The MSc Democracy, Politics and Governance provides an advanced grounding in contemporary political science, focusing on democratic theory, political institutions, and public policy across different political systems. This is one of the departments cutting-edge courses and is ideal for students either progressing to a career in politics and international relations or continuing to further academic study.
You will study a mixture of core and elective units, including a generous choice of free options, and write a supervised dissertation over the summer. Teaching is conducted primarily in small group seminars that meet weekly for two hours, supplemented by individual tuition for the dissertation.
This course is also offered at Postgraduate Diploma level for those who do not have the academic background necessary to begin an advanced Master's degree. The structure of the Diploma is identical except that you will not write a dissertation. If you are successful on the Diploma you may transfer to the MSc, subject to academic approval.
You will study three core units (chosen from a total of five options, listed below), an additional core unit (options vary from year to year), two elective units, and write a dissertation over the summer. Course units include one of three disciplinary training pathway courses, a course in research design, Democracy, Politics and Governance, and specialist options in democratic political theory and practice.
Students studying for the Postgraduate Diploma do not undertake the dissertation.
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.
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.
Foundations of Contemporary Political Theory-
You will explore key texts and ideas that underpin a variety of late 20th and early 21st century approaches in political thought, such as contractarianism, pragmatism, genealogy, deconstruction, and contextual history.
Research Design in Politics and International Relations-
This unit focuses on the process and practice of research in politics and international relations: the principles and procedures that guide scholars in PIR as they conduct research, the kinds of questions they ask, and the variety of decisions that they must make.
Dissertation (MSc only)-
The dissertation gives you the opportunity to study an aspect of Democracy, Poltics and Governance in depth. You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor and the length of the piece will be 12-15,000 words.
Elective course units:
China in the World- As an increasingly crucial force in world politics today, China is much discussed but less well understood. The aim of this unit is to critically examine Chinese foreign policy and Chinas impact on the international system and society in order to understand the origins, nature and consequences of its current ascendance. This unit will equip and require you to evaluate the options and prospects for the exercise of Chinese power and the role of China in international society in the contemporary era.
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.
Contemporary Continental Political Theory- You will be introduced to key questions and arguments concerning the relationship between identity, power, meaning and knowledge, through examination of key figures in contemporary continental political thought. You will develop the ability to critically reflect about the nature and scope of politics and ethics through engagement with texts that have sought to provide insights and new ways of thinking about these realms.
Culture and Community- You will cover a number of debates concerning the claims for recognition made by minority cultures and nations. The introductory session outlines the liberal perspective against which the multiculturalist critique is addressed. Thereafter, you will cover the assault on false neutrality and a variety of attempts to overcome it, address a number of issues raised by multiculturalism, and you will focus on the resurgence of nationality as an ethically significant concept.
Democracy in Comparative Perspective- The core aim of this unit is to provide you with a sound understanding of contemporary thinking about democracy and democratisation in different national and supra-national contexts.
Democracy and Citizenship in Europe- This unit is designed to introduce you to the theory and practice of democracy and citizenship in Europe. You will be offered a distinctive perspective on the nature of democracy and citizenship in Western Europe today (with a particular focus on the UK, Germany and France, and using the United States as a comparator). It explores the roots of democracy and citizenship and asks to what extent those basic principles are still valid today.
Foreign Policy of the European Union- You will be provided with a systematic understanding of knowledge relating to the role of the European Union in International Relations. You will develop a critical awareness of current research and methodologies within International Relations relating to the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. You will also study conceptual tools for analysing and evaluating complex problems of order and justice in International Relations.
Human Rights- You will explore some of the key issues which arise in the moral evaluation of human rights, both in general and with respect to particular rights. You will explore the role of rights in political and moral discourse and consider some of the key criticisms to which theyve been subject. You will also explore three major categories of rights which have attracted much debate: economic rights, minority rights, and group rights. The final section of the unit will consider three central rights in liberal societies, examining the ways in which they have been interpreted and defended in the light of recent political debates.
Identity, Power and Radical Political Theory- You will be introduced to new conceptualizations of identity, difference, power, and politics that are associated most notably with what has been termed Post-Marxist or New Left politics and political philosophy. Its premise is that recent changes in both political theory and practice some of which are associated with changes linked to globalisation and the emergence of new social movements are compelling a paradigm shift in the way politics is understood.
Issues in United States Foreign Policy- Described by some as a hyperpower that is a state which has surpassed the other great powers in the international system the foreign policy of the United States has a significant impact on international politics. This course therefore focuses on the historical and contemporary ideas that animate US foreign policy. You will engage with a range of advanced texts and to interrogate these texts with regard to their relevance to contemporary American foreign policy.
Media, War and Conflict- The post-9/11 global security situation and the 2003 Iraq war have prompted a marked increase in interest in questions concerning media, war and conflict. This unit examines the relationships between media, governments, military, and audiences/publics, in light of old, new, and potential future security events.
The Politics of Ethnic Multiculturalism- You will develop a solid knowledge of the history of Muslim migration and settlement in Britain, comparing their history with that of British Hindus and you will examine the origins and emergence of multiculturalism with regard to the politics of minority ethnic British communities. You will also examine critics of multiculturalism and their alternative political prescriptions.
Politics of Forced Migration- You will study forced migration, particularly refugees and IDPs, rather than economic or voluntary migration. You will examine both the theoretical issues arising out of mass displacement, as well as specific case studies. You will also explore various policy options in naming and labelling, caring for and dealing with such mass upheavals.
Sovereignty, Rights, and Justice-
You will engage with cutting edge contemporary international political/normative theory and apply theory to a number of key normative issues in the international system, exploring the differences between theory and practice. You will also be provided with a framework for thinking about challenging issues in the international system.
Theories of Globalisation- The meaning and causes of globalisation are highly contested. Some theorists hold that it is the logical outcome of capitalism and the development of world markets, or the result of information technologies with transformative implications for state, society and the individual. Others argue that it is the outcome of long-term processes through which the world has become shaped by certain cultural norms, or by the diffusion of rational models of societal organization leading to something akin to a world polity. In this unit, globalisation is understood in terms of the social, economic, and political processes resulting in greater interconnectedness coupled with a heightened awareness among people that they inhabit one world.
Africaand International Politics-This course explores the international politics of sub-Saharan Africa since the 1960s. In particular, it charts the ways in which geopolitical, ideological and economic shifts have helped shape and change African states role and engagement in the world.
Biopolitics and Security-Michel Foucault introduced the concept of biopolitics to name a series of power relations that developed in the early modern period and that took the life of the body politic as their object. The emergence of this biopolitical regime involved an intense focus on the efficient management of population, economy, and dynamics that flow across permeable state boundaries. Biopolitical practices did not do away with more traditional forms of power relations (such as sovereign forms that operated through the threat of death and by holding a monopoly on violence within the state) or politics (such as a geopolitics that sought to secure territory and rested on principles of realpolitik and the balance of power). However, it did modify the place of these older forms within a new relationship between power, knowledge, and discourse. This course will explore these ideas as they are developed in Foucault and other contemporary theorists and as they are applied to a variety of security issues both within and beyond the boundaries of the territorial nation-state.
Political Violence-This course seeks to provide an analytical and theoretical tool kit for understanding political violence, broadly defined. This ranges from riots and political assassinations to acts of terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The major questions running throughout the course will be why political violence takes place, how we can explain why violence is resorted to as a political tool or tactic, and why particular types of violence become prominent at particular times.
Transnational Security and the Law of Targeting-The aim of the course is to introduce students to the basic concepts of international law and how these concepts are applied to targeting during an armed conflict. It will enable students to develop critical thinking about what the law consists of and about how the legal rules are represented in certain important writings. The final aim is to show how the legal rules are applied in practice, in relation to particular types of attack.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.