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Politics and International Relations (PIR): Study



Our teaching and supervision is research-led, which means that courses at all levels are delivered by scholars active in research in their respective fields. But it also means that undergraduate as well as postgraduate students are encouraged to develop research interests of their own. All our students acquire research skills and use them to design and conduct independent inquiry.

Prospective Undergraduate Students

Why is an undergraduate degree called a Master of Arts? Traditionally, four-year undergraduate degrees at some universities are known as MA degrees to distinguish them from the three-year BA degrees found elsewhere.

Our undergraduate degrees explore key aspects of politics, political theory, public policy and international relations, and cover Europe, Russia, Africa and North America as well as Scotland and the UK. Politics can be taken on its own or as part of a joint programme with economics, history, philosophy or law, among a variety of other subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Our MA in International Relations is the most recent addition to our undergraduate provision, reflecting our growing commitment to teaching and research in global politics.

Further information about our Undergraduate Programmes is available on the Undergraduate Teaching Office website.

Prospective Postgraduate Masters Students

What’s the difference between an MA degree and an MSc degree? The MSc degree is our postgraduate degree – usually a one-year degree, but sometimes two years in duration. There are two types of MSc degree – a taught variant and a research variant.

1. The ‘taught’ MSc degree.

As the name implies, our taught MSc degrees stress classroom learning in substantive areas of politics and international relations. While graduates of our taught Masters degrees may also progress on to a PhD degree (and are encouraged to do so), many take a taught MSc degree as a professional degree, and do not continue on to further study.

Over fifty students annually join our range of taught Masters degrees, including our long-running degree in International and European Politics and recently introduced degrees in International Relations, Multi-Level and Regional Politics, International Political Theory, and European Union Politics and Law.

2. The ‘research’ MSc degree.

In contrast to the taught MSc degrees, the research MSc degrees place greater emphasis on research design and methodological training, and are intended to qualify students for progression to a PhD. Students on these degrees design a major piece of research which forms the jumping-off place for their PhD, if they progress on to that level.

Prospective PhD Students

Most PhD students come through the MSc by Research degree before beginning their PhD, although it is possible that students with advanced training in research skills may be accepted directly on to the PhD.

We have a large community of students taking research MSc degrees and we supervise PhDs in all our areas of research expertise, from local Scottish politics to International Relations. We have ESRC recognition for +3 and 1+3 PhDs and have a number of quota and competition awards annually. We are also able to offer PhD funding through annual School and College competitions. There are also some additional funds that are available for Politics and IR students.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with us, please consult the research supervision areas of members of staff before checking to see whether they have availability and are willing to take on new students.

On Course Undergraduate Students

On Course Postgraduate Students

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