MA Legal and Political Theory
About this programme
The programme explores the moral quality of the decisions citizens and professionals take, and the justice of the legal and political structures within which they operate.
Among the policy issues addressed are the character and limits of a multicultural society, the obligations of rich to poor countries, the morality of the war on terror, the rights and wrongs of animal experimentation, the feasibility of global citizenship, and the advisability of judicial review.
- Programme Summary
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.Location: London, Bloomsbury
As a minimum, an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university in political theory or a related discipline; 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.
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:International equivalencies
Register interest in your chosen subjects.
Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more.
PLEASE NOTE: It is essential that MA Legal and Political Theory applicants have an academic background in Political Science, Law or a closely related discipline.
Programme Director: Dr Emily McTernan
The programme is made up of the following elements, to total 180 credits:
1. You are required to take the following three compulsory modules:
- Meanings of Liberty: Applied Methods in Political Theory (30 credits)
- Seminars in Political Theory and Colloquium in Legal Philosophy and Peer Assisted Learning Sessions (30)
These seminars are an integral component of the course and all students are required to attend. The seminars - which become the Colloquia in the second term - take place on alternate Wednesdays. Seminars bridge the gap between academic research and broader understanding of key issues concerning society and politics.
Peer Assisted Learning (P.A.L.) sessions. All members of the MA programme are required to attend these student-only discussions held before the Seminars. They give students the opportunity to discuss that week's paper amongst themselves under the supervision of a member of teaching staff. The aim of the sessions is to prepare students to participate fully in the SPP seminars themselves.
- Dissertation - 10,000 words (60)
2. Choose two or three modules worth a total of 45 credits from the following (the other modules remain options to choose in step 3):
- Contemporary Political Philosophy I: Authority, Obligation and Democracy (15)
- Contemporary Political Philosophy II: Social Justice and Equality (15)
- Equality, Justice and Difference (15)
- Global Ethics (15)
- Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition I and II (30) (LAWSG021)
- Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition I (15) (LAWSG021A)
- Jurisprudence and Legal Theory I and II (30) (LAWSG025)
- Jurisprudence and Legal Theory I (15) (LAWSG025A)
- The Ethics of Poverty (15)
- The Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights (15)
- Public Ethics (15)
- The Ethics of Counter Terrorism (15)
- Social Justice, Social Mobility, Education and the Family (15)
3. Choose one 15 credit module (the following is a list of all courses available within the department):
- Advanced Qualitative Methods
- Advanced Quantitative Methods
- Agenda Setting and Public Policy
- British Government and Politics
- Conflict Resolution and Post War Development
- Constitutional and Institutional Law of the European Union (Laws)
- Contemporary Political Philosophy I: Authority, Obligation and Democracy
- Contemporary Political Philosophy II: Social Justice and Equality
- Data Analysis for Public Policy (MPA students only)
- Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account
- Democracy and Constitutional Design (DCP students only)
- Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutions
- Democratic Political Institutions
- Environmental Politics
- Equality, Justice and Difference
- Foreign Policy Analysis
- Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice
- Geopolitics and Globalisation (Geography)
- Global Business Regulation
- Global Ethics
- Global Governance (GGE students only)
- Global Public Policy
- Globalisation and Security (Geography)
- Governance and Public Management (MPA students only)
- Governing Divided Societies
- Health Policy and Reform
- History and Theory of European Integration (History)
- Human Rights, Accountability and World Politics
- Human Rights: Politics and Practice
- Impact Evaluation Methods
- Informal Practices in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Economy (SSEES)
- International Law and Human Rights (HR students only)
- International Organisation: Theory and Practice (IPP students only)
- International Peace and Security (SS students only)
- International Political Economy
- International Trade Policy
- Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods: Researching Politics using Interviews, Observations and Fieldwork
- Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods: Researching Politics using Texts, Transcripts and Images
- Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods
- Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition (Laws)
- Jurisprudence and Legal Theory (Laws)
- Law and Regulation
- Leadership and Organisational Behaviour
- Making Policy Work
- Meanings of Liberty: Applied Methods in Political Theory (LPT students only)
- Nation, Identity and Power in Central & Eastern Europe (SSEES)
- Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Policy and Management
- Normative Methods, Legal Analysis and Research Skills
- Parliaments, Political Parties and Policy-Making
- Peer Assisted Learning Sessions (LPT students only)
- Performance Management & Accountability
- Perspectives on Organised Crime and Terrorism (Centre for Security and Crime Science)
- Policy Advice (EMPA and MPA students and MSc students with 3 years of relevant work experience)
- Policy Implementation (EMPA and MPA students only)
- Policy-making & Regulation in Europe
- Political Economy of Development
- Political Economy of Energy Policy
- Politics of Change in the Baltic States (SSEES)
- Politics of Economic Policy in Post-Industrial Democracies
- Practical Documentary Filmaking (Anthropology)
- Public Ethics
- Public Finance and Budgeting
- Public Management: Theories and Innovations
- Public Microeconomics (Economics)
- Public Policy Economics and Analysis
- Republicanism and Liberalism
- Russian Foreign Policy Since 1917 (SSEES)
- Russian Politics (SSEES)
- Social Justice, Social Mobility, Education and the Family
- Social Values and Public Policy: Health and Environment
- Strategy and Organisational Change
- The Ethics of Counter Terrorism
- The Ethics of Poverty
- The European Union, Globalisation and the State
- The European Union in the World
- The European Union: Institutions and Politics (EPP students only)
- The Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights
- Theories and Actors of the Policy Process (PP students only)
- Theories of International Relations
- Voters, Public Opinion Participation
- Violent and Non-Violent Conflict
- War, Peace, Human Rights and International Law
Students may take graduate modules from cognate subjects available elsewhere in UCL but must seek approval from the Programme Director in the first instance.
- Further Information
Destinations and careers
- Student Destinations statistics for MA Legal and Political Theory
- Alumni profiles for past MA Legal and Political Theory
Founded by Jeremy Bentham and counting Mahatma Gandhi among its alumni, UCL pioneered the application of legal and political theory to illuminate the ethical dilemmas of public life. It remains a leading international centre for postgraduate teaching and research at the cutting edge of work in the field. The MA in Legal and Political Theory draws on three areas of excellence at UCL, each supported by a group of world class scholars; jurisprudence, philosophy, and political theory and human rights. The result is a unique mix of politics, law and philosophy, centred on teh normative evalulations of public policy at both the domestic adn international levels.
Legal and Political Theory Forum
UCL Legal and Political Theory Forum is an annual event, organised and run by students on the MA Legal and Political Theory course at UCL. It provides an opportunity for distinguished academics, politicians and others working in the public policy field to consider some of the philosophical issues underlying current debates in public policy Go to site »
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The MA in Legal and Political Theory provides students
with the key analytical skills to study the ethical dimensions of
public policy. The programme explores the moral quality of the decisions
citizens and professionals take, and the justice of the legal and
structures within which they operate. Among the policy issues addressed
character and limits of a multicultural society, the obligations of rich
poor countries, the morality of the war on terror, the rights and wrongs
animal experimentation, the feasibility of global citizenship, and the
advisability of judicial review. The MA also features frequent research
seminars, where the best current work on legal and political theory is
presented by eminent guest speakers from around the world.
Past students on the programme have been awarded prestigious scholarships such as AHRC and UCL graduate studentships.
The main strengths of the MA are
- Specialist expertise in a range of key political theory approaches, notably:
- ethics and contemporary political philosophy
- legal theory and jurisprudence
- egalitarianism and theories of social justice
- human rights
- theories of democracy and citizenship
- liberalism, republicanism, multiculturalism
- history of modern political ideas
- European political thought
- 'Tuesday Seminars'. The Autumn Term seminars in political theory, and the Spring Term Colloquium in Legal Philosophy offer students an unrivalled opportunity to meet and engage with some of the leading figures in the field and to discuss their latest . Seminars bridge the gap between academic research and broader understanding of key issues concerning society and politics; attendance is compulsory for MA students and papers are discussed in advance of seminars through Peer-Assisted Learning Sessions.
- Core course on 'Applied Methods in Political Theory', providing students with key research skills, exposure to, and practice of, a range of political theory methods, development of written and oral skills. It provides a good training for the 10,000-word dissertation which make 30% of the degree.
- Interdisciplinary research culture of the School of Public Policy, the centre of expertise in political science at UCL, with particular strengths in public policy, constitutional issues, European politics and international relations.
- Strong input from such established UCL departments and institutions as Law, Philosophy, the Bentham Project, Economics, History, and European Studies.
Our aim is to provide a challenging intellectual atmosphere for postgraduate study, along with the best possible support for individual students. The School of Public Policy is a research-oriented institution where the particular needs and interests of postgraduate students are well catered for. SPP provides an ideal environment to pursue doctoral research, and the MA is an excellent foundation for further research in political theory.
General aims of the degree
- to raise critical awareness of major issues in legal and political theory;
- to inculcate the ability to discuss, in an informed, coherent and critical way, issues of political thought;
- to develop the confidence to think creatively;
- to improve the transferable skills of coherent and rational argument and the written and oral expression of ideas.
Specific objectives: by the end of the programme students should
- be able to expound and criticise important ideas of selected modern political theorists;
- be able to articulate and justify a considered and coherent position on issues concerning the relationship between politics, law and society;
- demonstrate systematic reading, clarity of expression, ability to develop an argument in support of a position, anticipate and answer objections to that position, through the production of a dissertation of not more than 10,000 words which will demonstrate a capacity for beginning doctoral research