Political Science MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£12,750 (Total)
International fees
£24,500 (Total)

Course overview

Students working on a laptop in a cafe

The MSc in Political Science is designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to become a confident researcher, capable of taking leadership over societal responses to political and social challenges – whether working in governments, global institutions, NGOs, or in the media.

The course will provide you with the intellectual resources needed to understand and respond to the phenomena that give rise to the current local, national and global political challenges that we face, and will develop your ability to investigate and uncover the underlying social and political dynamics that have led to the formation of these political challenges and potentially, the key to their resolution.

The course will also prepare you for future doctoral study, should you be interested in taking your research interests to the next level.

Tailor your course

Reflecting the dynamic field of political science, this course has three compulsory modules. The rest of your credits are selected from a list of optional modules. This allows you to benefit from our specialisms – either focusing on a particular subject you're passionate about or choosing modules from across the areas for a breadth of knowledge.

Our teaching in these areas is enriched by the practical experience and innovative research of staff in the Centre for Democratic Politics and the Centre for Global Security Challenges.

Research expertise

As a student of MSc Political Science, you’ll be part of our wider research community. You’ll be strongly encouraged to engage with our research centres to facilitate the development of your skills within a supportive and nurturing research environment. Our research centres – the Centre for Democratic Politics, the Centre for Global Development, the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the Centre for Global Security Challenges, the Centre for Contemporary Political Theory, and the Centre for Teaching Innovation and Scholarship – offer you the opportunity to become involved with the research process and political engagement that serves as the foundation for the teaching across all our modules.

School of Politics and International Studies

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Course details

This programme gives students a comprehensive grounding in the research methods and statistical analyses used across the social sciences and in political science more specifically. Students will learn how to collect and analyse data from sources such as individuals, traditional and social media, and party platforms amongst others. Those analyses can be used to inform debates and policy formation on a variety of the challenges we face at the local, national, and international levels.

Our module leaders intersect their expertise on substantive issues with their analytical skills to ensure that all skills are taught in the context of politically relevant topics that directly engage with the local, national and global challenges that are prominently covered in local and national media on a daily basis.

You’ll have the opportunity to devise your own unique pathway through this course by pursuing a combination of research skills training and subject-specific content that best meets your needs and curiosity. This course provides you with the opportunity to put your newly acquired skills into practice in the MSc dissertation module where you will personally conduct your own research on a topic of choice.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Compulsory modules

Analysing Data in Political Science (30 credits)

This module is designed to introduce you to the statistical methodologies used by social scientists and policy researchers. Using politically and socially relevant datasets, you will be trained to understand, conduct and apply technically advanced statistical methods to many social and political issues. The module moves from basic descriptive analysis through measures of association and concludes with multivariate techniques. The module will also introduce you to visual presentation of your statistical findings. The skills developed on this module are applicable both for academic research and in any subsequent careers where data analysis is applicable.

Research Design in Political Science (30 credits)

This module will show you how to design a research project in political science. It focuses on scientific methods – or, to put it another way, methods that are replicable, falsifiable, precise and avoid needless complication. You’ll focus on answering questions that are politically relevant, learning how to formulate a research question, design a project that starts to answer it and how to gather the relevant data. A mix of lectures, seminars and workshops will teach you how to evaluate and design research projects in social sciences.

Dissertation in Political Science (60 credits)

The MSc Dissertation module provides you the opportunity and means to apply the academic knowledge and research training gained on your programme. You will develop an individual programme of research over several months, using this opportunity to either expand on ideas covered as part of your coursework or to delve into a new topic of interest. Over the course of this module, you will produce a piece of data-driven, empirical research of demonstrable relevance to the field of political science. You will work under the guidance of an allocated supervisor who will support you throughout the research process.

Optional modules

You will study 60 credits from the modules below:

Politics, Media and Democratic Engagement (30 credits)

This module looks at the contradictions of today’s media landscape – one that is seeing traditional print and broadcast media challenged by new media platforms. It examines the role mainstream media should play during democratic transition, whether new ways of communicating empower citizens, how “citizen journalism” affects democratic politics, and whether traditional media is declining in importance. It also considers several other topics such as the response of authoritarian regimes to new media, the impact of “fake news”, and the connection between new media and populism, the alt-right and radical grassroots movements.

Terrorism (30 credits)

In this module you will gain a nuanced understanding of the issue of terrorism – and the challenges we face when attempting to define the term. You will assess the possible causes of terrorism, and the relationship between media and terrorism as an act of communication. You will also examine how organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS differ from their predecessors.

Other topics of discussion in this module include terrorist tactics, which in turn let you consider the rationality of terrorism and the threat it poses. You will gain a better understanding of debates on how effective counterterrorism is and explore ‘new’ avenues in terrorism research.

Counterterrorism (30 credits)

This module will give you an advanced understanding of the issue of terrorism, and the problems we face in responding to it. You will examine different examples of counterterrorism across history and you will be equipped with the tools to evaluate different responses, on both a national and international level. You will also gain a deeper understanding of the influences – both political and institutional – that shape counterterrorism policy, as well as how counterterrorism measures shape the use of terrorist violence by non-state actors.

Elections and Voters (30 credits)

This module explores the different theories used in psephology – the study of voting behaviour – and how we can use them to model the choices of individual voters. It examines different explanations of how we make choices in elections and process information, as well as contemporary voting developments like polarization, disengagement, and populism.

Considering influences on voting such as campaigns, electoral systems, and party systems, you’ll work to construct a “full model” of voting that can be used in any competitive electoral race. Your studies will examine both archetypal post-war elections and “unique” examples, such as the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump.

Learning and teaching

We use a variety of teaching and learning methods to help you make the most of your studies. These will include lectures, seminars and online learning. You will be expected to do a significant amount of preparatory reading before each session, and emphasis will be on student-led discussions to build critical and reflective confidence in a group environment.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Modules are assessed through the practical application of research skills in literature reviews, research reports and research proposals. At the end of your studies, a 12,000-word dissertation will allow you to pursue your own research interest under close supervision by one of our expert colleagues.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or a non-UK equivalent in a social science, humanities, or other related discipline. Relevant experience will also be taken into account.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component . For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Politics and Society (6 weeks) and Language for Social Sciences and Arts: Politics and Society (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

International – Friday 28 June 2024

UK – Friday 16 August 2024

If you intend to apply for funding, you should submit an application for a place on your chosen course at least one month before any specific scholarship deadline.

Documents and information you will need include:

  • original or certified copies of your transcripts

  • original or certified copies of your degree certificate

  • original or certified copy of your IELTS/TOEFL results (if English is not your first language).

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Politics and International Studies

Email: pgpolis@leeds.ac.uk


UK: £12,750 (Total)

International: £24,500 (Total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

The School usually offers a number of scholarships each year. Find out more about our scholarship opportunities.

Career opportunities

As a graduate, you’ll be well placed to pursue a wide array of careers including in the third sector; in local, national, and international governance; in economic, social, and political think tanks; and in private enterprise. This course is also ideally structured to provide you with the skills needed to pursue a PhD in any social and political research area.

Careers support

The School of Politics and International Studies has a dedicated Careers Consultant who is on-hand throughout the year to support and advise you in regards to your career. The School also arranges a number of guest speaker events where you are able to engage with prospective employers, and hear from leading figures in the field.

Find out more about how we support your career development

In addition to the School-specific careers support, you will also have access to the University’s award-winning Careers Service. The Careers Service offers one-to-one appointments, advice on starting your own business, careers events, mentoring schemes and support with your CV, applications and interviews.

Find out more about the Careers Service