History and Politics, MA

History and Politics, MA

Introduction

History and Politics at Aberdeen is a great combination to add to your wide and deep study of all aspects of human activity in the past with a fascinating exploration of national, European and global politics. You will be taught by highly-regarded experts regularly commenting in the media on events unfolding in the world today and gain the perfect foundation for a wide range of careers in Europe, politics, media and many other fields and professions.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
VL12
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
Degree marketing image

You will be enthused and inspired by teachers who are leaders in their fields, with expertise as diverse as medieval Scandinavia, early-modern Poland and modern East Asia and enthralled by our wonderful collections of historic treasures collected by distinguished alumni over the centuries.

In Politics, you will be right at the front of debate on current world events – including Britain’s relationship with the European Union and its neighbours on mainland Europe and movements of regionalisation within the UK.

You will explore voting behaviour, different political systems, making and implementing policy, nationalism, concepts of democracy and ever-present concerns of conflict and peace. You can also take advantage of unique options made possible by the research pedigree of our academic team with a strong track record in publishing international papers and articles.

The knowledge and combination of academic, analytical and intellectual skills you will develop and their transferability will be a great foundation for a career in politics, international organisations, local and national and local government, NGOs, charities and much more.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

Academic Writing for Divinity, History & Philosophy (AW1007)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

Making History (HI1027)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to the subject of university level history. Team taught lectures will introduce students to approaches, sources, and the dilemmas facing academic historians.

Politics & International Relations 1: Democracy and Governance (PI1018)

15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

Politics & International Relations 2: Power and Conflict (PI1518)

15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from level 1 courses in History or Art History, plus 45 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Ideas and Ideologies in Politics and International Relations (PI2009)

30 Credit Points

Ideas and ideologies are core to teaching, learning and research in Politics and International Relations. Theoretical developments are at the forefront of academic debates within the discipline, demonstrated by the appearance of a number of new approaches as more traditional theories have struggled to account for an ever changing world. This course will introduce students to these with profound questions and struggles over identity, belonging, justice and rights underpinning these theoretical debates.

Global Politics: Equality and Inequality (PI2508)

30 Credit Points

Equality and inequality are at the forefront of many debates within contemporary Politics and International Relations. This course will examine the historical context, theoretical underpinnings, and also key concepts which continue to uphold equality and inequality on a global scale.

Optional Courses

Select 60 credit points from available level 2 courses in History.

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Thinking History (HI356J)

30 Credit Points

This course looks at how history is written. It considers the problems involved in studying and explaining the past, and the many dilemmas faced by historians in reconstructing it. By examining the ways in which history has been written from the Ancient Greeks to Postmodernism, it considers the limits of historical study, asks whether history can ever be a science, and reveals the assumptions behind the various approaches to history that inform its writing. It is designed to provide honours history students with an essential understanding of what they are doing when they study history.

Researching in the 21st Century (PI3069)

30 Credit Points

Research methods and techniques are fundamental to the study of Politics and International Relations. In addition, they are highly desired by employers. This course will introduce students to a number of different research techniques which they will use throughout their studies at Honours and in particular their Honours dissertation. Moreover, they will also constitute a significant part of their graduate attributes.

Optional Courses

Select 30 credit points from level 3 courses in History or ONE of the following approved courses.

Plus, select ONE second-half session level 3 Politics and International Relations course from the list below.

Christianity in Scotland: History & Theology of the Church in Scotland (DR302F)

30 Credit Points

What was the situation of the Church in medieval Scotland? What changes did the Reformation of 1560 bring? Who were the main players in the Scottish Reformation and beyond? Who were the covenanters and which policies and theologies did they represent? What changes did the 19th and 20th centuries have in store for the Kirk? This course introduces students to the landmarks of Scottish Church history with reference to relevant primary sources. Assessment is based on two essays.

Painting in Tudor and Early Stuart England (HA3082)

30 Credit Points

This module develops students' knowledge and understanding of early modern European painting, providing a chronological overview of elite portraiture and diplomatic commissions in England between 1530 and 1650. Artists studied in their English contexts include Hans Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. Furthermore, this module asks important questions about the persuasive and diplomatic possibilities of the visual arts, the relationship between painter and patron, and the impact and legacy of foreign artists on British painting and visual culture through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond.

History of Medicine (ME33HM)

30 Credit Points

The course will involve each student working individually on a historical project of his or her own choice, under the supervision of the course co-ordinator.

Students will be required to produce a research proposal and progress reports, to prepare an essay and make a presentation of their findings to the class. The aim of the option is to give students the opportunity to research and present, individually, in spoken and written forms, a history of medicine topic of their own choice, using both primary and secondary sources.

Climates of Classicism: Scottish Travellers in Greece, 1770 - 1880 (AH3507)

30 Credit Points

Throughout the 19th century, countless artists travelled to Greece in search for the splendours of antiquity. Many were disappointed by the rugged and mountainous country -

but for many Scottish travellers Greece proved surprisingly similar to their homeland. We will focus on these Scottish artists and antiquaries travelling to Greece, and their experiences.

The course is based on the study of material in Aberdeen collections, serving also as hands-on training in work with primary sources.

Scottish Revivals (DR355D)

30 Credit Points

This course will examine the manifestations of religious revivals in Scotland from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries within their economic, political, religious and social historical contexts. Firstly, it will explore the various traditions of revival that have emerged during the course of the previous 300 years. Secondly, it will review the historiography of revival studies and will consider the theories that surround religious movements. Thirdly, it will consider the timing and manner of these demonstrations of religious enthusiasm. Fourthly, it will analyse the people who were affected by revivals. Fifthly, it will investigate the effects of religious movements within the lives of the communities where they have been experienced. Finally, the course will appraise the significance of revival within the wider tradition of the Christian church in Scotland in modern times.

The Heroic Age in Gaelic Sagas (GH3527)

30 Credit Points

Are heroes always a good thing? Medieval Gaelic legendary narrative offers no simple answers. Its rich and hugely entertaining body of heroic sagas dramatizes the feuds, loves and fatal flaws of great men and women of medieval Ireland and Scotland, to reflect on urgent questions about royal and aristocratic conduct. Storylines studied will include cattle-raids, fights with saints, beheading competitions, family breakdowns, love-triangles, and people uprooting trees for no apparent reason.

Employer - Led Interdisciplinary Project (ED3537)

30 Credit Points

This course involves students working together in a small group to undertake a consultancy-style project hosted by a micro-business, organisation, or charity. It exposes students to real-world tasks, enabling them to apply their transferable skills, for example project management, problem-solving, communication and leadership, in different contexts. The combination of on-campus employability workshops with project-based learning offers students an opportunity to engage with authentic, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning to develop key workplace skills.

International Security (IR3518)

30 Credit Points

This course explores salient concepts of security and conflict, focusing on contemporary issues and problems. It examines traditional, state-centred topics ie. interstate and intrastate war, as well as the ‘new security agenda’ involving issues like terrorism, organized crime, environmental security, health security and population trends. Students will gain knowledge of international security and its role in contemporary International Relations through analysis of conceptual factors and case studies. In addition, students will develop critical thinking skills, communication skills and analytical skills, including being able to formulate lucid, concise and rigorous accounts of international security affairs

Political Parties in Britain (PI3562)

30 Credit Points

The course involves a detailed examination of Britain’s party system and the individual political parties. Through this course, students should acquire a knowledge and understanding of a number of inter-related themes, including the role and democratic function of political parties in Britain, the development of party philosophies and how these relate to the realities of party policy, the organisation and distribution of power within Britain’s political parties, and elections and party campaigns. In this way, the course examines the contested and changing nature of political debate in British politics.

International Terrorism Counterterrorism & International Relations (PI3567)

30 Credit Points

International terrorism and counterterrorism are at the top of today’s agenda – of scholarly debates in International Relations (IR) as well as of policy discussions on international politics. The course focuses on both the (individual and/or structural) causes and different manifestations of terrorism and reviews the debates on how to respond to terrorism not only effectively but also without violating humanitarian principles and international law. The course is interdisciplinary and will provide both an overview on current research on international terrorism and counterterrorism in IR and also with in-depth knowledge of core aspects of the issue.

Human Rights in Global Politics (PI3572)

30 Credit Points

Human Rights have long been at the epicentre of heated debates in contemporary global politics. This course will examine the theoretical and philosophical foundations of human rights within their historical context, along with the key controversies that shape current implementation and enforcement of the human rights regime in global politics. This course is suitable for specialist and non-specialist alike. No prior knowledge is required.

Three Lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics (PI3577)

30 Credit Points

This course is a how-to-guide to enquiring research questions in politics and international relations using quantitative methods. We uncover lies and damned lies about statistics in reporting about politics and international relations and learn how to correctly analyse different kinds of quantitative data using statistical software package Stata. We will learn how to produce analyses that is replicable.

Digital Politics: Political Communication in the Internet Age(S) (PI3579)

30 Credit Points

This course is about political communication - how media, politicians and citizens interact, and how parties run their election campaigns - in the digital age(s). Students will learn topics like how journalism is changing, who social media empower, whether echo chambers divide, how populists treat the media, who runs campaigns, how parties target citizens, and whether digital media jeopardise democracy. These themes are explored through cases from the UK and US, but also from across the globe.

The Global Politics of Secession (PI3582)

30 Credit Points

Scotland’s independence referendum encouraged many people to reflect on secession for the first time. This course examines the bigger picture of secession. We look comparatively at cases such as Kosovo, South Sudan, Chiapas, and Sri Lanka (as well as Scotland) and considering the historical development of secession as a concept and political demand. Students are encouraged to reflect on how secessionist politics challenges or reinforces the role of the state and international organisations.

Global Challenges in an Ethnographic Perspective (SL3504)

30 Credit Points

This course addresses major global challenges of the contemporary world as they emerge is specific local contexts. It offers an understanding of these challenges from a local point of view. The challenges the course will discuss include: global warming and rising sea levels; the ecological crisis; oil and energy; war and terrorism; religion and politics; sexual violence; the economic crisis; mining in post-colonial contexts; animal rights; the war on drugs; human rights and global justice; animal rights; science and the state.

Year 4

Optional Courses

Select ONE of the following dissertation options:

  • Dissertation in History (HI4516) and ONE second half session level 4 Politics and International Relations course from the options provided below.
  • Dissertation (Politics) (PI4071) AND History in Practice II (HI4518) plus ONE first half session level 4 Politics and International Relations course and ONE second half session level 4 Politics and International Relations course from the options provided below.

Also, select ONE History Special Subject Course (listed below).

  • Special Subject: Hitler (HI4008)
  • Special Subject: Peacemaking and Bloodfeud (HI401A)
  • Special Subject: American Social Movements in the 1960s (HI4027)
Undergraduate Dissertation in History (HI4516)

30 Credit Points

The undergraduate dissertation is the final-year major research undertaking, based on primary and secondary material and providing a critical analysis of a specific subject chosen by the student. It is obligatory for Single Honours students, whereas Joint Honours students choose to write their dissertation in either of the two subjects. After initial sessions about the nature of the dissertation and research approaches, students develop a topic with the help of a member of staff, who will also supervise their project throughout.

Dissertation (PI4071)

30 Credit Points

This course affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and research skills in the broad field of Politics & International Relations to an individual piece of research, focusing on a topic selected by the student and approved by the Dissertation supervisor. Over the course of the project, with guidance from a supervising member of staff, the student will conduct a literature review of relevant material, select appropriate research methods, gather data where necessary, analyse data, and write a final analysis in the form of the Dissertation. Particular emphasis will be given to helping students develop their own skills.

History in Practice (HI4518)

30 Credit Points

History is not simply a dry, academic study of the past; it shapes a host of contemporary political, economic and cultural attitudes and is a central underpinning to the tourist and heritage industries - now one of the largest sectors of employment among mature western economies. This course is designed to give a critical understanding of the theoretical and practical links (as well as clear distinctions) between the practice of 'academic' History and 'public' History. This is done by having students assess how heritage and tourist businesses project a particular version of the past.

Special Sub: Enlightenment Compared: Ireland, Scotland, Central Europe (HI4003)

30 Credit Points

This course examines the emergence and the variations of Enlightenment thinking in Scotland and Central Europe (with particular emphasis on the German and East Central European Enlightenment, to which the Scottish Enlightenment had strong historical links). It emphasises the varieties of the European Enlightenment, against the traditional assumption that the Enlightenment was exclusively 'located' in France.

Special Sub.: the Scottish Wars of Independence, 1286 - 1328 (HI4009)

30 Credit Points

In 1286 Alexander III of Scotland was found dead at the foot of a cliff and Scotland was engulfed in a period of political instability and eventually war that was to have a profound impact on the future development of the British Isles. The course considers key stages of the ‘wars of independence’ period in chronological sequence until the final triumph of Robert I in 1328. Due consideration will be given to international perspectives in trying to understand the Anglo-Scottish struggle, notably in relation to Ireland, France, Flanders and the Papacy.

Special Sub.: Britain and Revolutionary Russia 1917 - 1924 (HI4012)

30 Credit Points

This course explores British relations with Russia during the early years of the Soviet regime. It highlights a series of key developments in the relationship, especially major changes in British government policy that charted a course from military intervention to diplomatic recognition. Most of the seminars trace an aspect of the relationship within a fairly short time-frame, but some seminars investigate a particular issue through the whole period 1917–24. Several sessions will be used specifically for analysing gobbets. Knowledge of the Russian language is not required.

Special Subject: History of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict (HI4025)

30 Credit Points

The course examines the origins of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and its developments from multiple angles in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamic that constitutes ‘the conflict’. The course will investigate the causes of the Palestinian refugee crisis and of the Arab-Israeli wars. It will introduce students to the Arab-Israeli peace process and familiarise students with the polarised historiography surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Special Subject: Atlantic Encounters: Western Africa and Portugal (HI405W)

30 Credit Points

This course explores the relations between Portugal and Western Africa in the early modern period. It focuses on the period from 1415 to 1670 in which Portugal became the first European maritime power to establish contacts with societies in West and West Central Africa. Key themes include maritime navigation, Afro-European trade, and cultural contact. Particular focus will be placed on African responses and indigenous perspectives on European cultural contact.

Special Subject: the Black Radical Tradition (HI406C)

30 Credit Points

'The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.’ So declared African American intellectual WEB Du Bois at the dawn of that era.

In the period since this prophetic claim was made – and indeed in our own time – Black-led movements have challenged multiple structures of domination (racism, colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism) in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. This module focuses on the history of these transformative movements through an exploration of political thought in the Black Radical Tradition.

Concentrating on the US and the Anglophone world, but encompassing contributions from the Francophone Caribbean and Lusophone Africa, the module will encourage students to critically engage with the global history of Black thought and protest.

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

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
  • Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
  • Written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study History and Politics?

Why History

  • Teaching rated ‘Highly Satisfactory’ in the last national Teaching Quality Assessment, and with student satisfaction of 95% – way above the national average of 86%.
  • Particular strengths in Irish and Scottish studies, Scandinavia, late medieval/early modern period, and research centres studying global empires, history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine, and Russian and Eastern European history.
  • The inspiration of our beautiful historic campus in Old Aberdeen, where King’s College Chapel, begun in 1495 by University founder Bishop Elphinstone, is a treasure-house of history and religious turbulence.
  • Major international treasures including 7,000 early printed books, the magnificent 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary, large Jacobite collection, works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and fascinating local records dating from the middle ages.
  • A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which welcomes world-famous authors, broadcasters and personalities including well-known historians to campus every spring.
  • Spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, combining top-class study facilities with state-of-the-art technology, and an online catalogue giving you access to thousands of books and millions of journal articles on the web.

Why Politics and International Relations

  • A core curriculum with topical themes of conflict and security, representation and democracy, comparative politics and policy.
  • Special focus on 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.
  • Staff with specialist expertise in political parties and elections, democracy, energy politics, European integration and regionalism, human rights and development issues, interest groups, nationalism, conflict resolution and more.
  • Opportunities to take advantage of spending your second year studying abroad, in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong or North America.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, combining a top-class study environment with state-of-the-art technology, and extensive reference collections for your studies.
  • A packed campus programme of events, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May festival, engaging prominent influencers, interest groups and public in debating major political issues such as Scottish independence and EU membership.
  • All the history and legacy of being part of a university developed over 500 years of national and international political turbulence, social change, and emerging democracy.
  • We are ranked 4th in the UK for International Relations and 8th in the UK for Politics by the Guardian University Guide 2023.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

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


General Entry Requirements

2022 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

2023 Entry

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB

Minimum: BBC

Adjusted: CCC

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate 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 - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

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

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
EU / International students £19,800
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

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.

Careers

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

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.

Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX