This programme is designed both to equip students to undertake independent research across the social sciences, with specific reference to the fields of governance and policy, and to develop in-depth research methods skills that are of relevance to a broad range of careers in the public and private sector. The cross-disciplinary nature of the programme enables students to build their own degree according to their own particular interests and preferences within the broad areas of governance and policy, drawing on the diverse range of relevant modules taught across the disciplines of politics and international relations, sociology, social policy, social statistics, demography and gerontology. The core module of the programme, Governance and Policy, also enables students to develop their policy skills by preparing a policy briefing as part of their assessment, a task designed to enable students to use the knowledge and conceptual insights gained to outline ways to solve ‘real world’ policy problems, thus delivering key skills prized by employers.
All of our MSc programmes endeavour to develop your subject-specific knowledge and understanding, and provide opportunities for you to shape your own degree trajectory through optional module selection. In addition, all our MSc programmes aim to help you gain:
- Awareness of the changing nature of the contemporary political world, and the complex challenges presented by phenomena such as globalisation
- Awareness of the basic theoretical concepts common to advanced study in politics and international relations
- Key research skills, such as the ability to search for and reference sources, and to manage complex empirical or theoretical information
- The capacity for critical thinking and independent study
- The ability to work in groups
- Presentation skills
In addition to the credit-bearing modules you will take as part of your chosen programme, all MSc students participate in our bespoke training workshops, led by the MSc Coordinator, and specifically designed to help you get the best grades you can on during your masters study with us:
MSc Coursework Workshop (Semester 1)
This workshop explains the expectations and demands of coursework in our masters programmes, delineates the critical thinking, research and writing skills required, outlines the processes associated with literature reviews and coursework planning, and the rules about academic integrity. The workshop is designed to give practical support to students as they approach their coursework tasks, help UK/EU students understand the specific expectations we have at masters level, and help overseas students unfamiliar with higher education in this country get a better sense of what is expected.
MSc Dissertation Workshop (Semester 2)
This workshop helps students begin the process of thinking about and planning for their MSc dissertation. It provides guidance on topic selection, generation of research questions, aims of the literature review, the role of primary research, dissertation structure, writing advice, and the role of the supervisor. The workshop also offers practical advice from academics about how to produce an original piece of work, the role of depth over breadth, and how to craft convincing arguments.
The aims of the programme are to provide you with:
- Knowledge and understanding of contemporary theoretical, conceptual and empirical debates in the study of governance and policy
- Knowledge and understanding of philosophical and methodological debates in the study of social sciences
- Knowledge and understanding and experience in the application of the principal methods of data collection and data analysis in social science research
- Knowledge and understanding and experience in the practice of qualitative methods in social science research
- The skills necessary to design and complete a dissertation on a specialist topic in the field of governance and policy
In the current employment market, postgraduate qualifications are increasingly popular because of the competitive edge they give to a CV. Many of our students have recently completed bachelors degrees and wish to specialise further with a particular career in mind.
The programme is studied over one year, full-time, or two years, part-time. The taught programme component consists of 30 study weeks divided into two semesters, during which time students study six modules. Students who successfully complete the taught programme component undertake a three-month period of supervised research for a masters dissertation (six months for part-time).
Typical entry requirements
English Language Requirement
For applicants whose first language is not English, the IELTS requirement will be an overall score of 6.5 with at least 6.5 in writing and at least 6.0 in reading, speaking and listening.
Please visit our international pages to find out about the University's regulations about English language requirements and support here.
We welcome applications from students with a good undergraduate degree in a relevant social science subject (upper second-class or higher) or equivalent.
If you have a lower second-class undergraduate degree, you may still be eligible for admission to one of our masters programmes if we are satisfied that there is sufficient evidence of upper second-class quality in your work (judged by the range of your marks, the mark awarded for your dissertation and/or the quality of your references).
Entry is not confined to students who have studied politics or international relations before. Each year, we offer places to a number of students from other subject areas in the social sciences and humanities.
We also admit some students from science backgrounds, although we may want to interview such applicants before offering a place on the course.
We also welcome applications from those who have relevant work experience and/or who have been away from education for some time, and such applicants are considered on a case by case basis.
This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.
Typical course content
The MSc comprises six modules and a dissertation. The core module, Governance and Policy, provides the conceptual underpinnings, critical perspectives and empirical examples in relation to understanding issues of governance and policy-making.
In the first semester, students take three compulsory modules. In the second semester, students take one compulsory module and two optional modules. Not all modules will run each year. Students will receive guidance from the MSc coordinator in making their selection.
In addition to the Core modules listed below, students must also choose two from the following modules:
RESM6005 Survey Design
RESM6006 Qualitative Methods II
RESM6007 Quantitative Methods IIa
Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical
student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.
More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).
View the full list of course fees
Fees for postgraduate taught courses vary across the University. All fees are listed for UK,
EU and international full-time and part-time students alphabetically by course name.
Explore funding opportunities
Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course.
Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin.
These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.
Costs associated with this course
Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.
There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:
|Stationery||You will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.|
|Equipment||Approved calculators: If needed, candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved model is Casio FX-570 This may be purchased from any source and no longer needs to carry the University logo.|
|Books||Where a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source.
Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.|
|Printing and copying||In the majority of cases, coursework such as essays, projects and dissertations is likely to be submitted on line. However, there are some items where it is not possible to submit on line and students will be asked to provide a printed copy. A list of the University printing costs can be found at: [http://www.southampton.ac.uk/isolutions/services/copying_for_students_and_visitors/faq.php].|
|Other||Optional visits (e.g. conferences, museums, galleries): You will normally be expected to cover the cost of travel and admission, unless otherwise specified in the module profile.|
|Other||Illegible exam scripts: If your examination script is considered illegible, you will be asked to come in to dictate your script so that it can be transcribed. The costs associated with producing the transcript will fall to you and will be charged at £10.00 per hour. If you refuse to attend, you may be awarded a mark of zero (0). The Illegible Examinations Scripts Policy is available at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/assets/imported/transforms/content-block/UsefulDownloads_Download/3B577FE48C0B45FAA726364427668BAB/Illegible%20Examination%20Scripts%20Policy.pdf.|
In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.