About the course
When angry at a particular government policy, some people sit in their armchair and complain, others write letters and organise committees, some participate in social media campaigns, while others still protest or even riot in the street. Politicians care about public opinion, so how do we explain these choices? How are reactions shaped by people’s social background, their economic circumstances, their personality, or even their genetic inheritance? Can politicians and the media influence public opinion and if so, how?
MA Public Opinion and Political Behaviour explores the interaction between the mass public and political elites in advanced industrial democracies. You are introduced to the latest theoretical debates about the nature, significance and measurement of public opinion, exploring when and how these opinions translate into political participation, from voting behaviour and signing petitions to suicide bombing.
You also look at the main theoretical approaches in the study of politics, combined with a selection of optional modules including:
- Quantitative data analysis in political explanations
- Survey measurement and question design
- Political parties in Britain and Europe
- Measuring public opinion
- Democracies in Europe
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.
"My MA gave me a thorough grounding in research methodologies and statistical analysis, neither of which I had any significant training in beforehand. I have since continued my research through a funded PhD, and have taken some periods out of my studies to work at YouGov."
Joe Greenwood, MA Political Behaviour, 2012
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 Paul Whiteley, who works on British elections, and Professor Lawrence Ezrow, who works on party ideology and strategy.
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.
- 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
All Essex politics graduates have the distinction of a qualification from one of the world’s leading politics departments.
Our course can lead to a career in the polling industry, market research, British and European Politics or the private sector. You will develop key employability skills including analytical reasoning, survey design, polling, research design, and report writing.
Recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations:
- The Civil Service
- Local government
- The World Bank
- The United Nations
- YouGov and YouGov America
We also 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.
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.
One Masters not enough for you?
We offer a number of postgraduate taught double degrees with our international partners. You work for two Masters degrees, one at Essex and another at a prestigious university across the globe, gaining them both in a shorter time than studying them separately. This unique opportunity gives you a competitive edge when applying for jobs or prepares you for PhD study.
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.
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.
English language 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.