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MA Political Theory

Learn to think in different ways about the deepest questions and problems of political life.

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

Online Open Day

Join us on Wednesday 5 June 2024 to find out what postgraduate study at York is all about. 

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Address some of the most pressing questions in political life.

What is politics for - to bring real freedom and equality for all, or to prevent human beings from killing one another in large numbers? What do we owe the global poor? Can we close our borders? Where does power lie in democracies?

On this course, you’ll explore these topics in greater depth and from different perspectives. The course draws on our internationally-recognised teaching and research strengths in analytical political philosophy, intellectual history and critical theory.

You'll be encouraged to attend regular research seminars, where the best current work in political theory is presented by staff and eminent guest speakers from all over the world.

Outstanding research

Department of Politics and International Relations is ranked in the UK top ten for the quality of our research outputs and our research environment in the Times Higher Education's ranking of the latest REF results (2021)

Spanning the discipline

From early modern political thought to contemporary international security, from the politics of gender to the politics of the environment, you can benefit from expertise on a huge range of topics

Experts on the global stage

Our staff advise governments and international organisations on a wide range of issues, and contribute to news media and current affairs programmes around the world

Course content

You'll study 180 credits in total. The course consists of:

  • core modules
  • option modules 
  • independent research dissertation 

Option modules cover a wide range of topics, including toleration, continental political theory, legal theory and political integrity.

Taught modules will run throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms, with the dissertation being completed during the Summer Term and vacation.


You'll complete a 10-12,000-word dissertation, allowing you to apply the relevant method to a problem of your choosing.

Examples of previous dissertation titles include:

  • An exploration of the philosophical arguments for and against same-sex marriage and a comparison of the political and legal underpinning of same-sex marriage laws in the United Kingdom and United States
  • Prohibition and Liberty: Is the prohibition of drugs compatible with a commitment to liberalism?
  • The Depoliticization of Unhappiness: Political Agency in the Age of Mental Depression
  • Muslims in The Sun: The representation of Islam in the UK's best-selling newspaper
  • Education for the liberal agent: A justification for comprehensive liberalism in education
  • Is global warming genocide?
  • Freedom, the market and citizenship: neo-Roman Republicanism and the prospect of a civic economy
  • Poverty and perception. How can ethics bring the global poor into view?
  • An open Marxist feminism: gendered identities and the gendered division of labour
  • What are young citizen's attitudes to gender norms in general and to masculinity in particular?
  • On legality and violence: reflections on Carl Schmitt and Walter Benjamin
  • On children's rights. Is it reasonable to extend human rights to children?
  • Toleration: An ethic of the passions. A discussion on love as a political virtue
  • Superfluous Men and Bare Life (A Dialogue between Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben)

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and critical awareness of problems and debates in political theory and its history, including normative and conceptual debates over key concepts and theories with reference to contrasting schools of political thought. [Skill: knowledge base]
  • Identify different approaches to political theory, including critical, historical, and analytical approaches, and the ways in which these are used by a range of political theorists. [Skill: evaluation]
  • Identify and employ different methodologies of research and enquiry to create and interpret knowledge in political theory. [Skill: disciplinary methodologies]
  • Critically analyse advanced scholarship in the discipline, evaluating and deploying established methods of political theory. [Skills: analysis/application]
  • Produce original research through the formulation of research questions, identifying and locating appropriate resources, responding effectively to existing literature, developing original and convincing theoretical arguments and successfully communicate their ideas. [Skills: autonomy/management of information/communication]
  • Demonstrate awareness of differences in intellectual viewpoints, and the benefits of learning from these, through critically responding to both long-standing and recently developed arguments in political theory. [Skills: interpersonal and professional].

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

You may incur some additional expenses for books, but these costs are optional as most of the texts you'll need are available in the University library. If the resources you need aren't available, you can borrow via inter-library loans and order new books to our library for free.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and one-to-one supervision. We offer a personal approach to learning with much of our teaching conducted in small groups.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Politics and International Relations in Derwent College on Campus West. Over half of your teaching will take place in the Spring Lane building. The rest of your contact hours will be nearby on Campus West. 

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You submit six essays; three are submitted at the beginning of Spring Term and three at the beginning of Summer Term. Essays are usually around 4,000 words long. Your final dissertation or policy report of between 10,000 - 12,000 words is submitted at the beginning of September.

We offer the opportunity to present your dissertation or policy research report at our research seminar presentation workshops. These are not formally assessed (not credit bearing), but they give you the chance to hone your presentation skills and to get verbal feedback from your tutors and peers.

Careers and skills

From political research to journalism, marketing and HR, a masters degree in Political Theory leads to a broad range of career opportunities.

Our students have found work in central or local government, non-governmental organisations, community and voluntary organisations, social enterprise, higher education, accountancy and banking organisations, law firms, media companies and international and global development bodies.

Career opportunities

  • Charity officer
  • Civil Servant Fast Streamer
  • Government social researcher
  • Policy adviser
  • Political risk analyst
  • Human resources officer

Transferable skills

  • Reflective independent learning
  • The ability to research, source and examine information thoroughly
  • The capacity to critically analyse evidence and construct coherent arguments
  • Excellent written and oratory skills
  • Intellectual independence and autonomy
  • Teamworking skills
  • A flexible and open-minded approach to work

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. We are willing to consider applicants with lower qualifications, particularly if you have high marks in relevant modules and/or appropriate professional experience. Additional information may be requested.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with 169 in each component
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 6 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 65 in each component
KITE 459-494, with 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Pass with Merit in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Applications open 25 September 2023.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Udit Bhatia

Learn more

Department of Politics and International Relations

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