Which uni should I choose for Politics taught masters? Watch

AnastasiaTs
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Hello!

I completed a non-UK undergraduate degree in political science recently.
I applied to five masters programmes (same field of study) and I now hold offers from Birmingham, Essex, Manchester, Sussex and possibly Warwick.
I thought to apply to as many as possible because I felt a bit insecure.

How should I choose (apart from liking the programme)?
Are rankings that important?

I asked a friend who has studied and lives in the UK and he said those unis are all considered to be of similar level and it only makes a difference if you study at Oxbridge or Imperial.

Any ideas?

I would appreciate any kind of advice!
Thanks!

A.
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Tcannon
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Good choice of unis with polscie departments. It is simple, go for fit as they are all peer schools. What is your areas of interests and concentration, any specific areas? Sussex for instance is strong in IR, DEV and critical theory. Check research clusters and institutes at each uni. Compare costs, I think in general Warwick is more expensive

Good luck
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AnastasiaTs
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My undergrad degree was mostly theoritical (intellectual history, pol.sociology, critical theory etc.) so I thought it would be better to go for a more practical one/research methods because I'm planning to go for a PhD afterwards...
The Sussex MA I applied to has many critical theory/ Marx/Hegel modules indeed and this is why I am a bit skeptical. I keep thinking about my career prospects.

Warwick & Essex ones are mostly research methods and IR/ comparative politics/ theories of Justice etc. modules and this is why I thought to narrow it down between those two.

I guess reputation and rankings don't always match. I'm a bit clueless about how these things work.

Thanks for answering
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Tcannon
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Yes, Essex has a relatively small but respected PolScie department. It is known for analytical methods, evidence based and European policy. Ditto Sheffield.

If your goal is PhD, you may want to check out PhD intake, supervision and funded places at each uni.

I know that in one social science discipline (not politics) Manchester prefers to accept mostly PhD applicants who completed MSc in Manchester.
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AnastasiaTs
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Thank you for the useful advice!

My plan (maybe an ambitious one) is to obtain my masters from a respected university and then try to be accepted into a top 5 one (if I do well enough). This is why I want to make the best choice possible. I guess that each university prefers its own graduates. It's the same for my university as well.

Do you think Essex and Warwick could be very similar?
Warwick is the most expensive of the five, the best ranked one and my British friends said it's posh...The programme I applied to is called Research in politics and Int. Studies MA. The Essex programme is called MSc Pol. Science.

Thanks again and sorry for asking the same question in different ways.
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SmaugTheTerrible
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(Original post by AnastasiaTs)
Thank you for the useful advice!

My plan (maybe an ambitious one) is to obtain my masters from a respected university and then try to be accepted into a top 5 one (if I do well enough). This is why I want to make the best choice possible. I guess that each university prefers its own graduates. It's the same for my university as well.

Do you think Essex and Warwick could be very similar?
Warwick is the most expensive of the five, the best ranked one and my British friends said it's posh...The programme I applied to is called Research in politics and Int. Studies MA. The Essex programme is called MSc Pol. Science.

Thanks again and sorry for asking the same question in different ways.
I'm not sure about postgrad, but for undergrad at least, Warwick is far superior to Essex.
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AnastasiaTs
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(Original post by SmaugTheTerrible)
I'm not sure about postgrad, but for undergrad at least, Warwick is far superior to Essex.
Yes, I thought the same thing searching online...So much information on undergrad but I can't come up with anything useful to help me make a decision for postgrad.

Thank you
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SmaugTheTerrible
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(Original post by AnastasiaTs)
Yes, I thought the same thing searching online...So much information on undergrad but I can't come up with anything useful to help me make a decision for postgrad.

Thank you
Generally speaking the best Universities in the UK are as follows:

Oxford and Cambridge
LSE and Imperial
UCL
Warwick and Durham
Manchester, Exeter, Birmingham, King's College, Nottingham, SOAS, York, Edinburgh, Sheffield

This list is by no means perfect but it should give you a rough idea of what are considered to be the 'respectable' Universities (some slightly more well-known than others).
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AnastasiaTs
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Much appreciated!
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Tcannon
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Warwick's Politics department publishes its research clusters and institutes on its official department website. Just click and read it. The discussion papers and interests of main lecturers gives you a clear idea.

(Original post by AnastasiaTs)
Thank you for the useful advice!

My plan (maybe an ambitious one) is to obtain my masters from a respected university and then try to be accepted into a top 5 one (if I do well enough). This is why I want to make the best choice possible. I guess that each university prefers its own graduates. It's the same for my university as well.

Do you think Essex and Warwick could be very similar?
Warwick is the most expensive of the five, the best ranked one and my British friends said it's posh...The programme I applied to is called Research in politics and Int. Studies MA. The Essex programme is called MSc Pol. Science.

Thanks again and sorry for asking the same question in different ways.
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golden tribe
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I would say warwick is strong but since you are an international student I would say if you care about rankings and prestigiousness go for manchester as it is ranked 30th in the world while warwick does not make the top 100.

If you don't care about rankings, look at the content and choose the one you find interesting
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jelly1000
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(Original post by AnastasiaTs)
Yes, I thought the same thing searching online...So much information on undergrad but I can't come up with anything useful to help me make a decision for postgrad.

Thank you
Overall yes Warwick has a superior reputation to Essex but Essex politics departments is one of its strengths.
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Doones
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For postgrad rankings maybe also look at REF 2014 for your subject (research effectiveness).

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AnastasiaTs
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(Original post by golden tribe)
I would say warwick is strong but since you are an international student I would say if you care about rankings and prestigiousness go for manchester as it is ranked 30th in the world while warwick does not make the top 100.

If you don't care about rankings, look at the content and choose the one you find interesting
I'm an EU student so I haven't paid much attention to world rankings.

My main worry is if rankings and employability/ further academic opportunities are connected in reality.


(Original post by jneill)
For postgrad rankings maybe also look at REF 2014 for your subject (research effectiveness).

Thanks! Will check this out as well.
Posted from TSR Mobile
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sj27
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(Original post by SmaugTheTerrible)
I'm not sure about postgrad, but for undergrad at least, Warwick is far superior to Essex.
Essex's politics department has a good reputation, especially in quantitative areas which tends to be ..lacking in certain other unis, including a number of higher ranked ones. So it really does depend what the OP wants out of the degree. If its just to get into a top 5 PhD (however that top 5 is defined) then a distinction for masters is the first crucial step, along with the research proposal. That in turn may well be influenced by what the leanings of the department in which the MA has been studied.

If you want to use the REF rankings, apparently Essex is first in the UK for politics...http://www.essex.ac.uk/research/ref/default.aspx
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polscistudent88
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(Original post by SmaugTheTerrible)
I'm not sure about postgrad, but for undergrad at least, Warwick is far superior to Essex.
Not for politics: Essex Government dept. is top-notch and superior to Warwick, which is instead stronger overall (and in the social sciences especially thanks to the Econ dept.).


Out of the universities you have mentioned, Sussex is very strong in critical theory and if your goal is a PhD in that area I would certainly consider it. I would say the others have good departments and are all more qualitative/ct focused... So it really depends on the single MA (modules, faculty members you might want to work with...). Essex is instead strongly quantitative (very strongly). So if you want to start dealing with quantitative analysis (and possibly formal theory), Essex is absolutely your top choice. If you don't, it makes little sense to choose Essex, unless there is a theorist you might want to work with for your PhD afterwards.
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SmaugTheTerrible
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(Original post by polscistudent88)
Not for politics: Essex Government dept. is top-notch and superior to Warwick, which is instead stronger overall (and in the social sciences especially thanks to the Econ dept.).


Out of the universities you have mentioned, Sussex is very strong in critical theory and if your goal is a PhD in that area I would certainly consider it. I would say the others have good departments and are all more qualitative/ct focused... So it really depends on the single MA (modules, faculty members you might want to work with...). Essex is instead strongly quantitative (very strongly). So if you want to start dealing with quantitative analysis (and possibly formal theory), Essex is absolutely your top choice. If you don't, it makes little sense to choose Essex, unless there is a theorist you might want to work with for your PhD afterwards.
That may be so, however, for the majority of employers Warwick will still be more reputable. They won't know that Essex has a particularly strong department for Politics so Warwick would be a more respected University to have on your CV in general.
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sj27
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(Original post by SmaugTheTerrible)
That may be so, however, for the majority of employers Warwick will still be more reputable. They won't know that Essex has a particularly strong department for Politics so Warwick would be a more respected University to have on your CV in general.
That's irrelevant if OP wants to do a PhD/be an academic; even if they don't end up in academia after a doctorate, chances are he/she will end up in a think tank or similar which will be more aware of which politics departments are good than the "majority of employers". This clearly isn't someone looking for a generic graduate job.
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polscistudent88
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(Original post by sj27)
That's irrelevant if OP wants to do a PhD/be an academic; even if they don't end up in academia after a doctorate, chances are he/she will end up in a think tank or similar which will be more aware of which politics departments are good than the "majority of employers". This clearly isn't someone looking for a generic graduate job.
Precisely. Academics/researchers/analysts know which departments are stronger in their fields.
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AnastasiaTs
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Thanks everyone for the information!
I received an offer from Warwick two days ago and the fee is even higher than I expected...which is discouraging.


I am still trying to decide between the two.
I believe Sussex is an interesting choice but critical theory isn't my main goal.
Political sociology interests me the most, but I feel quantitative analysis is a marketable and useful skill for research.
Essex sounds respectable in general so it wouldn't be a crap decision I guess. In my country nobody knows Warwick to be honest (not important though). Looking at the elective/optional modules more carefully I think Essex would interest me more in terms of...enjoying the programme.


Is it possible to accept both offers and politely inform one of them you won't be able to make it afterwards?
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