MA Political Theory

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

As a crucial part of understanding our human condition, political theory has always been held to be a valuable activity. More recently, however, changes in contemporary societies have made such systematic thinking about politics indispensable to understanding and participating in the life of our own state and a newly global world.
  • Political theory addresses the more immediate practical concerns of politics and policy that are of concern to governments, the media, civil society groups and individual citizens.
  • Combines a rigorous approach to analysing these problems with an imaginative search for solutions.

Careers & Employability

Graduates work with a wide variety of international private-sector employers, government agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations in roles such as: academics, policy analysts, diplomats, lawyers, journalists.
Recent graduates of UCD School of Politics & International Relations now work in: UK Foreign Office, US State Department, Irish Civil Service, University College London, and University of Melbourne.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

The applicants should have earned an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject with at least Upper Second Class Honours, or its equivalent, such as an overall GPA of 3.0 (B) or higher in the American system. Relevant professional experience will also be taken into account. 

This programme aspires to allow students become specialists in critical thought and reflection on key issues in political theory, capable of engaging with cutting edge philosophical debates and practical applications thereof in the realm of practical politcs

  • allow students participate in political debates informed by theory
  • develop oral presentation skills
  • develop students' capacities for critical reflection on issues of political theory
  • enhance group work skills
  • enhance students' research and writing skills
  • familiarise students with key issues and schools of thought in political theory

View All Modules Here

The MA Political Theory is a 90-credit programme. Full time students must take three 10-credit modules in the autumn trimester, and three 10-credit modules in the spring trimester. Students must also submit a thesis worth 30-credits  in the summer trimester. 

SPIRe part time programmes run for 2 years and students normally do 1 -2 modules per semester. The final 30-credit module is completed during the second year of the programme. PT students should complete the research design module in year 2.

Please note that our part-time programmes run during the day and are not timetabled in the evenings or at weekends.

Core and Option Modules for MA Political Theory

These are the current modules for 2024/25 but are subject to change. Each of the following modules carries 10 credits unless otherwise specified. 

Core Modules

Option Modules - Select 2:


  • EDUC41520 Children's Rights & Participation
  • EQUL40310 Masculinities, Gender and Equality
  • PHIL41280 Feminist & Gender Theory
  • POL40050 Theories of International Relations
  • POL40160 Comparative Public Policy
  • POL40540 Comparative European Politics
  • POL40950 Introduction to Statistics
  • POL41020 Politics of Human Rights
  • ​POL41510 Politics and Change in the Middle East and North Africa
  • POL41980 Peace & Conflict Studies
  • POL42040 Gender & the Political System
  • POL42070 Politics of (mis-)information
  • POL42530 The Politics of International Trade and Investment (NEW)
  • POL42550 Feminist Theory (NEW)
  • SPOL41110 Ideas, Ideology in Public Policy


  • DEV40020 Gender and Development
  • PHIL41510 Ethics in Public Life
  • POL40100 Politics of Development
  • POL40370 International Political Economy
  • POL40970 Politics of European Governance
  • POL41640 Qualitative Research Methods for Political Science
  • POL41720 Gender, Peace, and Security
  • POL41860 Governance, Politics and Development
  • POL41910 Political Violence (NEW)
  • POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis
  • POL42340 Programming for Social Scientists
  • POL42430 IR Theory: Conflict and Identity (NEW)
  • POL42500 Politics of Authoritarianism
  • POL42560 AI and Large Language Models (NEW)

MA Political Theory (W277) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 10100
nonEU    fee per year - € 22600

MA Political Theory (W278) Part Time
EU          fee per year - € 5460
nonEU    fee per year - € 11300

***Fees are subject to change

Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

SPIRe operates a Graduate Scholarship programme, which opens on May 1st. To access details, see SPIRe Graduate Scholarship Scheme. Please note that not all programmes are eligible for this Scholarship, please check the T&C's carefully when they become available.

  • A primary degree with at least Second Class Honours Grade 1 (2H1). 2H1 is equivalent to 60 per cent, B minus or 3.08 GPA - in American system: B or 3.00 GPA.
  • Your application will be considered on its individual merits and relevant professional experience will also be taken into account.
  • English language requirements: applicants whose first language is not English should have met TOEFL, IELTs, or computer-based TOEFL requirements (600, 6.5, or 250 respectively), or the Cambridge English Test (Certificate in Advanced English at a minimum of Grade B, or Certificate of Proficiency in English at Grade C). Applicants who obtained a previous degree from an English-speaking university may be exempted from this requirement. Click here for further info.
  • Students meeting the programme’s academic entry requirements but not the  English language requirements, may enter the programme upon  successful completion of UCD’s Pre-Sessional or International Pre-Master’s Pathway programmes. Please see the following link for further information 

These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes

Luke Ecock

I enrolled on the MA in Political Theory to learn more about how our political institutions worked, where they failed, and what could, and should, be done better. Political theory is a study of a potential tomorrow: what should our political institutions look like? Who should they serve? I wanted to study on a programme that would point me towards the critical tools that could answer these questions, help me discover new ones, and confront today’s political challenges head on, which was precisely what the MA in Political Theory offered.

One of the reasons I chose SPIRE’s programme was its open and accessible curriculum. I do not have an educational background in politics, but the variety of modules available and the encouragement of students of all backgrounds meant that the MA in Political Theory was a hotbed of innovative ideas and diverse thinkers from all over the world. With this open-ended curriculum, I was able to put together a roster of modules that was unique to me and my interests. This meant that while my Tuesdays could be concentrated on questions concerning what constituted a just transition to renewable energy, my Thursdays might be spent investigating the probable causes behind wealth inequality.

The MA in Political Theory challenged me to leave my comfort zone and to think of how we live together and organise ourselves in new and exciting ways. The programme recognises that there is no one set of answers to the questions we have about our political institutions. Fresh ideas are always welcome, and with as academically adventurous as this cohort of peers and mentors, they were never in short supply.

The following entry routes are available:

MA Political Theory FT (W277)
1 Years
Full Time
MA Political Theory PT (W278)
2 Years
Part Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised

A comphrensive FAQ can be found here