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Politics (MSc/PGDip)

Course Description

Our MSc in Politics provides an advanced grounding in contemporary political science, focusing on empirical and normative democratic theory, political institutions, public policy and citizenship across different political systems and diverse social contexts.The MSc brings together many of the existing strengths of the department in different parts of the world.

The programme can be tailored to specific regional interests through option courses in West Europe and North America, East Europe, Africa, India, and the Middle East. The degree will provide you with a firm academic foundation in the study of comparative politics and a base of knowledge for careers in fields such as policymaking, development, and NGOs.

See the website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/politicsandir/coursefinder/mscpolitics.aspx

Why choose this course?

- the Department of Politics and International Relations is a young, vibrant and rapidly-rising department and was ranked in the Top 10 small politics departments in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, 2008)

- the course is taught by world-class scholars and informed by cutting-edge research

- offers an advanced grounding in international public policy while allowing you to specialise in particular issues or regions of interest.

- taught by academics, current and retired public policy practitioners

- our international cohort of students will provide you with excellent opportunities to obtain genuinely global perspectives.

Department research and industry highlights

- The Centre for European Politics was officially launched by Lord Mandelson in September 2007, with the mission of producing research in two principal areas: the study of democracy in Europe, and Europe as an actor in world politics. Under the leadership of Co-Directors Dr Alsiter Miskimmon and Dr James Sloam, it has hosted a number of high-profile speakers, including Lord Mandelson, Professor Simon Hix (LSE), Roger Liddle (Policy Network), John Peet (The Economist), Sir Stephen Wall (former European policy advisor to Tony Blair), David Willets MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Innovations, Universities and Skills) and Dr Vince Cable. Recent funded research projects include: a European Union Committee of the Regions consultancy on EU External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy; an EU-funded Workshop on the Review of the European Union Budget; and Teaching Democracy. Recent publications include, Bendetto and Milio (eds) European Union budget reform: institutions, policy and economic crisis (Palgrave, 2012) and James Sloam, 'New Voice, Less Equal: the Civic and political Engagement of Young People in the United States and Europe', Comparative Political Studies 2012.

- The Centre for Global and Transnational Politics is devoted to the multi-disciplinary exploration of global and transnational processes. Led by its Co-Directors Professor Chris Rumford and Professor Sandra Halperin, its central concern is to theorise and conceptualise the substance of, and connections between and among, political processes that operate at all levels or scales: the local, national, international, transnational, and global. Professor Rumford and Professor Halperin edit the Routledge Series in Global and Transnational Politics and host the Global Studies Association and a BISA Working Group of Global and Transnational Politics in the Centre.

- The New Political Communication Unit’s research agenda focuses on the impact of new media and communication technologies on politics, policy and governance. Core staff include Prof Andrew Chadwick, Prof Ben O’Loughlin and Dr Cristian Vicarri. Recent publications include Chadwick’s The Hybrid Media System (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Alister Miskimmon, Ben O’Loughlin and Laura Roselle, Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order (Routledge, 2013). As well as hosting a large number of PhD students working in new political communication, Chadwick edited the Oxford University Press Series Oxford Studies in Digital Politics and O’Loughlin is co-editor of the journal, Media, War and Conflict.

- The Contemporary Political Theory Research Group was founded in October 2009, as a result of the development of political theory at postgraduate level and growth in academic staff numbers having created the critical mass it required. The group organizes its activities collectively, and its work focuses on issues around contemporary pluralism, liberalism, democratic theory and radical politics. It brings together staff working in contemporary Continental philosophy, normative political theory, and American pragmatism, and its postgraduate members include two students on the College’s most prestigious studentship, the Reid Award. The group also has ties to the College’s Philosophy Team and the interdepartmental Humanities and Arts Research Centre

Course content and structure

Core course units:
- The Politics of Democracy You will be provided with a sound understanding of contemporary thinking about democracy and political participation through the analysis of liberal democracy and its political institutions. The unit will draw upon a variety of contemporary and historical sources with particular reference to the political systems of Britain and the USA.

- Comparative Political Executives This unit explores the political executives of established democratic systems, focusing on institutions – presidents, prime ministers, cabinets and so on – and how they function and interact with other parts of the political system. You will gain knowledge of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the executives in question, and will also gain useful insights into the difficulties of political leadership, the centrality of political executives and the interdependence of executives with other parts of the political system.

- European Union Politics and Policy This course provides students with an insight into the development and governance of the European Union as a political system. Particular attention is placed on the functions of the EU’s executive, legislative and judicial institutions as well as on a number of key policy areas in which the European Union’s sovereignty has developed in recent years. The course provides students with a solid theoretical background in understanding both the institutional politics and public policy of the EU.

- Political Parties
Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in Politics and International Relations You will be introduced to quantitative methods commonly used in the study of Politics and International Relations. You will acquire the skills to understand, critically analyse, and carry out a range of quantitative techniques, using statistical software packages such as SPSS.
Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Politics and International Relations You will be provided with an introduction to core theories and qualitative approaches in politics and international relations. You will examine a number of explanatory/theoretical frameworks, their basic assumptions, strengths and weaknesses, and concrete research applications. You will consider the various qualitative techniques available for conducting search research, the range of decisions qualitative researchers face, and the trade-offs researchers must consider when designing qualitative research.

- Dissertation (MSc only) The dissertation gives you the opportunity to study an aspect of Politics in depth. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor and the length of the piece will be 12-15,000 words.

Elective course units:
- Internet and New Media Politics Drawing predominantly upon specialist academic journal literatures, this unit focuses on a number of important contemporary debates about the role and influence of new technologies on the values, processes and outcomes of: global governance institutions; public bureaucracies; representative institutions including political parties and legislatures; pressure groups and social movements.

- Elections and Voting Behaviour

- Social Media and Politics

- Public Opinion and political participation

- Human Rights: From Theory to Practice

- Advanced Quantitative Methods

On completion of the course graduates will have:
- an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts, theoretical debates, and developments related to public policy, democracy, politics, international relations and governance

- a sound knowledge of the texts, theories and methods used to enhance understanding of the issues, processes and phenomena associated with particular fields of public policy, politics and international relations

- an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of research methods within the disciplines of politics and international relations

- a solid foundation for progression to either a politics-related career, public policy careers, research or continued academic study.


Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different politics and international relations-related areas, including roles as officials in local government, personnel officers and higher education lecturers. This course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studyhere/postgraduate/applying/howtoapply.aspx .

Visit the Politics (MSc/PGDip) page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A minimum of a 2:1 UK honours degree or overseas equivalent. Mature students with substantial work experience will also be considered. IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores.

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