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MA in Research in Politics & International Studies

The taught MA in Research in Politics & International Studies (formerly Politics) offers an excellent programme for students who are interested in doing research, not only in policy and politics, but also in the academic world. This MA is an ESRC recognised research training programme and is prestigious and of high quality. Although some students do take the MA for its own sake, most of the students on the programme will continue on to research for a PhD either at Warwick or elsewhere.

Programme content

Through its four core compulsory modules the degree provides training in key research skills:

  • Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods: this module introduces academic quantitative literature, secondary data, acquisition and management, and the use of applied statistics in the social sciences.
  • Qualitative Methods: this module examines the underlying theory, techniques, and ethical issues in qualitative research.
  • Explanation in Social Science: in this module you will consider the key challenges that are encountered in attempts to explain from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Comparative Politics: this module will equip you to tackle the methodological challenges arising in political research.

Quantitative skills were identified as a key deficiency in British political science by the ESRC benchmarking study, and the quantitative module gives students an ability to analyse and interpret quantitative evidence. Qualitative methods remain important, however, and the module on those methods looks at the underlying theory, the techniques themselves and the ethical issues they pose. Explanation in social science considers the key challenges that are encountered in attempts to explain and takes an interdisciplinary perspective. All study of politics eventually involves comparison, but this involves a series of methodological challenges, and the comparative politics module equips students to tackle them. Students can then take optional modules from a broad menu of choices.

Key skills provided in the core modules include:

  • Interrogating large data sets using R
  • Semi-structured interviewing of political elites
  • Quantitative methods in comparative politics
  • The link between functional explanations in social science and evolutionary ones in biology

The MA in RPAIS will offer you outstanding research training, especially if you consider writing a PhD dissertation. There are many opportunities to do PhD research at Warwick University, so if you are interested in this career path, please visit the PhD pages for more information.

Further information

About the course

Programme Director:
Steve Kettell

Core and optional modules
Entry requirements


image for research in PAIS

The student experience


I chose to study for my masters at Warwick because of the excellent reputation of the PAIS department and the positive and welcoming feeling you get when you walk around the campus. The MA Politics course in particular attracted me to this department; it has provided a fantastic basis for undertaking future research. Studying research methods in the way proscribed by the MA Politics programme has significantly contributed to my level of understanding and ability to interpret research undertaken in other areas of politics (and other academic disciplines), and it was great to be able to adapt all of the required assessments to my areas of interest. There is an overwhelming feeling of community among all the students in the PAIS department, and I enjoyed my time as an MA student so much that after a year of employment I decided to return to PAIS to study for a PhD.

-Lucy Hatton, MA Politics [renamed Research in Politics and International Studies] 2010-11

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