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Politics of Development MA

New Course for 2017 - Programme Under Development

UCAS code
Year of entry 2017
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Politics and International Relations »


International development is a complex process and needs to be understood within its political contexts – international, regional and domestic. This course gives you the tools to understand the politics of development in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and to see how it works – and doesn't work – in practice.

You will be taught by leading experts from the Centre for the Politics of Africa, Asia and the Middle East (AAME), joining a vibrant and lively research community. You will benefit from involvement in wider activities carried out by the Centre, including seminars, an annual conference, and a range of research conducted by faculty and PhD students.

We place a strong emphasis on primary research, and you will take a course in fieldwork methods, equipping you with the skills necessary to obtain qualitative and quantitative data for your dissertation. You will be encouraged to make use of the wide network of academic contacts and scholars who will provide help and support during fieldwork activities. You will also have the opportunity to learn a language from one of the AAME regions.

By the end of this course you will leave with a solid understanding of the development challenges in the AAME regions, with particular understanding of the politics of at least one of them.

Core modules

Political Economy of Development

In this module you will develop an understanding of the contested nature of the concept of development and how it is measured. You will look at the key concepts and debates surrounding political, economic, and social development, and critically analyse major development issues, considering the theories of development and the benefits and drabacks of potential policy solutions. You will also examine the role of power relations, politics, and institutions in development outcomes.

Fieldwork Methods

This module will provide you with a practical introduction to key fieldwork methods. You will visit buildings, walk through cities, conduct interviews, and examine objects and archival material. You will think about how to understand these, and identify how they may be used as part of your research.

Dissertation

The dissertation is the culmination of independent supervised research, and will be around 10,000 words in length. Your choice of dissertation topic will be made at the end of the spring term, and you will be allocated a supervisor with expertise in your chosen field. You will submit an outline of the project, with an indicative bibliography, to the Programme Director at the beginning of the third term, and your supervisor will arrange a series of progress meetings over the summer period. Your dissertation may be either a critical analysis of a theoretical problem or the result of an empirical project.

You will take at least one of Africa and International Politics, China in the World, and Political Economy of the Middle East.

Africa and International Politics

In this module you will develop an understanding of the international politics of sub-Sahran Africa since the 1960s. You will look at the way in which geopolitical, ideological and economic shifts have helped shape and change perceptions of African states and their role and engagement in the world. You will consider the types of intervention and engagement by a variety of foreign actors, and African responses to them. You will also examine new liberal approaches to Africa since the end of the Cold War, including foreign attemps at economic and political reform.

China in the World

In this module you will develop an understanding of Chinese foreign policy and China’s impact on the international system and society. You will identify China's changing modes of interaction with the world, looking at the origins of its foreign policy and the 'grand strategy'. You will examine its role in the global balance of power, particularly within international institutions, and analyse the Asian security complex, considering whether China's role in East Asia is best viewed as hegemonic or hierarchical in the contemporary era.

Political Economy of the Middle East

In this module you will develop an understanding of the methodological and substantive debates and issues that shape the study of conflict. You look at the conceptual and practical issues and problems involved in conflict studies, and consider the central political issues and conflicts within and among the countries of the Middle East, and how these have historically developed. You will also examine the main international, transnational and domestic forces that affect the conduct of their internal and external affairs.

Optional modules

In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

You will take up to three from the following:

Analysing International Politics

This module will provide you with an advanced grounding in the key concepts and idea employed in the analysis of international relations. You will explore the ways in which the international system in which we live is not a timeless reality, but rather a particular, socially and historically constructed way of organising human affairs. You will develop an understanding of the key concepts, problems and theories of International Relations and how they inform our normative understanding of world politics, seeing how far these ideas measure up to historical events and processes which they claim to describe and explain. You will also assess the claims made today that world politics is now undergoing fundamental change as the ‘Westphalian system’ is dissolved by the forces of globalisation.

Media, War and Conflict

In this module you will examine the theories, concepts and issues surrounding the role of media in war and conflict in the early twenty-first century. The post-9/11 global security situation and the 2003 Iraq war have prompted a marked increase in interest in questions concerning media, war and conflict, and you look at the relationships between media, governments, military, and audiences/publics, in light of old, new, and potential future security events. You will develop an understanding of the theories of media effects in conflict situations, covering a number of important themes, including embedding, sanitisation, legitimacy, and terrorism and publicity. You will exlore the role of ethics, technology, and professional norms that inform war reporting, analysing a range of media with consideration for conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues in light of ongoing conflicts around the world.

Non State Violence, Civil War and Security

In this module you will develop an understanding of the changes to post-Cold War defence policy. You will look at the new objectives of defence policy, military capabilities, force structures and doctrines of the world’s major military powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia). You will analyse the extent to which these reforms have helped the state concerned to meet its central security challenges.You will explore the embedding of defence policies within regional and international institutions and the sources of defence cooperation, analysing the role and implications of non-state actors in defence, notably private military companies and non-governmental organisations.

Transnational Security Studies

This module introduces you to how the area of security studies has evolved to include ever more transnational dynamics. You will see how scholars have traditionally understood security and how the study of security has developed. You will develop a theoretical and conceptual awareness of the practical issues and problems in Transnational Security Studies, exploring why security has become transnational. You will also look at security communities, alliances and collective security; global security governance; and cyber warfare.

United States Foreign Policy

In this module you will develop an advanced knowledge of the key concepts, themes and issues in United States Foreign Policy. You will look at both the history of US foreign policy as well as contemporary issues, utilising readings of key texts on a weekly basis to provide you with an in-depth exploration of these issues and how Americans think about foreign affairs.

Understanding Defence

In this module you will analyse the content and sources of change in defence policy during the post-Cold War era. You will look at changes to the objectives of defence policy, military capabilities, force structures and doctrines of the world’s major military powers (the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia). In so doing, you will asses the extent to which these reforms have helped the state concerned to meet its central security challenges. In addition, you will develop an understanding of the embedding of defence policies within regional and international institutions and the sources of defence cooperation. You will also see the implications of non-state actors in defence, notably private military companies and non-governmental organisations.

Internet and New Media Politics

This module will provide you with an introduction to contemporary debates about the role and influence of new technologies on the values, processes and outcomes of global governance institutions, public bureaucracies, representative institutions including political parties and legislatures, and pressure groups and social movements. You will examine persistent and controversial policy problems such as the digital divide, privacy and surveillance, intellectual property issues, and the power of the new media sector in domestic and global economies. You will primarily consider the politics of the United States and Britain, but will also look at examples from around the world, including developing nations.

Social Media and Politics

This module addresses the ways in which social media are changing the relationships between politicians, citizens, and the media. You will develop an understanding of the broad arguments and debates surrounding the democratic implications of social media that are ongoing, not just in academic circles, but also in public commentary, political circles, and policy networks. Drawing on recent empirical research published in the most highly rated academic journals in the field, you will to be able to identify how social media are used by citizens, politicians, and media professionals to access, distribute, and co-produce contents that are relevant to politics and public affairs.

Identity, Power and Radical Theory

This module will introduce you to new conceptualisations of identity, difference, power, and politics that are associated most notably with what has been termed 'Post-Marxist' or the 'New Left'. You will see how recent changes in both political theory and practice – some of which are associated with changes linked to globalization and the emergence of new social movements – present compelling a paradigm shift in the way politics is understood. You will focus on four concepts – identity, power, resistance, and otherness – that have become salient in contemporary political philosophy and international relations theory and on four theorists – Althusser, Gramsci, Laclau & Mouffe, and Foucault – whose thought on these issues has underpinned a great deal of New Left political theory and practice. You will look at how these issues have become prominent in the theory and politics around feminism and lesbian politics, and at new problematics for thinking about political thought and practice, with particular focus on what has been called the 'micropolitical' realm.

Theories of Globalisation

This module will provide you with an overview of political, and social science theories of, approaches to the study of globalisation. You will look at issues and debates central to the theorisation of globalisation. You will critically evaluate contending theories of globalisation, examining world global capitalism, global culture, the long history of globalisation, the making of world society, global transformations, the global age beyond modernity, the organisation of global culture, global flows and global networks, and the cosmopolitan perspective.

Sovereignty, Rights and Justice

Given the complexity and controversy of events and occurrences in international affairs, it seems strange to think that the disciplines of international relations and political theory were considered to be separate in the 20th Century. In this module you will look at the re-emergence of international political theory after the Cold War, developing a comprehensive understanding of international events. In doing so, you will examine and evaluate key ideas about the central notions of sovereignty, the rights of states and individuals and what justice means in an international context. You will engage with material at the cutting edge of contemporary political and international relations theory, thinking about issues that will be of increasing importance in the 21st century.

Human Rights - From Theory to Practice

This module explores some of the key issues which arise in the moral evaluation of human rights, both in general and with respect to particular rights. You will consider the role of rights in political and moral discourse and develop an understanding of some of the key criticisms to which they’ve been subject. You will also look at the three major categories of rights which have attracted much debate: economic rights, minority rights, and group rights. Finally, you will gain an oversight of the three central rights in liberal societies, examining the ways in which they have been interpreted and defended in light of recent political debates.

Global Politics and Religion

In this module you will develop an understanding of the global religious resurgence that has taken place in recent decades. You will consider the connection between globalisation and religious nationalism with specific reference to how globalisation has brought politics and religion into new and important configurations, including Iranian theocracy, liberation theology in Nicaragua, the Solidarity movement in Poland, Zionism, Hindu nationalism in India, Muslim movements in Turkey, the evangelical right in the United States and Islamic fundamentalism. You will draw on perspectives from Sociology, Theology, History, and Anthropology to move beyond Western conceptions of religion, viewing religion and its relationship to politics from a 'global' perspective.

This course is taught in small groups – up to 25 students in any one year – meaning that you will get close personal attention from tutors, and become part of a close-knit and lively research community.

You will take two core compulsory units, two optional core units, two elective units and a dissertation (worth two units)

Each unit consists of a weekly two-hour seminar which includes short lectures, student presentations, practical sessions (such as study visits to central London) and group discussions. Seminars are conducted in groups of around 10-15 students.

Students will be expected to read 4 or 5 key readings (approx. 100 pages in total) per course per week.

Students have a dissertation supervisor, assigned after they settle on a topic, who also acts as a personal advisor.

Students usually write two 3,000-word essays for each course unit and may also be assessed on class presentations. The methods course can involve the production of other materials such as photographs, recordings, narrative writing, the collection of objects. Students write a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Entry criteria:

A minimum of a UK upper second class honors degree (2:1) or overseas equivalent.

Mature students with substantial work experience will also be considered.

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.


If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor your study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below




Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

 

Graduates of political degrees have much to offer potential employers having developed a range of transferable skills, both practical and theoretical, whilst studying with us. With up to 90% of our most recent graduates now working or in further study, according to the Complete University Guide 2015, it’s true to say our graduates are highly employable. 

The methodological nature of a politics degree provides graduates with valuable analytical and research skills in preparation for careers in government, political consultancy, NGOs and research organisations.

In recent years, departmental graduates have secured jobs in a wide range of professions, such as the law, the civil service, accountancy, management, journalism, broadcasting, teaching, international development and diplomacy. In fact, six-months after graduation, 90% of our most recent graduates are enhancing their skills with further study or forging careers in companies and institutions such as:

  • Amnesty International
  • Bloomberg
  • The Church of England
  • Citigroup
  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  • The Conservative Party
  • Ernst & Young
  • The European Commission Global Capital
  • HM Treasury
  • The Henry Jackson Society
  • House of Commons
  • Ipsos MORI
  • The Labour Party
  • KAYAK
  • NATO Headquarters
  • Oxford Business Group
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • Quadrangle
  • Save the Children

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £7,000

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £14,500

Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fees given above apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis.  Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee and information is available from the Royal Holloway Student Fees Office on Student-Fees@rhul.ac.uk. All fees are likely to rise annually in line with inflation but no more than 5 per cent per year.

For further information, please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

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