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Democracy and Comparative Politics MSc

This MSc focuses on the design, creation, and operation of democratic institutions. Students gain understanding of when a given set of institutes are appropriate for a society and what will make them function, and how scholars have thought about these matters, applying theory to examples of institution-building and design.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£12,570 (FT) £6,225 (PT)
£20,540 (FT) £10,430 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 28 July 2017

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

As a minimum, a strong upper second-class (65%) Bachelor's degree from a UK university; a CGPA of 3.45; or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant practical or work experience in a related field may also be taken into account.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree information

Students are equipped with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary for an in-depth understanding of democratic institutions and politics. They develop an understanding of the potential benefits and pitfalls of different institutional designs, reforms, and administrative practices, and are able to analyse problems raised by new and reforming democracies.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four compulsory core modules (75 credits), optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Democracy and Constitutional Design (30)
  • Democratic Political Institutions (15)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Methods or Advanced Qualitative Methods (15)
  • Introduction to Quantitative Methods or Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)

Optional modules

  • Choose one of the following 15-credit modules (the other two remain available as options):
  • The European Union, Globalisation and the State (15)
  • Parliaments, Political Parties and Policy Making (15)
  • Governing Divided Societies (15)
  • Choose further modules up to a value of 30 credits in total from a list available at:
  • www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/teaching/masters
  • The following are suggestions:
  • Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account (15)
  • Equality, Justice, and Difference (15)
  • Making Policy Work (15)
  • NGO, Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Policy and Management (15)
  • Agenda Setting and Public Policy (15)
  • British Government and Politics (15)
  • International Political Economy (15)
  • Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice (15)
  • Conflict Resolution and Post-War Development (15)
  • Global Public Policy (15)


All MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Assessment is through unseen examinations, long essays, coursework, and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Democracy and Comparative Politics MSc


For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


Alumni of this programme work in a variety of fields. Many take on roles within their home governments, and a substantial number find jobs with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), working in their home countries or abroad. Some work for a research institutes or provide research for business, and a small number have also gone on to PhD study.

First destinations of recent graduates include:

  • The Labour Party: Secretary
  • Head Office Agency: Campaign Co-ordinator
  • Civil Service: Civil Servant
  • National Centre for Social Research: Research Assistant
  • National Autistic Society: Policy and Parliamentary Officer
  • Liberal Democrats: Research Assistant

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Consultant, World Bank Group
  • Trainee Campaign Organiser, The Labour Party
  • Parliamentary Assistant, UK Parliament
  • Research Intern, Access Info Europe
  • PhD Political Science, Trinity College Dublin


Graduates of the programme are equipped with the theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary for entry into the world of government policy, non-governmental organisations, or the private sector.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of democracy and comparative politics.

Students on the programme benefit from greater interaction with fellow students and academic staff due to small class sizes.

London features a wealth of seminars, conferences, and other events on democratic topics. These provide a means for students to expand their knowledge and to extend their professional networks prior to entering the job market.

Department: Political Science

Student / staff numbers › 39 staff including 1 postdocs › 442 taught students › 37 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Political Science
76% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme is aimed at current and future policymakers, analysts and researchers from both the public and private sector. Applicants should have a background in a relevant area, for example: economics, European issues, international relations, law, philosophy, politics, political science or sociology.

Application deadlines

All applicants
28 July 2017

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Democracy and Comparative Politics at graduate level
  • why you want to study Democracy and Comparative Politics at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging and truly international academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Contact information

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