Research in the Social Sciences (International Politics) MSc 2021

Gain the critical knowledge and skills needed for effective social scientific research and the opportunity to engage, through advanced research, with the field of international politics.

Location: Aston University, Birmingham

Course type


Course format

No placements


1 year

UCAS code(s)


Start date

Explore Research in the Social Sciences (International Politics) at Aston University?

Here's for the ones who do things differently and carve out their own path

Best University Careers Service Award

Here to support you.

Aston University recognised as the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service' at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2020.

Course outline and modules

The MSc Research in the Social Sciences is composed of 180 credits, divided into 80 credits on compulsory core training requirements for all ESRC-funded students (Philosophy of Social Science, Research Design and Practice, Quantitative Research Methods and Qualitative Research Methods), a 60 credit Dissertation and 40 credits on subject-specific modules.

Students can choose subject-specific modules which focus on the study of European politics and society and the study of languages (Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese or Spanish).

This programme is ideal for those individuals currently holding an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree who want to follow a research-related career in either the academic or non-academic sectors. 

The MSc Research in the Social Sciences is also an ideal ‘stepping stone’ onto the Aston School of Languages and Social Sciences PhD Programme, with graduates exempted from the PhD Programme training requirements in year 1. 

How will my skills develop?

You’ll carry out a piece of academic research in a discipline of your choice and will be supported by a dissertation supervisor. 

The programme will be assessed through a combination of written and oral examinations, class tests, individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments.

On successful completion of their programme, students are expected to be able to evaluate critically theories and methodological approaches to the social sciences; to employ quantitative and qualitative social-science method skills; to apply analytical and critical thinking and, to advance social science research.

How will this course help my career?

If you’re interested in following a research-related career in either the academic or non-academic sector, this course will equip you with the knowledge, skills and experience that will help you to succeed.  

It is also an ideal ‘stepping stone’ onto the Aston School of Languages and Social Sciences PhD Programme, with graduates exempted from the PhD Programme training requirements in year 1.

The majority of students will continue their study at PhD level while others will use the programme to gain entry onto professional programmes.


Core modules

Core modules (90 credits)

•    Philosophy of Research in the Social Sciences
•    Research Strategy, Design & Practice
•    Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences
•    Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences
•    International Relations Theory
•    EU as a Global Actor

Optional modules

Elective modules (30 credits)

Any TWO 15 Credit Discipline Specific Modules from LSS’s post-graduate level modules in international politics (subject to timetabling and availability)


Dissertation (60 credits)

All participants will be required to carry out a piece of academic research in their discipline of choice. This research will be supported by a dissertation supervisor and will culminate in a 15,000 words thesis.


Availability of any optional modules will be subject to staff availability and a minimum number of students who express an interest in studying the optional modules.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

One of the following:

A good UK honours degree (minimum lower second class) Equivalent overseas degree recognised by Aston University.


As well as:

Two professional references – at least one must be from an academic referee An official academic transcript of your university grades to date A completed application form.


International students
  • An official academic transcript, with an official English translation, of your university grades to date.
  • Students whose native language is not English will also need to satisfy our English language requirements. Pre-sessional English language programmes are available for good applicants whose English qualification falls just short of these requirements.
  • Postgraduate masters students enrolling to Aston Business School with a 5.5 in one of the four IELTS sections will be required to engage with English language tuition as part of our professional development programme, The Aston Global Advantage. There will be no extra cost to the student.
  • For students who do not meet our minimum academic and English language requirements for this course, we offer an alternative pathway to an Aston Master’s with Kaplan International College, London.
  • For more information about qualifications, view our Aston in your country webpage.
Extensive work experience

We recognise the value of extensive professional experience. If you do not have the academic qualifications, but have extensive and relevant professional experience and a proven ability to succeed, we would welcome your application.

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Learning, teaching and assessment

Our experienced teaching team deliver modules in innovative and adaptable ways, thus meeting the needs of all learners and learning styles. This means we use a range of teaching methods, from lectures and tutorials to practical workshops and group work. All sessions are delivered in an open and supportive atmosphere, helping you to get the most out of your studies. 

Importantly, staff contributing to this programme are experienced researchers, allowing them to enrich modules with their own research knowledge, skills and perspectives gained ‘in the field’.

Staff will align their research to the following Centres which also provide a forum for researchers and research students to conduct and discuss research projects.

•    Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)

•    Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL)

•    Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA)

•    Aston Centre for Europe (ACE)

We use a variety of assessment methods as part of this course, and there is a mix of exams, coursework, presentations and group work.

Our online learning platform will also support you with your studies. It has all the digital resources you need when revising, including lecture slides, access to e-books and online journals, as well as video recordings of teaching sessions.

International students

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students from over 120 different countries chose to study with us every year and Aston is not only a great place to study, based in the centre of Birmingham it’s also a great place to live.

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies to find work. The new post-study work visa will apply to international students starting undergraduate and postgraduate courses from 2020. Click here for more information on post-work visas.

Programme Director(s)

Dr Davide Vampa

Politics and International Relations Research

Dr Laura Southgate

Listen to Laura discuss her research on China, US relations, and the likelihood of future conflict between the US and China.

Dr Davide Vampa

Listen to Davide discuss his research on the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the relationship between the national and subnational authorities in the 5 largest countries of Western Europe.

Dr Ying Miao

Listen to Ying discuss her research on air inequality, and how socioeconomic classes can change the air quality individuals access.

Fees and scholarships

UK students (2021/22): £10,700

International/EU students (2021/22): £18,800

*Part-time students pay a pro-rata version of full-time fees.

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as home students. Further information can be found here.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.

More information on fees


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs. Find out more about our scholarships here.

20 per cent postgraduate alumni scholarship


Cost shouldn't limit your career aspirations, which is why we are delighted to offer all Aston graduates (including exchange students) a 20% loyalty scholarship in standard taught MA, MSc and Full-time MBA course fees.

This means that as an Aston graduate applying to our MSc Research in the Social Sciences (International Politics) course, you could save...


UK students
(Total saving equivalent to 20% of the annual tuition fee)


International/EU students
(Total saving equivalent to 20% of the annual tuition fee)

As an Aston graduate you will automatically qualify. For more information visit our webpage.

Career prospects

The knowledge and skills garnered from studying the MSc Research in the Social Sciences will equip you to pursue a range of careers, including managerial, analytical and research roles within private, public and non-governmental organisations. This course also provides an excellent route into further academic study, with students going on to complete doctoral research before pursuing an academic career. 

Recent graduates

  • Our recent graduates have pursued a variety of careers including: 
  • Employment in international organisations (EU, WTO, UN and many others)
  • Research in policy-oriented domestic or international think tanks
  • Careers in government administration
  • Further postgraduate research at PhD level
  • Journalism
  • International marketing or business.

Best University Careers Service Award

Aston University was recognised as the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service'.

The Careers and Placements team at Aston University won the 'Best University Careers/Employability Service' category at the National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards 2020 for its use of innovative ideas to engage a high number of students with the service in order to support them with their career planning.

Aston University has strong links with national and international organisations with over 200 employers interacting with students on campus each year.

Apply now

This course is available to study either full-time or part-time.

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