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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

MA Political Thought

1. Programme Details

Programme nameMA Political Thought Programme codePTA1HPSHPS67
Study mode(s)Full Time
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)Streatham (Exeter)
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

This Masters explores recent debates in social and political theory from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining political, philosophical, sociological, economic, and legal approaches. It combines Anglo-American and continental literatures and analytical and institutional approaches.

The structure allows you to specialise in specific areas of political theory through dedicated core modules, whilst retaining choice in half of the coursework. This enables further specialisation in the history of political thought or study in other areas of political theory available at Exeter.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

  1. To provide students with a sophisticated understanding of the key debates and arguments in contemporary Political Thought on a range of issues that have implications for current social, political and institutional arrangements within and across nations.
  2. To provide students with a critical awareness of key questions and arguments about the relationship between identity, power, meaning and knowledge.
  3. To provide students with an insight into recent critiques of modern Western societies and their values which form crucial theoretical elements in debates across the social sciences.
  4. To produce graduates who are highly competent in subject-specific, core academic, and personal and key skills.
  5. To offer students a wide choice of option modules to enable them to construct a coherent programme of study that matches their interests and needs.

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

The programme is studied over 12 months (full time) or 24 months (part time) and is University-based throughout the period. The programme comprises 180 credits in total: taught modules worth 120 credits in total, and a supervised dissertation worth 60 credits. Teaching takes place in Term 2 (January to March), followed by completion of the dissertation over the summer (June to September). Each taught module is normally taught through seminars, underpinned by reading and essay assignments. The taught element consists of 2 core modules (for a total of 60 credits), and a choice of recommended options (other 60 credits).

Please note that the modules offered are subject to change depending on staff availability, timetabling and student demand.

Stage 1

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
POLM803 Sources in Modernity and Post-Modernity 30No
POLM057 Understanding and Interpretation in Political Thought 30No
POLM886 Dissertation 60Yes

Optional Modules

Politics option modules


Philosophy option modules


Please note that modules are subject to change and not all modules are available across all programmes, this is due to timetable, module size constraints and availability

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key issues in contemporary political philosophy.
2. Demonstrate substantive knowledge of the theorists and issues considered, their significance and the major critical positions adopted towards them.
3. Read critically and contribute to the literature relating to research in contemporary social and political philosophy.
4. Appreciate, analyse, synthesize, interpret and evaluate international socio-political issues, ideas and institutions.

All subject specific skills are developed through seminar discussion and assignments in the core modules, and applied in the dissertation

All subject specific skills are assessed through coursework assignments, and in particular through the dissertation.

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

5. Synthesize and comment critically on a body of academic writing.
6. Where appropriate, evaluate non-academic publications (i.e. government publications, activist literatures, primary historical sources, etc.) in the light of this academic reading.
7. Make effective use of libraries and the world-wide web to find information.
8. Reference sources accurately in written work to a professional standard.
9. Plan, conduct and write up a substantial essay in the form of a dissertation by a set deadline.

5 and 6 are developed through seminar work and assignments in all modules.

7 and 8 are developed through written assignments.

9 is developed through the dissertation preparation module and the dissertation.

All core skills are assessed through assessed assignments and the dissertation.

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

10. Think independently at an advanced level.
11. Undertake independent/self-directed learning (including time-management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment.
12. Reflect on the process of learning and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses.
13. Construct and defend a rigorous argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials
14. Work as an individual on challenging material.
15. Work as a participant or leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives.
16. Use standard IT applications competently.

10 and 12 are requirements of all modules, and especially the dissertation preparation module and the dissertation.

11 is developed through the navigation of extensive reading lists which contain materials which may or may not be pertinent to the specific work of the student.

13 and 14 are core requirements of all modules, and especially the dissertation.

15 is developed through seminar work on the taught modules.

16 is developed primarily through module assignments and the dissertation.

10 and 12 are assessed in all modules by essay work, and by the dissertation.

11 is reflected in the completion of long research essays, especially the dissertation, for which self-directed learning, deciding on the relative importance of various materials, and time-management are essential.

13 and 14 are assessed on all modules through the essays that go to make up the portfolio on which the coursework is assessed, and in the dissertation.

15 is reflected in seminar work and presentations.

16 is assessed indirectly through coursework and the dissertation.

7. Programme Regulations


Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

Learning Resources The University Library maintains its principal collections in the main library buildings on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, together with a number of specialist collections in certain Colleges. The total Library collection comprises over a million volumes and 3000 current periodical subscriptions.

IT Services provide a wide range of services throughout the Exeter campuses including open access computer rooms, some of which are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Helpdesks are maintained on the Streatham and St Luke's campuses, while most study bedrooms in halls and flats are linked to the University's campus network.

  • University Wellbeing Service - available free of charge, to provide confidential help and support.
  • Student Health Centre - We are a Primary Health Care Centre, primarily funded by the National Health Service, providing care for all acute and long-term health problems for students on the Streatham Campus.
  • Student Services Centre - in the Forum is your first port of call for free, impartial and confidential advice on a range of 12 student services from Accommodation to Finance, Wellbeing to International Student Support, IT to AccessAbility. You can access the SID team 12 hours per day during term time between 8am – 8pm plus 10am – 3pm on Saturdays. Out of term time we are open 9am – 6pm Monday – Friday.
  • The Student Engagement and Skills - team offer support for all students who wish to improve their personal, professional and academic skills, through lectures, workshops, individual appointments and peer support programmes in colleges and interactive online resources on Exeter’s Learning Environment (ELE).
  • Family Centre (Streatham campus) provides high quality care and education for early-years children of students and staff.
  • Student Advice Centre - : (the Forum) is your first port of call for free, impartial and confidential advice on a range of issues: housing, finance, and academic matters.
  • The Students’ Guild is the students’ union of the University of Exeter providing representation, advice, activities, social events, dining outlets and more.
  • Student complaints procedure.
  • Chaplaincy offers confidential support, advice and pastoral listening for all students.
  • The International Student Support Office supports non UK students across all University of Exeter campuses.
  • INTO University of Exeter partnership provides English Language and other preparatory courses for international students.
  • AccessAbility offers advice and support to students with specific learning disabilities (eg. dyslexia) and physical disabilities/health conditions. Support includes helping students access learning and teaching opportunities and make the most of university life.
  • Employability and Graduate Development the Career Zone has over 40 staff working to help you improve your chances of getting a great job after you graduate. They provide expert advice to enable you to plan your future through: guidance interviews, psychometric testing, employer presentations, skills events, practice job interviews and CV preparation.

Cornwall Only

  • Student health and welfare
  • FXU
  • Woodlane Day Nursery situated on the Woodlane Campus the nursery provides early years education and full day care for children from 1 year.
  • Penryn Campus Chaplaincy The Multifaith Chaplaincy provides confidential pastoral care to students of all faiths and none - we are here to listen and usually have a ready supply of tea and cake. We provide spiritual support, look after religious needs and we have links to local faith communities. We're also willing to help with faith-related academic projects and we enjoy getting involved in ethical debates, social justice issues and charitable adventures!
  • AccessAbility
  • The Career Zone is here to help you prepare for life after University by answering your career/postgraduate related queries.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.

(Quality Review Framework.

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

College of Social Sciences and International Studies (CSSIS)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

MA Political Thought

19. UCAS Code

Not applicable to this programme.

20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits ECTS credits

22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

23. Dates

Origin Date Date of last revision