Social and Political Theory MA

With this Masters degree you are able to explore critically the development of social and political theory and the key current debates. The sociological component of this degree is run by the Social Theory research cluster, which has strengths in: critical theory; postmodernism; critical realism; the philosophy of the social sciences; theories of modernity; social movements, and reflexivity.

This degree is designed for flexibility, allowing you to choose over half of the MA content from a wide range of optional modules.

In the School of Government and Society we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.

Sociology at Birmingham is an excellent place to develop a sociological imagination to understand the challenges and opportunities we face.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 year part-time

Start date: September

Details

Social and political theory is an exciting interdisciplinary combination of classical and contemporary theoretical developments in the social sciences and philosophy which raise important questions about the way we analyse society and about the scope of critical thought.

This is a distinctive MA programme taught by specialists from the Social and Political Theory Research Group in the School of Government and Society. This research group is in the unique position of being able to offer a social and political theory MA programme from a genuinely interdisciplinary team drawn from the Sociology Group and the wider politics staff in POLSIS. It offers an exciting range of modules dealing with topics of perennial interest together with topics of contemporary relevance.

Topics studied can include debates about religious and cultural diversity and conflict, third wave feminism and post-feminism, critical theory and criticism after Marx, the relationship of philosophy to social and political enquiry and criticism, and the study of democracy.

With this programme you are able to explore critically the development of social and political theory and the key current debates. The sociological component of this degree is run by the Social Theory research cluster, which has strengths in:

  • Critical theory
  • Postmodernism
  • Critical realism
  • The philosophy of the social sciences
  • Theories of modernity, social movements, and reflexivity

One of the real strengths of our masters programmes is the wide range of available modules, giving students the ability to tailor their course of study to their own academic interests.

Modules

This degree is designed for flexibility, allowing you to choose over half of the MA content from a wide range of optional modules. This degree comprises the following modules:

Core modules

You'll take at least 40 credits from the optional modules A list. These are modules that we believe best fit this degree. We recommend that you also take some or all of your remaining credits from this list.

Optional Modules A (at least 40 credits from the following)

We also offer you the opportunity to choose from our much longer list of Optional Modules B.

Optional Modules B (up to 40 credits from the following)

Fees and funding

Fees for 2014 - 15:

Masters (MA):

  • UK/EU full-time: £5,940
  • UK/EU part-time: £2,970
  • International full-time: £13,665

Please check with the Department for the latest fees information.

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships
Scholarships may be available. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

For further information contact the School directly or visit studenthelp.bham.ac.uk 

Entry requirements

For the MA programme you require a good Honours degree or its equivalent. For those whose first language is not English, a TOEFL or IELTS Certificate is required. Entry at Graduate Diploma level is possible for those with a reasonable first degree. Graduate Diploma students can upgrade to the MA on satisfactory examination performance.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

We advocate an enquiry-based approach to learning, which means that we encourage you to become an independent and self-motivated learner. Through the programme of study we offer, we will develop the qualities that employers value in today's university graduates - qualities that will set you apart in your future career.

To help you develop the above-mentioned skills, we adopt a range of teaching methods. They may include:

  • Lectures - listening to experts sharing their knowledge and discoveries in challenging and provocative ways. Students are expected to 'read-around' the subject matter of their lectures, adding to their understanding and developing their critical faculties and analytical skills.
  • Seminars - where you present and discuss your ideas and knowledge in smaller groups and debate interpretations and opinions with other students.
  • Tutorials - are your opportunity to discuss your work with your tutor, usually in small groups.
  • Workshops - are problem solving sessions facilitated by a member of academic staff; these sessions usually involve students working in groups.

Our lecturers and tutors will ensure you have all the resources you need to make the transition from A levels to the more rigorous demands of a degree.

More about teaching and learning at the University of Birmingham.

Christopher Jones, Social and Political Theory (2013), "Thoughtful tutors with a critical approach to Social and Political theory make Birmingham a stimulating place to engage with contemporary debates and radical ideas from the past. The course has given me exactly what I wanted - the chance to take on new ideas and sharpen my perspective on society and politics."

Elio Di Muccio, Social and Political Theory (2013), "This MA gave me an excellent grasp of social and political theory and asserted its usefulness in the production of cutting-edge research. My classmates broadened my disciplinary horizons and self-critical capacities trough stimulating debates which make my daily experience of society rich, revealing and enjoyable. The tutors are prepared, approachable and enthusiastically involved in my intellectual development. They have helped me develop academic rigour and a multiplicity of theoretical perspectives from which to approach social scientific debates old and new.

The topics covered gave me a solid foundation with which to engage in methodological debates and useful criteria for the selection of methods relevant to the object of study. The course also inspired me to research independently: its flexible structure gave me a considerable degree of autonomy with regards to the application of what I learned in concrete research projects and empirical case studies. A truly formative experience."

Enhancing your Student Experience

In the School of Government and Society we offer much more than a degree. As a student here, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, you have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of events, with some or all of the costs paid for by the School.

Students at high profile speakers event

Some of these are targeted to help you build skills and experience for your CV, others are more open events designed to expose you to high-level speakers on current debates relevant to all Government and Society students.

Read our students' experiences and profiles on the school website.

Facilities

Departments from across the School of Government and Society are all based within the recently refurbished Muirhead Tower. Following a £50million refurbishment, Muirhead Tower offers state-of-the-art teaching and research study facilities including free wifi throughout the building and dedicated study areas for postgraduate research students.

Muirhead Tower comprises 12,000sq.m of floor space between two towers. The tower includes a number of sustainable features including solar shading (known in the trade as brise soliel) to control temperatures, as well as low energy fans; timed lighting to reduce energy waste; natural ventilation systems and a heat source taken from the University’s combined heat and power generator.

The space has been designed to create modern, attractive spaces for teaching and research accommodating 150 academic offices, 230 "hubs" for post graduate research students, teaching rooms for up to 100 people and a 200 seat lecture theatre.

Employability

Sociology at Birmingham has an excellent employment rate in our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Our MA graduates have taken up employment in such areas as local government, NGOs, finance, social work and teaching. Many have also stayed on for doctoral research. Our specialist careers guidance team can assist you in enhancing your career prospects.

More information about careers and employability