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Department of Politics and International Relations

The study of politics, government and international relations at Oxford has a long and distinguished history. We are proud to be recognised internationally for our rigorous and valuable research, as educators of leaders and professionals in a wide variety of fields and as trainers of the next generation of teachers and researchers. 

Who We Are

The Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford is one of the largest units for research and teaching in international relations, politics, government and political theory. Our work is directed to advance these disciplines. We create theoretical frameworks for the analysis of new objects of study using advanced research methods and we develop techniques for gathering, handling, processing and analysing data. We achieved top scores in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, confirming the excellence of our research.

This focus on the future has a deep foundation in the inception of the disciplines of political science, history and philosophy in the UK. The study of government was institutionalised in Oxford in 1912 with the establishment of the Gladstone Chair in Government; the Chichele Chair in Social and Political Theory was established in 1944, and International Relations developed as an autonomous field of study with the establishment of the Montague Burton Chair of International Relations in 1930.

The department is responsible for the syllabus, provision of lectures and for the examination of undergraduate students, who are taught mainly by tutorials organised by college tutors. The MPhil degree now is a terminal degree for a range of students who proceed to further professional training and to careers in public or private organisations. For many students, the MPhil also forms the first two years of a four-year doctoral programme. The MPhil gives students advanced scholarly and theoretically sophisticated substantial study of the subject, together with training in research design and associated methodological analysis and critique, and advanced training in research methods. Alumni of the MPhil and the DPhil have gone on to form a wide network of Oxford-trained academics with positions in university departments and research units worldwide, and have taken up positions of leadership in numerous public and private institutions across the globe.

Read our statement on Academic Freedom and Values.

What We Study and Teach

Our syllabus focuses on three areas and the intersections between them: the study of government and politics, the study of international relations and organisation, and the study of political theory and philosophy. The rigorous and valid use of research methods, with emphasis on new and developing techniques, underpins our culture of active original research and scholarship.

Our Vision

Political structures and processes have profound effects on the distribution of resources necessary for human life, on the degree of autonomy that human beings enjoy as they pursue their lives, and on people's capacities to live free from the threat of violence. Politics is at the heart of human life. Our vision is a world with a wider understanding of political power and process. This is what we study and this is what we teach.