Why choose this course
The international political landscape has undergone remarkable changes in the past fifty years. Politics continues to affect life in every area of society, and it is only through study that we can begin to make sense of the global political landscape and create real change.
Our Department of Politics is home to a lively community of energetic minds who closely examine how power operates and how it affects people’s lives. Our new and innovative MPA Public Affairs course is unique in the UK. We focus on the active role that citizens can play in shaping politics at local, national, and international levels.
What you will study
Our unique integrated masters course will give you in-depth knowledge of political science, public policy and international affairs. A distinctive feature of the course is the focus on application, and our emphasis on political and social change.
Over the four or five years of the course (depending on whether you choose to take a Professional Training placement) you’ll explore a variety of social and political issues. You can tailor your degree with specialist modules that match your interests. In your final year, you’ll study masters-level modules and complete a dissertation project.
Your masters-level modules will cover topics such as:
- International politics and public affairs
- Negotiating and Lobbying
- Political communication
- Campaigning and global governance international public administration.
Politics research seminars
The Department of Politics sponsors a regular research seminar series, which meets every two weeks during term-time and brings together academic staff and postgraduate and undergraduate students from the University.
The purpose of the research seminars is to provide a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge research papers and to increase awareness among our students about developments in diverse themes of research in the field today.
We regularly invite high-profile UK and international scholars to present their work, and we encourage discussions with the audience. All members of the University and wider public community are welcome to participate.
Careers and graduate prospects
We offer careers information, advice and guidance to all students whilst studying with us, which is extended to our alumni for three years after leaving the University.
Recent graduates from the Department of Politics have secured roles such as:
- Outreach Manager, House of Commons
- Funding Manager, Latsis Organisation
- Researcher, Department for exiting the European Union
- Press Officer, People’s Vote UK
- Graduate Intern, Deutche Bank
- Commercial Real Estate Manager, Wells Fargo
- Market Research Manager, GfK
- Business Development Executive, Screenpages Ltd
- Researcher, Westminster Forum Projects
- Graduate Intern, Ipsos MORI
- Corporate Finance Advisor, Department for Transport
- Bid Analyst, Serco Ltd.
After you graduate from this course, you can expect to enter inter-governmental roles across the globe, due to the international appeal of the MPA.
This course is also designed to stimulate your interest in research, so you might find yourself considering taking on a PhD after your MPA in your areas of interest to become an academic scholar in your own right.
Academic year structure
The academic year is divided into two semesters of 15 weeks each. Each semester consists of a period of teaching, revision/directed learning and assessment.
Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps.
Important: In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the 2020/21 academic year. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach. View detailed information on the changes.
The University operates a credit framework for all taught programmes based on a 15-credit tariff. Modules can be either 15, 30, 45 or 60, 75 and 120 credits, and additionally for some masters dissertations, 90 credits.
Please note: If there is an optional Professional Training placement as part of your course you can view the full module listing for this on the relevant programme specification.
The structure of our programmes follows clear educational aims that are tailored to each programme. These are all outlined in the programme specifications which include further details such as the learning outcomes:
Course timetables are normally available one month before the start of the semester. Please note that while we make every effort to ensure that timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week (Monday–Friday). Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities. View our Timetabling Policy (PDF).
Our commitment to research-led teaching encourages our staff to innovate and become leaders in developing new teaching methods. This approach has been recognised by a number of awards and fellowships.
We actively use social media as a tool for teaching and learning, and strive to apply effective teaching methods through interactive learning, direct observation and simulation games.
Our research-led teaching is supported by the expertise of our two centres of research excellence in politics, the Centre for International Intervention (CII) and the Centre for Britain and Europe (CBE). The CII critically analyses and scrutinises the interventions used in international relations today, while CBE researches how governance, institutions and processes shape the European political landscape.
You’ll have ample opportunity to engage in the research process, completing your own assignments and getting involved in the Department of Politics’ research. This will not only ignite your passion for research, but also enhance your understanding of issues surrounding validity, rigour and systematic analysis.
There may be occasions when the delivery of your teaching is supported by graduate teaching assistants. The University has a set of procedures that govern the use of postgraduate research students in this way.
We assess modules individually and award credits for the successful completion of each one. Assessment takes place through a combination of examination and/or coursework, practical examinations and reports.
Check individual module information to see full details at a module level.
Contact hours can vary across our modules. Full details of the contact hours for each module are available from the University of Surrey's module catalogue. See the modules section for more information.
As a student at Surrey, you can also sign up to our free courses in the following areas:
Find out more
Living in student accommodation is a great way to meet new people and spark friendships.
Do I meet the requirements for this course?
We require you to submit a full application so that we can formally assess whether you meet the criteria published. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide an outcome based on an enquiry (via email, webform enquiry, phone or live chat).
Other international qualifications
If you are an international student and you don’t meet the entry requirements to this degree, we offer the International Foundation Year, run by the Surrey International Study Centre.
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in each other element.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
We normally make offers in terms of grades.
If you are a suitable candidate you will be invited to an Applicant Day. During your visit to the University you can find out more about the course and meet staff and students.
Recognition of prior learning
The University of Surrey recognises that many students enter their higher education course with valuable knowledge and skills developed through a range of professional, vocational and community contexts. If this applies to you, a process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow you to enter your course at a point appropriate to your previous learning and experience, or to join the start of a course without the formal entry requirements. This means that you may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which you have applied and be awarded credit based on your previous qualifications/experience. There are restrictions on RPL for some courses and fees may be payable for certain claims.
Please see the code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes (PDF) for further information. Please contact Admissions on +44 (0)1483 682222 with any queries.
The annual tuition fees for courses starting in October 2021
MPA (with professional training year)
Professional training £1,850
- Fees for UK students: The University will apply annual regulated increases in the fee rates as set by Government each year, in order to maintain the same value in real terms.
- Fees for EU students: The UK is now no longer part of the EU, we are awaiting further instruction from the UK government and we will publish this as soon as it is provided. Find out more information about Studying in the UK and the Scholarships for EU students.
- Fees for international students: Annual fees will increase by 4% for each subsequent year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100, subject to any overriding applicable legislative requirements.
- Fees for international students with an integrated foundation year: The programme fee for Year 0 will match the lowest Year 1 overseas fee rate from across the substantive programmes for that year of entry. Students subsequently progressing into Year 1 will be liable for the same fee as overseas students joining at Year 1 for the same programme in that year. Annual fees after Year 1 will increase by 4% for each subsequent year of study, rounded up to the nearest £100, subject to any overriding applicable legislative requirements.
The University will assess your fee status. If you are unsure whether you are likely to be considered a home, EU or overseas student for fees purposes, the UKCISA website offers more information.
- Students in receipt of a Tuition Fee Loan: will have their fees paid by the Student Loans Company in line with their schedule.
- International students, or UK/EU students who have not taken out a Tuition Fee Loan: are required to pay their fees either in full at the beginning of the programme or in two instalments as follows:
- 50% payable 10 days after the invoice date (expected to be early October of each academic year)
- 50% in January of the same academic year.
The exact date(s) will be detailed on invoices. Students on certain part-time programmes, where fees are paid on a modular or stage basis, are not eligible to pay their fees by instalment.
If you are sponsored: you will provide us with valid sponsorship information that covers the period of your study.
Professional Training placement fees
If you are studying on a programme which contains a Professional Training placement year there will be a reduced fee for the academic year in which you undertake your placement. This is normally confirmed 12 to 18 months in advance, or once Government policy is determined.
See the information about 2020/21 academic year Professional Training placement fee.
There are no associated costs with this course.
Final-year students may wish to participate in an optional trip to the Houses of Parliament or simulation exercises as part of certain modules – £30 approximately.
Scholarships and bursaries
We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.
Santander Diversity Award
Application Deadline: 05.04.21
Find out more
Surrey EU Undergraduate Scholarships
Application Deadline: 30.09.21
Find out more
You have the option to complete a Professional Training placement as part of this course. This will give you the opportunity to develop your professional, academic and personal potential, helping to prepare you for your future career.
A significant proportion of placement students at Surrey are offered graduate-level jobs or go onto postgraduate study.
Find out more about Professional Training placements and discover how these have transformed our students’ lives and career choices.
Public Affairs placements
You can either take a work placement related to public affairs, study public affairs overseas, or do a combination of the two.
The aim of our Professional Training placement is to provide you with first-hand experience of how politics operates in practice. Our students have completed placements in the voluntary sector, government departments, MPs’ offices, international organisations and the private sector.
Current placement providers for the Department of Politics include:
- Asset Management One
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- House of Commons
- European Chamber of Commerce
- British Embassy
- Metropolitan Police
- British Airways
- The Walt Disney Company
- BMW Group
- Virgin Media
- Eli Lilly UK.
Applying for placements
You can apply for numerous opportunities via an open and free-to-all process. Placement providers use their own recruitment and selection procedures and the majority of students will secure their placement in this way.
Students are generally not placed by the University, however we offer support and guidance throughout the process alongside access to a vacancy portal representing thousands of placement opportunities each year. We also provide support if you wish to source your own placement.
Find out about more about the application process.
Please be aware there may be travel costs incurred when attending interviews and assessment centres at the placement provider’s premises.
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and procedures, the student regulations , and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View an example of our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) from the 2020/2021 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will generally be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course and changes for the specific academic year.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us and before you accept an offer. Read more.
In particular we wish to draw your intention to the following matters affecting the academic year 2021/2022:
- Covid-19 - In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the 2020/2021 academic year. These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach, details of which can be found here [link]. It is anticipated that these programme changes and the hybrid learning approach will be adopted throughout the academic year 2021/2022, however, given the changing nature of the pandemic, this is being kept under continuous review. Detailed information on all changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is available at the coronavirus course changes page. The linked pages set out information relating to general University changes and will also direct you to consider additional information relating to specific programmes.
- Brexit - The UK is now no longer part of the EU. We are awaiting further information and instruction from the UK government and we will publish this as soon as it is provided. EU students applying for programmes in the academic year 2021/2022 and students applying for courses with placements abroad should visit our dedicated webpages for the latest information on how the UK’s departure from the EU will affect their courses.
Campus locationStag Hill
Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught.
As part of this course you have the option to complete a Professional Training placement which would require attendance off campus, depending on where you secure your placement.