StudyQA — Master: Politics Research — University of Oxford

Politics Research

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 18.6 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 27.1 k / Year(s) Deadline: Jan 6, 2023
1 place StudyQA ranking:2535 Duration:1 year

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The MSc provides an advanced level of formal training in research techniques and methodology, and enables students to acquire advanced level substantive knowledge in this sub-area of the discipline. If you are successful on the degree you will attain a proven competence in quantitative and qualitative methods. You will demonstrate competence in a variety of further and more advanced techniques of data collection, data handling and data analysis. You will design your research project, and will write a short thesis under expert supervision.

Upon successful completion of your MSc, you will be expected to continue your studies in pursuit of a DPhil in a relevant area of political science. You may apply to undertake doctoral research in the Department for a further three to four years.

Component Assessment
Year one Core course in Theory of Politics Written examination in Theory of Politics at the end of the first year
Research Methods Training  

As an MSc in Politics Research student you would have to:

  1. attend a twenty-week core seminar in EITHER Comparative Government OR European Governance, and sit a written examination in this core subject at the end of your first year.
  2. submit research methods training coursework and a research design essay in preparation for your thesis.
  3. submit a thesis of not more than 15,000 words.

Optional Courses

The courses offered vary from year to year, depending on students’ research interests and the availability of faculty. The Department cannot guarantee, therefore, that a particular course will be run in any given year. In recent years the following courses have been offered:

  • Intermediate Social Statistics
  • Qualitative Methods in Political Science
  • Formal Analysis
  • Archival Research: Truth and Record
  • Causal Inference
  • Content Analysis and Word Scoring
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics
  • Event History Analysis
  • Evolutionary Approaches to International Relations
  • Experimental Research
  • Interviewing Elites
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Panel Data Analysis
  • Problems of Method in the History of Political Thought


At the end of the summer you will have to submit a short thesis of up to 15,000 words. The MSc thesis is a substantial piece of research, which should be regarded as a piece of preparatory work for, or a preliminary contribution towards, the eventual doctorate. It should demonstrate a grasp of its sub-field, a set of design and methodological issues, and the ability to develop and sustain an independent line of argument.
To give you an idea of the range of topics studied by MSc candidates, the titles of some recent successful MSc theses are listed below:

  • A Theory to Explain Major Policy Changes: The Case of Market-Oriented and Standards-Based Education Reform in the United States and England
  • The Impact of European Integration on Far Right Political Parties: A Case Study of the Italian Lega Nord and the Austrian Freedom Party
  • Judicial Power in the HKSAR 1997-2006: An Institutionalist Account
  • Institutions for Stable Democracies: Three Case Studies of Political Institutions and their Effects on Democratic Stability in Post-1990 Nigeria, Kenya, and Niger
  • The Variance of Democratic Consolidation: A Case Study of the Slovak and Czech Republics During 1993-2004
  • Defining the Nation: The Politics of Identity in Turkey and Israel
  • The Weak State in Serbia
  • Immigration, Diversity and Support for Welfare
  • Police and Public Order in East Germany: The Case of the 1992 Rostock riot
  • The Drug Trade through Nigeria and the State: A Review of the Literature
  • The Relationship Between Federalism and Statehood: Lessons from Althusius
  • Multiculturalism and Fear of the 'Other': A Study of Leicester's Approach to Intercultural Understanding
  • Elite Competition and Democratic Transition in Ghana: A Review of the Literature
  • Is there a relationship between ethnic/racial identity salience and ethnic/racial homophily?

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in political science or international relations, or in a closely related discipline (eg economics, history, philosophy, sociology, law, etc).

Nonetheless, each application will be assessed upon its own merits, and so candidates with a degree in an unrelated discipline should demonstrate the relevance of their academic background to their proposed subject or topic of study. 

Entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.

2. English language requirement

Higher level


Standard level scores

Higher level scores

IELTS Academic 
Institution code: 0713

7.0 Minimum 6.5 per component  7.5  Minimum 7.0 per component 

Institution code: 0490


Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24

Minimum component scores:

  • Listening: 22
  • Reading: 24
  • Speaking: 25
  • Writing: 24
Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component

Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) 185

Minimum 176 per component


Minimum 185 per component


  • Three references (letters of recommendation)
  • Official transcript(s) of previous university-level degrees
  • CV/résumé
  • Statement of purpose/personal statement: At least 1,000 words or two pages
  • Written work: Two essays of 2,000 words each
  • Clarendon Scholarships. This unique scheme offers around 140 new, fully-funded scholarships each year to academically outstanding graduate students, as well as providing a lively and stimulating community of scholars.
  • Hill Foundation Scholarships. The Hill Foundation Scholarships fund Russian students to study for full-time graduate courses in any subject at Oxford. The Hill Foundation is a charity which aims to create a community of Oxford scholars and alumni who will work to improve Russian life and culture.The scholarship will cover 100% of University and college fees and a grant for living costs (of at least £14,296). Awards are made for the full duration of your fee liability for the agreed course.
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