Students Staff

Masters courses

Conflict resolution

conflict resolution

International conflict resolution is an ever evolving field. Explore methods such as mediation, negotiation, arbitration, collaborative problem solving and peacekeeping operations in our MA/MSc 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 rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and are ranked among the top 50 departments on the planet according to the QS World University Rankings (2017).

We have consistently been the highest rated politics department in the country since national assessments began. Some of the biggest names in the field work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds in politics.

Your postgraduate study at Essex gives you an opportunity to develop your own ideas and interests, and to engage with thinking at the leading edge of your subject as part of the research community in our Department of Government, and our wider academic and professional community.

As a student of politics your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes. Some statistical modules will include computer-lab classes. Assessment for modules taught by the Department of Government includes written coursework, assignments, end of term tests and an exam at the end of the year. Your grade for each module is calculated with a 50 per cent weighting for both coursework and exam. During the summer, you will work on a dissertation that’s included in your final grade. Our postgraduate teaching is organised into the following research divisions:

We also offer generalist postgraduate programmes in politics. You are free to combine all our courses with a specialisation in quantitative research methods.

MA, MSc or MRes course?

Our MSc courses are ideal if you have a solid background in the statistical methods, whereas MA variants do not assume any prior training in statistics. Both courses train you to understand current political science reach and to undertake independent theoretical and empirical research projects.

The MRes is a two-year programme and offers additional training in research design and methods, with special emphasis on developing theories and conduct research using appropriate methods. The MRes is recommended if you already know that you will pursue a PhD.

One Masters not enough for you?

We offer a number of 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.

Normally, a single Masters degree in Europe would take you two years to complete. Our double degrees allow you to gain two Masters in two years, a year less than studying them separately.

This unique opportunity gives you experience of different cultures, preparing you for an international career, or for a PhD. You also gain a competitive edge when applying for jobs once you leave Essex.

Our double degrees in the Department of Government are joint with a number of universities, including Kobe University in Japan and University of Konstanz in Germany. To find out more, contact Ben Taylor at

Graduate diploma

  • Graduate Diploma Politics

    The Graduate Diploma Politics is a nine-month course primarily designed to provide a foundation for Masters-level study in politics. It aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the major conceptual and theoretical foundations of the discipline of political science.

MA and MSc courses

  • MA/MSc Political Science

    Our MA or MSc Political Science gives a comprehensive overview of how political scientists explain political outcomes, how normative theory informs empirical research and how political science can be used to explain the real world. The MSc is designed for those who already have a solid background in approaches and methods. ESRC funding is available for these courses.

  • MA Politics

    This course is academically rigorous but uniquely offers a flexible choice of modules. There are no compulsory modules so you can structure your Masters to the areas that interest you. For example, you can choose modules that are more practical, such as data management, conflict resolution or political behaviour, but you still have the option to take more theoretical modules if you wish.

  • MA/MSc Conflict Resolution

    We’re world leaders in political science, asking difficult questions to find important answers. How do you put an end to armed conflict? What are the benefits and consequences of intervention? What role do non-governmental organisations play in the prevention and resolution of conflict? Is immigration linked to terrorism? Does climate change affect transnational migration patterns?

    Our course helps you understand the evolving field of conflict resolution, exploring the causes and effects of destructive conflict across the world, and scrutinising the theory and practice of how it can be managed peacefully. We encourage you to experience the practical and theoretical application of these topics, and you’ll be given the opportunity to engage with both real cases of international conflict, and to make use of web-assisted learning, simulations, and challenging role-playing exercises.

    MA or MSc?

    You don’t need a statistical background to study our MA – we’ll introduce you to research methods and teach you how use them throughout your studies.

    Our MSc is ideal if you have a statistical background and want to learn advanced quantitative skills.

  • MA United States Politics

    The US is the most important player on the planet – and its politics are currently under more scrutiny than ever. This Masters course allows you to study those politics at an advanced level in the UK’s top-ranked political science department.

  • MA/MSc Global and Comparative Politics

    This course is designed to provide you with a general overview of classic topics as well as contemporary debates in the field of global and comparative politics.

  • MA Ideology and Discourse Analysis

    How do ideologies form and sustain political identities? What are the main ideologies and political discourses that frame and organise our lives today? This course attempts to answer some of these key questions. ESRC funding is available for these courses.

  • MA/MSc International Relations

    MA/MSc International Relations focuses on general theoretical perspectives of the disciplines and provides you with the tools to understand historical and contemporary events by placing these within an analytical framework. ESRC funding is available for these courses.

  • MA/MSc Political Economy

    The scheme covers all aspects of modern political economy including market failure, the political logic of policy choices, and the trade-off between different political goals. ESRC funding is available for these courses.

  • MA Political Theory

    How are we to understand political life as the expression of violence, tradition, domination, the search for freedom, the struggle for equality? How should we think about democracy as the participation of citizens, the contest of representatives or the search for a common good through deliberation? What is justice equality for all human beings, solidarity among some human beings or the free play of personal choice?

  • MA/MSc Public Opinion and Political Behaviour

    Politicians care about public opinion. Surveys provide political headlines and are increasingly used in political strategising and campaigning; but how do they work and what are their limitations? How do citizens acquire information and convert it into opinions? Can Politicians and the media influence public opinion and if so, how?

MRes courses

  • MRes International Relations

    This course offers excellent PhD preparation and gives you additional training in research design and research methods compared to an MSc or MA, and familiarises you with theories and conceptual tools used to analyse world politics and explore how different theories and conceptual tools speak to contemporary debates and events.

  • MRes Political Economy

    If you're interested in how institutions shape the behaviour of political actors and how political decisions influence markets and vice versa, then you will profit from our course. Moreover, our MRes Political Economy offers excellent preparation for PhD study by combining substantive political economy modules with additional training in research design and research methods.

  • MRes Political Science

    How do political scientists explain political outcomes? How can political science be used to analyse the real world? Our MRes gives you additional rigorous training in research design and methods compared to an MSc or MA, preparing you for PhD research in any sub-field of political science.

Support if English is not your first language

If you don't meet the postgraduate entry requirements to study a Masters with us, our Essex Pathways Department offers a pre-Masters course with extra language and subject support that can assist your entry to a research course.

Prize for Best Postgraduate Student

In recognition of the hard work and dedication our students put into their studies, we offer a prize (the Eric Tanenbaum Prize) of £100 for the best postgraduate student. It is awarded for excellent coursework, exam and dissertation grades.

Read our blog

Two students

Want to find out about student life at Essex and in our Department? Read our blog to hear our students talk about their experiences, tips and views on the political issues of today.

Masters funding

Graduate in gown

Stand out from the crowd in the job market with a Masters. It could be more affordable than you think thanks to our range of Masters scholarships and funding, including our discount for Essex alumni.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

How to apply

How to apply

Find out more about how to apply for a course in our Department of Government. We can provide help and advice, and guide you through the application process.