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Course content

This programme will provide you with a firm grounding in political analysis and a critical insight into the real politics behind the headlines.

You will explore the variety, dynamism and relevance of political theory in the modern world, gaining an insight into political thought and practical application of political ideas.

You will consider the various ways in which theory is vital to understanding a range of urgent and pressing problems (such as terrorism, global poverty, social cohesion, immigration, censorship, war and the environment) in contemporary politics and address the practical implications of these ideas.

Throughout the course you will build a portfolio of in-depth study of many of the defining events and dynamics of modern society, across Europe, North America, Africa and Asia, providing an understanding of the world that will prove invaluable in further academic study or a range of postgraduate careers.

The Political Theory and Cultural Values Research Group is an active team of enthusiastic academics, pursuing cutting-edge research into a wide variety of strands of political thought.

The Political Theory Centre is part of the White Rose Association for Political Philosophy, linking you into the complementary political theory teams at York and Sheffield Universities.

Links with the Leeds Centre for Democratisation afford excellent opportunities for discussing the application of many of the ideas studied on the programme. Political theorists form part of a large department of political studies, including International Relations and Development, which additionally provide an auspicious context for the study of applied theory.

Course content

Through compulsory and optional modules, this programme will offer you:

  • the chance to engage in in-depth critical analysis of political thought
  • the opportunity to examine the nature of freedom, justice and equality
  • a firm grounding in political analysis
  • a critical insight into the defining events and dynamics of modern society
  • a rigorous grounding in the dominant paradigms of political science
  • the chance to personalise your programme.

You will also be able to hone your research and writing skills in your compulsory dissertation – an independent piece of research on your chosen topic.

The wide-ranging list of optional modules means that you can explore a diverse range of related subjects of interest to you.

If you are a part-time student, you will study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Political Theory in Action 30 credits
  • Advanced Political Analysis 30 credits
  • POLIS MA Dissertation 60 credits

Optional modules

  • The Global Politics of Health: Power and Inequity 30 credits
  • Conflict, Complex Emergencies and Global Governance 30 credits
  • Political Economy of Resources and Development 30 credits
  • European Defence and Security Analysis 30 credits
  • The Rise of China 30 credits
  • American Foreign Policy 30 credits
  • Contemporary Politics of the Middle East 30 credits
  • The Politics of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 30 credits
  • International Political Economy 30 credits
  • International Relations and the Environment 30 credits
  • Global Justice 30 credits
  • Research Methods 30 credits
  • Political Theory in Action 30 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Politics (Political Theory) MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information on typical modules, read Politics (Political Theory) MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

Teaching is tailored for interactive small-group work, and uses a combination of lecture and seminar-discussion modes.

Teaching on political theory modules is predominantly seminar discussion-based, while other modules include more lecture-oriented material.

You will be expected to do a significant amount of preparatory reading before each session, and emphasis will be on student-led discussion to build critical and reflective confidence in a group environment.


Modules are assessed by varying combinations of exam and coursework, depending on the module.

Career opportunities

The emphasis on applied use of political thought, particularly from a transformative perspective, means the critical analytical skills learnt here are of use in a wide range of employment sectors, including the civil service, public sector organisations and the third sector.

Many graduates go on to complete PhDs in Political Theory, having had the opportunity to strengthen their command of a certain area of political thought during their Masters studies.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the Politics (Political Theory) MA page on the University of Leeds website for more details!





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