Course: Politics MPhil (Comparative Government)
One of the Department’s strengths is its awareness of the importance of ensuring that candidates are exposed to the main methodological debates and methods in the discipline. Students are provided with excellent methods training.
The Comparative Government MPhil focuses on the research-led study of government and political institutions from area-specific and comparative perspectives, and asks some of the most compelling and important questions facing political scientists today.
It is an advanced two-year (21 months) postgraduate degree, which provides training in research techniques and methodology, suitable for anyone wishing to embark upon doctoral research. The course also provides a solid foundation for a range of careers, including academic, professional, commercial, diplomatic and government positions.
How to look for information on the course
The definitive information about this course (including entry requirements) is on the University of Oxford Politics MPhil (Comparative Government) webpage.
This webpage aims to give you a flavour of what you will learn on the course. You can also explore research in comparative politics and government at DPIR, for an idea of the cutting-edge research methods and questions explored by our academic network.
By the end of the two-year programme, students will have completed advanced training in the techniques and methodologies for political research, suitable as a foundation for doctoral research or other careers. Supervision of a 30,000-word individual research thesis, will guide students’ application of new knowledge and skills in practice.
In the first year, you must complete the core classes and tutorials in comparative government and a programme of research methods training. This includes core courses in statistics and research design and specialised elective courses. Progression to the second year is conditional on satisfactory performance in the first.
In your second year you must write a thesis and complete two specialist optional papers. Previous options* have included:
- Collective Political Violence,
- Political Economy of Inequality and Democracy,
- The Politics and Government of China,
- Political Sociology of Post-Communist States,
- The Politics and Government of the UK, and;
- The Politics of Race, Ethnicity and Immigration
*Please note, these options are illustrative only. Second year options are subject to change year-to-year, and we cannot guarantee these will be offered in the year you take the course.
Teaching for your course is designed and delivered by academics, highly respected for their research in Politics and International Relations.
Graduate teaching and supervision at Oxford is provided by your academic department—in this case, DPIR—although some graduate teaching may take place on college premises.
The majority of graduate teaching at DPIR takes the form of either one-to-one supervision meetings with your Academic Supervisor or tuition in small groups (as with classes and seminars). However, lectures are also used alongside small-group teaching in the delivery of some Research Methods training courses.
- empirical and theoretical knowledge of the major topics and perspectives within Political Science, based on a broad understanding of the scholarly literature relevant to the course;
- an understanding of research skills appropriate to the subject, including quantitative and qualitative methods – these skills having been used in individual research in the 30,000-word thesis;
- a breadth of learning from participation in a range of intellectual activities provided by a major postgraduate teaching university;
- the spirit and practice of analytical enquiry;
- experience of presenting and critiquing seminar papers and essays;
- skills and knowledge appropriate for further research work.
Applying to Oxford
As the MPhil in Comparative Government is a research degree, you should give some indication of the topic of your second-year thesis in your application. Do not worry if you do not yet have a detailed research proposal: the first year of the MPhil programme is intended to help you to develop this.
You are advised to review the profiles of academic staff before you apply as successful applications depend on the DPIR's capacity to offer appropriate supervision. However, you do not need to contact academic staff members before you apply.
Please read about funding options and find links to further University guidance on our graduate fees and funding webpage.
Comparative Government students and alumni
Over the last two decades, the Comparative Government MPhil has helped lay the foundations for over 200 students’ further research degrees and careers. Many of those postgraduates have since gone on to work in various fields including governance and law, data science and technology, research and academia.