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.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2021/22)
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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
As a minimum, an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university; 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
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
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.
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About this degree
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 five compulsory core modules (75 credits), optional modules (45 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Democracy and Comparative Politics.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
- Democracy and Constitutional Design (30)
- Democratic Political Institutions (15)
- Qualitative Methods: Interviews, Observations and Mixed Methods (15)
- or Qualitative Methods: Texts and Images (15)
- or Qualitative Methods: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis (15)
- Introduction to Quantitative Methods or Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)
Choose one of the following 15 credit methods modules (the other modules remain available as options). Please note that the precise list may vary year by year:
- Parliaments, Political Parties and Policy Making (15)
- Governing Divided Societies (15)
- The European Union, Globalisation and the State (15)
- Voter, Public Opinion and Participation (15)
Further modules can be chosen up to a value of 30 credits in total from a list available on our website. The full list of modules offered by the Department is subject to change year-to-year.
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.
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Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.
- £11,000 (1 year)
- Based on academic merit
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.
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.
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.
The focus of this programme is on the design, creation, and operation of democratic institutions in new and old democracies. When are a given set of institutions appropriate for a particular society, and what will make them function properly?
By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with both theoretical tools and empirical evidence necessary for an entry into the world of government policy, non-governmental organisations, or the private sector. The relationship of public participation to governance institutions allows for a broad understanding of how governance institutions might be adapted to different contexts.
In the programme, students gain an understanding of how scholars have thought about these matters, applying the theories to examples of institution-building and design in practice.
Examples of some themes of focus include:
- state structure, constitutional design, bureaucratic functions and a civil service, and strategies to counter corruption
- electoral systems and government structure, including the implications of reform in these areas
- federalism, devolution, and local government powers in relation to the centre
- political parties, public participation, and new forms of participation
- functions of parliaments, including issues of representation, representativeness, and their links to political parties
- judicial oversight and its relation to other institutions
- means by which different governance institutions might manage the task of governance in divided societies
Students on the programme get to know each other and their lecturers well, in a setting of 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 in advance of entering the job market. Attention is consistently given to opportunities for employment following the programme. Regular gatherings of students and programme alumni facilitate an active exchange of information regarding careers and opportunities, and a Facebook networking group sustains these relationships.
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
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.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
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.
- All applicants
- 30 July 2021
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.
When it is necessary to calculate a final average marks, the department will calculate all years of undergraduate study.
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