Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

The Master of Politics (MPols) is an academically rigorous and intensive twelve-month programme that provides an exciting opportunity for students of Politics to develop valuable research and communication skills, and to obtain a highly sought-after postgraduate qualification.

The programme provides preparation for graduates seeking careers in professions such as diplomacy, teaching, journalism, politics, business, or in policy development, analysis and research for politicians, NGOs, lobby groups, and the public service. It also serves as a foundation qualification for graduates interested in advancing to a PhD.

Students interested in undertaking the MPols must have a BA in Politics or a cognate discipline including International Relations, Government, Public Policy, Political Theory/Philosophy, Strategic Studies, Defence Studies, and Comparative Area Studies, and a grade average of at least B over their four best 300-level papers.

Students may start the MPols degree at the beginning of semester 1 or semester 2. A full-time student must complete the requirements of the degree within twelve months, and a part-time candidate within twenty-four months, of commencing the programme.


Degree candidates are required to master a curriculum comprising four POLS 500-level papers, including a core paper, totalling 120 points, and a 60-point research dissertation (POLS590) of a maximum of 20,000 words. Students are also expected to attend workshops designed to assist with the process of writing a dissertation.


There is one compulsory paper. This introduces you to the contested notion of politics and key methodological issues in theory and practice.

POLS 501 The 'Political': Theory and Practice (30 points)

You then choose three other papers (30 points each). The objective with these is for you to develop expertise in three of the four sub-disciplines of Politics.

Check details in the POLS 500-level papers list to see which ones are offered this year, and in which semester.


POLS 590 Research Dissertation (60 points)
A supervised research dissertation of up to 20,000 words on an approved topic in politics.

Examples of MPols student dissertation topics (PDF)

How to apply

Domestic students

If you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you may apply online:

Apply via the MPols qualification webpage

International students

International students wishing to apply for admission to the MPols programme should visit the Future Students section of the International website:

International at the University of Otago

Scholarships and MPols Prize

Coursework Master's scholarships

Otago has a number of Coursework Master's Scholarships available. On application to the programme, promising students are nominated by the Politics Programme.

Further information on these scholarships

Māori and Pacific Bridging Scholarships

The Division of Humanities offers a number of Bridging Scholarships for Māori students and indigenous Pacific students. These awards are designed to encourage graduating Māori and indigenous Pacific students to proceed to their first year of taught postgraduate study in Humanities.

Further information on Humanities website

POLS 590 Dissertation Prize

Every year the Politics Programme awards the William Kennedy Prize for Best POLS 590 Research Dissertation.

Further information and previous prizewinners

Further information

MPols regulations

Programme Convenor

Contact the Convenor with any further questions:

Dr Lena Tan

Grad Profile Photo Ben Hay-Smith thumbnail
"Studying a Master of Politics has been the best decision I've ever made. To any prospective Politics students, my advice is to just give it a go. You won't regret it."
Ben Hay-Smith, MPols student

Back to top