History of Political Thought and Intellectual History

MA ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


This MA is an intercollegiate University of London programme, jointly administered by University College London and Queen Mary University of London. The MA draws on the expertise of academic staff in the fields of the history of political thought and intellectual history from across the Colleges and Institutes of the University of London and offers advanced training in intellectual history, the history of political thought and the history of philosophy, spanning the period from the ancient world to the Twenty-First Century. Studying the history of political thought is relevant to understanding the political change in the world today.

The programme brings together many of the outstanding merits associated with the institutions and research communities located throughout London, including those of Birkbeck College (Birkbeck), the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), King's College London (KCL), University College London (UCL), Queen Mary (QMUL), and Royal Holloway (RHUL).

Members of staff are drawn from Departments of History, Law, Modern Languages and Literature, Philosophy, and Politics within the University of London.

The programme is administered from Queen Mary, so you register as a Queen Mary student. Once you complete the programme, your degree will be a joint University of London-UCL MA.

Why study your MA in History of Political Thought and Intellectual History at Queen Mary?

In addition to the use of UCL and Queen Mary Libraries, you will have access to outstanding research libraries, including the British Library, Senate House Library, the Warburg Institute Library, the Wellcome Library, the IHR Library and the Dr. Williams Library. Students also have access to manuscript collections and newspaper collections at the British Library, as well as the National Archives in London. You will also have access to book collections and seminar events in the various specialist research institutes of the University, such as the Institute of Historical Research and the Warburg Institute.

Students are also encouraged to participate in the research programme and events hosted by the Centre for the Study of the History of Political Thought.

Why study your MA in History at Queen Mary?

We are one of the largest departments in the UK with a vibrant and successful postgraduate community.

We offer a range of innovative programmes and our links with external organisation (museums, industry, political institutions) will not only benefit you while you study but also after you graduate.

Ground-breaking research

The academics who convene and teach on our postgraduate programmes are world–leading scholars and are at the forefront of research in their respective fields.

Our distinguished academic staff will be familiar to you from TV and media and include five fellows of the British Academy, and fellows of other prestigious societies and organisations, such as the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries and the Medieval Academy of America.

An exceptional location

Our London location means that you have unrivalled access to galleries, museums, archives and libraries. The British Library is the best library in Britain for historians, and access to its many collections is one of the many advantages of studying in London. Our staff regularly collaborate with these organisations, giving you unique opportunities to meet curators or have private viewings.


Admissions and Student Recruitment Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8370
Email: history-admissions@qmul.ac.uk


Programme structure

The MA in the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History is currently available for one year full-time study, or two years part-time study.

Students on the programme will take a core course together with a selection of individual course modules, and complete a Masters dissertation. The core course, which runs across two semesters, is taken by all students and taught by a selection of staff across both Queen Mary and UCL. In addition to the core module, students choose their preferred modules from a menu of specialist options. After the completion of coursework in semesters one and two, the dissertation is undertaken over the spring and summer months, under the supervision of an expert in the relevant subject area. The programme also offers optional language training in a modern European language, or in ancient or Medieval Latin.

All full-time students, in addition to the core course (60 credits) and the dissertation (60 credits), will take further units of study adding up to at least 60 credits spread over two semesters. Students taking the MA part-time over two years will take the core course in their first year and complete their dissertation in their second year. A further 30 credits must be taken in both years one and two. Each course is taught in two-hour weekly seminar blocks and is assessed through coursework.

Core module

  • Method and Practice in the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History

The core course is convened each year by one of the MA programme directors, but several members of the MA's academic staff also make additional specialist contributions throughout the year. Specific topics and figures covered by the core course include: hermeneutics, ideology critique, the contextualist method in intellectual history, natural law, enlightenment, socialism, Aristotle, Hobbes, Marx, Nietzsche.

Optional modules that have run previously, include:

  • Political thought in Renaissance Europe - Angus Gowland (UCL)
  • Early-modern theories of the state - Quentin Skinner (QMUL)
  • The Public Sphere in Britain, 1476-1800 - Jason Peacey (QMUL)
  • Selfhood, sensibility and the politics of difference in the European Enlightenment - Adam Sutcliffe (KCL)
  • From Hume to Darwin: God, man and nature in European thought - Niall O'Flaherty (KCL)
  • In the shadow of the French Revolution - Gareth Steadman-Jones (QMUL)
  • Theories of Empire: from Enlightenment to Liberalism - Maurizio Isabella (QMUL)
  • Nationalism, patriotism and cosmopolitanism in political thought, 19th-20th centuries - Georgios Varouxakis (QMUL)
  • Ideology and Propaganda in the Roman Republic - Valentina Arena (UCL)
  • Commerce, Luxury and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century - Thomas Hopkins (QMUL)
  • Adam Smith and the State - Julian Hoppit (UCL)
  • Enlightenment Histories: Historical Represenation in Enlightenment Thought and Culture - Alexander Wragge-Morley (UCL)

A full list of optional modules will be circulated prior to the start of the programme.

In addition to the assessed portion of their course, you will be expected to attend the fortnightly research seminars in the History of Political Ideas at the Institute of Historical Research, at which papers are presented by academics from Britain, Europe, the United States and Asia. A faculty seminar organised by an academic convenership alternates with an early career seminar organised by research students.

Previous speakers

  • David Runciman (Cambridge)
  • Onora O&rsquo
  • Neill (House of Lords)
  • Iain Hampsher-Monk (Exeter)
  • Eckhart Hellmuth (Munich)
  • Jennifer Pitts (Princeton)
  • Andrew Fitzmaurice (Sydney).

More information

Visit the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History website to find out more.


Admissions and Student Recruitment Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8370
Email: history-admissions@qmul.ac.uk

Entry requirements

An upper second class first degree within the broad field of the humanities (or overseas equivalent).

We actively encourage applications from students who have developed an interest in any aspect of the history of political thought, intellectual history, or the history of philosophy.

International applicants

Students from outside of the UK help form a global community here at Queen Mary. For detailed country specific entry requirements please visit the International section of our website. If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency. You can find details on our English language entry requirements here: www.qmul.ac.uk/international/languagerequirements.

If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You are assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent study

For every hour spent in formal classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


Modules are assessed by coursework and a 12,000-word dissertation.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £10,440
Part time £5,275

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £21,790
Part time £11,060

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
email bursaries@qmul.ac.uk

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate employment

Our masters programmes aim to produce highly skilled, intellectually rigorous graduates. Whether you decide to pursue a career or further study, we will give you the skills required to flourish.

Our graduates go on to work in a variety of careers. Some apply their degree knowledge directly, working in research or policy in government or the private sector. Others work in areas including education, publishing, journalism, museums, law and finance. A significant proportion go on to PhDs in history or related subjects, and have been successful in attracting funding for these projects either at Queen Mary or other universities.

Wide-ranging careers

The national 2012/13 destination survey confirmed that 88 per cent of our graduates were in employment and/or study six months after graduation. The range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities and work experience, has enabled our students to move into careers such as:

  • England Business Research Co-ordinator, Whitehall & Industry Group
  • Policy Intern, Oxfam
  • Research Assistant, The Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Editorial Assistant, The Literary Review
  • Project Researcher, Member of European Parliament



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