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Democracy and Comparative Politics - MSc

Course Description

This MSc focuses on the design, creation, and operation of democratic institutions. Students gain understanding of when a given set of institutes are appropriate for a society and what will make them function, and how scholars have thought about these matters, applying theory to examples of institution-building and design.

Degree information

Students are equipped with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary for an in-depth understanding of democratic institutions and politics. They develop an understanding of the potential benefits and pitfalls of different institutional designs, reforms, and administrative practices, and are able to analyse problems raised by new and reforming democracies.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four compulsory core modules (75 credits), optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules
-Democracy and Constitutional Design (30)
-Democratic Political Institutions (15)
-Introduction to Qualitative Methods or Advanced Qualitative Methods (15)
-Introduction to Quantitative Methods or Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)

Optional modules - choose one of the following 15-credit modules (the other two remain available as options):
-The European Union, Globalisation and the State (15)
-Parliaments, Political Parties and Policy Making (15)
-Governing Divided Societies (15)

Choose further modules up to a value of 30 credits in total from a list available at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/teaching/masters

The following are suggestions:
-Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account (15)
-Equality, Justice, and Difference (15)
-Making Policy Work (15)
-NGO, Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Policy and Management (15)
-Agenda Setting and Public Policy (15)
-British Government and Politics (15)
-International Political Economy (15)
-Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice (15)
-Conflict Resolution and Post-War Development (15)
-Global Public Policy (15)

All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Assessment is through unseen examinations, long essays, coursework, and the dissertation.


Alumni of this programme work in a variety of fields. Many take on roles within their home governments, and a substantial number find jobs with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working in their home countries or abroad. Some work for a research institutes or provide research for business, and a small number have also gone on to PhD study.

First destinations of recent graduates include:
-The Labour Party: Secretary
-Head Office Agency: Campaign Co-ordinator
-Civil Service: Civil Servant
-National Centre for Social Research: Research Assistant
-National Autistic Society: Policy and Parliamentary Officer
-Liberal Democrats: Research Assistant

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Consultant, World Bank Group
-Trainee Campaign Organiser, The Labour Party
-Parliamentary Assistant, UK Parliament
-Research Intern, Access Info Europe
-PhD Political Science, Trinity College Dublin

Graduates of the programme are equipped with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary for entry into the world of government policy, non-governmental organisations, or the private sector.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of democracy and comparative politics.

Students on the programme benefit from greater interaction with fellow students and academic staff due to small class sizes.

London features a wealth of seminars, conferences, and other events on democratic topics. These provide a means for students to expand their knowledge and to extend their professional networks prior to entering the job market.

Visit the Democracy and Comparative Politics - MSc page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

As a minimum, a strong upper second-class (65%) Bachelor's degree from a UK university; a CGPA of 3.45; or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant practical or work experience in a related field may also be taken into account.

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