Political Science (Research Methods) MA

Course details: Details | Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a '1+3' programme, the MA in Political Science (Research Methods) is designed for those students wishing to prepare for advanced research in political science. It requires you to take Advanced Political Analysis in addition to other research-based modules.

This pathway 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.

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes nor to the immigration status of prospective EU students starting in 2016/17 and 2017/18. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Course details: Modules | Fees and funding | Entry requirements | How to apply.

This programme offers rigorous specialist training for students wishing to prepare for advanced research in political science, particularly at the doctoral level. It offers the introduction to methods and approaches in political science that will equip students to plan and execute their own extended research projects. It also offers the opportunity to choose from a range of modules in other areas for students to round out their training.

This programme offers you the chance to develop an advanced theoretical and research-based training, especially interesting for students wishing to pursue further postgraduate studies.

Issues and topics examined include

  • Data collection and analysis
  • Social science research design
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Training in various substantive areas of political science

Whos is the programme for?

Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a '1+3' programme, the MA / Diploma in Political Science (Research Methods) is designed for those students wishing to prepare for advanced research in political science. You take a number of compulsory modules including Advanced Political Analysis, in addition to an optional module. 

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.

More information on: Political Science MA (with specialist pathways)


This degree comprises the following modules:

Core modules

  • 20 credits - Developments in Contemporary Political Analysis
  • 20 credits - Philosophy of Social Science Research (Autumn Term)
  • 20 credits - Research Design, Practice and Ethics (Autumn Term)
  • 20 credits - Foundations in Qualitative Research (Spring Term)
  • 20 credits - Fundamentals in Quantitative Research methods (Spring Term)
  • 60 credits - Dissertation MA students to submit a 13,500 word dissertation 

Optional 20 credits from:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

Fees and funding

Masters degree fees 2018-19
  Full time Part time
Home/EU students £9,000 £4,500
Overseas students £17,010  -

Please check with the Department for the latest fees information.
Learn more about fees and funding.

Postgraduate Loans for Masters students

The Postgraduate Student Loan has increased its maximum loan amount to £10,280. For more detailed information view our Postgraduate funding page.

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.

Scholarships and bursaries in the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS).

Entry requirements

For the MA programme you require a good Honours degree or its equivalent. For those whose first language is not English, an IELTS Certificate is required.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students
We accept a range of qualifications from different countries – learn more about international entry requirements 

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

Making your application

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

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.

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.

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.

Mathew Clarke, Hamburg MUN (December 2012), "In December 2012 I went to Hamburg to take part in a Model United Nations (MUN) Conference with the MUN Society at the University. The experience was eye opening allowing me see how to apply the topics I had learnt at Birmingham to a real world event. While I had been to other non-MUN conferences, which were not with the university, both in the UK and around the world this was a truly unique event."

Ana Alecsandru, UNA Youth Conference - New Nuclear Realities (February 2013), "This event allowed me to gain an insight into the challenges facing the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. The programme included interactive discussions with high profile nuclear professionals regarding the current situation of the international non-proliferation regime and the nuclear disarmament under the auspices of the United Nations and IAEA."

Georgiana Chiriac, Harvard Model United Nations (February 2013), "Overall, This opportunity was excellent for me and for the entire delegation in terms of gaining knowledge and expertise at the highest level, as well as with regards to personal growth and development."

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


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.

Graduates from the School have gone on to work in a range of careers, with recent graduates working with organisations such as the United Nations, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, local authorities in the UK and overseas and the Department for International Development.

The School takes employability very seriously and as well as linking students to the central careers services, also incorporates opportunities to enhance their employment prospects, including highlighting work experience opportunities, encouraging volunteering in extra-curricular projects (such as student seminars and events) and by inviting backgrounds for students to meet.

More information about careers and employability

Careers Support for Work Experience and Internships

The Careers and Employability Centre provides a dedicated service to help you find work experience or internship opportunities outside of your studies, either part-time during term-time, or over the summer vacation. Right from the start of your degree you will have access to our interactive careers service, through which many regional, national and international employers advertise their vacancies, and your college internship officers will go out and about to find vacancies that will be a useful addition to your CV. 

Ever wondered what it would be like to work in a New York Theatre?  Interested in working in the city? Fancy travelling to India to take part in a project to promote urban cycling?  Interested in public diplomacy, economics, media relations or PR, journalism or international affairs?  The University of Birmingham offers a range of work experience bursaries, where you can apply for up to £9,000 to help fund work experience or an internship, a research placement, or volunteering, anywhere in the world during the summer vacation.  The funding can help you pay for accommodation costs, travel expenses, or living costs, and will help you rise above the competition.

Through our mentoring scheme, we also provide students in any year of undergraduate study with the opportunity to be mentored by successful Birmingham graduates from a diverse range of career backgrounds, such as marketing, finance, politics, and international affairs. In your final year of study you can also apply to be part of our Alumni Leadership Mentoring programme, and receive one-to-one mentoring from high-profile Birmingham alumni.  This year’s mentors include Martin Devenish, Partner and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, and Mike Coupe, a director at J Sainsbury’s.

Find out more about support for work experience and internships, bursaries, or mentoring.

Funding for work placements, research placements and internships
The Careers and Employability Centre offer a range of award schemes for students from a range of backgrounds that are looking to undertake a variety of work experience placements and internships .