Course: Politics MPhil (Political Theory)
The people who come to study political theory here have diverse academic and professional backgrounds but are all passionate about political theory. As a result the discussions about social justice or the nature of the political are enthusiastic and very intellectually stimulating.
The Political Theory MPhil provides an advanced training in political theory and the history of political thought, in the major contemporary debates, and in the research methods appropriate to the discipline.
It is an advanced two-year (21 months) postgraduate degree, which provides a broad training, including work in research techniques and methodology, suitable for those who later wish to embark upon doctoral research. The course provides a solid foundation for a broad spectrum of careers, including academic, professional, commercial, diplomatic and governmental 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 (Political Theory) webpage.
This webpage aims to give you a flavour of what you will learn on the course. You can also explore Political Theory research at DPIR, for an idea of broader themes and ideas explored by our academic community.
By the end of the two-year programme, students will have completed advanced training in the techniques and methodologies for Political Theory research, suitable as a foundation for doctoral research or other careers. Supervision of a 30,000-word thesis based on individual research will guide students’ application of new knowledge and skills in practice.
In the first year, you must complete the core classes and tutorials in the Theory of Politics course and a programme of research methods training. This includes courses in reasoning in political philosophy, methods in the history of political thought, and other approaches to the study of political theory.
In your second year, you will write a thesis and complete two specialist optional papers.
Options offered in recent years* have included:
- Political Theories of Hegel and Marx,
- Feminism and the Future,
- Political Theories from Machiavelli to Burke,
- Mitigating Historical Injustice,
- Contemporary Theories of Liberalism,
- Critical Theory,
- Contemporary Political Philosophy.
*Please note, these options are illustrative only. Politics course options are subject to change year-to-year, and we cannot guarantee these options will be offered in the year you take the course.
A high proportion of the teaching for your course is designed and delivered by Oxford 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.
- knowledge and understanding of the major topics and perspectives within Political Theory based on a broad critical knowledge and understanding of relevant scholarly literature;
- an understanding of research skills appropriate to the subject, including analytical, critical, and historical skills, which are also deployed in the individual research thesis;
- the spirit and practice of analytical and scholarly enquiry;
- experience of presenting and receiving critical reception of your seminar papers and essays.
Applying to Oxford
As the MPhil in Political Theory is a research degree, you should give some indication of the likely 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 always 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.
Political Theory students and alumni
The MPhil in Political Theory has a rich history at DPIR and, to date, over 400 students have graduated from the course. Many of those postgraduates have since gone on to careers in academia or now work successfully in diverse careers across the private, public and third sector.