Normative issues - questions of right and wrong, of just and injust, of good and bad - often arise in, and motivate, the study of social, legal and political institutions and policy. How should those institutions be arranged? By what moral criteria should we assess policy options? How should we act as individuals, citizens, politicians or judges?
If you want to study political, legal and moral philosophy to an advanced level and to consider how normative analysis might be applied to address matters of public concern, then this programme is for you. It will enable you to acquire knowledge and understanding of central normative conceptions, the debates they have generated, and their implications for different approaches to public policy, institutional design and the law.
Our MA in Political and Legal Theory is a fully interdisciplinary course. Unlike other programmes of this kind that offer a range of modules taught within various contributing departments, the core module for Political and Legal Theory will be taught in our department in collaboration with the School of Law and the Department of Philosophy. This interdisciplinary approach is supported by the close cooperation fostered by the Centre for Ethics, Law and Public Affairs, which is situated in our department and which includes members from Law, Philosophy and Sociology.
This programme also provides an advanced education in normative issues that will prepare you for doctoral study that includes normative inquiry, giving you a wide range of experience that will be attractive to employers.
All of our MA programmes are worth 180 CATS (credits) in total. As part of this course, you will be required to take one core module (40 CATS). You then select 40 CATS (normally 2 modules) from a list of specialist modules for this course, and a further 40 CATS from our extensive range of optional modules; you are also encouraged to consider taking optional modules that have a strong focus on political and legal theory and are taught in the departments of Law, Sociology, and Philosophy. If you pass the taught modules, you will move on to the second phase of the MA programme and complete a dissertation of 10,000 words (60 CATS).
The student experience
The busiest but most fulfilling days for me were Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, I spent most of the time reading the course materials of Normative Analysis, my core module. That module was about a range of normative questions about politics and law, such as the justifications for democracy, when is the state morally legitimate, the moral basis for criminalization, and so on. It was definitely a challenging modul - the required readings involved a lot of complicated concepts and they took me a lot of time to fully understand them. But it’s totally worth it. Being familiar with the readings helped myself to fully participate in discussions in class. After class, I normally went for drinks or dinner with my classmates and continued our interesting debates over political philosophy.
- William Chan, MA Political and Legal Theory (2017), current PhD candidate