions on topical issues
-Professional development workshops led by politics staff

You are encouraged to attend conferences to present papers, partial funding for this is available from the School.

Our main research themes are:

The politics of difference

We examine the issues thrown up by the social and political differences of humanity from a variety of perspectives including: analytical and continental political philosophy; comparative politics and international politics; post-colonialism. Our work includes research on:
-Multiculturalism and issues of identity
-Inequality and social justice
-Disability
-Competing discourses of national identity
-Ethnic-nationalism
-Political violence
-Socio-political exclusion and discrimination
-Global norms and cultural difference
-Free speech - toleration and recognition

Popular culture and political communication

Our research addresses various key issues including:
-Representation
-Aesthetics
-Identity
-Cultural political economy
-Memory
-Control

We also assess the processes and depiction of political struggles, such as:
-Armed conflict
-Everyday life
-Political organising and identity formation
-Elections

Political participation and elections

We examine the differing forms of political participation that link society to the political systems of the world. We look at both the formal electoral process and non-electoral politics (social movements, protest groups etc). Our research on the emergence of virtual political participation means that some of our work intersects with popular culture and political communication. We investigate:
-Citizen involvement and (dis)engagement
-Social capital
-Non-participation
-The role of civil society

Political ideologies and political thought

We focus on the history of political thought as well as how these ideas are embedded in programmes for political action. Our research incorporates both historical and contemporary political thought prominent in the Western tradition as well as Asian philosophy and post-colonial thinking. This is an interdisciplinary theme, serving as a bridge between empirical political science and political theory.

Global economic and environmental challenges

We study the importance of political ideas such as sustainable development and globalisation, as well as the struggle to define the core problems that society faces. These challenges pose questions to the nature and reform of global governance, and generate tensions between the state and transnationalising forces in global politics and political economy. Our work has already led to findings on:
-The implications for global justice
-The policy challenge for governments and non-governmental actors
-The empowerment of various actors

Democracy, the modern state and political organisations

Our work examines the role of interest groups, social movements, political parties, third-sector actors and charities, community organisations and postcolonial nationalism in relation to the modern state. We draw from ancient and modern political thought to understand the interpretation of democracy (including democratic rights and the foundations of democracy). Our research interrogates the forms democracy takes, including:
-Elite theories of democracy
-Deliberative democracy
-Cosmopolitan democracy
-Democracy in divided societies

Political economy of development

Our research focuses on the interaction of economic forces and principles with political power in the development of societal economics and welfare, as well as on theories of development and post-development. We cover a range of geographic areas in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia. We explore questions such as:
-The impact of the ongoing financial and economic crisis
-The role of communities and individuals in the face of global political economic forces
-The impact of the emerging economies (for example Brazil and China) on the global political economy

Critical geopolitics and security

Our research focuses on thinking critically about the political dynamics, consequences and discourses of historical and contemporary geopolitics. We cover both historical and contemporary questions of security, including:
-The territorialisation/de-territorialisation of identity and political agency
-Political cartography
-The role of fear and identity in shaping geopolitics
-Sovereignty and nationalism - the role and impact of the military
-Notions of terrorism and the war on terror
-The geographies of international boundaries
-The war on the trade in illegal substances
-The city and security
-The threat of biological weapons and infectious disease
-The vertical dimension in geopolitical and security studies
-Visual culture and world politics
-Technologies and architectures of security and insecurity
-The human body and security

Theory of international relations

We take an active role in the global debate on the units, actors and structures that shape the dynamics of international politics. Our research covers the political consequences of the constitution of the international as a distinct kind of relation. We examine political concepts including:
-The world system
-International diplomacy
-Networks
-Notions of empire
-Regional integration
-Non-governmental actors
-The (nation) state

Governance in Britain and wider Europe

Our research investigates the dynamics driving public policy-making at national, EU and international levels. We focus on the challenges multi-level governance offers for concerns about legitimacy and accountability. This includes the changing relationship between the governing and the governed over matters of politics and policy. Our geographic scope includes the United Kingdom, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia, and the Mediterranean

Global justice and human rights

Our work in political philosophy reflects the increasing need to tackle issues at a global rather than a state-only level. We cover issues such as:
-The formulation and justification of human rights
-The competing claims of relativism, particularism, and cultural diversity
-The extension of ideas of distributive justice from states to humanity as a whole
-Proposals to secure global democracy
-The application of just war theory to modern conflicts and to humanitarian intervention
-Environmental justice, especially climate change

We tackle questions of justice from an issue perspective as well as surveys of nationalism, statism, and various non-cosmopolitan theories of global justice.

Political research and methods

We conduct qualitative and quantitative research reflecting both empirical and critical political methodologies. We use quantitative methods, including rational choice theory and experiments, to make sense of topics as diverse as party systems and transitional justice. Our aim is to push innovation in research methods in ethnography, hermeneutics and discourse analysis. We use concepts that challenge traditional notions of politics to investigate methods for research into new challenges, including:
-The rise of life sciences
-The focus on the relationship between the human body and security
-Emergent forms of subjectivity and politics

Research skills development

The University's Humanities and Social Sciences Graduate School provides a full range of research training in the social sciences, which meets the requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This training includes:
-Bibliographical techniques
-Philosophy of social science
-Quantitative and qualitative methods

The Graduate School also hosts postgraduate events, including open days, and supports personal development.

Visit the Politics - MPhil page on the Newcastle University website for more details!

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