This wide-ranging programme explores key concepts, methods, debates and applications in social and political theory.
Core modules will introduce you to social and political thought and its relation to economic, social, political and cultural problems in a fast-changing, globalised world. From the seminal works of Karl Marx to contemporary thinkers such as Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek, you’ll think about how these approaches can help us understand social change on the global stage.
Beyond this, you’ll choose modules that suit your own interests – you could specialise in gender, racism and ethnicity studies, social policy, globalisation, care, health or disability among others. You can also pursue research training to prepare for further study.

Research insight - the Bauman Institute

You’ll become part of the Bauman Institute, launched in honour of Emeritus Professor Zygmunt Bauman to analyse social change around the world. It’s an exciting and stimulating research environment where you’ll learn from experts in their fields.
The Bauman Institute is inspired by Bauman’s sociological imagination, and has earned an international reputation for teaching and research. Bringing together researchers from diverse disciplines, it investigates the ways in which societies continue to evolve in areas such as power and resistance and the sociology of capitalism.

Course content

You’ll take core modules during the year that introduce you to different areas of social, sociological and political thought, from Marx and Weber to the Frankfurt School and recent feminist and psychoanalytic thinkers. You’ll consider the positioning and relevance of critical theory in relation to contemporary social phenomena.

These modules lay the foundations of the programme; you’ll build on them through your choice of optional modules which give you the chance to specialise. You could focus on areas such as research methods and design, healthcare, disability theory, globalisation, gender, racism and ethnicity studies or policy analysis and evaluation. If you’re planning to progress to PhD study, we’ll recommend you take modules focusing on research and data analysis.

At the end of the programme, you’ll submit your dissertation – an independent piece of research on a related topic of your choice, which allows you to demonstrate and apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired during the year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time.


Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Contemporary Social Thought
  • Researching Society and Culture
  • Understanding Society and Culture
  • Dissertation

Optional modules

  • Social Policy, Politics and Disabled People
  • Contested Bodies
  • Que(e)rying Sexualities
  • Social Policy Analysis
  • Social Policy Debates
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Policy and Programme Evaluation
  • Disability and Development
  • Power, Critique and Global Transformations
  • Sociology of Media and Culture
  • Religion, Society and Public Life

Learning and teaching

Most of our modules are taught using lectures, seminars and tutorials. Optional modules may also include workshops, online learning or other methods. However, independent study is still a crucial element of this programme, allowing you to develop your skills, pursue specific research interests and form your own ideas.


Core modules are assessed using essays, as well as your final dissertation. Depending on the optional modules you choose, you may also be assessed using research reports, project work, presentations, literature and book reviews among other methods. If you select research methods modules, you’ll also be expected to engage with some data analysis in your essays.

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Honours) in social science, humanities or related discipline.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area.

How to apply

Application deadlines

  • International students: 30 June
  • UK/EU students: 31 July

Documents and information we will need include:

  • Original or certified copies of your transcripts
  • Original or certified copies of your degree certificate
  • Original or certified copy of your IELTS/TOEFL results (if English is not your first language)
  • Details of two referees.


For the latest information regarding fees, see our website: https://courses.leeds.ac.uk

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.

Career opportunities

This programme will enable you to think critically with an ethical awareness and to understand how a consumer society has transformed social and political realities.

These qualities are crucially important for a wide range of potential careers from policy research to local authority and government roles, campaigning and political lobbying, work with development agencies and NGOs, and even entry to the academic profession and research-based employment.

Careers Support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate.

Program taught in:
  • English

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Last updated March 4, 2019
This course is Campus based
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12 - 24 months
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Politics and International Studies at Leeds - Postgraduate Study