This Master's degree in politics explores pressing contemporary issues using political theory and sociology. Our focus is on the nature and workings of political power and authority and we will consider the relationships between states and societies and the place of politics and power in everyday life. As well as reading key classical texts of political theory and sociological analysis, we also analyse real-world contemporary problems and address fundamental questions of political power and social order. Topics studied include sovereignty, territory and state building, property and law, the legitimacy of political authority, democracy, violence and pluralism. As well as choosing option modules from the Department of Politics, you can select options from the Department of Psychosocial Studies and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, thus offering you access to historical and psychosocial approaches to theory, politics and the social sciences.
The core modules will give you the theoretical framework and confidence to explore and deepen your knowledge in the subjects you are most interested in. You will examine political power, how it originates and operates at an individual, social and political level, its relationship to sovereignty and the state, and how it intersects with issues such as justice and human rights, civil identity, democracy and economics. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to study politics at postgraduate level.
You can then choose 2 option modules from a wide variety of topics including international security, nationalism and religion, war and conflict, 'race', racism and postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and gender and sexuality. You can take options from the Department of Politics or from the Department of Psychosocial Studies and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. You will also learn research techniques that will enable you to specialise and undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation or a research portfolio on the subject that interests you most.
Our Department of Politics is a lively and distinguished centre of interdisciplinary research, with a strong reputation for the quality of our teaching. Some of the world’s most famous libraries are on our doorstep in Bloomsbury, central London, and you can walk down to Whitehall, where Parliament and the UK’s most influential and important think-tanks and centres of political research and analysis are located.
Our departmental building was once a key location for members of the Bloomsbury Group, so you could be studying in rooms that have hosted distinguished visitors, including T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw and Maynard Keynes.
Why study this course at Birkbeck?
This Master's degree will enable you to develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of the main ideas and current trends and directions in social and political theory. The programme allows you to follow your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while developing your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you. Our location in central London puts us at the heart of the UK’s political life and at the centre of academic London. You can walk down to Parliament and Whitehall, while Bloomsbury contains some of the world’s most famous libraries and centres of research. You can take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including Senate House Library, which is right next door to Birkbeck, the British Library, which is 5 minutes’ walk away, and the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics, which is walkable from Birkbeck. Our Department of Politics was ranked 12th in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) results and is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research. The department organises a lively programme of seminars and conferences and is home to affiliated research centres, such as the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life, which run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research. Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, publishing and delivering stimulating teaching in a wide range of political topics including civil society and the state, public policy, development, gender, international security and terrorism, and social and political theory, among others. Birkbeck Library has a large politics collection, including the major specialist journals, and provides you with access to an extensive range of online materials.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.
Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17th in the UK.