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Politics and International Relations (Political Theory) - MA


Course Description

The School of Government and International Affairs has a vibrant research environment. All SGIA Masters students are welcome to the numerous events organised by the School's research centres. MA Politics & International Relations (Political Theory) students will particularly benefit from the activities of the Centre for Political Thought. The centre runs seminar series, workshops and reading group and actively involves Masters and PhD students in its work.

Student Profiles

Not only has the MA Politics and International Relations (Political Theory) programme allowed me to further pursue what I find to be the most interesting aspect of politics, but working so closely with such knowledgeable tutors on a weekly basis has truly opened my eyes and allowed me to delve into and examine the most fundamental concepts behind political theory. That along with the fascinating debates that I had with my classmates and the thought-provoking essays have contributed to what has been the most important step in my career in politics.” Tarek Abou-Jaoude, 2014/15

“Participating in the Politics and International Relations program at Durham University is the best academic decision I have ever made for two reasons. First, is the engaging learning environment created in the classroom by the professors who lead students in civic discussion and debate. The second reason is what makes Durham University so special, being an international student from the U.S going to school at Durham allowed me to learn international relations in the classroom, and its convenient location allowed me to travel to most places in Europe to gain practical application that cannot be taught by reading a book. You make lifelong friends from all over the world who share your core interests, and that is tailor made attribute of Durham University.” Nicholas Lennox, 2014/15

“Durham has been one of the best experiences of my life. This University teaches the meaning of community and friendship, in an environment that combines historic heritage with the latest trends. The MA in Politics and International Relations (Political Theory) was all I expected. A flexible programme that allowed me to interact both with our lecturers and fellow students of the School of Government and International Affairs. This open environment promoted what it felt a very complete learning experience.” Maria Lleras, 2014/15

Course Content

This programme provides students with systematic knowledge and the tools to critically review the complex relationships between government and society at a variety of levels and in different contexts. It also enables students to evaluate in a sophisticated and critical fashion, theories and paradigms within the broad field of politics and international relations, and to draw lessons from empirical studies involving both quantitative and qualitative investigations. It also aims to develop students' ability to deploy research strategies and methods in an appropriately advanced fashion to critically evaluate research at the current limits of theoretical understanding, and to equip students so that they have the ability to master complex political concepts and evaluate the significance of major developments in political thought in general as well as international relations theory.

Course Structure
Two core modules worth 30 credits, plus a Dissertation worth 75 credits, plus 5 optional modules to the value of 75 credits - 60 of which must be from the list A.

Core Modules:
-Methodology in the Social Sciences
-Research Methods and Dissertation Production

List A - In previous years these have included:
-Contemporary Socio-Political Issues in Muslim Religious Thought
-Issues in the Politics of Military Occupations
-International Relations Theory
-Political Ideology
-Human Rights
-Collective Identities and Political Thought in Britain since 1850
-Just War in Political Theory and Practice

List B
-European Institutions and the Policy Process
-European Security
-German Foreign Policy
-International Relations and Security in the Middle East
-Nationalism, Revolution and Reform in Contemporary China
-Political Economy and Development in Chinese Business
-The Contemporary Politics of the Middle East
-Strategic Asia: Policy and Analysis
-The European Union as a Global Actor
-The Political Economy of Development in the Middle East
-Model United Nations
-Region, Nation and Citizen in South East Asia
-A module offered by the School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Learning and Teaching

At the beginning of the academic year, students go through five-day induction events in which they are informed about University, the School, the MA/MSc programmes and the facilities available for their learning.

The 180 credits one-year MA degree programme is divided into two core and five optional modules of 15 credits each. Furthermore, students have to submit a dissertation of 75 credits of not more than 15,000 words. Most of the modules are delivered during the first two terms and students spend the remaining time to write the dissertation.

Usually a module has 18 contact hours spread over 9 weeks and 132 hours of self-directed learning. The modules are mainly delivered through weekly 2 hours sessions which can either take the form of seminars or one hour of lecture and one hour of tutorial. The form in which seminars are conducted can differ from one module to another. Typically modules would have elements of lectures, discussions, and presentations from students—the extent of each of these components would differ from one module to another.

All modules have written exercise for formative assessments. Upon getting feedback on these assignments, students can meet their lecturers to discuss their marks before then eventually completing a summative assessment. Typically summative assessments are 3000 word essays but some modules may be assessed by examination. Students can also meet their module coordinators during their weekly contact hours or by making an appointment. When students are working on their dissertations during the later half of the year, they meet their assigned supervisors for a minimum of 6 hours. Students also have access to the academic advisors whenever there is a need.

SGIA has a wide variety of resources available to students such as: computer room/work room with networked PC’s, printing facilities including scanner and photocopier, audio system, Wi-Fi and a relaxation area with satellite television system.

SGIA conducts weekly seminars and organises lectures and conferences which all postgraduate students can attend. These events provide students the opportunity to engage with, and debate, the most important issues in current political and international studies.

Towards the end of the programme students can contact the Careers Office of the University to get advice on available job prospects and get assistance on applying for these.

Visit the Politics and International Relations (Political Theory) - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

2.1 or First at BA level or the international equivalent.

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