MSc Politics & Data Science

Academic Year 2020/2021

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The explosion of online and social media, the proliferation of digitized information, and improved electronic access to political decision-making processes provide new opportunities to study existing and emerging political processes in various democratic and non-democratic political regimes. The simultaneous development of cutting-edge data science methods to study digital text, audio, and video provide the tools we need to take advantage of these opportunities. The MSc Politics and Data Science is designed to equip students with the theoretical knowledge and methodological skills necessary to examine and understand politics in the digital age.

The MSc Politics and Data Science programme is organised around two streams of study. The first stream grounds students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences in data science methods. The second stream is geared towards students with computer science or related technical backgrounds, teaching them about research design and theories in political science. Apart from two required core modules in each stream, all students can select four optional modules that best fit their interests. These modules can either revolve around methods needed to study digital and digitised politics, such as programming and machine learning, quantitative text analysis, statistics, and experimental methods. Or they can be modules relating to comparative politics, international relations, political violence, political economy, and related fields that the School of Politics and International Relations has strengths in.

The programme thus provides a thorough grounding in political science and its sub-disciplines, and in-depth training in the empirical methods necessary to study important questions emerging in these areas of study.

Careers & Employability

Graduates from this programme will be ideally equipped for careers in a large and varied set of employment sectors. The combination of a solid understanding of social science theory and the technical ability to apply advanced data-science approaches to answer questions of political and societal relevance, makes our graduates a unique addition to any data science team. Furthermore, graduates will be well-positioned to apply for quantitative social science PhD programmes with the aim of pursuing an academic career.

Potential future employers include:

  • Government
  • International Organisations (EU, UN, WTO, World Bank)
  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Not-for-profit sector
  • Corporate Sector
  • Tech industry
  • Think tanks

Potential roles include

  • Political Advisor
  • Social Data Specialist
  • Data Manager
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Social Science PhD candidate

Curricular information is subject to change


Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

The MSc in Politics and Data Science is aimed towards students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences with a strong interest in learning data science methods, and towards students with a Computer Science or related technical background who want to study politics.

The programme shall equip students with both the theoretical overview and the empirical tools necessary to understand and engage with the brave new world of digitised politics, and the expansion in scale, types, and complexity of data available to study political phenomenon. The MSc in Politics and Data Science provides students with in-depth knowledge of political science theories and approaches and the methodological training to apply these tools in a theoretically-informed manner. It offers advanced training in statistical and computational methods, including tools to extract and prepare unstructured data (data wrangling), to detect patterns and predict behaviour based on statistical data, to evaluate the veracity of theoretical models on large-scale datasets, to analyse highly interconnected data from networks and spatial data sets, and to develop simulations to evaluate the inherent consistency and implications of theoretical arguments.

    The key objective is to have graduates who are able to join data science teams in the Government, corporate, or private sectors, with sufficient understanding of technical concepts in data science and machine learning to collaborate with computer scientists and engineers and with sufficient understanding of social science and politics to be able to bring a deeper understanding of human behaviour to otherwise technology oriented teams.

    Graduates can also use the skills acquired to continue work in political science research, either in academia, think tanks, or the non-profit or public sector, where they will benefit from a deep understanding of the cross-section between data science and political science.

    Knowledge and understanding

    • Understanding the range of data science and machine learning methodologies that are available to data scientists, and their key advantages and disadvantages.
    • Understanding of theories of political behaviour, political processes, and political institutions.
    • Understanding variations in political systems and their functioning.

    Applying knowledge and understanding

    • Understanding of central aspects of political and social science research design, such as conceptualization, operationalization and measurement.
    • Ability to use knowledge of research design to systematically address questions pertaining politics and public policy.
    • Gain general experience in applying data science techniques to questions of political and social science relevance.

    Making judgements

    • Ability to decide on appropriate statistical techniques given a particular research question in relation to political behaviour and public policy.
    • Ability to evaluate reported statistical and algorithmic results in political and social science research.
    • Through training in general research design, ability to evaluate the veracity of input data of political and social behaviour for use in data science applications.
    • Have a basic understanding of the situations where automated techniques as used in standard data science practice are suitable and ethically appropriate, and where not.

    Communications and working skills

    • Ability to clearly communicate results from statistical analysis of political and social behaviour.
    • Ability to communicate the possibilities and scope of data science tools for the understanding of political and social behaviour.
    • Basic practice in team work and learning how to collaborate in larger technical projects, including ability to work with techniques for code sharing, agile development, tools for scientific replication, etcetera.

    Learning skills

    • Have sufficient grounding in fundamentals of statistical analysis and computer science to be able to acquire new skills in data science.
    • Have sufficient grounding in political and social science to be able to read into new domains of political and social science research.

    View All Modules Here

    The MSc Politics and Data Science programme is organised around two streams of study. The first stream grounds students with backgrounds in political science and related social sciences in data science methods. The second stream is geared towards students with computer science or related technical backgrounds, teaching them about research design and theories in political science. Apart from two required core modules in each stream, all students can select four optional modules that best fit their interests. These modules can either revolve around methods needed to study digital and digitised politics, such as programming and machine learning, quantitative text analysis, statistics, and experimental methods. Or they can be modules relating to comparative politics, international relations, political violence, political economy, and related fields that the School of Politics and International Relations has strengths in.

    MSc Politics & Data Science (W473) Full Time
    EU          fee per year - € 8525
    nonEU    fee per year - € 19900

    MSc Politics & Data Science (W474) Part Time
    EU          fee per year - € 5600
    nonEU    fee per year - € 9950

    ***Fees are subject to change

    Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

    SPIRe operates a Graduate Scholarship programme. To access details, see SPIRe Graduate Scholarship Scheme.

    The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme can be found here.

    Good undergraduate degree (2.1 or equivalent) in political science or related social science, or in computer science, statistics, or related discipline. Because of the streaming of the module structure of the program, we can accommodate students with a social science as well as students with a more technical background.

    • Your application will be considered on its individual merits and relevant professional experience will also be taken into account.
    • English language requirements: applicants whose first language is not English should have met TOEFL, IELTs, or computer-based TOEFL requirements (600, 6.5, or 250 respectively), or the Cambridge English Test (Certificate in Advanced English at a minimum of Grade B, or Certificate of Proficiency in English at Grade C). Applicants who obtained a previous degree from an English-speaking university may be exempted from this requirement. Click here for further info.
    • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes

    The following entry routes are available:

    MSc Politics & Data Science FT (W473)
    Duration
    1 Years
    Attendance
    Full Time
    Deadline
    Rolling *
    MSc Politics & Data Science PT (W474)
    Duration
    2 Years
    Attendance
    Part Time
    Deadline
    Rolling *

    * Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised