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MSc Comparative Political Thought

Course Description

Who is this programme for?:

The programme is designed for graduate students who wish to learn about the diverse strands of political thinking in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the different approaches to comparison in political thought. It is highly relevant to students who wish to embark on doctoral studies in the area of non-Western political thought. It is also relevant for practitioners working in or intending to work in governments, international organizations, think tanks and advocacy groups who wish to acquire deeper knowledge of ideas and values that inform political practices in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The MSc in Comparative Political Thought builds on SOAS’s wealth of regional expertise to offer a new approach to cross-regional comparison of political thinking. It reframes the study of political thought in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as a study of political ideas and political practices. The programme introduces students to the key approaches, debates, and questions in the emerging sub-discipline of comparative political thought. Covering a range of thinkers, traditions and texts, in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, it provides learning opportunities for students to compare ideas and values across regions and historical periods. The MSc in Comparative Political Thought will enable graduate students to undertake further advanced study and research in political thought, as well as enhance skills suitable for employment in multicultural and international professional contexts

Visit the website http://www.soas.ac.uk/politics/programmes/msc-comparative-political-thought/

Programme Specification

Programme Specification (pdf; 126kb) - http://www.soas.ac.uk/politics/programmes/msc-comparative-political-thought/file79323.pdf

Teaching & Learning

The MSc in Comparative Political Thought has two core compulsory half-unit courses that all students registered for the degree will undertake. Approaches to Comparative Political Thought is taken in Term 1, and Comparative International Political Thought in Term 2. Students then choose courses equivalent to two units from a list of optional courses (outlined below), and complete a dissertation based on independent study and research (equivalent to a further unit).

- Knowledge

1. Familiarity with the main approaches in the emerging sub-field of comparative political thought, including different understandings of ‘comparison’ and ‘thought’;

2. Advanced understanding of some of the philosophical, historical, political and linguistic issues that arise in the study of non-Western political thought;

3. In-depth knowledge of some key political concepts (eg. state, authority, individual, community), as understood by political thinkers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East;

4. An understanding of political thought not simply as articulated by elite intellectuals, but also as ideas in action, manifested in political practices at different levels of society.

- Intellectual (thinking) skills

1. To analyse and evaluate competing approaches to comparative political thought;
2. To conceptualise the main issues and problems that arise in the comparative study of political thought;
3. To develop in-depth understanding of aspects of non-Western political thought;
4. To develop intellectual initiative and skills to compare political ideas across cultural and historical boundaries, identifying and evaluating similarities and differences;
5. To formulate research questions and hypotheses.

- Subject-based practical skills

1. To identify, analyse and evaluate core arguments in theoretical materials from a variety of sources;
2. To develop skills to work creatively and flexibly across different disciplines and regional traditions;
3. To organise information in a lucid, coherent, concise, and clear form in written as well as oral presentations;
4. To develop initiative and capacity to work independently on research questions and to adjust hypotheses and approach in the light of work undertaken for the dissertation.

- Transferable skills

1. To retrieve, select, digest and analyse complex information from a variety of sources.
2. To structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
3. To work effectively in and contribute to meetings, by presenting, listening to and discussing ideas introduced during meetings.
4. To manage time effectively.

Find out how to apply here - http://www.soas.ac.uk/admissions/pg/howtoapply/

Visit the MSc Comparative Political Thought page on the SOAS University of London website for more details!

Student Profiles

Canon Collins Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

These scholarships are for Masters study in any subject field.
The application process normally opens in December and closes in February, for study commencing in September the following year. Please go to the Canon Collins website and click "Apply for A Scholarship" and then "Canon Collins Scholarship for Masters Study in the UK" for further information on how to apply.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See website


Country/Nationality: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Application Procedure

See the website

Further Information



SOAS Master's Scholarships - Faculty of Law and Social Sciences - 16 Awards

There are six SOAS Master's scholarships available in the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences. Each is valued at £16,765 each in total. Fees will be deducted from this amount and the remainder will be used toward maintenance. In addition to these six SOAS Master's scholarship, the Faculty will offer an extra 10 scholarships, each valued at approximately £1,500.Candidate Assessment:
- Candidates will be assessed on academic merit by an Advisory Panel consisting of at least three academic members of the Faculty. - The assessment of your application will be based on the information provided in your scholarship application and in your on-line admission application for admission. Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statement and other relevant information.Scholarship Application Deadline
- Scholarship applications must be received no later than 17:00 (UK local time) on 24 February 2016. - In order to be considered for this scholarship, you must ALSO submit a complete online application to the degree programme as soon as possible and then submit an application for the scholarship. Applicants applying for scholarships must also submit an application for admission well in advance. Please note that complete applications for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. - You should prepare to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- Applicants must possess or expect to be awarded a First Class Honours Degree or equivalent. Students with a non-UK degree to be adjudged in the top rank by their referees and transcript.
- This scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants only.
- Applicants must have an offer of admission to pursue one of the eligible full-time masters programmes at SOAS by the scholarship application deadline.
- The scholarship cannot be held along with any other major scholarship or studentship.

Application Procedure

You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Candidates should have a good undergraduate honours degree in politics, history, anthropology, area studies, or philosophy (UK 2:1 or better)

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