MRes Political Research provides advanced methods of data collection and analysis to suit wide ranging industries and research.

This programme is studied on campus.

The Masters in Political Research seeks to provide you with a comprehensive, advanced-level methodological training in Politics and International Relations. The qualification has a dual remit, equipping you with transferable skills for graduate employment, while also laying the foundations for research leading to a doctorate. The programme gives you the knowledge, understanding and competence to deploy qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis in the conduct of theoretically informed research in Politics and International Relations.

You are required to present research results in the form of oral and written reports and a dissertation permits you to develop skills in an area of particular interest. The MRes programme is tailored to provide the methodological training and critical capacity for advanced research in Politics and International Relations.

Completion of its four compulsory courses merits a Postgraduate Diploma in Political Research.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Qualitative Research Methods in Politics and International Relations (PI5021) - 30 Credit Points

This course explores the possibilities of qualitative research methods for students of politics and international relations. It examines the range of qualitative methods available to researchers, practically and critically, including participant observation, interviewing and focus groups. Having completed the course, students will be competent in the processes of designing, carrying out, analysing and writing up their own small-scale qualitative study.

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Theories and Issues in Political Science and Ir (PI5022) - 30 Credit Points

This course provides the theoretical/conceptual underpinning for the MRes in Political essential Research. It examines some of the central theoretical approaches in the study of political science and international relations which will be used to critically approach an analysis of a number of contemporary issues. Issues to be addressed will include, but are not confined to, the debates surrounding: Globalization; the European Union; Nationalism and Human Rights. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to apply these theoretical approaches to the analysis of issues within their own field of interest.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Research Design, Data and Presentation (PI5516) - 30 Credit Points

This course is an introduction to issues of research design, data collection and effective academic communication in political science research. Its primary objective is to introduce students to the basic rationale, logic and method of original empirical research. It prepares students for how one develops and translates interesting questions and broad theoretical concepts into manageable research projects, and how to communicate the project’s ideas and findings. This requires an understanding of the state of the art of the discipline and the diversity of theoretical and methodological approaches.

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Approaches to Quantitative Analysis in Social Research (SL5511) - 30 Credit Points

The course utilises secondary sources to demonstrate approaches to data analysis of social surveys. It provides a review of techniques suited to different data types, including categorical data in the form of tables and 'yes' and 'no' outcomes in multivariate analysis. The course makes comparisons among social groups and between societies in cross-sectional and longitudinal designs that include control, moderating and mediating factors in explanatory models. Students identify a topic and undertake their own analysis of a secondary data source to produce two research reports. Those two report comprise the total assessment for the course.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

A supervised dissertation of 12,000 words is undertaken on an agreed topic (for potential PhD students this is usually an early consideration of their selected field). (60 credits).

Compulsory Courses

Dissertation in Political Research (PI5904) - 60 Credit Points

This is a compulsory element on the MRes Political Research programme.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Teaching includes a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning in order to enhance students’ critical thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Courses are assessed through essays, presentations, group and project work. The variety of assessment in the programme ensures that students apply theory to practice and become expert communicators and team players.

Why Study Political Research?

  • The MRes Political Research provides you with an excellent range of research and analytical skills which are in demand across the globe.
  • The MRes Political Research is offered by the department of Politics and International Relations. The department has just celebrated its 50th anniversary and prides itself on offering core subject areas along with specialist electives which represent the research interests of its team.
  • At Aberdeen, we provide a world view of politics against the background of a cosmopolitan city with a worldwide energy industry at its heart.
  • The Department is a dynamic community of scholars. The following themes feature highly on the Department's research agenda: Comparative Political Parties and Elections, European Union, Security Studies, Cross National Surveys, Scottish Politics, Regional IR (Latin America), Human Rights and Development Issues, Environmental Politics, Energy Politics.
  • MRes Political Research is taught in the School of Social Sciences, part of the College of Arts and Social Sciences. The School provides and exciting and vibrant research lead learning environment of the highest quality.
  • All of our degrees offer thorough training in the basic principles of social science and specialised training in preparation for a wide variety of careers.
  • The Department of Politics & International Relations forms part of the School of Social Science, with core teaching staff and in excess of fifty postgraduate students. The centre celebrated five decades as a centre of academic excellence for political research with an international reputation.
  • We provide you with a core curriculum along with unique options that represent the research interests among staff. These interests include international political economy and globalisation, democracy and democratization, public policy and public opinion, power and security, interest groups, political parties, social movements, institutions and many more.
  • We offer expertise in the Middle-East, Latin America, North and South Asia, the Nordic Countries, Central and Eastern Europe as well as Scotland, the UK and the EU.

We provide a number of research centres at University of Aberdeen which are relevant to European politics:

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

Applicants will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with at least 2.1 or above from a recognised university of body in Politics, International Relations or a related discipline. In exceptional circumstances, applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience, appropriate to the field of study.

Two academic references are also required for application.

The MRes is a research degree in the sense that, alongside courses in research methods, students work out their own specific research topic under the supervision of the department. Many students, but not all, intend to go on to study for a PhD, in which case the dissertation written at the end of the MRes serves as a PhD research proposal. To apply for MRes, please include a short outline of your intended research theme. This need not be very detailed, up to about 1000 words in length.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 54; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,700
Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year
International Students £15,900
Tuition Fees for 2019/20 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


International survey organisations
Market Intelligence
Civil service research
Trades Unions

Career Opportunities

  • Civil Servant
  • Insight Analyst
  • Market Researcher
  • Political Party Research Officer
  • Politician Advisor
  • Researcher

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Lynn Bennie

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


Centre for European Survey Research

The ECSR has Associate Survey Agencies in more than 100 countries worldwide and can offer basic and applied research in form of quantitative and qualitative surveys as well as other empirical research tools in the social and economic sciences.

New Europe Centre

The New Europe Centre represents a group of researchers at the University of Aberdeen with projects from a number of different funding sources. We are committed to doing quality research in order to better understand the world around us.

Centre for Global Security and Governance

The Centre for Global Security and Governance brings together academic experts, policy makers, and students to define, analyse, and propose remedies to the most pressing security and governance challenges the world faces in the 21st century.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Social Science
University of Aberdeen
Edward Wright Building
Dunbar Street
AB24 3QY