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University Of Edinburgh Comparative Politics Essay

Programme description. This programme provides intensive analytical training in the systematic comparison of social and public policies from an international perspective. Read more…

Programme description

This programme provides intensive analytical training in the systematic comparison of social and public policies from an international perspective. It helps develop substantive knowledge in a wide range of policy fields around topical issues such as policy evaluation, policy learning and policy transfer.

Amid the ongoing debate on Scotland’s role within the UK, we offer the ideal environment in which to observe contemporary public policy developments.

You’ll focus on variation in national policy patterns within and beyond Europe, with a view to understanding how and why nations differ in their social and public policies and what they can learn from each other’s experience in key contemporary policy concerns, including labour market, work-life balance, health, social care, inequality and welfare issues, education policy and child-oriented policy and practice.

Programme structure

Teaching combines lectures, seminars and tutorials, plus a combination of essays and assessed coursework.

You will complete three compulsory courses and three option courses. In addition, you will undertake research training in a variety of methodologies and research techniques, and complete an independently researched dissertation.

Learning outcomes

This programme aims to give you:

  • a thorough training in methods of comparative analysis
  • ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)-recognised training in analysing datasets
  • knowledge of different forms and purposes of comparison
  • grounding in the politics and/or economics of policy-making
  • a detailed comparative knowledge of substantive areas of policy
  • knowledge of policy learning and transfers in a comparative context

Career opportunities

Highly relevant to anyone who works or intends to work in policy-relevant professions in the public, private or non-governmental sectors, this degree provides you with a recognised qualification that can lead to an enhanced range of employment opportunities and further study.

Past students have gone on to employment in the Scottish Government, social research, housing associations, local government, and in other public and private sector bodies, both locally and internationally.

You will develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.



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Year 1

You will study Greats: From Plato to the Enlightenment; Morality and Value; and Logic 1. These courses introduce you to key topics in the history of philosophy, morality and ethics, and the nature of argument.

You will also take Introduction to Politics and International Relations; and Political Thinkers. This will cover material on key conceptual ideas in politics, and some of the history of political theory.

You can also choose to take Philosophy of Science 1, which looks at the basic assumptions of science.

Year 2

You will take two courses in philosophy: Mind, Matter and Language; and Knowledge and Reality.

You will also study International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond; and Comparative Politics in a Globalized World. You can also choose to take courses in other subjects with links to Philosophy and Politics.

Year 3

You will start to specialise. You will choose six courses from a range linked to our areas of expertise.

In philosophy, these include topics linked to the major areas of the subject.

Politics courses may include: Global Justice and Citizenship; Approaches to Politics and International Relations; Foreign Policy; Human Rights; and Statistical Design.

Year 4

You will choose another four to six courses from a wide variety available. You will also complete either an independent dissertation or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays on philosophy or politics topics of your choice.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2017/18)