Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

Social and Political Theory

This Master's degree in politics explores pressing contemporary issues using political theory and sociology. Our focus is on the nature and workings of political power and authority and we will consider the relationships between states and societies and the place of politics and power in everyday life. As well as reading key classical texts of political theory and sociological analysis, we also analyse real-world contemporary problems and address fundamental questions of political power and social order. Topics studied include sovereignty, territory and state building, property and law, the legitimacy of political authority, democracy, violence and pluralism. As well as choosing option modules from the Department of Politics, you can select options from the Department of Psychosocial Studies and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, thus offering you access to historical and psychosocial approaches to theory, politics and the social sciences. The core modules will give you the theoretical framework and confidence to explore and deepen your knowledge in the subjects you are most interested in. You will examine political power, how it originates and operates at an individual, social and political level, its relationship to sovereignty and the state, and how it intersects with issues such as justice and human rights, civil identity, democracy and economics. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to study politics at postgraduate level.

Course modules

You take 2 core modules, 2 option modules and either write a dissertation or prepare a research portfolio. The core modules in social and political theory are intended to provide the main theoretical framework for the programme and give the student cohort a sense of intellectual identity. Option modules are available in a wide range of subjects from the Departments of Politics, Psychosocial Studies and History, Classics and Archaeology. They include: International relations and international security; War, conflict, nationalism, politics and religion; 'Race', racism, postcoloniality; Culture, community, identity; Lacanian psychoanalysis - theory and practice; Sexing the body - psychoanalytic and other framings; Visual culture: power and the image; Gender, space and time. Core modules: Political Sociology; Political Theory and Contemporary Politics. MSc Social and Political Theory dissertation: Dissertation MSc Social and Political Theory.

Assessment methods

Core modules assessed by written examinations; option modules assessed by coursework and examinations. There is a dissertation or a research portfolio element.

Sponsorship information

The course is recognised for tenure of Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentships for full-time students; for UK or EU applicants intending to pursue research, ESRC studentships (1 year for the master's programme followed by 3 years of funding for research) may be available for candidates with a strong academic background.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MSc Full-time October 2018 GBP 14,450 per Year 1 (International) 1 Years
MSc Full-time October 2018 GBP 7,950 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 1 Years
MSc Part-time October 2018 GBP 7,225 per Year 1 (International) 2 Years
MSc Part-time October 2018 GBP 3,975 per Year 1 (Home/EU) 2 Years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus WC1E 7HX London

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Key information

Department of Politics
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