Department of Political Science


Postgraduate Taught FAQ's


In addition to the information provided here, please refer to the UCL FAQ for answers to a wide range of questions on teaching, accommodation, student support and more.  

Will teaching take place face-to-face or remotely?

Teaching is currently being delivered through high-quality online lectures and interactive online seminars. Our online delivery is based on best practice developed by UCL’s Institute of Education – the world’s top-ranked education school. Our approach ensures that you will graduate with a globally respected degree that meets the highest academic standards.

We will supplement online teaching in Term 1 and 2 with interactive sessions, online and in person, in which you’ll be guided and challenged in discussion with peers and experts in your field, and can apply the material learned.

- There will be opportunities to pursue your interests outside your programme, including a rich array of talks and seminars. We’re also ready to connect you with world-leading employers and with UCL’s international alumni networks.
-There will be many opportunities to pursue your interests outside your programme, including UCL volunteering and entrepreneurship programmes, and the clubs and societies run by your Students’ Union.


Our flexible approach, which will be in place for Term 1, will allow us to respond to the latest developments and official guidance. We will review our plans as the academic year progresses to ensure you receive the best education and university experience.

Even though teaching will be online, the UCL campus will be open including libraries and the student centre and Term will start as planned on 28 September 2020. Your safety is paramount to us and if you are able to travel here, we look forward to welcoming you to London but if not, you will be able to pursue your degree remotely in Term 1.

Can I start the programme in January 2021?

No, unfortunately we do not offer a January 2021 start date. The new academic year starts September 2021.

Should the situation change and the government decides to ease their social distancing/lockdown measure significantly, would we potentially have more face-to-face teaching?

Teaching in Term 1 and 2 will be delivered online. If the lockdown eases, we will be able to undertake more ancillary face-to-face activities in London. However, teaching will remain online to ensure all of our global student body can participate. 

Will students still be able to see professors during their office hours?

Office hours will continue to take place but to ensure our global student body can participate, office hours will take place virtually, through one-on-one video chats between academics and students. Some academics may additionally offer face-to-face office hours, where social distancing permits, to students wishing to see them in-person.

In light of Covid-19, is it possible to gain access to UCL's library resources for research?

Our libraries will be open subject to safety and social distancing measures, including our Student Centre and learning spaces alongside our huge range of electronic resources (e-resources) to support you in your studies. For all our modules in each term required readings will be available online to ensure you have access to the same library resources when studying with us online.

In the case that I could defer for next year, and given the UK withdrawal from the EU this year, would I have to pay overseas fees for the 2021-2022 course instead of EU fees?

At this time, we do not know how the fee structure for academic year 21-22 will look like. Typically, fees are determined by the year the student enrols, rather than the year they were offered a place of admission, so there is a risk that EU students will be liable for overseas fees in 21-22.

How will the programme be delivered post Covid-19?

UCL will review teaching plans as the academic year progresses and closely monitor the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure you receive the best education and university experience, while safeguarding your health and safety. The Department will return to face-to-face teaching if and when it is safe to do so.

How would students still be able to conduct neccessary research i.e. volunteering at a specific refugee centre in order to write their specific topic while gaining experience?

Postgraduate Teaching dissertation fieldwork in 2020-2021 will be conducted in summer 2021. Should Covid-19 preclude the type of field work a student wished to pursue for their dissertation, the student’s dissertation advisor would work with the student on identifying a suitable alternative topic that could be undertaken with social distancing measures.

How many courses are are considered lectures versus small tutorials?

Nearly all of our modules are taught through a combination of lectures and small-group interactive seminars. Our lectures vary in size depending on the programme and module. Seminars average between 15-20 students.

If I decide to defer for a year. what is the process and when will I need to decide by?

There is no official deadline for deferring. However, we would ask that you request a deferral as soon as possible in order to help us with managing our student intake. You can defer on the your student portal. To defer after your original start date has passed you will no longer have access to the portal and will need to contact the Postgraduate Admissions office via postgraduate-admissions@ucl.ac.uk. Please include your full name and Student Number in all correspondence.

You may accept your offer now and then withdraw or request a deferral at a later stage. This will not incur a financial charge. If you end up paying the deposit and then decide to defer, the money you have paid will go towards your 2021/22 tuition fees.

This year, Admissions are considering second deferral requests (from students who deferred in a previous year) for reasons related to COVID-19. If you wish to request this, you should contact postgraduate-admissions@ucl.ac.uk so that your request can be reviewed and forwarded to the department if necessary.

How will study trips (in programme offering them) take place? 

Should the Covid-19 pandemic preclude in-person study trips in 2021, the Department will mitigate the loss of any study trip with similar activity within the academic year. This will likely take the form of virtual study trips in which students meet in small groups online with policymakers from the organisations the study trip focused on.

How will UCL enable networking with alumni and other students during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The Department is organising biweekly virtual alumni, career and student events for students throughout 2020-2021 to connect with world-leading employers, with UCL’s international alumni networks, and to students in your and other programmes of study at UCL. This will be complemented by face-to-face career, alumni and social events when it is safe to do so.

Will there be a discount on tuition fees?

The Department’s core priority is to safeguard academic standards and excellence for students in 2020-2021. As a result, the Department continues to staff all modules with high-calibre academics and an excellent student-staff ratio and invests, as in previous years, heavily in high quality teaching. Moreover, it is organising a suite of online policy workshops, networking events and international speaker series, among others, to enrich the student experience. The tuition fee is reflective of these expenses. Consistent with guidance from the UK Government’s Department for Education, UCL is not offering a fee reduction for the 20-21 academic year.

UCL’s Student Funding team offers advice and support to students experiencing financial difficulties, including due to the current situation. The team’s Student Funding Advisers can provide one-to-one guidance on funding options, especially for those facing emergencies.

Do both my reference need to be academic?

One of your references must be academic. Your application will not be processed without one. The other may be from an employer or colleague who has worked with you closely. 

What happens if I graduated a long time ago and I can not provide and academic reference?

Please note that your academic referee does not necessarily need to be someone that knows you from your undergraduate degree – they may know you though another programme of study. As long as they can comment on your performance in an academic capacity, this will suffice.

If this is also not possible, please provide two employment references. We will contact you if we require further information.

How long should my personal statement be?

The personal statement should be 1 to 2 pages long. We do not impose a specific word limit. (Please note that the field in the application will allow up to 3000 characters. If your statement is longer than this, you will need to upload it as an additional document.) 

It does not need to follow a certain format. This is an opportunity for you to tell us about yourself, your academic interests and your motivations for study.

Can I study part-time?

The Masters programme can be taken part-time over 2 years. It is generally expected that students complete 50% of a full programme load per year of registration, although we are keen to offer flexible study arrangements where possible. 

The courses offered are not run separately as evening classes for part-time students, although some courses are scheduled in the late afternoon/early evening. Part-time students attend the same classes as their full-time colleagues - they just take half of the course load in each year. 

For each module lasting one term in length, the total contact time is approximately 20 hours with an additional 130 hours of reading, essay writing and/or revision. 

While we try to make part-time study as flexible as possible, our Masters programmes are demanding and we advise students that, if they intend to work alongside the course, their work should be flexible in nature.

I am going to take an English test later in the year, can I still apply now?

You may apply for a place on a programme without yet meeting the English language criteria. However, any offers made to you would be conditional upon you providing evidence of your English proficiency prior to enrolment.

If I cannot take up my offer of a place this year, can I defer it to next year?

Each offer may be deferred once, to the following academic year. Once approved, Graduate Admissions will issue a new, updated offer letter.

Can I ask for feedback on my unsuccessful application?

We regret that we cannot offer feedback due to the volume of applications that we receive.

Do you require a deposit?

For September 2020 entry, a deposit is required for the following programmes:

MSc International Public Policy

MSc Public Policy

MSc Security Studies 

£1000 for full-time study

£500 for Part-time study

For more information on deposits, please visit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught-degrees/fees-and-funding/tuition-fee-deposits

The Department of Political Science, UCL requires successful applicants of the MSc International Public Policy, MSc Public Policy and MSc Security Studies programmes to pay a tuition fee deposit which will take effect from September 2019 for those applying for places in 2020. 

Payment of the deposit: Payment of the deposit aids UCL in its student numbers, module and estates planning.  Once a successful applicant is enrolled on their programme of study, the deposit will form part of the total tuition fee, as quoted on the offer of admission.  

The required tuition fee deposit must be paid in full by the deadline specified in the offer of admission, which will usually be no earlier than 1 April for entry the following September.

Payment of the tuition fee deposit (in full or in part) will be considered as acceptance of the terms detailed in the policy. 

Can I visit the department?

 The Political Science department is not open outside the University /Department open/offer holder days, but prospective students thinking of applying to UCL are normally welcome to have a look round college grounds at any time, to experience the character and atmosphere. For information on UCL Campus tours, please visit: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/campus-tours/

When do I need to accept my offer?

As a courtesy we usually ask offer holders to accept their place within four weeks of receiving their offer but there is no formal deadline.

How much is the application fee?

The application fee for taught programmes is £80 online and £105 for paper applications.

Does the Department offer funding or scholarships for postgraduate study?

Unfortunately, funding within the department for Masters students is scarce. Most of our students are self-funding through loans or savings. For information on possible postgraduate funding avenues outside of the department, please visit here

Due to Covid-19, I am unable to take my English language test because the IELTS test centres are closed, how will this affect me?

We accept several English language tests as proof of eligibility, including Duolingo.

For further information please see the English Language requirements for undergraduate students and postgraduate students.

However, please note that a UKVI acceptable IELTS is necessary for students who wish to enrol on a Pre-sessional English course with our Centre for Languages and International Education.

Can I still apply if I do not have a relevant degree?

We will consider applicants with ‘non-relevant’ degrees, providing they can demonstrate some relevant experience and/or a genuine interest in the course they are applying for.

The exception to this is the MA in Legal and Political Theory, for which applicants will need a background in Political Science, Law, Philosophy or a closely related discipline.

Does the department assess transcript equivalencies before submitting an application?

We do not assess academic equivalencies in the department.  These will be assessed by UCL Central Admissions once your application has been submitted. In the meantime, please see the equivalencies information on the Prospectus - https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught-degrees