MSc Politics & Data Science

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The explosion of online and social media, the proliferation of digitized information, and improved electronic access to political decision-making processes provide new opportunities to study existing and emerging political processes in various democratic and non-democratic political regimes. The simultaneous development of cutting-edge data science methods to study digital text, audio, and video provide the tools we need to take advantage of these opportunities. The MSc Politics and Data Science is designed to equip students with the theoretical knowledge and methodological skills necessary to examine and understand politics in the digital age.

The MSc Politics and Data Science programme is organised around two streams of study. The first stream grounds students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences in data science methods. The second stream is geared towards students with computer science or related technical backgrounds, teaching them about research design and theories in political science. Apart from two required core modules in each stream, all students can select four optional modules that best fit their interests. These modules can either revolve around methods needed to study digital and digitised politics, such as programming and machine learning, quantitative text analysis, statistics, and experimental methods. Or they can be modules relating to comparative politics, international relations, political violence, political economy, and related fields that the School of Politics and International Relations has strengths in.

The programme thus provides a thorough grounding in political science and its sub-disciplines, and in-depth training in the empirical methods necessary to study important questions emerging in these areas of study.

Careers & Employability

Graduates from this programme will be ideally equipped for careers in a large and varied set of employment sectors. The combination of a solid understanding of social science theory and the technical ability to apply advanced data-science approaches to answer questions of political and societal relevance, makes our graduates a unique addition to any data science team. Furthermore, graduates will be well-positioned to apply for quantitative social science PhD programmes with the aim of pursuing an academic career.

Potential future employers include:

  • Government
  • International Organisations (EU, UN, WTO, World Bank)
  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Not-for-profit sector
  • Corporate Sector
  • Tech industry
  • Think tanks

Potential roles include

  • Political Advisor
  • Social Data Specialist
  • Data Manager
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Social Science PhD candidate

 

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 MSc in Politics and Data Science is aimed towards students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences with a strong interest in learning data science methods, and towards students with a Computer Science or related technical background who want to study politics.

The programme shall equip students with both the theoretical overview and the empirical tools necessary to understand and engage with the brave new world of digitised politics, and the expansion in scale, types, and complexity of data available to study political phenomenon. The MSc in Politics and Data Science provides students with in-depth knowledge of political science theories and approaches and the methodological training to apply these tools in a theoretically-informed manner. It offers advanced training in statistical and computational methods, including tools to extract and prepare unstructured data (data wrangling), to detect patterns and predict behaviour based on statistical data, to evaluate the veracity of theoretical models on large-scale datasets, to analyse highly interconnected data from networks and spatial data sets, and to develop simulations to evaluate the inherent consistency and implications of theoretical arguments.

The key objective is to have graduates who are able to join data science teams in the Government, corporate, or private sectors, with sufficient understanding of technical concepts in data science and machine learning to collaborate with computer scientists and engineers and with sufficient understanding of social science and politics to be able to bring a deeper understanding of human behaviour to otherwise technology oriented teams.

Graduates can also use the skills acquired to continue work in political science research, either in academia, think tanks, or the non-profit or public sector, where they will benefit from a deep understanding of the cross-section between data science and political science.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understanding the range of data science and machine learning methodologies that are available to data scientists, and their key advantages and disadvantages.
  • Understanding of theories of political behaviour, political processes, and political institutions.
  • Understanding variations in political systems and their functioning.

Applying knowledge and understanding

  • Understanding of central aspects of political and social science research design, such as conceptualization, operationalization and measurement.
  • Ability to use knowledge of research design to systematically address questions pertaining politics and public policy.
  • Gain general experience in applying data science techniques to questions of political and social science relevance.

Making judgements

  • Ability to decide on appropriate statistical techniques given a particular research question in relation to political behaviour and public policy.
  • Ability to evaluate reported statistical and algorithmic results in political and social science research.
  • Through training in general research design, ability to evaluate the veracity of input data of political and social behaviour for use in data science applications.
  • Have a basic understanding of the situations where automated techniques as used in standard data science practice are suitable and ethically appropriate, and where not.

Communications and working skills

  • Ability to clearly communicate results from statistical analysis of political and social behaviour.
  • Ability to communicate the possibilities and scope of data science tools for the understanding of political and social behaviour.
  • Basic practice in team work and learning how to collaborate in larger technical projects, including ability to work with techniques for code sharing, agile development, tools for scientific replication, etcetera.

Learning skills

  • Have sufficient grounding in fundamentals of statistical analysis and computer science to be able to acquire new skills in data science.
  • Have sufficient grounding in political and social science to be able to read into new domains of political and social science research.

View All Modules Here

The MSc Politics and Data Science programme is organised around two streams of study. The first stream grounds students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences in data science methods. The second stream is geared towards students with computer science or related technical backgrounds, teaching them about research design and theories in political science. Apart from two required core modules in each stream, all students can select four optional modules that best fit their interests. These modules can either revolve around methods needed to study digital and digitised politics, such as programming and machine learning, quantitative text analysis, statistics, and experimental methods. Or they can be modules relating to comparative politics, international relations, political violence, political economy, and related fields that the School of Politics and International Relations has strengths in.

Core and Option Modules for MSc Politics and Data Science Social Science Stream (credits in parentheses)

Please note these are subject to change

 

Autumn Trimester

Spring Trimester

Core Modules

POL40950 Introduction to Statistics (10)

POL42340 Programming for Soc Scientists (10)

 

POL42350 Connected_Politics (10)

 

Core Modules Choose Min of 10 credits

 

POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis (10)

 

IS40970 Artificial Intelligence (5)

and

IS40980 Soc Networks On-Off Line (5)

 

Optional Modules

IS40840 Data & Society (10)

POL40050 Theories of Internat.Relations (10)

POL40100 Politics of Development (10)

POL40140 International Political Theory (10)

POL40950 Introduction to Statistics (10)

POL40970 Politics European Governance (10)

POL41020 Politics of Human Rights (10)

POL41650 Global Political Econ ofEurope (10)

POL41800 Theories of Int'l Rels Stream2 (10)

POL41860 Governance, Pol, Dev 10cr (10)

POL41910 Political Violence (10)

POL41930 Psychology of Conflict in MENA (10)

POL42040 Gender & the Political System (10)

POL42080 Global Classroom (10)

POL42340 Programming for Soc Scientists (10)

IS40970 Artificial Intelligence (5)

IS40980 Soc Networks On-Off Line (5)

POL40160 Comparative Public Policy (10)

POL40370 International Political Econom (10)

POL40540 Comparative European Politics (10)

POL40610 EU Foreign and Security Policy (10)

POL41030 Theory of Human Rights (10)

POL41640 Qual Research Methods for Pol (10)

POL41720 Gender, Peace, and Security (10)

POL41780 The Politics of Inequality (10)

POL41870 Econ & Policy Analysis 1 10cr (10)

POL41980 Peace & Conflict Studies (10)

POL42000 Political Theory and the EU (10)

POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis (10)

POL42060 International Security (10)

POL42070 Politics of (mis-)information (10)

 

 

 

 

Summer Trimester

POL42310 Thesis (30)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Core and Option Modules for MSc Politics and Data Science Technical Background Stream (credits in parentheses)

Please note these are subject to change

 

Autumn Trimester

Spring Trimester

Core Modules

 

 

 

POL42350 Connected_Politics (10)

POL42070 Politics of (mis-)information

Core Modules Choose Min of 10 credits

POL42340 Programming for Soc Scientists (10)

POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis (10)

 

IS40970 Artificial Intelligence (5)

and

IS40980 Soc Networks On-Off Line (5)

 

Optional Modules

IS40840 Data & Society (10)

POL40050 Theories of Internat.Relations (10)

POL40100 Politics of Development (10)

POL40140 International Political Theory (10)

POL40950 Introduction to Statistics (10)

POL40970 Politics European Governance (10)

POL41020 Politics of Human Rights (10)

POL41650 Global Political Econ ofEurope (10)

POL41800 Theories of Int'l Rels Stream2 (10)

POL41860 Governance, Pol, Dev 10cr (10)

POL41910 Political Violence (10)

POL41930 Psychology of Conflict in MENA (10)

POL42040 Gender & the Political System (10)

POL42340 Programming for Soc Scientists (10)

IS40970 Artificial Intelligence (5)

IS40980 Soc Networks On-Off Line (5)

POL40160 Comparative Public Policy (10)

POL40370 International Political Econom (10)

POL40540 Comparative European Politics (10)

POL40610 EU Foreign and Security Policy (10)

POL41030 Theory of Human Rights (10)

POL41640 Qual Research Methods for Pol (10)

POL41720 Gender, Peace, and Security (10)

POL41780 The Politics of Inequality (10)

POL41870 Econ & Policy Analysis 1 10cr (10)

POL41980 Peace & Conflict Studies (10)

POL42000 Political Theory and the EU (10)

POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis (10)

POL42060 International Security (10)

 

 

 

Summer Trimester

POL42310 Thesis (30)

 

MSc Politics & Data Science (W473) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 8525
nonEU    fee per year - € 19900

MSc Politics & Data Science (W474) Part Time
EU          fee per year - € 5600
nonEU    fee per year - € 9950

***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. To access details, see SPIRe Graduate Scholarship Scheme.

The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme can be found here.

Good undergraduate degree (2.1 or equivalent) in political science or related social science, or in computer science, statistics, or related discipline. Because of the streaming of the module structure of the program, we can accommodate students with a social science as well as students with a more technical background.

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

The following entry routes are available:

MSc Politics & Data Science FT (W473)
Duration
1 Years
Attendance
Full Time
Deadline
Rolling *
MSc Politics & Data Science PT (W474)
Duration
2 Years
Attendance
Part Time
Deadline
Rolling *

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

Q1.  As a full-time student, how many lectures am I supposed to attend each week?

A1. The structure of full time and part-time programmes is the same, the timetable also. Both FT and PT programmes are 90 credits. Modules normally run from Monday to Friday between(09:00 – 18:00).

Your timetable would depend on your module choices.

Full-time programmes:

Autumn Trimester – 3 full 10 credit modules = 6 hours per week for a duration of 12 weeks.

Spring Trimester – 3 full 10 credit modules = 6 hours per week for a duration of 12 weeks.

Summer Trimester - Thesis 30 credit module

Part-time programmes:

Part-time students take a total of 90 credits also but over the two-year duration of the part-time course. It is advisable for part-time students to take core modules in their first year, with the exception of Research Design. Module choice is more flexible for part-time students.

Part-time students take the Thesis 30 credit module in their 2nd year of study

Q2.  How is a module run?

A2.  Our modules are delivered in two-hour lecture sessions every week for 12 weeks. The majority of lectures take place between 09:00 and 18:00, Monday-Friday.

One or two modules (trimester I and II) may be run from 18:00 - 20:00 depending on the current academic year timetable.

Q3.  How is the part-time course run?

A3.  A part-time student will spread the workload over two years. See Q1.

Q4.  Are there any modules offered in the evenings or at weekends?

A4.  We have no plans to offer modules on weekends, however, we may offer a few modules from 18:00 - 20:00 every semester. We do not currently run any weekend or evening masters programmes.

Q5.  Can an MA/MSc be studied online?

A5. Currently, you cannot study any of our Master’s degrees online and must be present in-person in Dublin to attend class. The exception to this is the MSc Sustainable Development, which is online only.

Q6.  What are the differences between an MA and MSc degree?

A6. Some courses have the option of either an MA or MSc version of the same programme

Students opting for the MSc variation of the programme will, in addition, take core modules in research methods and statistics. This will provide a solid understanding of doing research and critically evaluating claims made by academics and other researchers. Those considering further study at PhD level or a career in research, policy analysis or journalism should certainly consider the MSc variant.

The MA track is broader and allows you to choose to complete a dissertation or apply for an internship to develop your professional skills in the field.

There are exceptions to this, so take a close look at your chosen programme structure and the core/optional modules offered.

Q7.  Is the timetable available?

A7.  Yes, please see here for the current timetables for all MA/MSc/MEconSc and Grad Dip programmes.

Q8.  Are there any Scholarships?

A8.  Yes there is the SPIRe Masters Scholarship, This page is updated regularly for information on how to apply and when applications open.

Q9.  Is there any further information for International Students?

A9. There is a lot of information available for international students on the UCD Global site: https://www.ucd.ie/global/

If you are an international student and are seeking further information, you should get in touch with your Global Centre.  The Global Centre is determined by the origin of the student.

If you have already applied, please quote your Application Number when you do. Here is a list of our UCD Global Centres and their contact information:

Asia Pacific: southeastasia@ucd.ie 

Middle East & North Africa: dubai@ucd.ie 

China: chinaoffice@ucd.ie 

Latin America: latinamerica@ucd.ie 

North America: northamerica@ucd.ie 

South Asia: india@ucd.ie

ROW & Africa: internationaladmissions@ucd.ie

 

internationaladmissions@ucd.ie can also be used for more general queries related to registration, accommodation etc.

Q10.  Do I have to pay the application fee?

A10.  Yes. The application fee must be paid before the UCD Application System will allow us to review it.

Q11.  What is an academic reference?

A11.  Your reference should come from a lecturer of your undergraduate degree at your previous/current university. It should include a history of academic grades and why you should be recommended for the programme. It should be signed and on headed paper. You need to upload this to your application, SPIRe does not contact your references directly.

Q12.  Do I need two references?

A12.  No. We only require one reference. 

Q13.  My referee doesn’t want me to view the reference, but the UCD online application system asks me to upload a copy. What can I do?

A13.  You may ask them to send the reference by email to graduatespire@ucd.ie. The email must be sent from a professional email account (e.g. XYZ@harvard.edu, XYZ@politics.ox.ac.uk, XYZ@tcd.ie) and not from a personal email account.

Q14.  I finished my undergraduate degree a long time ago and it is difficult to contact my lecturer. What can I do?

A14.  We primarily require an academic reference. However, we may accept a reference from your current/recent employer as an exception provided the programme coordinator is willing to accept this.

Q15.  Can I upload a personal statement, a letter of motivation or my CV (resume) as an additional document?

A15.  Yes, you can. As part of the admission process, most emphasis is placed on applicants’ academic transcripts and references. Relevant work/life experiences will also be taken into account.