UCC Postgraduate courses

Government & Politics

Course Fact File
Duration1 Year Full-time; 2 Years Part-time
Teaching ModeFull-time, Part-Time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
Closing DateRolling deadline. Open until all places have been filled. Early application is advised.
Non-EU Closing DateOpen until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

The MSc in Government and Politics is an exciting interdisciplinary taught master’s programme that provides graduates with the expertise and work experience required for successful careers in public policy environments.

The focus of the MSc Government and Politics is on governance. Government affects our day-to-day lives. It affects the food we eat, the healthcare we receive and the taxes we pay. Modern-day governance occurs at many levels: local, regional, national, European and international.

To provide an understanding of contemporary governments we examine issues such as developments in democratic theory, regulatory reform and international relations. We also examines contemporary policy debates at a range of levels, looking at political reform in the Irish context, the changing dynamics of European governance as well as the challenges faced by democracy and the protection/advancement of human rights in the twenty-first century.

Our MSc programme is uniquely oriented toward vocational skills training, through coursework, and the option to undertake either a work-based dissertation (Work Placement) or a research-based dissertation. We have a dedicated placement officer who sources an internship tailored to each individual student's specific interests. In the majority of cases these internships are paid, although this cannot be guaranteed. The work placement offering builds on the success of this scheme at the undergraduate and postgraduate level in other programmes offered by the Department of Government and Politics, which has been a pioneer in offering internships for students of political science. These placements are located in a wide variety of policy organisations, such as the Irish parliament, the Scottish parliament, the Office of the President, the Central Bank and Ervia, in which students will be able to utilise the knowledge learned on the programme and learn invaluable vocational and practical skills.

The MSc will enable you to develop your research and analytical skills in the areas of government, political science and public policy. It will also give you a number of other skills, including data analysis; research, communication and writing skills; policy analysis, critical, systematic, and independent thinking; and presentation skills. The work placement will give you a unique opportunity to develop important professional skills and to immediately apply your learning to the professional world.

The MSc in Government is suitable for graduates of social science, arts, commerce, law or related disciplines.

You can take this program in one year full-time or in two years part-time, and it is divided into two parts. In Part I, students take a combination of compulsory and elective modules. In addition, students choose 20 credits from a list of elective modules provided by the Department of Government and Politics, School of History, and Department of Philosophy. See the College Calendar for the current list of elective modules on offer.

Part I (Core Modules)

  • ES6014 European Democracy, Citizenship, Memory and Identity (5 credits)
  • GV6011 EU Political System and Policies (5 credits)*
  • GV6118 Political Science Research Methods (10 credits)
  • GV6121 Comparative Political Institutions (5 credits)
  • GV6127 Politics and Gender (5 credits)
  • GV6128 Re-imagining Democratic Politics in a Changing World (5 credits)
  • PH6055 Core Themes in Political Philosophy (5 credits)

Part II

  • GV6106 Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits) or
  • GV6123 Work-Based Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits). This is a work placement in a national policy environment and a placement-based dissertation. The length of the work placement is usually four months.

*Subject to approval 

Specialist career advice is available to students through the Work Placement Officer and support is given in the planning for and application to work placement organisations. Our graduates have found the work placement to be an extremely valuable first step in their professional careers giving them unrivaled opportunities to make professional contacts and gain first-hand experience in the public policy world.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Students studying for the degree full-time take all modules in one year. 

The part-time option will be taught during weekday working hours over 2 years.

Students studying for the degree part-time take all the core modules GV6124GV6011, GV6010, ES6014, GV6118, GV6121, and PH6055 (40 credits in total) in Year 1 and the remaining credits from the list of elective modules, as well as Dissertation in Government and Politics (GV6106) or Work-based Dissertation in Government and Politics (GV6123) in Year 2. 

The taught part of the course runs from mid-September to the end of the following March. You will take the work-based dissertation or the research-based dissertation between the beginning of April and the end of September. The length of the work placement may vary from three to five months.

During the taught part of the course, students have approximately 8-10 hours per week of lectures/seminars. This is supplemented by recommended reading, preparation of presentations and other group work and time spent completing assignments (essays, policy reports, research projects, etc). During the taught part of the course, you will also take classes in preparation for the work placement.

In Part I, the course is assessed through a variety of coursework assignments, including:

  • in-class presentations
  • reports
  • article reviews
  • book reviews
  • blog contributions
  • posters
  • portfolios and essays

In Part II of the course, the assessment involves

  • GV6106 Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits). This is a 15,000-word independent research dissertation or
  • GV6123 Work-Based Dissertation in Government and Politics (30 credits). This is a work placement in a national policy environment and a placement-based dissertation. The length of the work placement is usually four months.

Why Choose This Course

The MSc Government & Politics at UCC equipped me with transferrable skills that were an asset in my professional life...

Saba Loftus - Sustainable Development Specialist at Global Policy Forum

Find Out More

A key feature of the MSc in Government and Politics is its focus on governance and public policy issues, and the way in which it gives you the practical skills necessary to work in policy environments. In addition, the work placement and the skills focus of the assessment for the programme are central to its effectiveness.

If you are a graduate of social science, arts, commerce, or law, this course will help you to specialise in political science and will provide you with key transferable practical skills (data analysis, presentations, teamwork).

These features of the MSc Government and Politics give our graduates a competitive edge. Past students repeatedly comment on the value of the skills component of the course and the work placements in exposing them to policy-related environments and in engendering a deep understanding of this exciting and evolving field.


See our postgraduate scholarship page for information on scholarships.

There is also Irish government funding available specifically for non-EU/EEA students, the deadline for which is usually the end of March, so applicants are encouraged to apply early: Irish Government Funding.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

You can take work placements in a variety of organisations/institutions working in areas related to national affairs, such as government ministries, the offices of elected representatives, think tanks, and non-governmental organisations. We have relationships with a variety of organisations that take students from the course and you will be provided with expert support in sourcing and applying for work placements.

Skills and Careers Information

The programme will prepare you for positions in government, international organisations, the private, community, and voluntary sectors and PhD research.

Our graduates have found employment as public affairs consultants, legal officers, parliamentary researchers, journalists, analysts in the banking and IT industries, press officers, and teachers and some have gone on to PhD research.


Applicants should have a Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8)or an equivalent academic or professional qualification, in one of the following areas: Social Science, Arts, Commerce, Law or a related discipline or equivalent professional experience as deemed appropriate by the Head of Department of Government Politics and the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Applicants may be required to attend for interview or may be short-listed for an interview.

All applicants will be required to submit a 'motivation statement' (indicating why they are interested in taking the MSc Government and Politics, and why they think they would be suited to the programme. Prospective applicants should contact the Department of Government and Politics for further information.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.

  • Please enter the names and email addresses of 2 referees. 

The closing date for non-EU applications is Open until all places have been filled or no later than 30 June. Early application is advised.

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact