Postgraduate Course

MA Social and Political Thought

MA Social and Political Thought

Overview

The details
Social and Political Thought
October 2024
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

We live in a world of social and political upheaval. Faced with multiple crisis – of the environment, of democracy, of war and peace, of poverty among plenty, of facing up to colonialism and structural racism – it is high time to gain better comprehension of our social and political world, and find new solutions. But just as the problems do not come neatly packaged in disciplines, the solutions won't either.

This interdisciplinary MA allows you to draw on Essex's strengths in social and political theory, from critical theory to ideology discourse analysis, from human rights to the sociology of migration, from intergenerational justice to environmental philosophy, from psychoanalytic approaches to theories of justice. Combining compulsory and optional modules from both the humanities and the social sciences, MA Social and Political Thought will equip you to see the world in a new way and to change it for the better.

We are involved in many exciting and interdisciplinary research projects, and have active links with other areas including Political Science, Law, Sociology, Psychoanalysis, and Art History. We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).

Why we're great.
  • We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy
  • Tailor your course to focus on continental philosophy, critical social theory, psychoanalysis, or art history
  • We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021)

Our expert staff

Our courses are taught by world-class academics and we are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).

Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff are known for our unique combination of Anglo-American and European philosophy, and as a leading centre for critical theory, phenomenology, German idealism and medical humanities. Some recent projects and publications include:

  • Timo Jütten's major new Leverhulme-funded research project, Competition and Competitiveness
  • Irene ene McMullin's Existential Flourishing: A Phenomenology of the Virtues (Cambridge, 2018)
  • Steve Gormley's Deliberative Theory and Deconstruction: A Democratic Venture (Edinburgh, 2020)

Specialist facilities

  • Graduate students have access to desk space in the School and many students work there on a daily basis
  • Attend our Critical Theory Colloquium
  • Attend the Werkstatt, where recent work on phenomenology is presented
  • An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
  • Access a variety of philosophy textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library and in our departmental library

Your future

Many of our philosophy graduates embark on doctoral study after finishing their MA. We offer supervision for PhDs in a range of fields including:

  • Continental philosophy
  • Critical Social Theory
  • History of philosophy
  • Applied ethics

Our graduates have also gone into careers in law, the media, local administration, HM Revenue and Customs, and top jobs in the Civil Service.

We work with the university's Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Foreign Languages (must include an essay writing component)
  • Literature
  • History
  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Sociology

We will also consider applicants with any other 2:2 degree or above where there is significant work experience in education, law, libraries, media, journalism, civil service, research or other related fields.

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 component score of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other 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.

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 and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, 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: COMPULSORY

Dissertation: Social and Political Thought
(80 CREDITS)

This module provides the opportunity for you to undertake a longer independent research project that caps off your MA studies, and, often, is a stepping stone for PhD studies. You will be supported in identifying a suitable topic (and title) by the PGT Director (Philosophy) and the academic staff member who has agreed to act as your supervisor.

View Dissertation: Social and Political Thought on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Contemporary Political Philosophy
(20 CREDITS)

How should theory and theorists relate to real politics? What are the competing approaches in contemporary philosophy? What are the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches? How do these approaches relate to each other? In this term, we start with scrutinizing the assumptions underpinning the dominant approach in contemporary political philosophy, the liberal, ideal theoretical approach shaped by John Rawls, to then consider a range of alternative ways of doing political philosophy.

View Contemporary Political Philosophy on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Contemporary Critical Theory
(20 CREDITS)

What is ‘critical theory’? At one level, it is a tradition that can be traced back to ‘Frankfurt School’ thinkers such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. But the term has also come to be used more broadly, to encompass independent traditions of thought such as (certain strands within) feminism, anti-racism, post-colonialism and queer theory. This course aims to give a ‘critical’ introduction to critical theory, looking beyond the canon in order to come to a deeper understanding of critical theory and its limits.

View Contemporary Critical Theory on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

The Frankfurt School
(20 CREDITS)

Discover what is probably the most influential and significant tradition of critical social philosophy to have emerged within twentieth-century European philosophy: The Frankfurt School. The module takes either the form of concentrating on some of the leading figures (such as Adorno and Horkheimer, or Habermas, or Honneth), or focusing on specific themes such as alienation, reification, social pathology, progress, capitalism or social freedom. The exact focus will vary from year to year.

View The Frankfurt School on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(40 CREDITS)

Teaching

Postgraduate students in the School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies usually attend a one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar for each module each week or workshops.

  • Your modules, followed during the autumn and spring terms, generally consist of two-hour seminars
  • Modules include introductions to the topic by your tutor, presentations by you and discussions based on a programme of reading
  • We host annual mini-courses in areas of philosophy, given by visiting speakers of international reputation, which are specifically designed for our postgraduates
  • We run a number of mini-courses, seminars and conferences that our postgraduates are encouraged to attend

Assessment

  • Assessment is normally on the basis of coursework.

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)

  • Saturday 15 June 2024 - June Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

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.

Ask us a question
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch with us on live chat!