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Philosophy (MRes)

Course Description

This Master's degree in politics will develop your understanding of research methodologies and techniques in politics to an advanced level, enabling you to undertake your own independent research. It provides an intellectually stimulating guide to politics research and aims to develop your awareness of the essential requirements of in-depth research, including theory, design and methods. The programme also provides opportunities to explore substantive issues in the fields of political theory, political science, international relations and sociology.

The core modules will introduce you to quantitative social research techniques through hands-on experience of using SPSS computer software and theories of, and approaches to, qualitative social research. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to research politics at postgraduate level.

You can then choose 2 option modules from a wide variety of topics including international security, American foreign policy, globalisation, political theory and sociology, war and conflict, nationalism and religion, and international political economy.

The culmination of the programme is applying the concepts and methods you have learnt to undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation 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 flexible Master's degree will help you to become a competent and confident independent researcher of society and politics.
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.

Our research

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.

Visit the Philosophy (MRes) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Adam Patterson

4097.jpg 'Whilst doing my undergraduate degree in journalism in New York, I realised that I wanted to do a PhD in Philosophy. I wanted to understand the world better, and I thought philosophy could help me to do that. Upon doing some further research I was advised that I needed to a Master’s degree in philosophy in order to have a chance of being accepted onto a doctoral programme and that Birkbeck was one of the best places to go.

'The lecturers were great - they always made themselves available to us after lectures to answer questions and discuss issues with us. They never made us feel as though we were inconveniencing them. My dissertation looks at ethics and moral relativisms, and I’m lucky enough to have the head of department as my supervisor, which is incredibly challenging as well as lucky. I would like to go on to do a PhD in Philosophy so my dissertation is very important. It’s fun working with the lecturers as they’re very open to being challenged.

'Living and studying in London has provided me with a network of really diverse, intellectually challenging fellow postgraduates. It’s an environment I have never experienced before and I love it.

'I work with kids a lot and I’m really excited about being able to teach them something about philosophy and ethics. I very much see my future career as teaching at the collegiate level, so I’m in the best possible position to gain the tools I need for that future. I hope one day to be in a doctoral programme and in a position to email my Birkbeck lecturers to tell them I’m presenting at a conference they will be attending.'


Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally a good first degree in a relevant discipline. However, work experience and professional qualifications are also taken into account. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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