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Master of Politics (MPols)

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+ average 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.


Compulsory papers

POLS 501 “The Political”: Theory and Practice (semester 1, 30 Points)
This paper examines the contested nature of what constitutes politics and the ways to conduct research. It aims to assist students to become critical and reflective researchers by exploring key methodological issues in theory and practice.

POLS 590 Research Dissertation (full-year, 60 points)

MPols students and dissertation topics (PDF)

Elective papers 2022

Students can then choose three from the following five papers. The objective is for students to develop expertise in three of the four sub-disciplines of Politics:

Semester 1 (choose one)

POLS 520 New Zealand Government and Politics (30 points)
POLS 553 The Global Politics of Poverty and Inequality (30 Points)

Semester 2 (choose two)

POLS 512 The Ethics and Politics of Resistance (30 Points)
POLS 541 International Relations and the Global South (30 Points)
POLS 550 Comparative Regional Conflicts (30 Points)

How to Apply 

Domestic Students

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

International Students

International students wishing to apply for admission to the MPols programme should read Applying for a Postgraduate Programme and visit the International Office website.

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 is available here

POLS 590 Dissertation Prize

Every year the Politics Programme awards the William Kennedy Prize for Best POLS590 Research Dissertation.

View further information and previous prizewinners here

Further Information

Programme Convenor

Contact the 2023 Convenor with any further questions:

Dr Lena Tan