MSc Government

MSc Government

The MSc Government (previously MBS Government) provides students with an understanding of the nature, challenges and dilemmas of contemporary government and governance at national, local, regional and global levels, addressing both conceptual issues and policy debates.  The programme is also designed to enable students to develop high-level research and analytical skills. The MSc Government is suitable for graduates of Social Science, Arts, Commerce, Law or related disciplines. It may be taken one-year full-time or two-years part-time.

Interested in the MSc Government?

Why choose an MSc in Government?

For those interested in the study of political science, a taught programme is especially useful as it provides graduates with a number of skills, including:

  • Data analysis: Students are taught both quantitative and qualitative skills. While essential for conducting research, these skills are also transferable outside of academia, and can give graduates a distinct advantage when entering the workplace.
  • Research and writing skills: The ability to research is a vital component of any postgraduate degree, and students learn to develop and master a skill initially acquired at the undergraduate level.  The ability to communicate in a written manner is an invaluable skill for all walks of life.  In addition to the continuous assessments, the writing of a dissertation enables students to improve and hone this skill.
  • Policy analysis: Students learn to assess policies both in a theoretical and practical fashion.  As well as enhancing one's understanding of the workings of political systems, this skill is useful for many occupations that involve analysis of the consequences of particular policies.
  • Critical, systematic and independent thinking: This is an invaluable skill developed at university, which is particularly encouraged on the MBS in government via the small classes, the interaction with lecturers, and the tutorial and workshop-based learning.
  • Presentation skills: Selling yourself and your abilities is an important skill to cultivate at university.  It helps you to progress in both life and your career, to convince others of your worthiness. Such skills are developed via in-class presentations and workshops, which are an integral element of some modules.
  • Prepare graduates for positions in government, international organisations, research posts, the private sector and PhD research: Previous graduates have gone on to work in the Dail, for The Irish Examiner, as a research assistants for TDs, in the banking industry, as a press officer for the Health and Safety Authority, in the PR Sector, teaching, while some have gone on to undertake PhD research. 

Programme Content

The programme combines taught modules with a 15,000 word research dissertation:

  • GV6102 Political Science Research Methods (10 credits)
  • GV6103 Re-imagining democratic politics in a changing World (10 credits)
  • GV6104 Political Participation and Mobilisation (10 credits)
  • GV6106 Research Dissertation (30 credits): 15,000 word research dissertation
  • GV6113 Governance and policy processes in the European Union (10 credits)
  • GV6114 Changing Dynamics of Governance (10 credits)
  • GV6115 European Security (10 credits)

All of these modules are examined through continuous assessement.

There are no written examinations.

Information for Full Time Students

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

Classes take place all day Thursday and Friday.

Information for Part Time Students

Year One:

Stduents complete the following modules: GV6104, GV6113, GV6114 and GV6115 (10 credits each).

These classes take place on Fridays.

Year Two: 

Students complete GV6102, GV6103 (10 credits each), as well as GV6106 (30 credits).

These classes take place on Thursdays.

Entry requirements

Normally applicants should have an Honours Bachelors Degree with at least Second Class Honours (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 and the Faculty of Commerce.  Applicants may be required to attend for interview or may be short-listed for interview. 

Prospective applicants should contact the Department of Government for further information.

Students passing only the taught modules, or choosing not to complete the research dissertation may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Government.

For further details contact the MSc Government director (Acting):

Dr Liam Weeks,
Department of Government and Politics,
University College Cork.
Tel: +353 21 490 2941


GV6103 Re-imagining Democratic Politics in a Changing World

Lecturer: Dr Laurence Davis

The module focuses on contemporary democratic theories, ideologies and social movements

that seek to recapture the transformative potential of democracy associated with much of its history by closing the gap between ideals of popular sovereignty and the reality of contemporary democratic societies.

In this module students will discuss contemporary radical democratic ideas and initiatives and assess the role of social movements and utopian imagination in transforming democratic ideals.

GV6104 Political Participation and Mobilisation

Lecturer: Dr Clodagh Harris

This module examines diverse forms of political participation, theories of democracy as well as contemporary democratic innovations such as participatory budgeting, citizens’ juries and citizens’ assemblies such as the Irish Convention on the Constitution.

It explores the relationship between democracy and participation, analysing direct, participatory, representative and deliberative forms of democracy. Finally it classifies and assesses the institutional and systemic obstacles to participation.

GV6113 Governance and Policy Processes in the European Union

Lecturer: Dr Emmanuelle Schon-Quinlivan

This course provides a deep analysis of policy making and policy processes in the European Union.  It analyses the European Union policy portfolio, the key policy actors as well as the dynamics of EU policy making. In particular it explores the European Union’s distinctive policy reach and discusses the complexity of policy making modes in a multi-level governance system.

GV6114 The Changing Dynamics of Governance

Lecturer: Dr Clodagh Harris

This module examines competing theories of governance, looking in particular at network governance and the challenges it presents for democratic accountability, representation and legitimacy. Multi-level governance and recent debates on political reform are analysed in the context of the changing dynamics of public policymaking.

GV6115 European Security

Lecturer: Dr Andrew Cottey

This module examines: debates on the nature of the European security order of the early twenty-first century; key policy challenges facing European governments; the main European security institutions (the EU, NATO, and the OSCE); relations between the West and Russia; and Europe's role in addressing global security issues.

GV6102 Political Science Research Methods

Lecturer: Dr Niall Duggan & Dr Liam Weeks

This skills based module is designed to equip students with an understanding of the research techniques employed in the study of politics as well as the theoretical principles which underpin them. The dominant theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of political science are considered.

The module is taught in two blocs. Qualitative methods are taught in Semester I and topics include participant observation, qualitative interviewing, document analysis, case studies, comparative research and focus groups. Quantitative methods are taught in Semester II. This section is concerned with the analysis of opinion poll data. It teaches students how to conduct their own survey, how to design it, who to survey, and how to analyse their data. Accompanying both sections of the course is a weekly tutorial, where students are taught how to use research methods with computer software packages.

Career Paths

A postgraduate degree in political science is an excellent qualification for the labour market. It is not vocational in the sense that it is geared to one particular form of employment (though many prominent political figures have studied political science). It is flexible as it builds the analytical and intellectual skills that employers in both the private and the public sectors look for in graduates.

 Popular career destinations for political science graduates include:

  • Media and publishing: Political science graduates work as journalists for television and radio, for national and regional newspapers, and in publishing.
  • Business: Knowing how to analyse complex data and communicate the results are some of the key skills that private sector employers look for.
  • Pressure groups: The knowledge and skills acquired from a taught political science postgraduate degree enable graduates to become effective employees in a wide variety of pressure groups and trade unions.
  • Political consultants: Many consultants are political science graduates working as parliamentary officers for leading firms and charities.
  • Education: Graduates may go into lecturing and research posts at universities or become teachers in secondary schools.
  • Civil servants: Political science graduates are found across most government departments, and Leinster House is no exception. Others work in local government, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
  • Politics: Many elected politicians have studied political science and political science graduates also work for political parties or as researchers for TDs and Members of the European Parliament.

Increasingly, graduates also opt to pursue further studies in the form of a PhD, and every year some of the MBS Government (now called MSc Government) graduates have gone on to study for a doctorate in Government.

Detailed below are the specific careers paths that some of the MBS Government graduates have pursued:

  • Press Officer
  • Research Assistant in Dáil Éireann
  • Research Assistant for TD (member of national parliament)
  • Research Assistant in Queensland State Legislature
  • Investment Banking
  • Working for private companies such as Amazon, Google, Pfizer
  • Marketing and PR Executive for private company
  • Journalism - the Evening Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Daily Mail
  • Librarian in Griffith College Dublin
  • Secondary School Teacher
  • Primary School Teacher
  • Political Party Officer
  • Defence Forces
  • PhD in Political Science



One of the highlights of the year is the annual fieldtrip to a variety of governing institutions in Europe.

More to follow

Previous highlights

European Parliment, Strasbourg

NATO headquarters, Brussels

European Central Bank, Frankfurt

Department of Government and Politics

2nd Floor, Block B, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland