MASTER OF ARTS (MA) IN SOCIAL AND POLITICAL THEORY

The MA in Social and Political Theory offers specialisation in various spheres of sociology and political science with a particular emphasis on theory. Specifically, the MA offers specialised training in research methods, which will help students develop skills in processing, critically analysing and investigating social and political issues. The course provides a scientific basis for the study of specialised subject matter in the theoretical fields of sociology and political science as seen in the MA course syllabus. A further and more general aim of the MA course is to prepare students for PhD study and specialisation in sectors that support social research and research within special programmes.

Visiting lecturers and/or short-term visiting lecturers at the Department may be part of the MA teaching staff.

1. MA programme in Social and Political Theory

Structure of the MA programme

The MA programme is comprised of:

  1. Taught modules
  2. MA dissertation

Taught modules

Each student is required to follow five (4) compulsory modules and three (4) optional modules that will depend upon the field of research the student wishes to specialise in.

In exceptional cases, following the approval of the Department's MA committee, students of the MA programme may select one taught module from a different MA course as one of their three optional modules, provided that the module is relevant to the student's final MA dissertation topic.

MA dissertation

During the third semester of the MA course students prepare their dissertation. The thesis should be around 15,000 words in length (including references and appendices).

Entry requirements for MA programme

  1. Candidates for the MA course should be graduates of an accredited university department.
  2. Graduates of Greek universities or of the University of Cyprus should hold a "Λίαν Καλώς" (Very Good) or above degree. The equivalent grade is required from candidates-graduates of other universities.
  3. A good knowledge of the English language is required (TOEFL grade 550, GCE O'Level grade B, IELTS grade 6.5). The knowledge of an additional foreign language will be counted as an extra qualification.
  4. Candidates may be called for an interview even if they satisfy all the above requirements.
  5. The yearly number of entrants to the course is fifteen (15).

Study Rules

The postgraduate study rules are regulated according to The Postgraduate Study Rules (see the relevant appendix)

Requirements for obtaining the MA degree

. An Academic Advisor is assigned for each new entrant to the MA course.
. A total of three semesters of study is required.
. Successful completion of 90 credits following the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

These are allocated as follows:

Modules (4x7.5)+(4x7.5) = 60 ECTS credits
MA dissertation 1x30 = 30 ECTS credits
Total   90 ECTS credits

The programme can be followed on a full time or part time basis.

Proposed MA programme of studies:

1st Semester

2 compulsory taught modules and 2 optional taught modules 30 ECTS credits

Two compulsory taught modules

SPS 510 Hermeneutic approaches to Political Theory 7.5 ects
SPS 610 Classical Sociological Theories 7.5 ects

Two optional taught modules from list below:

SPS 500 Research Methods 7.5 ects
SPS 503 Political Thinkers 7.5 ects
SPS 504 Statesmanship, Governance and Political Theory 7.5 ects
SPS 505 Justice, Freedom, and War 7.5 ects
SPS 506 Theories of Equality 7.5 ects
SPS 511 20th century Political Perceptions 7.5 ects
SPS 514 Feminist Theory 7.5 ects
SPS 611 Technology and Social Change 7.5 ects
SPS 613 Social Anthropology 7.5 ects
SPS 614 Sociology of Social Movements 7.5 ects
SPS 615 Advanced Topics in Social Theory  7.5 ects
SPS 616 Sociological Theories and Governance Theories of Legalisation 7.5 ects
SPS 617   7.5 ects
SPS 618 Globalisation and Social Theory 7.5 ects

2nd Semester

2 compulsory taught modules and 2 optional taught modules 30 ECTS credits

Two compulsory taught modules:

SPS 512 Political Sociology 7.5 ects
SPS 612 Contemporary Sociological Theories 7.5 ects

3rd Semester

SPS 599 Dissertation                                     30 ects 
Total                                                        90 ects

European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) credits gained from a previous MA degree.

A student who has successfully completed modules from a different postgraduate course can be credited with up to 20 ECTS provided that the specific credits do not correspond to more than two courses.
In such cases the department examines the application and upon approval the relevant credits are then deducted from the MA course's total credits from taught modules.

Application Requirements

Applications can be submitted electronically using The Online Application System. Applications should include the following:

  1. A photocopy of a university undergraduate degree (applications may be submitted by candidates who hold an accredited university degree or a qualification that has been approved by ΚΥΣΑΤΣ as being equivalent to a university degree. Applications may also be accepted from candidates who present a university degree or a university graduation confirmation by the end of the week before enrolment week).
  2. A detailed transcription of undergraduate degree credits.
  3. A brief curriculum vita.
  4. A certificate demonstrating the required knowledge of the English language and any other foreign languages.
  5. Two reference letters preferably from academic referees.

A brief statement (up to two pages in length) describing the applicants research goals and interests.

Enrolment

Applicants who have secured a position at the University of Cyprus they are informed by email letter.

Module Descriptions

SPS 500 Research Methods

The module aims to help students comprehend the process of developing research following scientific methods and approaches. The module will include: ways of choosing research questions, the importance of reviewing bibliography, developing theoretical research frameworks, categories of variables, research questions, research hypotheses, formulation of questionnaires and other methods of measuring, the validity and credibility of methods of measuring, internal validity, research ethics, sampling techniques, methods of data collection, data analysis and interpretation of results using the statistics package SPSS, various kinds of research, authoring a scientific research paper.

SPS 503 Political Thinkers

The course engages with the various aspects of the thought of a political theorist, while aiming, concurrently, to analyze different interpretations and/or appropriations of her/his work. Essentially the course moves on double axis: thought and interpretation, ideas and reception of ideas. On one hand, the course focuses on ideas of political thinkers and the intellectual context within which those ideas developed—i.e., biographical, linguistic, historical, methodological contexts. On the other hand, the emphasis moves from the texts and thinkers themselves to the receiving society, examining, for example, how the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and others, were transferred, appropriated, and/or altered according to the specific conditions, in service of aims and/or needs, of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries.

SPS 504 Statesmanship, Governance and Political Theory

Different interpretations, approaches and revisions of the conception of "good", "moral", or "effective" statesmanship and governance manifest themselves as one moves from Classical Athens to the present. The course examines the continuity, or discontinuity, of political thinking as regards the features and characteristics of political leadership, taking under consideration the social, cultural and historical variances between the political theories under investigation. Studying the thought of political thinkers on statesmanship comes to grip with the issue of defining "the political", i.e., the conceptual space in which power, morality and reason meet. At the same time, the course examines the nature, the methods and the limits of "political science", i.e. whether or not one can meaningfully speak of such knowledge—which is needed in determining, revising and pursuing the goals of a society—as a product of experience or abstract thinking.

SPS 505 Justice, Freedom, and War

The course focuses primarily with the moral questions of armed conflicts, by distinguishing between jus ad bellum and jus in bello. On one hand, the course will examine moral questions involved in going to war such as: can war ever be morally justified? If yes, when? In self-defense? Can war further the legitimate goals of a sovereign state? Are humanitarian reasons enough to justify, or even morally necessitate, armed conflict? On the other hand, the course will examine questions which arise during war such as: are there moral limits and rules in battle? Can a state, once in war, use any means possible to quickly end the war (e.g. by aiming non-combatants, or by using weapons of a particular type)? Can terrorism ever be morally justified?

SPS 506 Theories of Equality

The course focuses on two basis aspects of equality: equality as a component of a theory of justice and equality as a social ideal. In the first case, theories of distributive equality lay emphasis on what is the object of equal distribution—resources, welfare, opportunities—with the respect of persons at its core. In the second case, the ideal of creating a society without social distinctions and hierarchies moves the focus away from inequality in the distribution of goods to inequalities due to marginalization, dominance and cultural imperialism. The course examines both theories of distributive equality and theories of social equality, as well as the latter's critique to the former.

SPS 510 Interpretative Approaches to Political Theory

The module investigates the methodological problems that are related to the study and interpretation of the history of political thought. When political terms such as justice, rights, freedom etc are examined through the written statements of political thinkers, crucial methodological issues arise that are related to the historicity of concepts, the universality of ideas and how those ideas are understood. Separating history from philosophy and treating them as different subjects of scientific investigation brings up the question of whether the history of political thought belongs to historical research or to philosophical investigation. If interpretative reading should occur following an eclectic collaboration between the two then what is the relationship between these two methods of investigation? There exist a large number of suggested methodological approaches concerning the reading of political ideas. These will be examined through the critical interpretation and analysis of the works of each approach's main proponent. The research methods suggested and developed by R.G. Colingwood, M. Oakeshott, L. Strauss, A. Lovejoy and Q. Skinner and others shall be analysed.

SPS 511 20th Century Political Perceptions

The module focuses on the two-way relationship between the political perceptions and the defining historical events of the 20th century. During the 20th century liberalism was boosted and redefined, national socialism appeared in the political forefront becoming a formal state dogma, Marxism experienced such a fragmentation that the use of the term in its singular form became utterly problematic (western Marxism and "critical theory", Stalinism, reformism). The clash of ideologies and the social movements that came with them to an extent determined the historical developments that consequently became the basis for new ideological directions, differentiations within trends of thought, new convergences and divergences between the various schools of political thought and the number of newly founded ideological trends within each line of thinking.

SPS 512 Political Sociology

The module investigates the main terms and theoretical debates, the methodology and the themes of political sociology. The social foundation of the political phenomenon is investigated through the analysis of various systems of political structure, different forms of political action, the role of ideology and the procedures of political opposition and change. The module places special emphasis on theoretical issues, but always in conjunction with the analysis of empirical data.

SPS 514 Feminist Theory

The module deals with the various philosophical trends and currents that comprise the intellectual legacy of contemporary feminism. Firstly, the development of feminist thought is investigated from a historical-sociological angle. In addition, the module examines the theoretical oppositions that reflect women's various needs and perceptions in different societies and under different conditions that, in turn, originate from the founding of feminism within antagonistic ideological traditions.

SPS 610 Classical Sociological Theories

The module examines the work of sociology's most important thinkers of the classical period (from around the mid 19th century up to the mid 20th century). The module's main aim is the in-depth analysis of the most important issues of classical sociological theory. Special emphasis is given to questions concerning the methodology of the social sciences, the appearance of modernism and modern society's capitalist character.

SPS 611 Technology and Social Change

The module investigates the social effects of technology that can only be understood through the systematic analysis of people's everyday lives. The following points will be tackled: the comprehension and analysis of bibliographical references, the investigation of the theories and models of technological innovation and social change and their in between relationships; how are the institutional, cultural and political elements connected to technological transfer acquired? The methods of determining the affects of technological change will be studied and the alternativeness of planned technology that is linked to social change will be critically analysed based upon case studies in Cyprus and Europe.

SPS 612 Contemporary Sociological Theories

The module examines the work of the most important thinkers of sociology in modern times (from around the mid 20th century until the present day). The module's main aim is the thorough discussion of the main issues of contemporary sociological theory. Questions regarding the methodology of social sciences and the character of social reality will be posed and social change in modern society will be analysed.

SPS 613 Social Anthropology

The module examines social anthropology's main theoretical trends with a special emphasis on more recent approaches and on social anthropology's contribution to social theory. The basic theoretical approaches will be discussed (functionalism, structural functionalism, structuralism, Marxist anthropology, action theories, anthropology of the social gender, interpretative anthropology, post-modernism, and post-colonial critique) with the main reading material being each school's classic ethnographies. Additionally, a series of thematic categories such as gender, religion, capitalism and the body will be discussed from the different angles of approach suggested by the different theories

SPS 614 Sociology of Social Movements

The history of social movements poses a serious theoretical problem concerning social analysis. On the one hand, there is a temptation to search for deterministic regularities that limit the scope of the effect of social movements but on the other, social movements are dangerously easy to find everywhere. Therefore, the module shall focus on the internal differentiation of social movements and it will then move on to their historical formalisation comparing the various tactics and strategic methods of movements. The interaction between political parties, social classes, ethnic and religious groups will be examined along with the fluid relationship and antithesis between revolutionary and social movements or pressure groups. Both micro-sociological and macro-sociological approaches will be examined.

SPS 615 Advanced Topics in Social Theory

In this class, students focus on discreet topics in social theory aiming for an in-depth understanding, through lectures, presentations and discussion of bibliographical sources. Emphasis is also given on the development of skills relevant to the sociological approach, especially those of critical analysis and the discussion of primary sources.

SPS 616 Sociological Theories and Governance Theories of Legalisation

The module mainly analyses the affects of both political sociology and the sociology of law on contemporary governance theories of sovereignty and legalisation. Firstly, we will reconstruct and interpret the theories that are silently being borrowed from sociological thinking and political theology by the modern constitutional theories of legalisation and state control. We will then discuss the conflict between constitutionalism and democracy and the matter of guaranteeing the constitutional regime under weak or strong rule. The concepts of conformity to the law, pluralism, social and national coherence, war, coup, revolution, legal and illegal use of violence with regards to the constitutional right of resistance, will be critically investigated. The module's theoretical horizons are the works of Marx, Weber, Calhoun, Schmitt, Arendt, Kelsen, Luhmann, Ackerman, Elster, Holmes, Kondylis, Przeworski, Arato and Habermas.

SPS 618 Globalisation and Social Theory

The module presents the main social theories that seek to interpret globalisation. Starting from the school of world systems and the theories of international relations, the module covers the classical approaches as they have developed in the current international literature. The module will be covered using both primary sources and secondary sources. Themes such as the historicity of globalisation, the relationship between cosmopolitanism, internationalism and globalisation will be examined. Also the State's role in the new reality will be investigated.

Guidelines for calculating work load (ECTS credits) for the MA course in Social and Political Theory

The ECTS credit system is based on the calculation of the student's work hours over the period of each semester. One ECTS credit corresponds to 25-30 hours of work per semester. Consequently, 7.5 credit modules correspond to 200 hours of work. It is suggested that the credits be divided as follows:

Alternative calculation of 7.5 ECTS credits

3 teaching hours x 13 weeks 39
6 hours of guidance meetings with students 7
Students' study time per semester (approximately 10 hours of preparation for each module each week including the study time spent for the bibliographical research that is required for the writing of essays) 104
Preparation and writing of final essay for the module 50
Total working hours per lesson per semester 200

 

For the dissertation students are required to collect the appropriate reference material, to investigate and present a subject that is related either to social or political theory, in cooperation with their tutor.