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MRes International Relations

Why we're great

  • We have been ranked first in the UK for political science research since national league tables began.
  • You have unrivalled one-to-one access to the best minds in politics and international relations.
  • We are the only political science department to receive the prestigious Regius Professorship.

Course options2017-18

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £7,200
Fee (International): £15,450
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

We live in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world where events that unfold on other continents can affect our lives very quickly. Sometimes politicians are able to work together in a search for solutions but disagreement, and even the possibility of conflict, never seems far away.

Our MRes International Relations is a two-year course, designed to give you additional training in research design and research methods compared to an MSc or MA. You study modules on international relations and research methods across your two years, while developing a 35,000-word dissertation.

You are familiarised with the theories and conceptual tools used to analyse world politics, and explore how different theories and conceptual tools speak to contemporary debates and events. You also take modules on topics including:

  • Forecasting global trends
  • International security
  • Research methods
  • Research design
  • Political theory

Our MRes International Relations offers excellent preparation for PhD research in this field, covering all aspects of international relations with additional training in research design and research methods. You learn how to develop theories, conduct research, and explore the empirical implications of theoretical models using the most appropriate empirical methods.

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.

Our expert staff

Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.

Our key academic staff for this course are Professor Kristian Gleditsch, who works on inequality, conflict and violence, and Anna Getmansky, who works on the electoral impact of terrorism.

You join an active and prolific research team, with the opportunity to work alongside a member of staff on their research instead of completing a dissertation; some of these projects have even resulted in joint staff/student publications.

Specialist facilities

  • Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
  • The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
  • Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
  • We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis
  • A programme of seminars and events run by the department

Your future

An MRes puts you in a particularly strong position to succeed in a research degree. We offer supervision for PhD and MPhil in the following fields: government; ideology and discourse analysis; international relations; political behaviour; and politics.

Our academic reputation is illustrated by the fact that many of our graduates now teach or research at universities, colleges of higher education and schools. For example, recent graduates are now research fellows and academic staff at: Mannheim, Germany; ETH Zurich, Switzerland; Duke University, USA; NATO/SHAPE, Belgium; and University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Other recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations:

  • The Civil Service
  • Local government
  • The World Bank
  • The United Nations
  • NATO
  • YouGov and YouGov America

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

This module provides you with a graduate-level introduction to both foundational and contemporary international relations research. The emphasis will be on evaluating arguments, understanding the development of the field, and identifying unresolved questions.

Studying philosophy of science is not necessarily about becoming a philosopher; it can also help us to do political science better. You cover the main theoretical approaches to the study of politics, including both models of political actions that inform and are derived from the empirical study of politics, and normative theories of politics. This enables you to ask questions from the philosophy of sciences concerning how we can study social and political phenomena.

Master the quantitative methods which are essential to test hypotheses. You study hypotheses testing, hypotheses testing using Least Squares, and some classic violations of the Gauss-Markov conditions, before continuing to learn some more advanced models ubiquitous in political science.

This module offers you an introduction to the theory and practice of quantitative data analysis techniques. You will also be introduced to the computer package Stata, which is widely used by academics and practitioners for the analysis of quantitative data. As the work becomes more challenging, the relevance of the techniques to modern social science research becomes more apparent.

The field of security studies has become increasingly important over the last decade. While old conflicts are reigniting and new ones are emerging, scholars and decision-makers debate about changes to the concepts of security, the redundancy of military force, and the centrality of the state in order to face these ever-important issues.

Question party motivations, electoral strategies, ideologies and leaderships in Britain and Europe as you explore the changing nature and role of political parties in advanced liberal democracies.

Theories of justice are still being worked on and developed today. You question contemporary theories of justice through applying them to some of the most controversial issues dominating contemporary politics.

Study one of the most important contemporary aspects of political action: the natural environment. You consider the state of the environment and possible paths along which it might change, before exploring environmental policies from the level of individual values, to the environmental movement, to political parties, and finally to the level of the EU.

In this module you focus on conflict resolution in inter- and intra-state issues. You gain experience in the practical as well as in the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, exploring the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem-solving real cases of international conflict, and making use of negotiation and mediation techniques in role playing exercises and other types of simulations.

The rational choice approach uses methods derived from microeconomics to study a wide range of political phenomena, and is now of considerable significance. This constructs explanations on the assumption that individuals are rational and often self-interested. You learn to apply these methods to a range of phenomena in the fields of politics and political economy.

This module introduces you to two main traditions within contemporary political theory: analytical political theory, and ideology and discourse analysis. You explore a range of ideas and concepts within these traditions in relation to central discussions in contemporary political theory.

Evaluate a variety of perspectives on post-structuralist and post-analytical research, gaining an appreciation of the assumptions underpinning different approaches to questions of description, explanation and critique. You explore a range of prominent perspectives including empiricism, rationalism, conventionalism, positivist, hermeneutics, and critical realism.

In this module you gain an overview of the logic of social science research designs that includes the goals, theories and strategies of social science research, and develop a research agenda for potential use as publication in a peer reviewed journal, MA or PhD dissertation.

On this module you explore a variety of questions concerning public opinion: How do citizens acquire information and convert it into opinions? Can politicians and the media influence public opinion and if so, how? How do we select representative samples in order to understand what the public really thinks? How do we measure opinion accurately? What type of measurement scales are available to help us do this?

You are introduced to key strands of poststructuralist discourse theory, including post-marxism, deconstruction, structural linguistics, and psychoanalytic theory. You also engage with a set of contemporary debates in political and social theory, using the economy (eg., the global financial crisis and public service reforms) as a central theme and reference point.

Wish to design questionnaires? Build your theoretical knowledge and the practical tools to develop and write survey questions, and to construct questionnaires. Apply your understanding to the development of your questionnaire and implementation materials. Receive feedback on your questionnaire design.

This module is about how representative democracy works in Europe. You explore several topics within the European context, including: public opinion, political participation, political parties, electoral systems, party competition, and how to evaluate democracies. You also develop specific knowledge about several European countries by learning how the political institutions function within them.

Year 2

Your dissertation gives you an opportunity for independent learning on a topic of your choice, with one-to-one supervision from a member of staff. You write a dissertation of up to 35,000 words, which is due at the end of your second year.

In this module you gain an overview of the logic of social science research designs that includes the goals, theories and strategies of social science research, and develop a research agenda for potential use as publication in a peer reviewed journal, MA or PhD dissertation.

You replicate an already published paper to better understand the details of the empirical analysis, assess its robustness, and develop the paper in a new direction by changing one element. For example, include a new control variable, introduce an interaction term, or extend the time period or the sample size.

The rational choice approach uses methods derived from microeconomics to study a wide range of political phenomena, and is now of considerable significance. This constructs explanations on the assumption that individuals are rational and often self-interested. You learn to apply these methods to a range of phenomena in the fields of politics and political economy.

Theories of justice are still being worked on and developed today. You question contemporary theories of justice through applying them to some of the most controversial issues dominating contemporary politics.

Study one of the most important contemporary aspects of political action: the natural environment. You consider the state of the environment and possible paths along which it might change, before exploring environmental policies from the level of individual values, to the environmental movement, to political parties, and finally to the level of the EU.

The field of security studies has become increasingly important over the last decade. While old conflicts are reigniting and new ones are emerging, scholars and decision-makers debate about changes to the concepts of security, the redundancy of military force, and the centrality of the state in order to face these ever-important issues.

In this module you focus on conflict resolution in inter- and intra-state issues. You gain experience in the practical as well as in the theoretical aspects of negotiation and mediation, exploring the applicability of various tools and techniques in problem-solving real cases of international conflict, and making use of negotiation and mediation techniques in role playing exercises and other types of simulations.

On this module you explore a variety of questions concerning public opinion: How do citizens acquire information and convert it into opinions? Can politicians and the media influence public opinion and if so, how? How do we select representative samples in order to understand what the public really thinks? How do we measure opinion accurately? What type of measurement scales are available to help us do this?

Master the quantitative methods which are essential to test hypotheses. You study hypotheses testing, hypotheses testing using Least Squares, and some classic violations of the Gauss-Markov conditions, before continuing to learn some more advanced models ubiquitous in political science.

Question party motivations, electoral strategies, ideologies and leaderships in Britain and Europe as you explore the changing nature and role of political parties in advanced liberal democracies.

This module offers you an introduction to the theory and practice of quantitative data analysis techniques. You will also be introduced to the computer package Stata, which is widely used by academics and practitioners for the analysis of quantitative data. As the work becomes more challenging, the relevance of the techniques to modern social science research becomes more apparent.

This module provides you with a graduate-level introduction to both foundational and contemporary international relations research. The emphasis will be on evaluating arguments, understanding the development of the field, and identifying unresolved questions.

This module introduces you to two main traditions within contemporary political theory: analytical political theory, and ideology and discourse analysis. You explore a range of ideas and concepts within these traditions in relation to central discussions in contemporary political theory.

Evaluate a variety of perspectives on post-structuralist and post-analytical research, gaining an appreciation of the assumptions underpinning different approaches to questions of description, explanation and critique. You explore a range of prominent perspectives including empiricism, rationalism, conventionalism, positivist, hermeneutics, and critical realism.

This module is about how representative democracy works in Europe. You explore several topics within the European context, including: public opinion, political participation, political parties, electoral systems, party competition, and how to evaluate democracies. You also develop specific knowledge about several European countries by learning how the political institutions function within them.

Studying philosophy of science is not necessarily about becoming a philosopher; it can also help us to do political science better. You cover the main theoretical approaches to the study of politics, including both models of political actions that inform and are derived from the empirical study of politics, and normative theories of politics. This enables you to ask questions from the philosophy of sciences concerning how we can study social and political phenomena.

You are introduced to key strands of poststructuralist discourse theory, including post-marxism, deconstruction, structural linguistics, and psychoanalytic theory. You also engage with a set of contemporary debates in political and social theory, using the economy (eg., the global financial crisis and public service reforms) as a central theme and reference point.

Teaching

  • Courses are designed to provide you with an advanced understanding of either the politics of a geographical area or an aspect of the discipline
  • Courses include both compulsory and optional modules, so the course can be tailored to fit your interests and aspirations
  • Learn through discussion and problem-solving
  • Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
  • We encourage students to attend national conferences to meet researchers and discuss their work

Assessment

  • Your coursework comes in the form of essays, simulations, presentations and in-class tests

Dissertation

  • You are given guidance on how to prepare a Masters dissertation by our Graduate Director in the spring term
  • We link you with an appropriate supervisor at the earliest opportunity

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall high 2:2.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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