Political Science

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Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
Political Science
University of Essex
University of Essex
Colchester Campus
Full-time or part-time
MA L20012

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

You will need a degree with an overall high 2.2 in Political Science, International Relations, American Studies, United States Politics, Business - ( finance related), Economics or Statistics.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

We will accept applicants with a degree in an unrelated field but you must have studied at least two relevant modules with marks of at least 58% in the final two years of study. Relevant modules include, but are not limited to:

Comparative Political Systems, Constitutional Democracy, Contemporary World Affairs, Democratic Theory, Econometrics, European Integration, Foreign Policy, Game Theory, Governmental processes, Human Rights, Ideology & Political Analysis, International Economic Law, International Economic Relations, International Trade/Business Law, International Law, International Public Relations, International Security, Law of Armed Conflict, Micro/Macro Economics, Peace Studies, Political Conflict, Political Decision Making, Political Economy, Political Sociology, Public Administration, Public International Law, Public Policy Analysis, Quantitative reasoning, Strategic Studies, Theories of Development, Current Affairs, Political Economy, Terrorism, Security Studies.

We will also consider applicants with a non relevant degree but at least six months relevant work experience such as working with a NGO.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

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.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Dr Nicholas Walter Vivyan

Senior Lecturer

University of Durham

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 27 January 2020 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 GV993-7-FY MA Dissertation Core 60 Compulsory
02 GV900-7-FY or GV903-7-FY Compulsory with Options 30 Compulsory Optional
03 GV958-7-FY Theory and Explanation in Political Science Core 30 Core Optional
04 Government option(s) from list Optional 30 Optional Optional
05 Government option(s) from list Optional 30 Optional Optional

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

- To develop a systematic knowledge and understanding of the conceptual foundations of the discipline of political science.
- To promote the critical use of evidence, and the effective application of quantitative methods of political analysis.
- To develop a capacity for independent study and research, including a critical awareness of research design.
- To provide the opportunity, through a range of options, to study sub-disciplinary and/or area-oriented fields in depth.
- To develop a capacity to make coherent and reflective argument, and to present and communicate ideas effectively.
- To enhance the analytical and evaluative skills required for personal and professional development, and for successful employment or further study.

What is the difference between the MA and the MSc variants?
The difference is determined by the methods module you take – Political Explanation (GV900) for the MA and Advanced Research Methods (GV903) for the MSc.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1: Advanced knowledge of different modes of explanation and theoretical perspectives in political science and political theory at an appropriate level.

A2: Understanding of the main quantitative methods used in political analysis.

A3: Critical awareness of the use of evidence in political science.

A4: Knowledge of the main research findings, and main developments and debates in one or more sub-disciplinary or area-oriented fields.

A5: Systematic knowledge of the relevant sources of information.

Learning methods

A1-5 Lectures, participation in and presentations to seminars and classes, writing essays and dissertation, oral and written feedback on essays.

A1 specifically in GV958 Theory and Explanation in Political Science.

A2 specifically in GV900 Political Explanation or GV903 Advanced Research Methods.

A3 specifically in GV900, GV958 and in supervision of individual dissertations.

A4 specifically in options chosen in consultation with Scheme Director.

A5 specifically in independent learning.

Assessment methods

Taught modules assessed 50/50 by continuous assessment through written assignments and essays, and (potentially) three-hour closed examinations at end of the modules.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: To question received thinking.

B2: To develop independent thinking.

B3: To muster evidence.

B4: To evaluate and analyse evidence.

B5: To reason critically.

B6: To argue coherently and concisely.

B7: To communicate ideas effectively in writing.

B8: To carry out independent research.

Learning methods

B1-7 participation in and presentations to seminars and classes, individual guidance on researching and writing essays, oral and written feedback on essays, individual interviews and group sessions with Study Skills Officer

B4 especially in GV900 Political Explanation or GV903 Advanced Research Methods.

Assessment methods

B1-7. written assignments and essays, written examinations

B8. the dissertation.

C: Practical skills

C1: Organize and structure an extended argument.

C2: Use concepts correctly.

C3: Compile systematic bibliographies.

C4: Provide references according to accepted conventions.

C5: Use libraries and IT to access information and scholarly resources.

C6: Sift and synthesize complex information.

Learning methods

C1-6 participation in and presentations to seminars and classes, individual guidance for essays, individual supervision of dissertations, oral and written feedback on class presentations and essays.

C5 specifically in induction sessions for library use.

Assessment methods

C1-6. written assignments and essays, closed examinations, supervised dissertation.

C1 especially in dissertation.

C3-6 specifically in essays and dissertation.

C2 essays, examinations, and dissertation.

D: Key skills

D1: Clear, focused, relevant and effective expression and communication.

D2: Access and organise information from a variety of electronic sources.

D3: Apply statistical methods.

D4: To manage projects and timetables. To find, understand and organise information. To work with ideas.

D6: Positive response to feedback and criticism.

Learning methods

D1-5 participation in and presentations to seminars and classes, written assignments and essays, dissertation.

D3 specifically in GV900 Political Explanation / GV903 Advanced Research Methods.

D4 specifically in scheduling and balancing requirements for four courses taught in parallel.

D6 specifically in individual guidance on essays, oral and written feedback on essays.

Assessment methods

D1-4. written assignments and essays, examinations, dissertation D6 classroom presentations, written assignments and essays.


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 a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 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.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: crt@essex.ac.uk.