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School of Social and Political Science: Undergraduate study


Year 1 and 2

MA in Politics and MA in International Relations

First Year Students

In their first year students take three compulsory courses:

Introduction to Politics and International Relations

This course introduces conceptual material relevant to both politics and international relations students, such as the state, sovereignty, legitimacy, democracy, and power, together with relevant examples.

This course is only available to students taking either single honours or joint honours degrees involving Politics or International Relations. All other students must take Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists.

Political Thinkers

The course aims to introduce students to some historical writers whose thoughts on politics - international or domestic - have become recognised by theorists as canonical in the western tradition, or whose work is becomingly increasingly recognised within a broader, non-Eurocentric canon.

Lectures are structured around the varying answers to the question 'What is Politics?' given exemplary form by the specified thinkers. Their responses are examined through the themes/problems/tensions associated with their work. So, each lecture answers the question through the themes/contrasts etc raised or addressed by the thinker(s) in question.

The content of the course is innovative in two respects: first, it conceives of political thought as a unified discipline encompassing thinking pertinent to both politics and international relations; second, along with the standard thinkers traditionally examined in such courses it introduces a number of female or non-western thinkers.

International Law (IR)

This course develops knowledge and understanding of (i) the international legal system; (ii) the main institutions which contribute to the development and application of international law; and (iii) the legal rules, principles and processes which govern key areas of inter-state activity.

Optional courses are taken in addition to the above.

The Programme Handbook for Politics Year 1 is available here.

The Programme Handbook for International Relations Year 1 is available here.

Second Year Students

In second year students will take:

International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond

This course explores how and why states interact at the regional and international level. It begins by introducing key concepts and theoretical approaches to understanding international cooperation and conflict. It then focuses on several European and international institutions within which states and cooperate and interact: the European Union, the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations. The study of these institutions is used to explore wider concepts of politics, including power, sovereignty, legitimacy and globalisation. The course is team-taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials, with different staff members in PIR teaching on their areas of expertise.

Comparative Politics in a Globalized World

This course will provide students with the conceptual knowledge and practical skills to understand comparative politics in a globalized world. It introduces the comparative method, and applies that method to core questions and issues of comparative and international politics. These questions will cover political regimes, state formation and institutions, political and economic development, democracy, order and violence.

Introduction to Political Data Analysis

This Year 2 course will introduce students to political data analysis using domestic and international data. The course will cover core substantive topics in Politics and international relations, typically exploring one major research question from Politics and one major research question from IR. It will explore how to access relevant data and assess the appropriateness of data. It will provide key skills in quantitative data analysis, including descriptive statistics, cross-tab/contingency tables, measures of association, correlation and regression. These techniques will be used to answer different aspects of the same research question. The course will show how using different types of data and different techniques provide different ways to answer the types of questions typically posed by empirical Politics and IR scholars. Throughout, both the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches will be addressed, as will issues such as validity, reliability and missing data. Lectures will be accompanied by weekly tutorials delivered in a computer lab.

Fundamentals 2:  Politics & International Relations

This course introduces students to the practice of politics and international relations outside academia. It helps students to understand potential career routes after PIR honours and the ways in which knowledge and skills acquired in PIR degrees relate to careers. The course includes a variety of presentations from applied political scientists as well as guidance on how to communicate effectively with non-academic audiences.

In addition, courses in outside subjects are taken: these may be follow-ups to subjects taken in first year courses, or they may be new subjects.

Please note individual Course Handbooks are available on Learn.

The Programme Handbook for Politics Year 2 is available here.

The Programme Handbook for International Relations Year 2 is available here.

Links to the Degree Regulations & Programmes of Study can be found below:

Politics (MA Hons) (UTPOLTC)

Politics and Economic and Social History (MA Hons) (UTPOLES)

Politics with Quantitative Methods (MA Hons) (UTMAHPOLQM1F)

International Relations (MA Hons) (UTINTRE)

International Relations and International Law (MA Hons) (UTMAHIRILA1F)

International Relations with Quantitative Methods (MA Hons) (UTMAHINRQM1F)

Scottish Parliament