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Master of Arts

Programme structure Master Political Science


The Master's Programme comprises 120 credit points over two years (four semesters, full time). It consists of three different sections (core and advanced section, specialisation section, supplementary section) and the Master's thesis and is structured along six thematic areas. The sections and the thematic areas are described in more detail below.

Thematic Areas

The courses offered by the Political Science department at the WiSo Faculty fully reflect the extensive range of the subject, aiming to introduce political science as a multifaceted subject without prematurely specialising into a particular niche or subdiscipline. Students nonetheless have the possibility to choose specialisations according to their interests. 

  • Comparative Political Institutions focuses on analytical concepts such as institutional equilibria and equilibrium institutions; institutional design, institutional change, and endogenous institutions; path dependence; preference aggregation, co-ordination, collective action, and principal-agent relations; veto player theory and types of democracy. (Professor coordinating this area: André Kaiser.)
  • Comparative Political Economy deals with the comparative analysis of the co-constitutive relationship between politics and the economy in specific countries. Analytically, it refers to a diverse set of concepts, which put the material character of preferences, interests, political and economic power, institutions, and policies into the center of their analysis. Students will understand how advanced capitalist democracies and welfare states are changing due to challenges such as globalization, digitalization, financialization, and migration. A methodological focus in teaching is on (comparative) case study methods. (Professor coordinating this area: Christine Trampusch.)
  • Empirical Democratic Theory deals with the design, operation and performance of democracies. Courses offered will introduce students to different theories of democracy (both classical theories and more recent work), highlight the particular challenges that phenomena like inequality and globalization pose for democratic nation-states, and encourage students to examine if, how, and when, democratic nation-states are able to fulfill various normatively desirable criteria. Both formal analysis and statistical methods will be used to engage with these questions.  (Professor coordinating this area: Chitralekha Basu)
  • International Relations covers different aspects of international politics, for example conflict- and cooperation studies, security politics, geopolitics, international regulatory policies, as well as information and communication. For the analysis of these phenomena, theoretical approaches like realism and neo-realism, interdependence and institutionalism, the liberal theory of International Relations, international political economy as well as social constructivism are used. Further analytical approaches include liberal analysis (interest groups, media, public opinion), the two-level approach, the theoretical analysis of bureaucracy-and organisation as well as political psychology and group decision-making. (Professor coordinating this area: Thomas Jäger.)
  • European and Multilevel Politics deals with political representation, party politics, and policy-making at the national and supranational level in Europe. Starting from a basic toolkit to study advanced democracies (including delegation models, the spatial model of politics, formal reasoning), students will learn to examine contemporary developments and political puzzles that are of particular relevance to European democracies and the European Union. The area offers also applied quantitative methods training in quantitative text analysis and causal inference using the statistical programming language R.(Professor coordinating this area: Sven-Oliver Proksch.)
  • Political Science Methods provides methodological foundations that are essential for the study of political science. Courses on research design, quantitative methods and qualitative methods endow students with state-of-the-art skills for advanced research in political science. A special feature of the methods area is that in each section (core  section 1 and 2 and specialisation section), introductory courses are offered on different aspects of political science methods that do not build on each other and can therefore be chosen independently in any sequence or combination. Several research projects in the specialisation section offer additional methods training based on these introductory courses (e.g. Quantitative Text Analysis in the specialisation module Political Science V (European Politics)). 
    (Professor coordinating this area: Ingo Rohlfing.)


The core and advanced section (36 credit points) is composed of “core modules”and “core module seminars”.

curricular overview (For detailed information on the sections and modules please scroll down.)

Core modules are introductory lectures (or seminars) in the main subfields of political science.

Core module seminars are advanced seminars allowing students to deepen their knowledge in selected subfields.

Students choose:

  • Core and advanced section 1: three (out of six) core modules à 6 credit points
  • Core and advanced section 2: two (out of six) core module seminars à 9 credit points

The specialisation section (36 credit points) consists of research projects, usually held as seminars. Specialisation modules delve deeper into specific topics of political science. Students learn to apply approaches and methods on a research problem of their own choice. This section also includes the obligatory colloquium (9 credit points), where students present a draft of their master thesis. Students choose:

  •  Specialisation section: three (out of six) modules à 9 credit points

The supplementary section (24 CP) allows choosing from subjects and specialisations offered at the WiSo-Faculty and (based on a bilateral agreement with the Institute of Political Science) the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Content of sections and modules

Students may choose from a wide range of key issues and research areas in political science to gain more advanced knowledge in a variety of subjects. Use the following links at the bottom of this page to find out more about the content of modules in each section.