Legal and Political Theory MA

London, Bloomsbury

This MA provides students with key analytical skills to study the ethical dimensions of public policy. The programme, drawing on three areas of excellence at UCL, offers a distinctive mix of politics, law and philosophy, centred on the normative evaluation of public policy at both the domestic and international levels.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

As a minimum, an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard; Applicants should ideally have a background in in a degree in Political Theory (e.g. Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, International Relations) or in other subjects with heavily weighted modules in related topics (e.g. moral philosophy, jurisprudence, intellectual history or sociology)

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

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.

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

This MA provides you with the key analytical skills to evaluate the ethical dimensions of law, politics, and public policy. The programme is centred on the normative analysis of public life at both the domestic and international levels.

Who this course is for

The programme is best suited to students who wish to develop their understanding of the major issues in legal and political theory for further research or a career beyond academia in a related field. Applicants should have ideally have a background in a degree in a subject relevant to Legal and Political Theory [e.g. Law, Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, International Relations] or in other subjects with heavily weighted modules in related topics [e.g. moral philosophy, jurisprudence, intellectual history or sociology]. We will also consider applications from those with a particularly strong track record in other disciplines.

What this course will give you

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of legal and political theory.

A full programme of colloquia with visiting speakers offers unrivalled opportunity to meet and engage with some of the leading figures in the field.

The Legal and Political Theory MA benefits from the interdisciplinary research culture of the Department of Political Science, as well as from the participation of UCL Philosophy and UCL Laws.

The foundation of your career

Graduates of this programme have an excellent record of employability in leading professions such as law, consultancy, politics, journalism and academia.


The MA provides an excellent foundation for further research in political theory at the doctoral level as well for a wide variety of careers related to the world of politics and policy.

Students will acquire advanced analytical transferable skills, exposure to cutting-edge scholarship and the ability to engage in independent research, combined with deep understanding of the normative aspects of the major challenges facing the contemporary world.


The programme offers students the opportunity to meet leading academics in the areas of legal and political theory when they come to speak at our visiting speaker colloquia. Students also organise an annual Legal and Political Theory Forum on a topic of their choice and to invite a panel of speakers that they want to assemble.

Teaching and learning

Teaching typically takes the form of lectures and seminars where time is dedicated both to introducing you to knowledge and materials, and allowing you to test your understanding, knowledge and evaluative skills, through discussion, criticism and debate of issues. Lectures and seminars are accompanied by a list of readings, which will enable you to deepen your understanding of the ideas discussed in the lectures and seminars. Every member of staff offers student support and feedback hours where you can discuss the material one-to-one with your teachers,

You will be assessed by a variety of methods: examinations, long essays, coursework, oral presentations, and a dissertation. These all contribute to the development of your capacities to craft arguments and defend them cogently, and to anticipate and respond to objections to your arguments. The essays and dissertation in particular require you to undertake independent research. Some modules, including all compulsory modules, include formative assessments, where you receive feedback and guidance on work that is not formally assessed as part of your degree.

150 hours is allocated to each 15 credit module. This includes 20 contact hours and 130 study hours.


You will undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. You are required to take the following three compulsory modules:

1. Meanings of Liberty: Applied Methods in Political Theory. This module will train you in the central methods of political theory, explored through substantive discussion of the concept of liberty and related normative disputes.

2. Colloquia in Political Theory, and Legal Philosophy and Peer Assisted Learning Sessions. This module involves 2-hour sessions with visiting speakers, discussing work in progress that they have given us to read in advance. These colloquia are hosted by the Department during Term 1 when they concentrate on Political Theory ; during the remainder of the year, they are hosted as the Dworkin Colloquium by the UCL Institute for Law, Politics and Philosophy, an interdepartmental collaboration.

3. Dissertation - 10,000 words. This final piece of research gives you the opportunity to engage in a debate in legal and political theory of your choosing. You will receive supervision from a member of staff before researching and writing your dissertation for submission in early September.

You will also choose two or three option modules, which connect to the central themes of the degree. Options in this category may include (subject to changes):

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy I: Authority, Obligation & Democracy
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy II: Social Justice and Equality
  • Equality, Justice and Difference
  • Global Ethics
  • Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition I & II
  • Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition I
  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory I & II
  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory I
  • The Ethics of Poverty
  • Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights
  • Social Justice, Social Mobility, Education and the Family
  • Public Ethics
  • The Ethics of social media

Finally, you will choose an additional elective module from the total list of options offered by the Department of Political Science, or, with approval of the programme director, offered elsewhere in UCL.

The programme structure for part-time students follows the same structure as our full-time students. We encourage our part-time students to distribute their study evenly between the two years of study. The majority of part-time students opt for one of the following patterns:

  • 75 credits in year one and 105 credits in year two;


  • 90 credits in year one and 90 credits in year two.

Upon completion you will have undertaken modules to the value of 180 credits, comprising of three compulsory modules: Meanings of Liberty: Applied Methods in Political Theory; Political Theory, Colloquium in Legal Philosophy and Peer Assisted Learning Sessions and a dissertation. You will have further attended elective module(s) so you can personalise your programme of study to your own academic or professional interests.  

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 are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Legal and Political Theory.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £19,300 £9,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £31,100 £15,550

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

There are no additional costs for this programme.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

Past students on the programme have been awarded prestigious scholarships such as AHRC and UCL graduate studentships.

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

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

GREAT Scholarship

Deadline: 14 May 2024
Value: £10,000 towards tuition fees (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

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.

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 Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn

  • why you want to study Legal and Political Theory at graduate level
  • why you want to study Legal and Political Theory at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • if you have not formally studied Political Theory before, how does your personal, academic and professional background meets the challenges of this programme
  • 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 mark, the department will calculate all years of undergraduate study.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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