SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc Political Thought (2022 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

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  • Teaching and Learning
  • Fees and funding
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Overview

Overview and entry requirements

The MSc Political Thought builds on SOAS’s wealth of regional expertise to offer a new approach to the study of political thought. It promotes the study of political theory as it is tightly linked to practices of global domination and resistance.

The degree considers political theory as it emerges from and is linked to everyday political thinking, philosophical texts, or cultural production. Beyond the regions and traditions that have conventionally framed comparative work in political theory, this degree is unique in teaching students to see how concepts “travel” across the world as a means to examine both political thought and political practice in different times and spaces, with a focus on SOAS’s traditional regions: Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The degree programme introduces students to the key approaches, debates, and questions in the emerging sub-discipline of comparative political thought.

At the same time, it provides thorough background in canonical political theory, albeit reconsidered through the political frameworks of imperialism, colonialism, and racial capitalism. Covering a range of thinkers, traditions and texts, it provides learning opportunities for students to compare ideas and values across regions and historical periods, and to place those ideas in global contexts.

See Department of Politics and International Studies


Why study MSc Political Thought at SOAS

We’re ranked 5th in the UK for Politics, as well as 3rd globally for academic reputation (QS World University Rankings 2022).

SOAS itself is unique — our global student body, multi-disciplinary approach, critical and questioning attitude moves well beyond the focus on basic ‘skills training’ found in so many other programmes.

With reference to political theory, we do not ignore the Western canon that figures so prominently (almost exclusively) in other programmes. Instead, we engage the Western canon, build on it, and critically examine it, situating it in a fresh approach to political theory that does not automatically assume its primacy.

SOAS is uniquely positioned to illuminate patterns of political thinking in Saudi Arabia, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, and India (to name a tiny cross-section of the countries that interest our students). No other programme in political theory is positioned to access the study of these enormously diverse ideas as well as SOAS.

Students on the MSc Political Thought programme are trained to understand and engage the ideas that animate politics in most of the world.

Explore 

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Who is this programme for?:

The MSc Political Thought is designed for students who wish to gain a deeper understanding of political theory in its global context, or to learn about the diverse strands of political thinking in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the different approaches to comparison in political thought.

It prepares students for further advanced study and research in political thought, and enhances analytical and communication skills suitable for employment in multicultural and international professional contexts. As such, this programme is highly relevant for students who wish to pursue doctoral studies in political theory and other subject areas in the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

It is also relevant for practitioners working in or intending to work in governments, international organizations, think tanks and advocacy groups who wish to acquire deeper knowledge of ideas and values that inform political practices in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with a 2:2 (or international equivalent) or higher in a relevant subject. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application such as supporting statement. References are optional, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:2 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications. 

    Please see our 'postgraduate entry requirements' page for Overseas and EU qualifications and equivalencies.

Featured events

duration:
One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Fees 2022/23

Home students fees:
£14,270
Overseas students fees:
£23,800

Fees for 2022/23 entrants. This is a Band 2 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found on the Postgraduate tuition fees page

Convenors

Q&A

Introducing the MSc Political Thought  

  Manjeet Ramgotra - POL - MSC - Images  

Dr. Manjeet Ramgotra, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, explains why the MSc Political Thought is particularly relevant to the world we live in today.

What does the programme involve?

This is a cutting-edge programme that pushes the boundaries of contemporary political theory. In this programme, we build on SOAS’s unrivalled expertise in comparative political thought and area studies to take a much broader view of ‘political thinking’ beyond the canonised texts of Western political philosophy. In particular, we consider a much wider range of source material for the study of political ideas (manifestos, grassroots thinking, art, protest, and so on). At SOAS, we do this with special reference to the most powerful political ideas of the Middle East, Africa, Asia (Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia).

Along the way, we read political concepts within their geographical and temporal contexts in their own terms and categories and compare these across boundaries. We believe our approach rejuvenates the field and makes it more relevant to the world we live in today.

What kind of students will the programme appeal to?

This programme typically appeals to those who see a link between their prior work in political theory and patterns of thinking beyond Western categories and contexts. It is particularly attractive to students who ask questions about how today’s political ideas around the world underpin political action: How do ideas, ideologies, concepts, and patterns of political criticism travel from one country or region to another? How do different cultural contexts ‘share’ political ideas (or not)—for example, ideas about justice, equality, rebellion, or corruption?


Typically, the students who join this programme understand that “ideas can change the world”; and they want to understand how this process occurs.

What is special about the programme at SOAS?

SOAS itself is unique—our global student body, multi-disciplinary approach, critical and questioning attitude moves well beyond the focus on basic ‘skills training’ found in so many other programmes.


With reference to political theory, we do not ignore the Western canon that figures so prominently (almost exclusively) in other programmes. Instead, we engage the Western canon, build on it, decolonise and critically examine it, situating it in a fresh approach to political theory that does not automatically assume its primacy. SOAS is uniquely positioned to illuminate patterns of political thinking in Saudi Arabia, China, Indonesia, Nigeria, and India (to name a tiny cross-section of the countries that interest our students). No other programme in political theory is positioned to access the study of these enormously diverse ideas as well as SOAS.


Students on the MSc Political Thought programme are trained to understand and engage the ideas that animate politics in most of the world.

Can you recommend a good book to read on Comparative Political Thought?

There are so many! To begin, one might consider a recent edited volume by Professor Michael Freedon and Andrew Vincent, eds., Comparative Political Thought: Theorizing Practices (Routledge, 2013).


Other good reads written by members of our Centre for Comparative Political Thought include:
Charles Tripp, The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Rahul Rao, Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality (Oxford University Press, 2020)
Hagar Kotef, The Colonizing Self: Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020)

What do students do after graduating?

Many of the students who complete our MSc in Political Thought plan to carry on with advanced research—often in a Political Theory PhD programme. A growing number, however, also pursue careers requiring high-level skills in cross-cultural engagement and communication: in government, diplomacy, international advocacy, activism, and the media. Journalists, political leaders, and those engaged in countless private and public-sector roles (corporate communications, intelligence, education, and international trade) understand that translating ideas, concepts, and values across cultural and political contexts is essential. Our graduates put this skill into practice.

 

Structure

Structure

Students take taught modules to the value of 120 credits PLUS a 10,000 word dissertation (15PPOC999) worth 60 credits.
Credits must be taken in the following combination;

Dissertation
Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Politics and International Studies 15PPOC999 60 Full Year
List A

Compulsory modules

Module Code Credits Term
Approaches to Comparative Political Thought 15PPOH028 15 Term 2
Political Theory, Race and Empire 15PPOH045 15 Term 1
Reading and Writing Political Theory 15PPOH079 15 Term 2
List B

A minimum of 30 credits from List B

Module Code Credits Term
State Violence: Theories of the Leviathan and Beyond 15PPOH034 15 Term 2
Islamic/Democratic Political Thought 15PPOH046 15 Term 2
Religion in Global Politics: Theories and Themes 15PSRC174 30 Full Year
East Asian Buddhist Thought 15PSRH018 15 Term 2
Law and Postcolonial Theory 15PLAH050 15 Term 2
List C

A maximum of 45 credits from List C (maximum of which can be 30 credits of language options)

Module Code Credits Term
Politics of resistance in the Middle East 15PPOH010 15 Term 1
Violence, Justice and the Politics of Memory 15PPOH019 15 Term 1
International Politics of Human Rights 15PPOH026 15 Term 2
Political Thought on the Just Rebellion 15PPOH030 15 Term 2
Methodology in the Social Sciences 15PPOH060 15 Term 1
African Philosophy (PG) 15PAFH008 15 Term 1
Critical Concepts in Buddhist Studies 15PSRH050 15 Term 1
Gender, Sexuality and Law: Selected Topics 15PLAH061 15 Term 2
Queer Politics in Asia, Africa and the Middle East 15PGNH007 15 Term 2
Law, Rights & Social Change 15PLAH064 15 Term 1

 

Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

The MSc Political Thought has two core 15 credit modules that all students registered for the degree will undertake: Approaches to Comparative Political Thought & Political Theory, Race and Empire. Students then choose modules equivalent to 90 credits from a list of optional modules (outlined below), and complete a dissertation based on independent study and research (equivalent to a further module).

Students must take 180 credits comprised of 120 taught credits (including core and option modules) and a 60 credit dissertation.

Knowledge
  1. Familiarity with the main approaches in the emerging sub-field of comparative political thought, including different understandings of ‘comparison’ and ‘thought’;
  2. Advanced understanding of some of the philosophical, historical, political and linguistic issues that arise in the study of non-Western political thought;
  3. In-depth knowledge of some key political concepts (eg. state, authority, individual, community), as understood by political thinkers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East;
  4. An understanding of political thought not simply as articulated by elite intellectuals, but also as ideas in action, manifested in political practices at different levels of society.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  1. To analyse and evaluate competing approaches to comparative political thought;
  2. To conceptualise the main issues and problems that arise in the comparative study of political thought;
  3. To develop in-depth understanding of aspects of non-Western political thought;
  4. To develop intellectual initiative and skills to compare political ideas across cultural and historical boundaries, identifying and evaluating similarities and differences;
  5. To formulate research questions and hypotheses.
Subject-based practical skills
  1. To identify, analyse and evaluate core arguments in theoretical materials from a variety of sources;
  2. To develop skills to work creatively and flexibly across different disciplines and regional traditions;
  3. To organise information in a lucid, coherent, concise, and clear form in written as well as oral presentations;
  4. To develop initiative and capacity to work independently on research questions and to adjust hypotheses and approach in the light of work undertaken for the dissertation.
Transferable skills
  1. To retrieve, select, digest and analyse complex information from a variety of sources.
  2. To structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  3. To work effectively in and contribute to meetings, by presenting, listening to and discussing ideas introduced during meetings.
  4. To manage time effectively.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fees for 2022/23 entrants, per academic year (Band 2 tuition fee)

Full-time Part-time 2 years Part-time 3 years
Home
Students
Overseas
Students
Home
Students
Overseas
Students
Home
Students
Overseas
Students
£14,270 £23,800 £7,135 £11,900 £4,710 £7,855

Fees go up each year, therefore your tuition fee in your second and subsequent years of study will be higher.

Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the postgraduate tuition fees page.

Scholarships
Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – East Asia

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Europe

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – India

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Pakistan

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – The Americas

Application Deadline: 2022-05-31 00:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2022-04-05 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section

Employment

Employment 

SOAS Politics and International Relations students leave SOAS not only with a knowledge and understanding of the complex political and cultural issues of our time, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers.

Recent graduates from the Department of Politics and International Studies have been hired by:

  • BBC World Service
  • Bloomberg
  • British Red Cross
  • British Council
  • Center for International Peace Operations
  • Channel 4
  • Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA)
  • Department for International Development (DfID)
  • Eversheds LLP
  • Financial Times
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Global Policy Institute
  • Go East Consulting
  • Grassroot Diplomat
  • Palestine Red Crescent Association
  • Save the Children
  • UNICEF Ethiopia
  • United Nations

Find out about our Careers Service

A Student's Perspective

I chose to study at SOAS because of the interesting course options that cover pertinent topics other leading institutions are yet to cover.

Mariam Iqbal

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