Master in Global Social and Political Thought


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought is a one-year interdisciplinary Masters degree. It explores the history of social and political thought around the world and its influence in contemporary debates around identity, communication, governance, the economy, and diplomacy.

The MLitt Global Social and Political Thought is an interdisciplinary degree that explores the history of social and political ideas from ancient times to the present. The degree will develop your understanding of the history, nature, and practice of contemporary global politics and provide training in comparative analysis of history, philosophy, political economy, and international relations.


  • Degree structure and content helps students who may initially have limited direct experience in this field to develop advanced knowledge and understanding by means of carefully designed core modules.
  • Explores how knowledge is created, modified, and communicated in a digital era; how online identities and arguments are formed, used, and abused; and the nature of politics in an age of global online communications.
  • Transnational and comparative study of global traditions gives the degree a remarkable richness and depth compared with traditional political thought programmes.
  • Equips students for further study and research through training in the use and analysis of print, electronic, and unwritten sources; comparative analysis and cultural evaluation; and techniques such as sentiment analysis and topic modelling.

This degree will deepen your understanding of the great historical traditions of social and political thought across the globe. You will learn about the different kinds of social and political thought determining political argument today as well as explore the relationships between political thought and:

  • philosophy
  • literature and literary studies
  • international relations
  • law
  • politics
  • economics
  • theology

The degree will be of particular interest if you intend to continue to doctoral research as it provides a broad-based research programme that is followed by specialised study with scholars of political ideas from ancient times to the present.

Throughout, the degree fosters comparative analysis across nations and cultures, helping to give you a sense of what global thought and identity mean. The degree will also develop the skills that you need to understand political thought and the manipulation of ideas and identities in our digital age; how they are created and shaped; and how they are communicated and transformed, with profound consequences for politics today and into the future.

The degree is distinguished by its interdisciplinary character and involves academic staff from a number of different Schools. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree means that you explore a range of methodological approaches and use ideas from different disciplines to illuminate social and political thought questions.

Teaching format

The MLitt degree is a one-year full-time programme. Students complete two compulsory modules in Semester 1 (September to December) and two further compulsory modules in Semester 2 (January to June). The period from June to August is used to complete the summer research project.

The MLitt degree involves both independent and group study, and teaching methods include:

  • seminars
  • workshops
  • practical exercises

Most modules are assessed through coursework, including:

  • written assignments
  • case study exercises
  • presentations


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment.


Each semester is organised around core modules exploring the theory and methodologies needed to complete the summer research project.

Semester 1

  • Global Concepts: provides a broad-based study of political thought and argument from ancient times to the present; it looks at the ancient and modern traditions associated with major states and empires as well as the influence of world religions on political concepts.
  • Digital Thinking in Politics and Society: explores controversies around identity and information in a digital age, the manipulation of online news and information, and the ways online communication shapes politics domestically and internationally.

Semester 2

  • Global Politics: explores the origins of current controversies in politics - ranging from issues of the nature of the state and its law, justice and property, gender, toleration and persecution, activism and the environment, religion and politics, and trade and peace.
  • Global Theory: examines the philosophies that have had and continue to have a global impact - ranging from many of the great international religions to philosophies ancient and modern, including Aristotelianism, Machiavellianism, Marxism, Liberalism, Populism, Orientalism and Wahhabism.


The final module of the MLitt degree is the summer research project. The project takes the form of a period of independent supervised research where you explore a social or political thought topic in depth. Through the project, you will apply the theory and analytical methods learned in the core modules.

You can choose to present your research project as:

  • a written policy project that emphasises your ability to critically assess policy issues,
  • a multi-media portfolio that emphasises your ability to present social and political thought concepts in formats suitable for different audiences,
  • a written dissertation that demonstrates your ability to plan and execute academically rigorous research.

If students choose not to complete the project requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Certificate or a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PG Cert or PGDip instead of an MLitt.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry.


Our fantastic global reputation makes the University of St Andrews graduates highly valued by employers. The MLitt Global Social and Political Thought provides the subject knowledge and general skills needed for a range of leadership and professional careers. It will be of particular interest if you are considering a career in academia or research. You will:

  • Broaden your understanding of contemporary politics, the history of current political ideas, and the way in which social and political thought shapes our world.
  • Be trained in the evaluation of source material and the application of research techniques and enhance your critical, visual, and historical senses.
  • Develop broader transferable skills in areas such as project management, team working and communicating academic concepts to mixed audiences.

Alongside your studies, you will be able to complete M-Skills, a programme of in-person and online workshops and training materials for Masters students. M-Skills will help you develop the broader personal and professional skills you need to succeed in your degree and enhance your employability.

Additionally, the Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Entry requirements

  • A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
  • The Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies welcomes applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including, but not limited to:
    • classics
    • divinity
    • economics
    • English
    • history
    • international relations
    • management
    • political science
    • philosophy
  • English language proficiency.

The qualifications listed are indicative of minimum requirements for entry. Some Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé (one page).
  • personal statement explaining.
    • why you have applied for this course,
    • how it relates to your personal or professional ambitions,
    • how your academic and professional background show you have the skills needed to work effectively at a postgraduate level.
  • two original signed academic references on headed paper.
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).



Scholarships are designed to help students support themselves during their studies.

Postgraduate loans

Loans are available for students who meet the residency and other criteria.

Recent Graduate Discount

The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete Uni ... Read More

As a 600-year-old institution, it's no surprise that the University of St Andrews is known across the globe as a world leader in education. We are Scotland’s best university ranked by the Complete University Guide 2019, and 2nd overall in the UK (Guardian Good University Guide 2019). Read less
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