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MA Political Psychology

  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

This new course offers a unique opportunity to study how psychological insights can throw light on politics. What are the roots of political violence? What drives shifts in public opinion? Why do some people become activists, while others never get involved? How does propaganda work? What is the appeal of the political ideologies to which some devote their lives? What makes for effective political leadership? Is the future democratic?

Psychology can make a vital contribution to developing answers to these and many other questions of importance to all those interested in the future of their societies. Political psychology is a well-established branch of psychology, yet there are very few places in the world where a Masters in the subject can be taken. Bournemouth University is now offering such a course, based on the in-depth expertise of the team who will provide it. The course leader is Professor Barry Richards, who has over thirty years’ experience of research and writing in this field, from his edited collection ‘Capitalism and Infancy’ in 1984 to his forthcoming book ‘What is Holding Us Together?’. He has been a leading figure in the application of psychoanalytic theory to the understanding of politics.

The course team also includes Professor Candida Yates, author and editor of books on popular culture, emotion and politics, and Associate Professor Darren Lilleker, a widely-published international leader in the study of political communication. These and other teaching staff bring a broad range of perspectives to the course, and enable it both to focus on the psychological dimensions of politics and also to see psychological factors in their broader societal contexts. Our psychologies need specific study, but are part of our societies and cultures.

If you are considering postgraduate research on a topic which involves looking psychologically at politics, or are intending to work in the political field itself (whether as activist, consultant, researcher or in some other role), this course offers a highly relevant, challenging and rich encounter with leading edge theory and research at the complex intersections of psychology and politics.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018

Location:

Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus

Duration:

1 year

Entry requirements:

A good Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent.  If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our full entry requirements.

Course details

Core units

  • Issues & Debates in Political Psychology: combines the study of classical texts and topics in political psychology with presentations of current research by members of the course team and other faculty. It places the psychology of politics in the context of major political issues, and links it to other disciplinary approaches.
  • The Psychodynamics of Political Culture: explores the cultural and emotional processes that shape our relationship to politics in the late modern, digital era. Focussing on the interface between politics and popular culture, and drawing on theories and methods in psychoanalysis, it presents case studies of the dynamics of gender, class, ethnicity and nation.
  • The Psychology of Democracy: offers an in-depth examination of the origins and factors that shape feelings and attitudes towards the institutions and processes within a democratic state. Covering the influence that political campaigns and media play, the unit analyses how the way people feel about and understand their place within the democracy system shapes the different forms and levels of participation they contribute to democratic life, from simple thinking about the news through to street activism.
  • The Psychology of Fundamentalism & Political Violence: uses a psychosocial understanding of fundamentalism in the analysis of a wide range of terrorist movements and other extremisms. It examines the social and political contexts that define different extremist ideologies, and outlines their common ground in the fundamentalist state of mind.
  • Research Imagination: prepares you for the Final Project, through an overview of the methods and processes of social science research and workshops in which you will consider the application of methods to your topics of interest.
  • Final Project: you will choose your topic in consultation with academic staff, and will be guided in the application to a study of that topic of research findings and theoretical concepts from all the taught units. The Project can be either a 15,000-word dissertation or a 10,000-word journal paper plus presentation.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MA Political Psychology.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon a postgraduate taught degree are:

  • A good Bachelors Honours degree, 2:1 or above or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as Politics, Psychology, or other social science/humanities subject if you are able to demonstrate appropriate engagement with politics.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the AskBU Enquiry Service for more information.

International entry requirements 

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (academic) 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our international entry requirements page.

Careers

This course offers a highly relevant, challenging and rich encounter with leading-edge theory and research at the complex intersections of psychology and politics. It provides an interdisciplinary basis for doctoral research in many areas, and will be an attractive basis for the development of careers in academia and research.

It also provides a suitable basis for entry to, or professional development within, careers in political and policy research, strategic work for campaigning groups, and political journalism, as well as offering insights and support for those engaged in democratic participation as professional or local politicians.

Further study 

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the political psychology sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.

Professor Barry Richards

Barry Richards joined Bournemouth University as Professor of Public Communication in 2001, having previously been Professor of Human Relations at the University of East London.

After a first degree in psychology he trained and worked as a clinical psychologist in the NHS before becoming a lecturer and taking a PhD in sociology. At the University of East London he led the establishment of psychosocial studies as an interdisciplinary teaching programme and research paradigm, while researching and writing in a number of areas including popular culture, advertising, consumer behaviour, political leadership, and the rise of 'therapeutic' culture. At Bournemouth he has been developing psychosocial approaches in the field of media and communication, and has been involved in research on emotion in political communication, on journalism and emotional literacy, and on terrorism. From 2007 to 2010 he served as Deputy Dean of the Media School.

He is a founding editor of the journal 'Media, War and Conflict' (Sage), and on the editorial boards of `Psychoanalysis and Culture', the `European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling', and `Free Associations'. His current work focuses on psychological factors and on the role of media in the development of political extremism.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non-financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU pages.
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, (with or without attendance) you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Omolola Fagbule

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.