Entry requirements

Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

Every applicant shall normally: be a graduate with an ordinary bachelor’s degree majoring in Politics, Political Science, International Relations, Government, Public Policy, Political Theory, Strategic Studies, Defence Studies, or Comparative Area Studies and have an average grade of at least B+ in the 300-level papers for the degree, or be a graduate with an honours degree awarded in Politics or Political Science or a cognate subject at a standard of at least second class honours (division I), or have alternative qualifications or experience acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities).

If your first language is not English you need to meet our English language requirements as follows: IELTS score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0); we also accept a number of other English language tests. Due to COVID-19, we currently accept Duolingo English Test (DET), IELTS Indicator Test, and TOEFL iBT Special home Edition.

Don’t meet the English language requirements? The University of Otago Language Centre "English for Otago" programme offers a pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to meet the English language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Months of entry

February, July

Course content

The MPols is a one-year (full-time) degree, which encompasses both coursework and research. The coursework component is spread across two semesters. It consists of four papers including the core paper, 'The Political': Theory and Practice, which introduces students to the contested notion of politics and key methodological issues in theory and practice. Students also undertake a research dissertation of 20,000 words under the supervision of a politics staff member over a 12 month period and are expected to attend workshops designed to assist with the process of writing a dissertation.

Graduates will be prepared for careers in the private and public sectors as researchers, policy makers, advisors and analysts. The degree also provides a pathway to doctoral-level study in Politics.

Structure of the Programme

The programme of study shall consist of

  • four 30-point 500-level papers, which must include POLS 501 and three further POLS 500-level papers;
  • a 60-point research dissertation (POLS 590).

The research dissertation shall be completed over the course of one calendar year. It should be started at the beginning of the programme and submitted no later than twelve months following first enrolment. The limit is 20,000 words of text, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tabular material, bibliography or equivalent.

Before commencing the investigation to be described in the research dissertation, a candidate shall obtain the approval of the Programme Co-ordinator and the supervisor(s) of the proposed topic.

A candidate may not present a dissertation which has previously been accepted for another degree.

Degree Requirements

The four required papers (including the core paper) together contribute two thirds, and the research dissertation one third, of the overall mark. A pass standard is required for each of the four papers, and students must meet this standard to submit the research project. Should a pass standard not be obtained in an examination, a student may re-take the examination. Students may be re-examined in only one paper. They must also obtain a pass standard, or better, for the research dissertation.

Information for international students

Otago offers students an unrivalled campus experience and a vibrant, social student culture. The majority of Otago’s 21,000 students live, work and play in Dunedin - New Zealand’s only true university city. Otago is home to over 3,000 students, from over 100 countries.

Fees and funding

International students
NZ $34,067

New Zealand is a relatively affordable country to live in. Dunedin, being a student-focused city, has living and entertainment options for all budgets.

Students are eligible for the Otago International Excellence Scholarship.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPols
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details