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MA in Social and Political Thought

How can we think clearly and imaginatively about the social and political challenges that confront us? This MA programme seeks to provide some of the tools with which to do so.

Programme content

This MA programme provides you with a thorough grounding in the classics of Social and Political Thought and a deep and varied engagement with their 20th and 21st century offshoots. This course addresses a range of key concepts and ideas that are central to the analysis of contemporary society, politics and culture, including debates over the basis of contemporary capitalism, neoliberalism, biopolitics, ideology, and the fundamental question of what it means to be ‘social’ and/or ‘human’.

The degree is structured around two core modules. The first of these is Capitalism, State and Market, which uses theoretical resources such as Michel Foucault’s writings on biopolitics to think analytically and critically about capitalism and its recurrent crises. This module looks in particular at the recent financial crisis and the role this crisis has played in the reconfiguration of structural relations between the market and the state. A key part of this module is the critical analysis of political-economic discourses of neoliberalism that argue for the sovereignty of markets and economics over all things ‘social’.

The second core module, Politics and Social Theory, uses the work of a wide-range of classical thinkers (for example, de Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim and Weber) and 20th century writers (Arendt, Schmitt and Rorty) to consider the possibility of developing a sociological understanding of politics.

Beyond these two core modules, you can pursue your own research interests and specialisms by choosing four modules from a wide-range of options, and then progressing to research and write your own 15,000 word dissertation. Optional modules in 2017 include ‘Rethinking the 20th Century’, ‘Social Research for Social Change’, ‘Feminist Theory and Epistemology’, ‘Market Life’, and ‘Death Sovereignty and Power in the (Post) Colony’.

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