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MA | Postgraduate Taught


Entry year
Entry requirements
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
  • Overview

    The MA Politics is a broad based programme, offering students a good grounding in the discipline of political science. Students may tailor their programme to their own interests, by their choice of optional modules, from conflict to ethics, gender and environmental politics, which build on the strengths of the school's research. The masters offers a unique perspective on multi-level politics in Europe, at the regional, national and European levels.

    The aim of the MA in Politics is to deepen students' understanding of important contemporary issues in political studies through the enhancement of students' analytical skills, research and writing talent, and capacity for utilising theoretical approaches. These are all important transferrable skills, highly valued in the job market. The programme is of particular interest to those wishing to know more about Irish politics (North and South), European politics, political conflict, and political theory.

    Belfast is a globally significant location and Politics is about conflict, debate and the contest of ideas, making Belfast, where such things are part of everyday reality, an ideal place to study the subject. Northern Ireland is viewed as a model of conflict resolution and peace building across the world.

    Students can directly benefit from the School and University’s wider expertise in political theory, security studies, border studies, terrorism and political violence, and Irish and Northern Irish politics.

    Politics highlights

    In this programme students will have the opportunity to study key issues in contemporary politics and normative theory, British Politics, Irish Politics, European Politics, International Relations, Policy, and Comparative Ethnic Conflict.

    Career Development

    • The programme’s focus on both Northern Irish and EU politics makes it unique -- with students studying decision-making at local, national and European level. Its strength in NI and EU politics gives student the opportunity to analyse major political crises (from the stalemate in Stormont to Brexit) as they unfold. Students unsure of which precise direction they wish their career to take will benefit from the fact that the MA in Politics allows for a generalist course of study alongside excellent careers support both within the School and the University at large. The MA in Politics provides students with the opportunity to engage in a wide range of active research networks and groups on diverse themes, including gender studies, political theory/philosophy, political economy, environmental policies and postcolonial politics.

    Internationally Renowned Experts

    • Students benefit from intensive teaching by a wide and varied range of political scientists and theorists with strong publishing profiles and international reputations in their areas of expertise. Many academics on the programme are engaged in QPOL (Queen’s Policy Engagement) – this is the ‘front door’ for public policy engagement at Queen’s University, supporting academics and policymakers in sharing evidence-based research and ideas on the major social, cultural and economic challenges facing society regionally, nationally and beyond. This includes a Brexit Clinic, with involves Queen’s experts providing insight and analysis into the various facets of Brexit. Many of our experts in this area act as advisors to the UK and NI governments, particularly in relation to the Irish border and the backstop, as the only land border between the UK and EU.

    Student Experience

    • Politics is about conflict, debate and the contest of ideas, making Belfast, where such things are part of everyday reality, an ideal place to study the subject. The modules offered are tailored to the University’s location and its expertise in Irish, Northern Irish and EU politics. Students can tailor their programme to their own interests, with their choice of modules and dissertation topic. There are a wide variety of optional modules, from conflict to ethics, gender and environmental politics, all building on the strengths of the School's research.
    • There are many practical elements embedded in the programme. Examples include the practical modules such as Engaging Citizens in Democratic Institutions – throughout this module there are industry visits to the City Council, NI Assembly etc. There is also a trip to Brussels (part-funded by the School) in which students visit for example the European Parliament, European Commission, Human Rights NGOs, NATO etc. We also use a range of assessment techniques, such as writing essays, blogs and policy briefs, where students are presented with a problem and are tasked to come up with practical solutions.

    Brexit Advice

    Information on the implications of Brexit for prospective students.

  • Course content

    Course Structure

    Students take six taught modules, which introduce them to the core of the discipline and teach the skills necessary to conduct research. They must also complete the Dissertation module. Each taught module is worth 20 credits. The Dissertation is worth 60 credits.

    Course DetailsStudents take six taught modules, which introduce them to the core of the discipline and teach the skills necessary to conduct
    research. They must also complete the Dissertation module. Each taught module is worth 20 credits. The Dissertation is worth 60 credits.
    OverviewThe programme has three different components: Core modules, Elective modules, and an MA dissertation.
    Semester 1To acquire foundational knowledge and understanding in Politics, students will take core modules introducing research methods for the study of politics, as well as core issues in the comparative study of the UK and Europe.


    HAP7001 - Approaches to Research Design
    This module has two key purposes:.
    First it introduces students to some important themes in the philosophy of the social sciences. Second, it develops students' skills in research design through an examination of selected qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. In doing so it addresses key issues in the design and preparation of the dissertation.

    PAI7099 – The UK and Europe
    This module offers students the opportunity to address core issues in Politics via a focus on the UK’s relationship with Europe in a time of flux. It is built around three broad themes: understanding, negotiating and delivering Brexit.


    Students must also choose ONE optional module in Semester 1 from:

    PAI7021 - Politics of Northern Ireland
    This module aims to examine the principal debates and issues in Northern Irish politics and includes both an analytical survey of the history of the entity, and a treatment of key political themes. The overall aim of the module is to place Northern Irish politics in appropriate historical and ideological context. The political conflict in Northern Ireland has generated an extensive scholarly literature. This module requires students to engage with such work, and through such engagement to develop their own interpretations of Northern Irish politics form the foundation of Northern Ireland as a political unit up until the present.

    PAI7036 - The Politics and Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transitions
    This module will take as it’s starting the concept of ‘Carbon Literacy’, its definition, measurement and development. Students will study policy making, governance and institutional structures at International, national, regional and local levels through the selection of relevant case studies. They will gain an understanding of the spectrum of carbon literacy and the challenges of identifying knowledge and capacity building needs for stakeholders, policy and decision makers at all levels, from global to local and individual.

    PHL7056 – Global Ethics
    Recent years have seen a significant shift in the way that moral and political philosophy approaches questions of justice, freedom, and equality. The intensity of transnational interactions in today's world raises questions about the applicability of traditional moral principles and ethical values beyond the borders of individual states. This module will explore ethical issues posed by the interaction of individuals and states at the global level. Do we have moral duties to strangers? If so, do they have the same content as duties to fellow citizens/nationals? What are the institutional implications of these moral duties? The precise themes discussed may vary from year to year, but examples of topics which may be discussed include: nationalism and cosmopolitanism, citizenship, territory and sovereignty, migration, global poverty, global democracy, reparations, political apology, climate justice, associational duties, cultural diversity, war and conflict.

    PAI9099 - Dissertation research commences.
    Semester 2Students must take at least two of the following modules listed below:

    PAI7052 - Institutions and Policies of the EU
    This module explores the structure and institutions of the European Union (EU) as well as selected theoretical approaches to the study of European integration. It examines in detail the nature and roles of the EU’s main institutions (i.e. Commission, European Parliament, Council of the EU, European Council, and Court of Justice), and of the role of national institutions in the EU. It provides a critical assessment of selected EU policies and political challenges facing the EU. In doing so the module explores the decision- and policy-making dynamics within the EU as well as some of the most pressing themes in European governance, including Brexit.

    PAI7022 - The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
    This module explores and analyses the political development of independent Ireland in historical context. It combines an historical and thematic approach to provide students with a sophisticated understanding of the politics of independent Ireland. It introduces students to key debates on the Irish revolution, Irish historical revisionism, and the foundations of the new state. Particular themes include partition and its impact, the achievement of stability and order, negotiations of identity, problems of modernisation, party politics and their dynamics, Ireland’s shifting place in European and world politics, and the changing nature of Irish politics and society.

    PAI7032 - Gender, Politics and Democracy
    This module analyses the link between gender, politics and democracy in a comparative context. It begins by discussing approaches to researching gender in a social science context. It takes political representation as the core theoretical prism through which patterns of gender presence and interest representation are explored. It takes numerical representation as a starting point, and discusses the role of parties, electoral systems and gender quotas in addressing women's under-representation in politics. The module also interrogates the issue of an increased presence of women in legislative office producing gender-sensitive politics.

    PAI7100 – Engaging citizens in democratic institutions
    This module aims to introduce students to the issue of public participation and engagement in contemporary democracies. Students will understand the role of citizens and non-state actors in contemporary politics and policy making. Students will be able to engage in debates about different forms of participatory and deliberative democracy as well as learn about how consultation processes are designed and implemented. The objectives are to enable students to engage critically in discussions about citizen engagement and public participation and to develop their public engagement skills.

    This module will introduce students to issues that affect the way citizens engage with institutions, the decline of traditional forms of participation, and the development of new forms of governance, and present well-established forms of citizen participation using examples from across the world,: traditional consultations and petitions, and direct democracy (referendums). It will then introduce students to a range of democratic innovations designed to engage citizens in consultation processes differently: participatory budgeting, digital crowdsourcing, stakeholder partnerships, and deliberative mini-publics.

    PHL7038 – Philosophy of Conflict and War
    This module explores some of the most significant moral and ethical questions posed by political conflict, in particular those posed by war and other forms of violent collective struggle. It commences 2 with a critical examination of two rival theoretical understandings of ‘the political’, as found in the work of Max Weber and Hannah Arendt, which frame our understanding of politics and the problem of political conflict in very different ways. The module then moves to examine the question of political obligation, whether and why citizens have a moral duty to obey the laws of their state. It also considers civil disobedience and the justification of (typically) non-violent resistance against state authorities. Thereafter, the specific moral-ethical problems associated with war are addressed, with an emphasis on the just war tradition as it is developed in the work of contemporary political philosophers (a central focus being the work of Michael Walzer). Among the issues examined here are the nature of war, the just war understanding of jus ad bellum and jus in bello, the challenge of pacifism to just war thinking, the morality of military intervention, the normative justifications and criticisms of contemporary state and non-state terrorism, and the problem of peace and jus post bellum.

    Students may choose ONE module from the following list:

    PAI7030 – International Political Economy
    This module provides a themed examination of how power and politics relate to the changing and evolving structures of the world economy, through the lens of the sub or inter-discipline, known as International Political Economy. International Political Economy (IPE) has become the accepted academic term for the analysis of the exercise of economic power and the politics of economic policy and capitalist development placed in a global context. This module introduces students to theories and concepts in International Political Economy related to the exercise of power and authority. It then goes to analyse a number of key topics and issues relating to the power and politics of economic organization and management including: the future of United States supremacy; Rising powers – The BRICs; the politics of money and finance; development; and Global Energy Politics.

    PAI7050 - Ethnic Conflict and Consensus:
    This module examines concepts of ethnicity, national identity and multiculturalism as they relate to contemporary conflict. Students will be provided with a detailed and critical analysis of the political and constitutional options in societies beset by ethnic conflict, with particular emphasis being given to mechanisms directed at and institutions involved in management of and accommodation after the conflict. By examining theories of ethnic conflict, the module introduces students to issues underlying conflicts across the globe including nation building and rights of minorities, territorialisation of ethnicity, partition and secession management, and kin-state involvement as well as socio-political integration as mechanisms to avert and/or resolve ethnic conflicts.

    PAI9099 - Dissertation research continues.
    Semester 3PAI9099 - Dissertation (15,000 words maximum)

    People teaching you

    Dr Viviane Gravey
    Programme Convenor

    Dr Viviane Gravey is a political scientist specialised in the European Union. Her current research focuses on European integration and disintegration, environmental and agricultural policies as well as on the on-going negotiations for the UK to leave the EU and what Brexit would mean for Northern Ireland. Dr Gravey convenes the MA in Politics as well as modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her research has been cited by committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. “The MA in Politics equips you with key methodological skills and offers you the opportunity to engage with major theoretical debates at a time of great uncertainty for Irish, UK and European Union politics. There has never been a better time to study politics!” Email: Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 1316

    Teaching Times

    mostly afternoon and evening

    Career Prospects

    Our graduates are now working in careers with local and national government, policy analysis and advocacy for NGOs and charities. Many are also in the private sector working as lawyers, in the media and in management consultancy. In addition, they provide an appropriate basis for those who wish to proceed to Doctoral-level study.

    All of the Masters programmes offered in the School provide our graduates with the skills to pursue a wide range of careers in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

    Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

    Learning and Teaching

    A mix of essays, learning journals, presentations, examination and portfolio projects, including policy briefs.

    Cognitive Skills

    At the end of the programme learners will have the capacity to be self-reflective and practice sound judgement and will possess the necessary skills to enhance their ability, think critically and pursue independent research.

    Provides learners with the opportunity to develop generic analytical, reasoning, literacy and communication skills.

    Provides learners with the ability to solve problems, process and prioritise a wide variety of information, and express arguments and positions in oral and written form.

    The learner will develop their basic knowledge of the general methodological and theoretical approaches of Politics as well as enhance their basic history of the discipline and knowledge of its specific concepts, issues and vocabulary.

    At the end of the programme learners will have the capacity to be self-reflexive and practice sound judgement, and will possess the necessary skills to enhance their ability to think critically and pursue independent research

    Knowledge and Understanding

    To equipment students with a set of key, subject, employability and transferable skills; to encourage a professional attitude towards self-organisation; and to provide students with the intellectual tools to reflect upon the subject of Politics both by theoretical explorations of the nature of Politics and by comparison between societies.

    Provides students with a knowledge and understanding of core debars in the subject, and fosters an attitude of self-motivated and independent learning.

    It enables students to research political phenomena, events and arguments/ideas.

    Provides a grounding in the key issues in contemporary politics and normative theory, British Politics, Irish Politics, European Politics, International Relations Policy and Comparative Ethnic Conflict (depending on modules chosen).

    Subject Specific Skills

    Able to evaluate different interpretations of political issues and events.

    Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of different political systems, the nature and distribution of power in them; the social, economic, historical and cultural contexts within which they operate, and the relationships between them.

    Apply concepts, theories and methods used in the study of politics to the analysis of political ideas, institutions and practices.

    Understand the nature and significance of politics as a human activity.


    Assessment and Feedback are continuous throughout the course of study.

    Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:
    - A mix of essays including policy briefs.
    - Learning journals
    - Presentations
    - Examination
    - Portfolio projects

    Continuous assessment

  • Entry Requirements

    Entrance requirements

    Normally a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject, or a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject with relevant professional experience.

    International Students

    For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

    English Language Requirements

    Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

    International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

    For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

    • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
    • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

    INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

  • Fees and Funding

    Tuition Fees

    Northern Ireland (NI) £6,140
    England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £6,900
    Other (non-UK) EU £6,140
    International £16,900

    All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

    More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

    Additional course costs

    All Students

    Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

    Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

    Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

    If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

    Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

    There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

    Politics costs

    There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

    How do I fund my study?

    The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

    A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

    More information on funding options and financial assistance.

    International Scholarships

    Information on scholarships for international students, is available at

  • Apply

    How to Apply

    Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

    Apply now

    Terms and Conditions

    The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
    Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.

    Download a prospectus