Global Social and Political Thought (MLitt) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought provides an innovative transnational and comparative approach to the study of the history and influence of global thought traditions.

Global Social Political Thought MLitt – University of St Andrews
Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
Graduate School

Application deadline

Thursday 8 August 2024

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“Passionate about fostering a culture of excellence, I proudly endorse the University of St Andrews Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies (GSIS) for its academic distinction. My recent experience delivering a lecture and a masterclass at the GSIS Global Social and Political Thought MLitt has reaffirmed my impression of the University’s commitment to nurturing talent, evident in its faculty and state-of-the-art facilities making it a beacon of educational excellence. I encourage aspiring scholars and future leaders to consider St Andrews and the GSIS for its transformative educational experience, empowering individuals to make a meaningful impact on the world.”
Dr Christos Stylianides, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, Hellenic Republic
- European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management (2014 to 2019)

Entry requirements

The MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought welcomes applicants from a range of disciplinary backgrounds including, but not limited to:

  • classics
  • cultural studies
  • divinity
  • economics
  • history
  • international relations
  • management
  • media studies
  • politics
  • philosophy.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • A CV or résumé that includes your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date.   
  • A personal statement explaining:  
    • why you have applied for this course 
    • how it relates to your personal or professional ambitions 
    • how your academic and professional background show you have the skills needed to work effectively at postgraduate level. 
  • A sample of your own, single-authored academic written work, such as an extract from a previous project, essay, or undergraduate dissertation. 
  • Two original signed academic references on headed paper. 
  • Academic transcripts and degree certificates. 

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.  See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

Global intellectual history – the transnational and comparative approach to the history of ideas – is a developing field of academic study. Studying for the MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought, you will explore social and political ideas from around the world, the connections that link global thought traditions, and the ways those traditions continue to influence our world. 


  • Introduces key topics in global thought, providing a broad overview of the field. 
  • Transnational and comparative approach gives this programme a remarkable richness and depth compared with conventional intellectual history degrees. 
  • Interdisciplinary approach helps you to develop a more rounded understanding of the questions and concepts of global thought. 
  • Prepares students for further academic study and research. 

The MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought is an interdisciplinary degree with a global approach: it gives you an opportunity to study social and political thought, not just from Europe as is common in other universities, but also from societies across Asia, Africa and the Americas. 

You will discover the key concepts in social and political thought from different regions of the world and learn to discuss how these regions have imagined and re-imagined themselves throughout history. This MLitt compares social and political thought that originated in different regions at various points in history, but you will also consider what connects these traditions and how different intellectual lineages form a shared commons for all of us. 

You will develop your understanding of global intellectual history while being encouraged to question its sometimes arbitrary categories. You will also learn to look at theory beyond Eurocentric lenses. In doing so you will think critically about how an awareness of multiple theoretical traditions can help us to respond to global issues such as social injustice, economic exploitation, ideological conflicts, and environmental degradation.  

Your learning will include key debates in contemporary global politics – from issues of democracy and rights within states to questions of international law and global justice between states. You will be trained to critically interpret political discussions through the optics of race, ethnicity, class and gender. The MLitt asks how we can think in common with diverse societies and cultures to create a more democratic and equal world. You will be encouraged to consider the perspectives of the marginalised – the impoverished, the minority, or the refugee – and to think, in terms of practical solutions on the level of policy and research, about ways to democratise and subalternise global politics. 

The MLitt is distinctively interdisciplinary. On this MLitt subject, experts from across the University provide their own disciplinary perspectives on key topics. Through research-led teaching from scholars working in subjects including history, international relations, classics, literary-cultural studies, and biology you will learn to analyse contemporary debates and compare how these are approached from anthropological, historical, environmental, and philosophical perspectives. 

You will be encouraged to develop a more rounded, interdisciplinary understanding of global thought traditions and learn how to critically discuss these traditions from multiple disciplinary perspectives. You will also demonstrate your ability to solve complex problems by critical understanding, analysis, and synthesis. 

The MLitt will be of particular interest if you intend to continue to doctoral research as it provides a broad-based programme of study culminating in a supervised research project. 


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.

In the first semester, you will take the following compulsory module: 

  • Global Politics: encourages you to think, in terms of practical solutions on the level of policy and research, about how to democratise and subalternise global politics.

You will also take one of the following optional modules:

  • Global Concepts: introduces key concepts of political and social thought stemming from different world regions and discusses how these regions have imagined and re-imagined themselves throughout history.
  • Global Capitalism: Origins and Development from a Political Economy Perspective: explores some of the most fundamental economic phenomena that have shaped the modern world. The course starts by questioning what we mean by global capitalism and how it can be understood from a political economy perspective. It then explores some of the major historical events that have come to define the modern global economy. Taught by historians and economists who each specialise in different historical periods and geographical areas, students are encouraged to advance their knowledge and acquire skills for deeper analysis of complex historical economic phenomena. Following a historiographical, thematic and methodological structure, students will engage with the major academic debates that have informed our understanding of historical socioeconomic change.

In the second semester, you will take the following compulsory module: 

  • Global Theory: considers how an awareness of multiple theoretical traditions can help us to respond to global issues such as social injustice, economic exploitation, ideological conflicts, and environmental degradation.

You will also take one of the following optional modules (a list of additional optional modules will be made available prior to the advising session in late August):

  • Special Topic in Interdisciplinary Learning: allows you to advance your learning by undertaking a research project on an agreed topic and provides preparation for the end of degree project.
  • Interdisciplinary Research Methods: The notion of interdisciplinarity is crucial not just to the solution of global problems but also to the development of genuinely sustainable and fully diverse methodologies in our research and teaching. In this module we explore the notion of interdisciplinarity in all its guises and we test its applicability to real world problems. We examine the challenges posed by collaborative interdisciplinary work by first reviewing theoretical debates on interdisciplinarity and then by looking at the application of interdisciplinary methods to specific case studies. Applied interdisciplinary teamwork is a crucial part of the module.

The final part of the MLitt is the end-of-degree project. This takes the form of a period of supervised research where you will explore a global thought topic in depth.

Through the project, you will show your ability to undertake sustained critical analysis, develop and improve your research skills, and produce an extended piece of written work that demonstrates a high level of understanding of your area of study.

You can choose to present your end-of-degree project in one of the following ways:

  • a policy report that emphasises your ability to critically assess policy and make convincing recommendations for policy changes
  • a multi-media portfolio that emphasises your ability to present global thought concepts in exciting and engaging ways
  • a written dissertation that emphasises your ability to plan and execute academically rigorous research.

If students choose not to complete the project requirement for the MLitt, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MLitt.


The taught modules are taken over two semesters – September to December (Semester 1) and January to May (Semester 2). The period from June to August is used to complete the end-of-degree project. 

Each taught module will use teaching and learning methods appropriate to its aims. These may include seminars, workshops, lectures, tutorials, and independent study.

Assessment methods used may include essays, reports, presentations, practical exercises, reflective exercises, and examinations.




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our tuition fees, can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


The University of St Andrews’ global reputation makes its graduates highly valued by employers. The MLitt in Global Social and Political Thought provides subject knowledge and applied skills relevant to a range of career paths, and will be of particular interest if you intend to continue to doctoral research. 

In addition to broadening your subject knowledge and applying established techniques of research and enquiry, you will develop and demonstrate essential skills including: 

  • critical thinking and creativity 
  • analysis and appraisal 
  • problem solving and decision making 
  • personal leadership and project management 
  • interpersonal communication and team working. 

The University also offers two awards for all students known as the Saints Skills Awards. You can develop a range of skills through the Skills Builder Award or learn how to articulate them through the Skills Spotlight Award. These skills are highly valued by employers and the awards are a good addition to your CV.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

St Andrews offers a vibrant and stimulating research environment. One of the great strengths of a St Andrews research degree is the collegiate atmosphere which enables access to expertise beyond your formal supervisors and the ability to conduct interdisciplinary research. 

Research students are supported by a supervisory team throughout their studies and are assessed by means of a substantial thesis of original research. 

Research degrees

What to do next

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Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2032
Graduate School