Government & Politics

Course Outline
The MSc in Government and Politics is an exciting interdisciplinary taught master's programme that provides graduates with the expertise and work experience required for successful careers in public policy environments.

The focus of the MSc Government and Politics is on governance. Government affects our day-to-day lives. It affects the food we eat, the healthcare we receive and the taxes we pay. Modern-day governance occurs at many levels: local, regional, national, European and international.

To provide an understanding of contemporary governments, the MSc in Government and Politics examines issues such as developments in democratic theory, regulatory reform and international relations. It also examines contemporary policy debates at a range of levels, looking at political reform in the Irish context, the changing dynamics of European governance as well as the challenges faced by democracy and the protection/advancement of human rights in the twenty-first century.

The MSc Government and Politics is oriented towards vocational skills training, through coursework, and the opportunity to undertake a work placement. The work placement is one of the unique selling points of this master's programme and is unlike any other postgraduate offerings from other universities. We have a dedicated placement officer who sources an internship tailored to each individual students' specific interests. In the majority of cases these internships are paid, although this cannot be guaranteed. The placement offering builds on the success of this scheme at the undergraduate and postgraduate level in other programmes offered by the Department of Government and Politics, which has been a pioneer in offering internships for students of political science. These placements are located in a wide variety of policy organisations, such as the Irish parliament, the Scottish parliament, the Office of the President, the Central Bank and Ervia, in which students will be able to utilise the knowledge learned on the programme and learn invaluable vocational and practical skills.

The MSc will enable you to develop your research and analytical skills in the areas of government, political science and public policy. It will also give you a number of other skills, including: data analysis; research, communication and writing skills; policy analysis, critical, systematic and independent thinking; and presentation skills. The work placement will give you a unique opportunity to develop important professional skills and to immediately apply your learning to the professional world.

The programme will prepare you for positions in government, international organisations, the private, community and voluntary sectors and PhD research. Our graduates have found employment as public affairs consultants, legal officers, parliamentary researchers, journalists, analysts in the banking and IT industries, press officers, teachers and some have gone on to PhD research.

The MSc in Government is suitable for graduates of social science, arts, commerce, law or related disciplines.

You can take this program in one year full-time or in two years part-time, and it is divided into two parts.

Why Choose This Course
A key feature of the MSc in Government and Politics is its focus on governance and public policy issues, and the way in which it gives you the practical skills necessary to work in policy environments. In addition, the work placement and the skills focus of the assessment for the programme are central to its effectiveness.

If you are a graduate in social science, arts, commerce or law, this course will help you to specialise in political science and will provide you with key transferable practical skills (data analysis, presentations, team work).

These features of the MSc Government and Politics give our graduates a competitive edge. Past students repeatedly comment on the value of the skills component of the course and the work placements in exposing them to policy-related environments and in engendering a deep understanding of this exciting and evolving field.

Placement or Study Abroad Information
Uniquely for a taught masters of this type, the MSc Government and Politics offers you the choice of either a traditional minor thesis or the opportunity to undertake a work placement of four months.

Students take work placements in a variety of organisations/institutions working in areas related to national affairs, such as government ministries, the offices of elected representatives, think-tanks and non-governmental organisations. We have relationships with a variety of organisations who take students from the course and students are provided with expert support in sourcing and applying for work placements.

Course Practicalities
Students studying for the degree full-time take all modules in one year.

Students studying for the degree part-time take all the core modules GV6124, GV6011, GV6010, ES6014, GV6118, GV6121 and PH6055 (40 credits in total) in Year 1 and the remaining credits from the list of elective modules, as well as GV6106 or GV6123 (30 credits) in Year 2.

The taught part of the course runs from mid-September to the end of the following March. You will take the work placement or research dissertation between the beginning of April and the end of September. The length of the work placement may vary from three to five months.

During the taught part of the course, students have approximately 8-10 hours per week of lectures/seminars. This is supplemented by recommended reading, preparation of presentations and other group work and time spent completing assignments (essays, policy reports, research projects, etc). During the taught part of the course you will also take classes in preparation for the work placement.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have an Honours Bachelors Degree with at least 2H2 Honours (or an equivalent academic or professional qualification) in one of the following areas: Social Science, Arts, Commerce, Law or a related discipline or equivalent professional experience as deemed appropriate by the Head of Department of Government Politics and the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science. Applicants may be required to attend for interview or may be short-listed for interview.

All applicants will be required to submit a 'personal statement' (indicating why they are interested in taking the MSc Government and Politics, and why they think they would be suited to the programme.

Prospective applicants should contact the Department of Government and Politics for further information.

English Language Requirements
Applicants that are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university approved English language requirements available at

International/non-EU applicants
For full details of the non-EU application procedure please visit our how to apply pages for international students. In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.

Not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above.

For more information please contact the International Office.

Assessment Info

In part 1, the course is assessed through a variety of course work assignments, including:
• in-class presentations
• reports
• article reviews
• book reviews
• blog contributions
• posters
• portfolios and essays

In part 2 of the course, the assessment involves
• a placement-based dissertation of 10,000 words if you are undertaking the work placement, or
• researching and writing a 15,000-20,000-word dissertation (if you are completing the dissertation)

Subjects taught

Part I:
In Part I, students take a combination of compulsory and elective modules.
There are 40 credits of compulsory core modules:
• GV6010 Contemporary Global Politics (5 credits)
• GV6011 EU Political System and Policies (5 credits)
• GV6118 Political Science Research Methods (10 credits)
• GV6121 Comparative Political Institutions (5 credits)
• GV6124 Political Participation and Mobilisation (5 credits)
• ES6014 European Democracy, Citizenship, Memory and Identity (5 credits)
• PH6055 Core Themes in Political Philosophy (5 credits)

In addition, students take 20 credits from a list of elective modules provided by the Departments of Government and Politics, History and Philosophy.

Part II:
Part II of the course challenges you to apply the skills acquired in Part 1 either by undertaking:
• GV6106 Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits). This is a 20,000 word research dissertation.
• GV6123L Work Based Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits). This is a work placement in a national policy environment and a placement-based dissertation. The length of the work placement is usually four months.

Specialist career advice is available to students through the Work Placement Officer and support is given in the planning for and application to work placement organisations. Our graduates have found the work placement to be an extremely valuable first step in their professional careers giving them unrivalled opportunities to make professional contacts and gain first-hand experience of the public policy world.

Further details on the content and modules are available on the Postgraduate College Calendar.


CKE70: 1 year full-time
CKE12: 2 Years Part Time

Additional Teaching Mode Information
The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.

Enrolment dates

Start Date: 7 September 2020

Post Course Info

Skills and Careers Information
The course prepares you for many types of employment and/or further study. Our graduates have found employment in the civil service, journalism, political institutions, international organisations, NGOs, teaching, banking, IT and PhD research.

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  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

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