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Politics & Government×

University of Edinburgh, Full Time MSc Degrees in Politics & Government

We have 21 University of Edinburgh, Full Time MSc Degrees in Politics & Government

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Developed in response to the enormous political challenges facing our changing societies, this programme offers an advanced understanding of the contemporary world, drawing on insights from International Relations as well as European Studies, Comparative Politics and Regional Studies. Read more

Programme description

Developed in response to the enormous political challenges facing our changing societies, this programme offers an advanced understanding of the contemporary world, drawing on insights from International Relations as well as European Studies, Comparative Politics and Regional Studies.

You’ll explore in depth key theories, issues and controversies, and have the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary studies and develop your interests in a vibrant and intellectually stimulating community.

The programme hosts an official "Jean Monnet Module" (one of your compulsory courses), recognised by the European Commission for its interdisciplinary and student-centred approach. Guest lectures and specialised seminar series will make an important contribution to your academic programme, bringing prominent international scholars and practitioners to Edinburgh to present current research and perspectives.

You’ll also have access to the University’s Europa Institute established in 1968 to specialise in the law and politics of the European Union; its library is considered one of the best of its kind. Finally, there is also a vibrant community of students interested in international and European Politics, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to network with your peers, organise events and even work on publications in the Leviathan - the University’s own journal of Politics and International Relations.

Programme structure

Teaching will be by lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study. You will complete two compulsory courses and four optional courses, after which you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

As an alternative to a classic dissertation, you’ll have the option – subject to performance – of embarking on the “European Practitioner Pathway” within the programme, i.e. pursue a 6-8 week work-based project and write a practice-related report on their work placement instead.

Another highlight of the academic year will be our study trip to Brussels, where we visit multiple international organisations as well as non-governmental stakeholders and meet with practitioners. The trip includes our very popular career event at which you will have the opportunity to network with alumni of the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh University Brussels Society) who have built successful careers in Brussels.

Career opportunities

While many graduates of this programme have gone on to further studies and academic careers, many have taken up positions in a wide range of institutions and companies.

These include NATO and the United Nations, the European Commission and Parliament, regional and national government institutions, development organisations, educational, research and think-tank organisations, banking, media, lobbying, and commercial organisations.

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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This is a truly interdisciplinary degree, combining environmental politics and environmental sociology with normative philosophy. Read more

This is a truly interdisciplinary degree, combining environmental politics and environmental sociology with normative philosophy.

This programme provides a social science-based, practice-oriented understanding of global environmental challenges and solutions. Understanding issues such as climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity requires knowledge about the political, moral and societal dimensions of environmental problems and solutions.

This programme will provide you with knowledge and analytical tools to address questions such as:

  • Are meaningful environmental agreements possible in a system of sovereign states?
  • Is the environment more than an economic resource for human exploitation?
  • What drives groups, individuals or institutions to take action on environmental issues?
  • What is the effect of such mobilisation?

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

Teaching methods will include seminars, group work, lectures, presentations and guided independent study. Students will be assessed through coursework, seminar assessment and presentations.

Students will also undertake a supervised research dissertation, or may apply to complete a project-based report with an NGO, government department, political party, or business over the spring and summer.

Learning outcomes

Students on this programme will:

  • develop a critical understanding of the key concepts, actors and dynamics characterising global environmental problems and solutions
  • engage critically with different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives on environmental issues
  • assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current global environmental problems
  • develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form - coherent, balanced arguments
  • use a range of research skills to plan and execute a significant project of research on a major global environmental challenge

Career opportunities

You will acquire an advanced, multidisciplinary understanding of the major contemporary environmental challenges facing the world, and the different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives (from politics, international relations, ethics and sociology) used to explain them.

You will graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current global environmental problems and possible solutions.

Such knowledge and skills are sought after by a wide range of public and private employers in the fields of environmental policy, consultancy and advocacy.



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Programme description. This programme provides intensive analytical training in the systematic comparison of social and public policies from an international perspective. Read more

Programme description

This programme provides intensive analytical training in the systematic comparison of social and public policies from an international perspective. It helps develop substantive knowledge in a wide range of policy fields around topical issues such as policy evaluation, policy learning and policy transfer.

Amid the ongoing debate on Scotland’s role within the UK, we offer the ideal environment in which to observe contemporary public policy developments.

You’ll focus on variation in national policy patterns within and beyond Europe, with a view to understanding how and why nations differ in their social and public policies and what they can learn from each other’s experience in key contemporary policy concerns, including labour market, work-life balance, health, social care, inequality and welfare issues, education policy and child-oriented policy and practice.

Programme structure

Teaching combines lectures, seminars and tutorials, plus a combination of essays and assessed coursework.

You will complete three compulsory courses and three option courses. In addition, you will undertake research training in a variety of methodologies and research techniques, and complete an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

This programme aims to give you:

  • a thorough training in methods of comparative analysis
  • ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)-recognised training in analysing datasets
  • knowledge of different forms and purposes of comparison
  • grounding in the politics and/or economics of policy-making
  • a detailed comparative knowledge of substantive areas of policy
  • knowledge of policy learning and transfers in a comparative context

Career opportunities

Highly relevant to anyone who works or intends to work in policy-relevant professions in the public, private or non-governmental sectors, this degree provides you with a recognised qualification that can lead to an enhanced range of employment opportunities and further study.

Past students have gone on to employment in the Scottish Government, social research, housing associations, local government, and in other public and private sector bodies, both locally and internationally.

You will develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.



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This programme aims to equip students with the intellectual skills to analyse contemporary international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective, with a particular focus on their ethical dimensions. Read more

Programme description

This programme aims to equip students with the intellectual skills to analyse contemporary international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective, with a particular focus on their ethical dimensions.

In the new and rapidly expanding field of international political theory, issues that relate to justice, rights, political obligation and forms of government have grown beyond their nation-state context, and now need to be examined in light of increasing global integration.

This political philosophy programme looks at these international issues with a particular focus on their ethical dimensions, examining the rights and wrongs of international affairs and their global political and economic consequences.

As well as delving into the history of political thought, you’ll be examining the issues of today, with particular emphasis on normative political theory, learning to analyse contemporary international affairs from a philosophically informed perspective.

Programme structure

Teaching will be by lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses, after which you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may select option courses from elsewhere within the University.

Learning outcomes

Students who follow this programme will be able to:

extend and further develop their understanding of the main concepts and methods of political theory
understand how concepts of justice, rights and democracy apply in international and global contexts
assess critically how existing transnational institutions meet, or fail to meet, appropriate normative standards
apply analytical, critical and philosophical methods to the study of empirical problems in the field of international politics

Career opportunities

This programme will give you the theoretical foundation for further study and a career in academic teaching and research. Alternatively, you may apply your learning to a career relating to international political policy.

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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This programme studies international relations and the pressing problems humanity faces in the international realm. By joining this fascinating programme, you’ll become part of a community that is passionate about international relations. Read more

Programme description

This programme studies international relations and the pressing problems humanity faces in the international realm.

By joining this fascinating programme, you’ll become part of a community that is passionate about international relations.

We explore topics such as war, terrorism, power, diplomacy, climate change, trade, poverty, migration and international cooperation; not just their study, but also ways to meet the associated challenges.

Our approach combines innovative research with creative and inspirational teaching, provided by staff who combine intricate knowledge of the major international institutions with a deep appreciation of historical change and the most important ideas in international thought.

You’ll be inspired to explore a world of possibilities, from evolutionary psychology and the sociology of the financial crisis to state survival in the Middle East and the social construction of security.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses, followed by work towards an independently researched dissertation.

With the agreement of the Programme Director, you may select option courses from elsewhere within the University.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme you will:

know and understand core explanatory theories, concepts, institutions and issues in the study of international relations
have specialist in-depth knowledge of specific areas and issues in international relations
know key contemporary debates in existing academic literatures in journals and books on international relations
be able to analyse and evaluate competing theoretical paradigms in the explanation and judgment of international relations
be able to apply explanatory models to analyse and understand specific developments within international relations
be able to draw on a variety of disciplinary paradigms in the understanding of international relations

Career opportunities

This qualification could lead to a career in a wide range of institutions and roles, such as regional, national and international government institutions, party political support, development organisations, educational, research and think-tank organisations, banking, media, lobbying, and commercial organisations. You may also choose to continue to further study.

The transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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The MSc Policy Studies focuses on analysing the activities of government, especially those policies relating to the welfare state. Read more

Programme description

The MSc Policy Studies focuses on analysing the activities of government, especially those policies relating to the welfare state.

You’ll develop an advanced understanding of political, economic and social contexts of policy-making, and be trained in the skills needed to analyse and research policy decisions and outcomes.

The programme is popular internationally, and you’ll study in a setting where students from various backgrounds learn from the policy experience of their own and each other’s nations.

As a recently devolved polity, Scotland is an exciting place to observe contemporary developments in government, and Edinburgh hosts democratic institutions that will inform your studies.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses then work towards an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will have:

a sound knowledge of theories, principles and political and economic contexts of policy-making
the ability to use different quantitative and qualitative research techniques
a detailed understanding of substantive areas of social and public policy

Career opportunities

For anyone who intends to work in policy-relevant professions, this degree provides a recognised qualification that can lead to an enhanced range of employment opportunities and further study.

Past students have gone on to employment in the Scottish Government, social research, housing associations, local government, and in other public and private sector bodies, both locally and internationally.

You will develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.

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This is an interdisciplinary programme designed to give you an understanding of nationalism that is broad in scope and theoretically informed, while also tailored to your specific interests within the field. Read more

Programme description

This is an interdisciplinary programme designed to give you an understanding of nationalism that is broad in scope and theoretically informed, while also tailored to your specific interests within the field.

Here in Edinburgh we have a unique perspective on the study of nationalism. The recently established national-level democratic institutions, along with the independence debate, give you a first-hand view of the cultural, historical and political background of nationalism.

This programme also addresses the conflict and oppression that can be engendered through nationalism, and the global changes that can be brought about by national identities, ideologies and interests. You’ll gain a comprehensive knowledge of the central concepts and major theories of nationalism, and identify key issues and problems through comparative and case study approaches.

Along the way, you’ll be supported by expert staff and the resources of the University’s respected centres of study, such as the Centres of African Studies, Canadian Studies and South Asian Studies, and the subject areas of Politics and International Relations, Economic and Social History, and Social Anthropology.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses then work towards an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

The programme aims to:

impart an appreciation of the multidisciplinary nature of nationalism studies
provide a thorough grounding the central concepts and major theories of nationalism
give students a comprehensive view of the ideas of key figures in the field
convey the need to understand nationalism in the context of long-term, historical social change
identify key issues and problems in comparative and case study approaches to the study of nationalism
provide explorations of a variety of substantive cases of nationalism, helping students to think concretely about the phenomenon
enable students to carry out substantial independent research and write a dissertation on a topic of their interest within the field

Career opportunities

This programme is the ideal foundation for advanced study and a possible academic career. In addition, the transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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Programme description. The programme offers a unique combination of regional expertise with a focus on the theory and practice of international development. Read more

Programme description

The programme offers a unique combination of regional expertise with a focus on the theory and practice of international development.

International Development is concerned with the idea of good change, but who decides what constitutes ‘good change’? How should such change happen? What unintended consequences might the pursuit of change create? The MSc in Africa and International Development encourages you to critically explore these questions, in the context of Africa.

Our course offers you a unique opportunity to acquire a combination of interdisciplinary, regional expertise with a critical knowledge of international development theory and practice. With this grounding, many of our students have gone on to work in development for charities, government agencies, international organisations, think-tanks or advocacy groups. Our degree can also serve as a stepping-stone for a career in research or academia.

Study online

We also run an online distance learning programme in Africa and International Development:

Programme structure

The programme is available on a full-time basis over one year or on a part-time basis over two years. Masters students are expected to complete six courses, and a dissertation.

Students can either complete their dissertation through independent study, or through a work-based placement. These work-based placements offer some students the opportunity to work in a wide range of development organisations across Africa for eight weeks, enabling students to apply academic training to real-world problems.

Work-based project

Students have the opportunity to apply for work-based projects, which offer an unique opportunity to partner with organisations worldwide as part of the MSc dissertation.

Our extensive network of partners in the UK and a large number of African countries (including Liberia, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania) includes NGOs, charities, social enterprise, think-tanks and government bodies, giving students the chance to acquire key skills and practical, first-hand experience of working in international development in the continent.

Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge of academic and policy debates about development interventions in Africa with a focus on sub-Sahara Africa.
  • Critical understanding of theories, concepts and the practice of development in Africa.
  • Detailed knowledge of case studies examining specific aspects of international development.
  • Ability to negotiate the challenges of inter- and multi-disciplinary research drawing in particular on political science, human geography, history and social-cultural anthropology.
  • Ability to critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence on the implementation of development projects and policies.
  • Apply the critical analysis in writing, discussion and oral presentations as well as group exercises.
  • Ability to conduct independent empirical research in sub-Sahara Africa drawing on a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Critical understanding of the challenges and realities of work in the field of international development.

Career opportunities

A qualification in Africa & International Development offers a multidisciplinary grasp of issues that will be of use when pursuing a career in development agencies, consultancy, the public sector and non-governmental organisations.

In addition, you will develop a range of transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.



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Programme description. This is an established and highly regarded programme that offers an intensive introduction to the study of Africa. Read more

Programme description

This is an established and highly regarded programme that offers an intensive introduction to the study of Africa.

The MSc in African Studies provides the analytical tools and the empirical knowledge to understand some of the fundamental forces that are shaping Africa in the twenty-first century. It is the longest running programme offered by the Centre of African Studies, one of the world’s leading centres of Africa-focused knowledge and research, and has recently been restructured to meet growing student demand.

It retains its core strengths of anthropology, politics and history, but it now offers students a greater Africa-focused research component, along with a suite of exciting new option courses to better suit diverse research and employment interests. It also provides the research training necessary to progress to PhD study.

The programme is suitable for those students with some existing knowledge of the continent and who want to enhance their Africa-specific research skills. It is equally appropriate to those students whose existing knowledge of Africa is more limited.

Programme structure

You will complete three compulsory courses and three option courses (offered either by the Centre of African Studies, other subject groups in the School of Social & Political Science, or other Schools within the University). A weekly seminar series and other events will enhance your learning.

After the taught courses, you will work towards your independently researched dissertation.

Career opportunities

Past students have continued on to doctoral programmes in the UK and overseas, and to careers related to, or in, Africa with non-governmental organisations, international organisations, governments, universities and in the private sector.

In addition, you will develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, and research skills, which can be applied to roles in any field.



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This programme offers an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East, exploring and applying several theoretical models. Read more

Programme description

This programme offers an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East, exploring and applying several theoretical models: realism, constructivism, historical sociology and structuralism.

This programme offers an in-depth understanding of the main historical events, processes and actors that have shaped and continue to shape the political dynamics of the Middle East.

The politics of Islam, oil, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arab Spring and continuing regional unrest pose crucial questions about the Middle East and about its place in the world order. This recently developed programme draws on our research strengths in politics and international relations and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies to offer you a unique opportunity.

As well as placing the region in broader analytical, conceptual and theoretical debates of international relations and political science, we also aim to foster knowledge of Middle East international relations by examining local cultures, histories, languages and religions.

You’ll acquire a strong understanding of theoretical and conceptual tools required to understand Middle East international relations.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete two compulsory courses and four option courses, after which you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

In addition to your work on your taught masters programme, you may wish to take advantage of opportunities to learn Persian or Turkish while at the University.

Career opportunities

The specialist knowledge you acquire through this programme will equip you for a career relating to international/Middle Eastern relations, either in academia or with an international institution.

In addition, the transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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This degree offers an intensive Arabic language programme (including a period spent in the Arab world) with an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East. Read more

Programme description

This degree offers an intensive Arabic language programme (including a period spent in the Arab world) with an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East.

This programme offers the opportunity to study the international politics and culture of the Middle East while learning to communicate, to an advanced level, in its dominant language, including a period of study in an Arabic-speaking country. No prior study of Arabic is required.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete three compulsory courses and three option courses, as well as a programme of intensive Arabic language studies, which will involve oral and written exams. You may also take language courses in Persian and Turkish, although they will not count towards your qualification.

Your second year of study will culminate in an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

You will obtain an in-depth understanding of the main historical events, processes and actors that have shaped and continue to shape political dynamics in the Middle East.

You will also acquire a strong understanding of International Relations theoretical and conceptual tools required to understand Middle East international relations, which will help you form an academically-based, independent and critical knowledge of the Middle East.

The intensive Arabic language element will see you reach a high level of competence in speaking, listening, reading and writing the language.

Career opportunities

The specialist knowledge you acquire through this programme will equip you for any career relating to international relations, particularly of the Middle East, either in academia (after further study) or with an international institution.

Your Arabic language skills will be invaluable in many contexts including academia, media and the NGO sector.

In addition, the transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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Research in Politics and International Relations explores the theory, practice and ethics of politics and governance. We cover a broad area of expertise, from local policy to global governance, political theory to empirical studies, constructivism to rational choice approaches. Read more

Research profile

Research in Politics and International Relations explores the theory, practice and ethics of politics and governance.

We cover a broad area of expertise, from local policy to global governance, political theory to empirical studies, constructivism to rational choice approaches.

Our Politics & International Relations group has close links with cross-disciplinary and internationally recognised research centres.

Major research focuses include:

sub-state and supranational dimensions of politics and public policy
the impact of devolution in the UK and elsewhere, and the constitution and governance of the European Union
international politics: changing relations, the new security agenda, transatlantic relations, political economy, migration politics and global governance
nationalism, democratic transition, civil society and institution-building
health, welfare, environment, competition, migrations and citizenship, and equal opportunities policies
political theory, especially war ethics, environmental ethics and theories of freedom

Training and support

This programme includes courses in research design and methodology skills. The Graduate School provides a suite of ESRC-recognised research training courses for social science students across the University. We have an exciting package of flexible, web-based training courses in line with the increased emphasis on advanced training throughout the course of doctoral studies.

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Social Policy has been taught in Edinburgh since 1918 and is well established within the School of Social & Political Science. Edinburgh is the leading centre for social policy research in Scotland and one of the leading centres of postgraduate education and training in social policy in the UK. Read more

Research profile

Social Policy has been taught in Edinburgh since 1918 and is well established within the School of Social & Political Science. Edinburgh is the leading centre for social policy research in Scotland and one of the leading centres of postgraduate education and training in social policy in the UK.

Our Social Policy group is one of the most respected in the UK and among the best for the quality of its teaching and research.

We offer postgraduate supervision across the whole subject range, with particular expertise in comparative social policy, welfare reform, labour market policy, health policy, childhood studies, family policy and education policy.

Training and support

Our approach is research-led but student-focused teaching. There is an active programme of seminars and workshops for research students and staff.

Facilities

Edinburgh’s excellent library facilities and the presence of the headquarters of many public, voluntary and private organisations, including the Scottish Parliament, make the city the perfect place to undertake research on social and public policy.

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Edinburgh has one of the largest concentrations of South Asianists in the UK, constituting a wide range of expertise. Examples of our recent research include the study of. Read more

Research profile

Edinburgh has one of the largest concentrations of South Asianists in the UK, constituting a wide range of expertise.

Examples of our recent research include the study of:

social, historical and anthropological aspects of Joint Forest Management Agreements in India
socio-historical research on the Indian Uprising of 1857
sociological and human geographical aspects of secondary schooling in north India
sociological and anthropological aspects of pharmaceuticals in India and Nepal
federalism and ethnic conflict management in South Asia

Other cross-disciplinary areas where students are particularly welcome include:

the historical and contemporary study of religion (Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism) and South Asian societies
gender, family and population
nationalism and caste
the media
the South Asian diaspora
contemporary politics and identity
territorial politics (federalism, regionalism)
India as a global emerging power

Training and support

The MSc by Research in South Asian Studies offers core research skills and conceptual grounding for a research career or further study.

The PhD and MPhil programmes combine work on an individual thesis project with systematic training in research skills.

The Centre for South Asian Studies hosts a weekly research seminar as well as regular workshops and conferences.

Facilities

The University’s Main Library has many manuscripts in oriental languages originating from the countries of the Middle East and South Asia.

You will also have access to rich library and archive resources across the University including divinity and Celtic and Scottish studies, as well as the National Library of Scotland (holding the papers of several Viceroys of India) and the Scottish National Record Office.

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This degree offers an intensive Arabic language programme (including a period spent in the Arab world) with an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East. Read more

Programme description

This degree offers an intensive Arabic language programme (including a period spent in the Arab world) with an advanced theoretical and empirical understanding of the international relations of the Middle East.

This programme offers the opportunity to study the international politics and culture of the Middle East while learning to communicate, to an advanced level, in its dominant language, including a period of study in an Arabic-speaking country. No prior study of Arabic is required.

Programme structure

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete three compulsory courses and three option courses, as well as a programme of intensive Arabic language studies, which will involve oral and written exams. You may also take language courses in Persian and Turkish, although they will not count towards your qualification.

Your second year of study will culminate in an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

You will obtain an in-depth understanding of the main historical events, processes and actors that have shaped and continue to shape political dynamics in the Middle East.

You will also acquire a strong understanding of International Relations theoretical and conceptual tools required to understand Middle East international relations, which will help you form an academically-based, independent and critical knowledge of the Middle East.

The intensive Arabic language element will see you reach a high level of competence in speaking, listening, reading and writing the language.

Career opportunities

The specialist knowledge you acquire through this programme will equip you for any career relating to international relations, particularly of the Middle East, either in academia (after further study) or with an international institution.

Your Arabic language skills will be invaluable in many contexts including academia, media and the NGO sector.

In addition, the transferable skills you gain in areas such as communication and research will give you an edge in the employment market, whatever your eventual career.

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