Politics and International Relations


Year 1: Core paper in Theory of Politics, Core paper in Research Methods in Political Theory

Year 2: Two optional papers, Thesis: 30,000 words

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Further Information

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MPhil in Politics (Political Theory)


The MPhil in Politics (Political Theory) is an advanced two-year (twenty-one months) postgraduate degree, which provides training in research techniques and methodology suitable for those who later wish to embark upon doctoral research and enables students to acquire substantive knowledge in this sub-area of the discipline.

The degree provides a range of educational experiences in a variety of learning environments to develop your written and oral communication skills as well as other technical skills. It will provide also you with a solid foundation for a wide range of careers, including academic, professional, commercial, diplomatic and governmental positions.

The Department is internationally recognised as a leading centre for teaching and research in political theory, and counts among its members a number of acknowledged authorities within this discipline. It is also home to two centres within this field: The Centre for Political Ideologies and the Centre for the Study of Social Justice.


In the first year, as an MPhil in Politics (Political Theory) student you would have to:

  1. attend a twenty-week core seminar in Theory of Politics, and sit a written examination in this core subject at the end of your first year.
  2. submit research methods training coursework and a research design proposal as preparation for your thesis.

At the end of the course, you would be required:

  • to sit two written examinations in the optional papers of your choice (please see the list below).
  • to submit a thesis of not more than 30,000 words.


MPhil - Political Theory Subjects

Core Subjects

  • Theory of Politics
  • Research Methods in Political Theory

Optional Subjects in Political Theory

Please note that some papers may not be available every year. Students may choose their optional papers from the following list:

  • Comparative Government
  • Theory of Voting
  • Democratization: Theory and Practice
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Political Theories from Machiavelli to Burke
  • Political Theories of Hegel and Marx
  • European Nationalist Doctrines
  • The History of Liberal Thought in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
  • Issues in Contemporary Continental European Social and Political Thought
  • Ideologies and Political traditions in Modern Europe
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • International Normative Theory

Research Methods Subjects

Please note that the list of subjects may change every year.

  • Introduction to the Advanced Study of Politics and International Relations
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Text and Interpretation
  • Ethics
  • Formal Analysis
  • Constructing the Text: The New Bentham Edition
  • Research Design in Political Theory Workshop
  • Archive Research
  • Content Analysis
  • Focus Groups
  • Problems of Method in the History of Political Thought
  • Public Law and Legal Sources
  • Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences
  • Applied Statistics for Political Scientists
  • Intermediate Social Statistics
  • Field Interviewing
  • Interview Analysis
  • Elite Interviewing
  • Social Research and the Internet
  • Measurement in the Social Sciences
  • Multilevel Modelling
  • Network Analysis
  • Panel Data
  • Structural Equation Modelling
  • Time Series Analysis

The Thesis

MPhil - Pol Theory Theses

The MPhil thesis is a substantial piece of research presented in a 30,000 word thesis, which demonstrates a grasp of a particular sub-field, a set of design and methodological issues, and the ability to develop and sustain an independent line of argument.
To give you an idea of the range of topics studied by MPhil candidates, below are some of the titles of recent successful MPhil theses:

  • Civil Disobedience; For Citizens Only?
  • Fraternity, Friendship and Love in Locke's Two Treatises of Government
  • Meditations on Violence and Liberation
  • Neoloberalism and the SAPping of Democracy: Structural adjustment, economic expertise, and the unfit public
  • On the Global Justice Responsibilities of Dominated States
  • Power, antagonism and the state: a critique of Chantal Mouffe's agonistic democracy
  • Restorative Justice as a Response to Human Rights Violations. Are Negotiations of Punishment Compatible with Human Rights?
  • The Ideal of Autonomy: Avoiding Individualism Through Recognitional Autonomy
  • Two Concepts of Autonomy: Exploring a Minimal Account
  • Why Choice-Sensitive Egalitarians Should be Desert-Sensitive, Not Responsibility-Sensitive
  • Courage: A Liberal Virtue Lost?
  • Democracy and the Liberal Organic State in the Political Theory of J. A. Hobson
  • Democracy or Deliberation: Jacques Rancière's Critique of Public Reason
  • Fichte's Concept of Right (Recht) as a Foundation for a Critical Theory of Justice?
  • Global Justice and Social Practices: A Relational Account of Global 'Right'
  • Global Justice, Democracy and Human Rughts: Towards a Habermasian Internationalism
  • Heidegger's notion of authentic world-disclosure as a solution to the structural problem alienation poses to Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action
  • Public Interest Obligations: Understanding Press Regulation through theories of Public Justification
  • Malign Markets: A Liberal Approach to the Moral LImits of Markets
  • The ethics of unmanned aerial vehicles in military warfare
  • The Liberalism of Fear and the Leviathan: Toleration and Limits of Sovereignty
  • The unpersuasive Socrates: On the Practice of Political Philosophy in Palot's Gorgias and Meno
  • Transformative Judging: Beyond Behaviour Change
  • Reasonably coercing the unreasonable? Investigating the challenge of unreasonable views to liberal political theory
  • A Critical Analysis of Corrective Justice
  • Culture and Choice: An Evaluation of Luck Egalitarian Approaches to Multiculturalism
  • The Legislator of the Classical Republican Tradition and its Bedevilling of Modern Republicanism
  • Fairness, Justice and International Trade Rules
  • A Liberal Ethics of Nation Building
  • Multiculturalism, Patriotism, and National Culture
  • Rescuing liberalism: Why William Galston’s account of liberalism based on a dual emphasis on virtue and pluralism proves philosophically sound and practically appealing
  • Isaiah Berlin, Pluralism, Liberalism and Truth
  • On Scepticism, Neutrality and the Social Contract
  • A Defence of Rawlsian Constructivism
  • H. M. Hyndman: Marxist Revolutionary – A Rereading and Reevaluation
  • Refugees as a Challenge to Political Theory
  • Freedom as an ‘Exercise Concept’
  • Immigration, Social Solidarity and Social Justice
  • Grounding Neutrality: The Normative Foundations of State Neutrality
  • Should the State cultivate Cheaper Tastes?
  • Creating a Constitutional People: Diversity, Democracy and Deliberation
  • Freedom in the Space of Equality: A Response to Certain Liberal Egalitarian Objections to Amartya Sen’s Capabilities Approach
  • Non-Majoritarian Democracy: Fairness, Lotteries and Equal Chances
  • Looking for Reasonable Agreement: A Comparison of the Place given to Pluralism in the Work of Mill, Hobhouse and Rawls
  • Democracy as Rational Choice: The Phenomenon of Pirate Compact
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