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Graduate Diploma Politics

Why we're great

  • Earn a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments
  • Take the next step to achieving a place on a politics postgraduate course without a related first degree
  • Get to grips with the key foundations of political science and develop important transferable skills

Course options2016-17

Duration: 9 months
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Government
Fee (Home/EU): £4,760
Fee (International): £9,750

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Why should we obey the law? Why don’t democratic countries go to war with each other? Why don’t young people vote? Why do oil-rich countries have poor human rights records? These are the kinds of questions addressed in our Graduate Diploma in Politics, which provides a thorough training in all major areas of political science, and is based in the top politics department in the country.

Our Graduate Diploma in Politics is a nine-month full-time course which provides a bridge between undergraduate and postgraduate study. Our course is for you if you already have an undergraduate degree, but not in politics, and therefore need further study before taking politics at Masters level.

You develop your knowledge and understanding of the major theoretical and conceptual foundations of political science, and master the necessary quantitative methods for your study of politics.

You also choose from a range of optional modules on topics including:

  • Mass media and democracy
  • Forecasting global trends
  • Ethics and public policy
  • International security
  • Public opinion

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 academic staff work on topics ranging from international conflict and violence to British elections, and from the obligations of the younger generation to why authoritarian leaders welcome natural disasters.

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
  • 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

All Essex politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.

As well as enabling you to go on to a Masters course of your choice in politics, this course will also develop key employability skills including analytical reasoning, research design, quantitative methods, data analysis and essay-writing.

Our graduates go on to enjoy influential careers in British, European and international politics. This includes working as an MP, being the Speaker of the House of Commons and employment as political lobbyists or staff assistants to MPs and MEPs.

Our graduates have also 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

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.

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

Understand the evolving field of conflict resolution through exploring the causes and effects of armed conflict across the world, and scrutinising the theory and practice of how this can be managed peacefully.

Learn how to conduct an effective survey or poll, which are by far the most dominant methods of measuring what the public think about policies, priorities, party leaders, and even each other.

How can we answer political questions using statistical data? Learn how to find relevant research designs and questions in order to use quantitative methods in political research, assisting you in your other modules and improving your job prospects.

Is torture ever morally justified? Should pornography be banned? Should prostitution be legalised? Take part in the intellectual search for the moral principles that should govern how we answer these questions and others in governing public policy.

How should a society distribute resources and opportunities between individuals and groups? The principles of social justice we hold affect how we answer this question. You study different philosophical approaches to these principles and explore their implications for the current issue of climate justice.

No other executive position in the world has the status of the US presidency. Receive a comprehensive introduction to the office of the American president, considering both the importance of individual leadership characteristics, and the broader American political landscape in light of recent international events such as 9/11.

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.

Why are some states prone to authoritarianism? What are the effects of stateless groups? How are economies run in states that are virtually non-existent? Study the interplay between human rights, state-building, economic and political development in some of the most conflict-prone and unstable areas of the world.

How do interest groups influence the trajectory of a country's foreign policy? Who benefits and gains from globalisation and how does this affect their political beliefs? In this module you explore how domestic politics and interests influence government's decisions in the international arena, and how international politics affects domestic politics.

Examine how people reason about voting and politics, and why people vote the way that they do. You consider the effects of institutions such as the electoral system or the number of political parties on voting behaviour, using case studies from elections in Britain and other advanced democracies.

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.

Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future. This module introduces you to the analysis of future trends and forecasting scenarios using the free International Futures System (IFS). Investigate trends and future scenarios for population, health, education as well as security, governance and conflict.

Where do “human rights” come from, and what are their philosophical foundations and justifications? What are some of the criticisms and objections to the idea of human rights? This module invites you to reflect on the moral principles that should govern our world.

Master the explanatory and practical value of negotiation style, strategies and tactics in the context of theories of international relations.

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.

The relationship between the media and politics is a complex and important means by which the public are informed on and engaged by political activity. You consider the role of the media and democracy in the UK, and also explore how this functions elsewhere.

Instead of a dissertation, you are able to attend placements (a minimum of 150 hours in total) which will inform a research project agreed with the department.

Explore how economic and political incentives interact to create and prevent opportunities that shape behaviour. You use rigorous logic and evidence to understand issues in classical political economy and to address contemporary policy questions in both domestic and international politics.

The problem of global poverty has come increasingly into focus in recent decades. This module explore the ways in which the wealthy countries of the world, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have tried to catalyse or facilitate economic and human development in the poorer countries of the world.

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.

Instead of a dissertation, you have the option of working closely with an academic on a topic in line with their research, introducing you to advanced work in political science. You gain practical experience of collecting and analysing data, and of writing up potentially publishable work.

Prepare a 10,000 word dissertation which researches the political topic you are most passionate about.

Understand how different methods can be used to answer questions about political phenomena through examining the statistical ideas underpinning quantitative methods in political science research. You evaluate the assumptions of the classical regression model, and consider alternatives to this.

What explains the lack of government performance in dictatorships? Why do nondemocratic rulers govern with democratic institutions such as legislators and political parties? One of the biggest challenges to democracy in the contemporary world is authoritarianism. You explore the factors that drive politics and the conditions under which democratic transitions are more likely to occur.

Explore the relationship of power, preferences, economic relations, domestic politics and international organisations in relation to conflict and peace. You investigate the underlying theoretical arguments about war and peace, consider the implications entailed by these different theories, and evaluate these using empirical data.

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

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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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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.

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.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.