Politics, Policy and Leadership

Key Information


1 year


2 years

Start Date

September 2024

Typical Offer

See More


Brayford Pool

Academic Year

Course Overview

This programme is designed to understand more about what constitutes effective leadership, how it is evaluated and applied. Designed around a series of modules facilitated by academic and practitioner teams, the focus is on evaluating evidence from research and practice in live settings, case studies and consultancy problems. Students will bring their own organisational experience to the course, if appropriate, and will also benefit from masterclasses with relevant speakers.

Using a range of policy and delivery challenges that cut across disciplinary, geographic, organisational and sectoral boundaries, we critically reflect on how insights into theory and practice can generate and sustain individual development, organisational improvement and enhanced public outcomes. This programme champions the creation of public value and an ethical engagement with the multiple interests involved in public, private and third sector collaborations.

The programme draws on a range of subject specialisms within the School of Social and Political Sciences and connects students with tutors who have research expertise in the area and can support students on their personal research and career paths.

Why Choose Lincoln

Strong links with parliament

Hear from subject experts, including Visiting Professor Paul Evans

Opportunities to apply learning through placement

Choose from a range of optional modules

A student sat at a table

How You Study

Students learning will be based around two hour, small group workshop sessions, with an interactive and participatory approach.

There will be a blend of the scholarly and the practice-based, with students engaging with up-to-date academic literature and participating in practices suited to political leadership, such as public-speaking, writing policy briefs, and decision-making exercises.

A further innovative aspect of the programme is that students will engage with practitioners in a dedicated Political Leadership in Practice module which will feature visiting speakers from different branches of political practice. Using the experience of senior academics, who have experience in the public leadership realm, key actors will contribute knowledge and work based learning to the programme.


The School of Social and Political Science is home to the Lincoln Parliamentary Research Centre, a group which focuses on establishing Lincoln as a recognised centre for excellence for research and teaching in legislative studies. The School has also been at the heart of developing policy impact via the Lincoln Policy Hub and also has good links with the local authority and local voluntary sector organisations.

Explore Research Groups
the houses of parliament


† Some courses may offer optional modules. The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

Negotiated (work based) learning project (Politics, Policy and Leadership) 2024-25POL9011MLevel 72024-25The Negotiated Learning Project forms the final part of the Politics, Policy and Leadership MSc. It allows students to demonstrate their applied skills in a negotiated project for an organisation. It is an individual and independent project in which students can bring together all their learning on the programme to work on a policy issue or work based project, bringing together elements of the students learning from different parts of the MSc. The Negotiated Learning Project provides students the opportunity - as leaders or policy engaged participants in an organisation - to initiate, lead and drive change. The Project is undertaken in an area chosen by the student and is supervised by a member of the School. Students will normally undertake a project based on an agreed policy problem that forms part of their role and agree the project title and support arrangements with their employer and tutor. By undertaking the project students will be demonstrating their ability to research, and critically analyse and integrate complex information as well as demonstrating the core skills and behaviours necessary in the world of contemporary leadership and policy formulation. The setting can be in a policy orientated organisation, a voluntary sector body, governmental or non-governmental organisation or any other work place by negotiation with the module convenor. In certain circumstances to be determined by the module convenor, students may undertake an alternative to the work based negotiated learning project. In negotiation with the allocated supervisor this may a reflective exercise based on action research - or other appropriate research methods - to evaluate and analyse leadership and/or public policy from outside an organisation. In such circumstances it would be expected that primary research is carried out in evaluating and a policy and/or leadership issue. Such an alternative approach would be agreed with the tutor in advance.CorePolitical Leadership 2024-25POL9009MLevel 72024-25This module focuses on the structural parameters and manifestations of political leadership by political ‘chief executives’ (heads of government, party leaders and heads of state). The course is designed to introduce students to some of the many different theoretical and conceptual approaches that have guided empirical investigations into and assessments of political leadership in Britain and beyond. This module equips students with the necessary tools for studying leaders and leadership in different settings. Students will have the opportunity to apply theories and concepts of political leadership to case studies of presidents, prime ministers and party leaders and apply comparative methods to analyse leaders (such as Blair and Cameron, Hawke and Howard in Australia, Merkel and Macron). Based on a thematic approach students will consider a range of approaches to political leadership including: personality and charisma, theory from Machiavelli onwards, executive leadership, court leadership, rhetorical, party leadership and ‘bad’/toxic leadership.CorePolitics and Public Policy 2024-25POL9005MLevel 72024-25As the first subject-specific core module on the MA Politics, Politics and Public Policy provides an overview of public policy-making across different institutional arenas and geographical contexts. It aims to familiarise students with the stages of the policy-making process, ranging from the ‘discovery’ of policy problems, to the setting of political agendas and the implementation of policy solutions. It considers cases and examples that illustrate real-world dilemmas of public policy-making and draws attention to different understanding of what public policy can achieve. New ideas about how to obtain governing outcomes—through nudges or ‘meta-governing’, for example—will be explored with an interest in their potentials and limitations.CorePublic and Political Leadership in Practice 2024-25POL9010MLevel 72024-25In this module, we explore different ways of understanding a salient but often ill-understood political phenomenon: public and political leadership. Students will engage with those who have held or currently hold leadership positions or have supported those in leadership positions. Topics will include a practical exploration of an aspect of public leadership, followed by a guest speaker to discuss the practical application.CoreResearching Social and Political Sciences 2024-25SOS9015MLevel 72024-25This module is designed to introduce students to researching in social and political sciences. The aim of the module is to provide a crucial foundation for all students (regardless of disciplinary background) to understand debates around research methods/methodologies in social science; to enable familiarity with a variety of research methods and to equip students to be able to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of applying specific methodologies/methods to different research projects in social and political sciences. Overall, the module will aim to prepare students for independent studies later in their degree and equip them with transferable research skills.CoreAnalysing Policy Success and Failure 2024-25POL9007MLevel 72024-25The module will focus on the conceptual challenge of defining success and failure, and examine the range of factors which various studies have identified as contributing to policy success or failure - including structural, process, programmatic and behavioural factors. Through a series of case study workshops students will be given the opportunity to apply this conceptual literature to a number of real-world examples.OptionalComparative Legislatures 2024-25POL9006MLevel 72024-25This module provide an in-depth understanding of the role of legislatures in political systems, and how the form, structure, activities and impacts of legislatures varies across a range of states. It will focus on the broad differences in the role and impact of legislatures in parliamentary and presidential systems, and through a series of case studies examine the operation of legislatures in a number of states such as the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, France, China and Russia, as well as the European Parliament and the devolved assemblies within the UK.OptionalGlobal Health: Policy and Practice 2024-25IST9003MLevel 72024-25This module examines the concepts that shape debates in (and are shaped by) global health, including global health governance and global health diplomacy. It then critically assesses programmes and strategies designed to address global health challenges such as pandemics, infectious and non-communicable diseases, reproductive health, biosecurity and inequalities of health.OptionalGlobal Issues in Gender and Sexuality 2024-25SOP9199MLevel 72024-25This module aims to provide the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of some central concepts and theoretical debates on gender and sexuality including feminist theory and masculinities. These can be examined in greater depth in the context of key issues relating to power and economy in contemporary global politics. These theories can then be applied to a range of case studies/issues. These case studies may change to reflect contemporary issues and academic developments but sample topics include decision-making processes in national and international political systems, the construction of gender and sexual identities in a globalised world and militarised masculinities.OptionalGlobal Politics & Religion 2024-25IST9011MLevel 72024-25What has prompted the “global religious resurgence” in recent decades? What is the connection between globalization and religious nationalism? Are we witnessing the emergence of a “clash of civilizations”? These are just some of the big questions that will be explored in this module. This course offers an interdisciplinary investigation of global politics and religion, drawing not only on Politics and International Relations, but also on Sociology, Theology, History, and Anthropology. It seeks to get beyond secular, Western conceptions of religion and to think instead about religion and its relationship to politics from a more “global” perspective. Students will be introduced to a range of issues and debates relating to global politics and religion. and, by the end of the course, students will not only be familiar with those issues and debates, but will also be able to think critically about them and offer well-articulated interventions of their own.OptionalGlobalisation 2024-25SOP9183Level 72024-25This module aims to examine the background to globalisation and its relationship to the emerging trends towards regional governance and integration. The module seeks to draw out the implications of these trends for the nation state and its various corporate and policy actors. The current globalisation trend has far-reaching consequences. Its origins are economic and lie in the gradual movement towards economic interdependence and integration of markets which has been taking place during the second half of the twentieth century. Globalisation also reflects the decline of US hegemony and the collapse of Soviet power. Globalisation poses a major legitimisation challenge to the nation-state and nation-state based political economies. This has been evident in a tendency in recent years for national governments to seek to ‘depoliticise’ social and economic policy decisions by reference to ‘global forces’. More pro-actively the challenge to the nation-state has given a new impetus to the development of regional political economies notably the EU.OptionalGreen Criminology 2024-25LAW9023MLevel 72024-25OptionalMapping Non-State Actors in IR 2024-25IST9012Level 72024-25OptionalPolice Powers: National and International Perspectives 2024-25LAW9026MLevel 72024-25This module explores the powers of the police in England and Wales and further afield. It looks at the ways in which the police forces are organised and the different national agencies that operate in the area (such as the Serious Fraud Office, and the Serious Organised Crime Agency). Students are then taken through the various stages of policing from stop and search to charge. The various procedures that can be used to obtain evidence, including questioning, search of premises, DNA analysis, are examined. The effect of terrorism threats on police powers is discussed. The module concludes with a consideration of the ways in which police powers can be challenged, including complaints, civil action and exclusion of evidence.OptionalPolitical Analysis 2024-25POL9004MLevel 72024-25This module aims to provide an advanced level of understanding of issues related to the theoretical basis of contemporary political analysis. Politics, like other social sciences, is an essentially contested field, in which there is significant disagreement amongst researchers about how to analyse political institutions, ideas and behaviour. The module deals with the use of theory and meta-theory in politics and international relations. It begins with an examination of the nature of explanation and understanding in the social sciences before examining a series of key theoretical and meta-theoretical debates within the discipline. Amongst the topics to be covered are the relationship between ontology and epistemology, structure, agency and power and the role of ideas in political analysis.OptionalTerrorism 2024-25SOP9189Level 72024-25The label ‘terrorism’ is applied erratically with little clear precision or exclusivity to its use and failing to clearly differentiate those labelled 'terrorists'. The long and contested histories of diverse political and ideological struggles in respect of securing the legitimacy of this label, and/or the resistance to it, are often made unclear by the cultural significance the label itself. The aim of this module is to provide a critical understanding of these heated debates focusing on past and current management strategies, their relative strengths and weaknesses, the problems with conceptualisation and their various proponents from the worlds of academia/counter insurgency studies, political and criminal justice/military ‘experts’.OptionalTransition From Communism to Post-Communism 2024-25SOP9198Level 72024-25The module aims to develop the analytical skills and provide the opportunity to broaden students' knowledge by exposing them to the wide-ranging debates on the problems of transition from Communism focusing, for example, on the Soviet and post-Soviet systems. Students have the opportunity to develop knowledge of not only of the academic literature on late Soviet and post-Soviet Russian politics but also to read several major works from the comparative literature on transitions in order to assess the relevance of generalisations in that body of scholarship to the Soviet and Russian transition. They are encouraged also to consider what contribution an understanding of the Soviet and Russian case has to make to political science more generally. The module analyses both the significant achievements and the major problems of transition from Communism to post- Communism in Russia. More generally, it aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge to interpret current and future developments in Russia. Given the continuing importance of Russia in international relations, this may be of practical benefit to careers other than academia - among them politics, the civil service, international banking, and journalism.OptionalU.S. Exceptionalism 2024-25IST9009MLevel 72024-25The term ‘American exceptionalism’ – or, more precisely, ‘US exceptionalism’ (since the United States does not represent all of America) – has gone viral in recent years. Previously only used by a small group of American Studies scholars and historians, the term was first propelled into public discourse by the Republican Party during the failed presidential campaigns of John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012). Since then it has become a ‘hegemonic’ concept. This module aims to provide MA students with a highly advanced knowledge and critical understanding of US exceptionalism. The aim is to encourage students to think holistically and critically about the discourse of US exceptionalism so as to understand its roots in contemporary power relations and be able to challenge it.Optional

What You Need to Know

We want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision on where and what you want to study. In addition to the information provided on this course page, our What You Need to Know page offers explanations on key topics including programme validation/revalidation, additional costs, contact hours, and our return to face-to-face teaching.


Students have the option to undertake a project-based module in the third term which will require students to complete a reflective project in an appropriate professional setting. Alternatively, students can choose to complete a research dissertation.

How you are assessed

The programme is designed to expose students to a range of different forms of assessment and to develop a range of academic, professional, and work-relevant skills such as public speaking.

Students will have the chance to develop written communication skills through essays, report writing, and independent study, all of which are designed to expand students' skills in professional and academic writing. Oral communication skills are also assessed, for example, through a video podcast on one of the optional modules, enabling students to improve their public presentation and public speaking abilities.

The development of high-level research skills is a central feature of the programme and students will be expected to develop these through the core research methods modules and apply such methods in the final project. Further research skills are also embedded in assessments throughout other core and optional modules.

Critical, analytical, and reflexive thinking are central to all assessments. IT skills are embedded in many modules and include word processing, digital data management and presentation, statistical data handling, the use of electronic search engines, and other resources.

Assessment Feedback

The University of Lincoln's policy on assessment feedback aims to ensure that academics will return in-course assessments to students promptly usually within 15 working days of the submission date.

How to Apply

Postgraduate Application Support

Applying for a postgraduate programme at Lincoln is easy. Find out more about the application process and what you'll need to complete on our How to Apply page. Here, you'll also be able to find out more about the entry requirements we accept and how to contact us for dedicated support during the process.

How to Apply
A student listening in a seminar

Entry Requirements 2024-25

Entry Requirements

First or second class honours degree in a relevant subject.

Candidates holding other qualifications or substantial relevant work experience may be considered on an individual basis.

Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to University of Lincoln IELTS entry requirements (6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each element).

Students who do not meet the above IELTS requirements may be able to/required to take part in one of the University's pre-sessional English and Academic Study Skills courses. These specialist courses are designed to help students meet the English language requirements for their intended programme of study.

Course Fees

You will need to have funding in place for your studies before you arrive at the University. Our fees vary depending on the course, mode of study, and whether you are a UK or international student. You can view the breakdown of fees for this programme below.

Course Fees

The University offers a range of merit-based, subject-specific, and country-focused scholarships for UK and international students. To help support students from outside of the UK, we offer a number of international scholarships which range from £1,000 up to the value of 50 per cent of tuition fees. For full details and information about eligibility, visit our scholarships and bursaries pages.

Funding Your Study

Postgraduate Funding Options

Find out more about the optional available to support your postgraduate study, from Master's Loans to scholarship opportunities. You can also find out more about how to pay your fees and access support from our helpful advisors.

Explore Funding Options
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Career Development

Postgraduate study is an investment in yourself and your future. It can help you to further or completely change your career, develop your knowledge, enhance your salary, or even prepare you to start your own business. 

This programme is designed to develop specialist subject knowledge relevant to careers in a wide range of areas, such as the voluntary and public sectors. Students have the opportunity to develop a set of transferable skills relevant to roles in social research and public leadership in addition to skills vital for further academic study at doctoral level. The programme is also designed to enhance your current skills, if you are in a public leadership position or are seeking to develop your understanding of public leadership in a professional setting.

Why Postgraduate Study?

Academic Contact

For more information about this course, please contact the Programme Leader.

Dr Mark Bennister

Postgraduate Events

To get a real feel for what it is like to study at the University of Lincoln, we hold a number of dedicated postgraduate events and activities throughout the year for you to take part in.

Upcoming Postgraduate Events
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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.