Postgraduate Course

MSc Political Science

MSc Political Science

Overview

The details
Political Science
October 2024
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus
Government

How do political scientists explain political outcomes? How does normative theory inform the way researchers approach their work? How do political science approaches differ from historical accounts of political phenomenon? How can political science be used to analyse the real world?

Our MSc Political Science gives a general overview of such topics, and as our most flexible postgraduate course offers you a very wide choice of optional modules. You explore the main theoretical approaches to the study of politics and look at what the basic theoretical framework required to conduct research in political science is.

Your optional modules may cover topics including:

  • Survey measurement and research methods
  • The economy and the state
  • Democracies in Europe
  • Theories of justice
  • Conflict resolution

Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are 6th in UK for research power in politics and international studies (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

With this course you also have the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner institutions and achieve a dual award, which means you'll receive two Masters degrees in two years. Find out more on our dual award webpage.

Why we're great.
  • Stretch yourself on our most flexible politics course, taking advantage of our widest range of optional modules
  • Answer some of the most crucial questions in social and political thought
  • Gain unrivalled one-to-one access to the best minds in politics – our department is ranked 6th in UK for research power in politics and international studies (Times Higher Education research power measure, Research Excellence Framework 2021).

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.

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

Your future

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

Our graduates from this course can expect to find jobs in market research, the media and central or local government. It also provides a foundation for further research in political science. You will gain key employability skills such as analytical reasoning, 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
  • NATO
  • 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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2.2 degree in American Studies, Economics, Finance, International Relations, International Studies, Political Science, Political Studies, Statistics, or United States Politics.

OR

A 2.2 degree in any subject which includes study in two relevant modules. Relevant modules include, but are not limited to:

  • Comparative Political Systems
  • Constitutional Democracy
  • Contemporary World Affairs
  • Current Affairs
  • Democratic Theory
  • Econometrics
  • European Integration/Dynamics of Integration
  • Foreign Policy/Comparative Foreign Policy
  • Game Theory
  • Governmental Processes/Systems
  • Human Rights
  • Ideology and Political Analysis
  • International Economic Law
  • International Economic Relations
  • International Trade/Business Law
  • International Law
  • International Public Relations
  • International Security
  • International Trade/Business Law
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Micro/Macro Economics
  • Peace Studies
  • Philosophy(MA Political Theory only)
  • Political Conflict
  • Political Decision Making
  • Political Economy
  • Political Sociology
  • Political Studies
  • Public Administration
  • Public International Law
  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Security Studies
  • Strategic Studies
  • Terrorism
  • Theories of Development

The following may also be considered:

  • Applicants with a degree in an unrelated subject and have at least 5 years of work experience such as working with a NGO, UN, or government. Please provide your CV.
  • Applicants with a lower class degree where relevant modules have been studied with marks of 2:2 or above.
  • Applicants who have achieved a first class degree in any subject.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements


If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum score of 5.5 in all components.

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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

The MSc also contains the GV903 Advanced Research Methods core module. We recommend the MSc to applicants who have already received basic statistical training in their undergraduate course. Choose the (otherwise identical) MA instead if you have not had an introduction to statistics.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

MA Dissertation
(60 CREDITS)

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 10,000 words, which is due at the end of the summer.

View MA Dissertation on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis II
(15 CREDITS)

This module starts with a refresher on linear regression before delving into more advanced methods, both theoretically and practically. You will start with the assumptions that go into linear regressions, learning to analyse whether each assumption holds and considering how our results are impacted when they do not. The remainder of the module will focus on more advanced statistical methods with a focus on two broad categories. The first will be models for analysing non-continuous dependent variables, including binary, categorical and ordinal dependent variables. You will also spend some time looking at causal inference methods and analysis, using both observational and experimental data.

View Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis II on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Research Design
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Research Design on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis I
(15 CREDITS)

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 R, 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.   

View Introduction to Quantitative Methods and Data Analysis I on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Applied Research Design
(15 CREDITS)

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.

View Applied Research Design on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Government option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: OPTIONAL

Government option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

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

Postgraduate students in the Department of Government generally have a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar for each module every week or a two-hour seminar (in the case of smaller modules), but there are variations in place depending on the module.

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

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£10,000

International fee

£21,700

What's next

Open Days

We hold 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.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of 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. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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