Study with us

Studying in the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began (REF 2014) will equip you with the knowledge and skills to go into a number of careers. The support you receive from our staff enables you to thrive and achieve your best.

Our Department offers a broad set of undergraduate, Masters and postgraduate research courses and a large number of modules, giving you the choice to specialise in your area of interest. We focus on developing analytical, rhetoric, and communicative skills and integrating you into the research process.

Our consistently high results in the National Student Satisfaction survey are testimony to the dedication our staff give to our students and their teaching and learning. We are also ranked among the top 50 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2017).

In this video, Rt Hon Dr John Bercow MP reflects on his time at Essex.

Rt Hon Dr John Bercow MP, Essex graduate and Speaker of the House of Commons from University of Essex on Vimeo.

  • Why study political science?

    Political science is an exciting subject with both deep historical roots and enduring contemporary relevance and global importance. Understanding what, when, and how governments decide is interesting in itself; political decisions shape key current and future events, exert a major influence on the life and welfare of all individuals, determine the social and political institutions and shape the future of societies.

    Governments make life-changing decisions over war and peace and ultimately affect the survival of mankind in a changing environment. Governments have recently faced key common challenges such as preventing a meltdown of the global financial system, dealing with climate change and the possible proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons to terrorist groups.

    Many governments were also involved with allowing same-sex marriages, legalising soft drugs, increasing the pension age, improving or maintaining health care, and regulating global migration streams.

    The study of politics offers opportunities for fascinating professional careers in social science research, public administration, national governmental, international and non-governmental organisations, lobbies and interest-groups and social movements, private corporations and many other areas.

  • Why study with us?

    Research-led teaching

    We are top in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014) and our Department staff include distinguished researchers in many fields at the cutting edge of modern political science, and who contribute to the global discussion of relevant issues and shape the study of politics.

    Our research and modules are closely linked. We see the principle of learning-by-doing through research-led teaching as essential to university education. We teach both our undergraduate and graduate students using collaborative research projects. We include you in our research whilst enabling you to conduct your own research. We are also ranked among the top hundred departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings

    A significant amount of teaching is lab-based and we also engage our students in research projects funded by bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Research Council and by private funders.

    Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis

    Our research is at the forefront of developing and applying quantitative and qualitative methods in political science. We organise the Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis and incorporate these modules into our teaching. The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research.

    Training social scientists for the future

    Essex is one of just three universities in the country to have received Q-Step Affiliate status for our social science courses.

    The UK has a shortage of social scientists with advanced maths and statistical skills. As part of Q-Step, you can opt to take a specialised degree pathway in applied quantitative methods, take paid work placements and receive bursaries, giving you the skills that employers are looking for.

  • Internships, skills training and career opportunities

    You have the opportunity to develop and improve your skills through real-life work experience, including internships with survey and market-research companies. This training and research experience has enabled our students to secure positions in academic and non-academic institutions, including the World Bank, the European Central Bank, the United Nations Development Program, NATO, the Labour Party, YouGov, ICM, Oxford University, and University College London (UCL).

    We have also developed a series of modules that aim to provide you with the skills necessary for professional jobs and research. In recent years, our graduates who have participated in research-led teaching modules have found employment with leading market research firms or have gone on to leading postgraduate institutions including Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard.


  • Visiting us from abroad

    We welcome students from international universities who wish to study abroad at Essex for a year or part of a year (i.e. without registering for a University of Essex degree).

    Pattern of studies

    Study Abroad at Essex students normally come to the University for one of the following time periods:

    • the full academic year: early October to late June;
    • autumn term: early October to mid December; or
    • spring and summer terms: mid January to late June.

    All undergraduate politics modules are open to Study Abroad students if the pre-requisites, equivalent to those at Essex, are judged to have been met. You are welcome to enrol for any of the modules listed in the module directory. Please note postgraduate modules are not open to Study Abroad students.

    Teaching and assessment are exactly the same as for students registered for University of Essex degrees. If you are not with us for the whole of the academic year, special assessment arrangements are made if necessary. Special assessment arrangements are approved by the University's Study Abroad Office in consultation with our Department.

Q-Step Affiliate status

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We are one of three universities in the UK to receive Q-Step Affiliate status, meaning you can develop your quantitative skills by taking a specialised degree pathway or receiving a student bursary to go on a quantitative work placement.

One Masters not enough?

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We offer postgraduate taught double degrees with our international partners. These degrees are 1+1 progression arrangements where you work for two Master’s degrees, one at Essex and another at a prestigious university across the globe.

Best in Britain

Downing Street

Results from the Research Excellence Framework 2014 have ranked our politics research as the best in Britain, with the majority of our research rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Learn languages

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All our students can learn languages in a number of ways, including as part of your degree, in evening classes or online at no extra cost, or via Essex Modern Language Certificates.