Social and Political Theory (MSc)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2017


Central London


Fully Approved
Applications for this course will open in September


One year full-time or two years part-time


Four evenings a week full-time or two evenings a week part-time, October to June

Other entry years for this course


This Master's degree in politics explores pressing contemporary issues using political theory and sociology. Our focus is on the nature and workings of political power and authority and we will consider the relationships between states and societies and the place of politics and power in everyday life. As well as reading key classical texts of political theory and sociological analysis, we also analyse real-world contemporary problems and address fundamental questions of political power and social order. Topics studied include sovereignty, territory and state building, property and law, the legitimacy of political authority, democracy, violence and pluralism. As well as choosing option modules from the Department of Politics, you can select options from the Department of Psychosocial Studies and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, thus offering you access to historical and psychosocial approaches to theory, politics and the social sciences.

The core modules will give you the theoretical framework and confidence to explore and deepen your knowledge in the subjects you are most interested in. You will examine political power, how it originates and operates at an individual, social and political level, its relationship to sovereignty and the state, and how it intersects with issues such as justice and human rights, civil identity, democracy and economics. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to study politics at postgraduate level.

You can then choose two option modules from a wide variety of topics including international security, nationalism and religion, war and conflict, 'race', racism and postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and gender and sexuality. You can take options from the Department of Politics or from the Department of Psychosocial Studies and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. You will also learn research techniques that will enable you to specialise and undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation or a research portfolio on the subject that interests you most.

Read more


  • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17th in the UK.
  • This Master's degree will enable you to develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of the main ideas and current trends and directions in social and political theory.
  • The Department organises a lively programme of seminars and conferences and is home to affiliated research centres, such as the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life, which run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
Book an open evening Order a prospectus Contact us

Course structure

You take two core modules, two option modules and either write a dissertation or prepare a research portfolio.

Option modules are available in a wide range of subjects from the Departments of Politics, Psychosocial Studies and History, Classics and Archaeology. They include:

  • International relations and international security
  • War, conflict, nationalism, politics and religion
  • ‘Race’, racism, postcoloniality
  • Culture, community, identity
  • Lacanian psychoanalysis - theory and practice
  • Sexing the body - psychoanalytic and other framings
  • Visual culture: power and the image
  • Gender, space and time.
Read more about modules

Sample timetable

PDF document icon Sample for Web Timetable.pdf — PDF document, 273 KB (279653 bytes)
Visit the Department of Politics