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MSc Politics, Philosophy and Management

Shaping your capacity to comprehend the socio-political world around you, equipping you with strategies for managing effectively within it and the ethics to help make it a better place.

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About The Course

Organisations increasingly seek graduates with a deeper understanding of the social, political and moral dimensions of management, so that they can protect the wider interests of society. This unique programme answers the demand for a new kind of management graduate - able to navigate the wider environment and use philosophy as a tool to take on key political and social questions.

We create competent managers who can also see the underlying connections between complex problems. These individuals are able to respond to the demands of reconciling economic growth, sustainability and equitable social outcomes. We make sure our graduates are in tune with contemporary political developments and international relations. You will learn how to deal with complex issues, such as the management of people and organisational change. You will develop in-depth knowledge of the major historical and intellectual theories, concepts and issues relating to politics, philosophy and the management of institutions.

Alongside this fresh way of thinking, you will acquire and build skills such as intercultural team working, negotiation, research design, report-writing, and how to present professionally. You are free to focus on what enthuses you, with options ranging from Diplomacy to Contemporary Philosophy.

Key Facts

Course Content


In your first term, you will study the compulsory module below plus a choice of optional modules to tailor your studies to your interests.

  • Doing Organisational Research

    The module will introduce the students to the nature of knowledge within the organisation studies/management field, and the ways in which the literature can be researched and critically evaluated. It will then provide a systematic consideration of different approaches to research in the social sciences and in organisational studies in particular. This will include an evaluation of different research designs and methodologies, and of a range of methods likely to be particularly useful in organisational research such as: surveys, ethnography, case studies, interviews, questionnaires. The module will also address methods of qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Throughout, links will be made to the practical planning and execution of a piece of research.

In your second term, you will study the compulsory module below plus a choice of optional modules to tailor your studies to your interests.

  • Doing Organisational Research

    The module will introduce the students to the nature of knowledge within the organisation studies/management field, and the ways in which the literature can be researched and critically evaluated. It will then provide a systematic consideration of different approaches to research in the social sciences and in organisational studies in particular. This will include an evaluation of different research designs and methodologies, and of a range of methods likely to be particularly useful in organisational research such as: surveys, ethnography, case studies, interviews, questionnaires. The module will also address methods of qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Throughout, links will be made to the practical planning and execution of a piece of research.

The final element of the Masters programme, and the most substantial single piece of written work, is the dissertation. This involves a sustained piece of individual research, with support from your dissertation supervisor.

  • Dissertation

    The dissertation represents the culmination of the year's work and students work exclusively on the project between June and September. It allows a student to focus on a specific area of interest and undertake a sustained period of study on that theme. Often, students choose themes that link directly to their career ambitions, which can subsequently be used to showcase their interests and abilities to prospective employers. For most students this period of independent study is an opportunity to hone their research skills and enhance their intellectual powers.

    The standard form of the dissertation is an organisational research project in which a student undertakes a case study of a particular organisation, which will involve engaging in live fieldwork. However, this is by no means the only form for the dissertation project, and research projects using a range of different procedures are allowable, including a library-based project.

    Students are invited to begin consideration of their dissertation as early as possible and a series of workshops through the year provide support on developing and refining ideas into a coherent proposal. The dissertation work is then supported by an academic supervisor based in the Department and assigned according to area of research interest.

Students can choose from a range of options from both the Department of Organisation, Work and Technology and the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion. Examples of potential optional modules are listed below (please note that this is not a comprehensive list and is subject to change)

  • Organisations in the 21st Century: New Forms of Organising in the Contemporary World

    This module introduces contemporary organisations as institutional structures in which management functions. We begin by considering the formal organisation (and the role of management) which was developed through the twentieth century, and which provides the basis for much of our present day understanding of organising.

    The main part of the module deals with the contemporary situation and it is argued that the present time is one of extraordinary change in organisations, which offers a considerable challenge to orthodox organisational theory. The material presented looks at what seems to be happening to organisations large and small, and examines key issues in contemporary organisation including bureaucracy, managerial control, technological change and leadership. The latest range of organisational theories, such as institutional theory, discourse analysis and critical realism will be introduced to frame the understanding of ‘new realities’ in organisation.

  • International Human Resource Management

    In essence this module aims to explore the significance and complications of managing human resources in the international arena. The management of employees is one of the key elements in the success of global organisations and over time managers have adapted a range of approaches to this task. This module will also provide useful insights on such processes. By the completion of the study you will be able develop the skills of analysis and critical evaluation through the examination of human resource issues utilizing HRM models and frameworks in the global context. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate team working, presentation and secondary research skills.

  • The Management of Organisational Change: Challenges and Debates

    What is meant by ‘change’? How can organisational change be analysed? This module to provides students with a broad theoretical and practical understanding of some key concepts and issues in managing organisational changes.

    The contemporary world is characterised by a range of social, political, economic, technological, ecological and organisational changes that challenge accepted understandings and practices. This module introduces contributions from the social sciences that are useful in thinking about change. The focus is upon the development of an account of change that steers between reformist tinkering and revolutionary upheaval.

    As managers and others seek to engage with change it is important that taken for granted assumptions and simplistic solutions about organisational life are both articulated and rethought. Prevailing assumptions in the managerial literature are compared to contrasting approaches within organisation studies. The contention of the module is that the emerging socio-technical-politico-economic context necessitates a reflexive appreciation of the complexities and uncertainties of change and intervention.

  • Human Resource Management I: Contexts, Controversies and Critiques

    This module introduces the major debates and perspectives on Human Resource Management. It critically examines controversies about the nature of HRM, placing it in context to understand how it developed and what it constitutes in contemporary ‘globalised’ organisations. The module examines those issues that are seen as central to the practice of HRM, such as recruitment and selection, performance management, and remuneration strategies. Eve and Kay will draw on their own research to provide an insight into the HRM process, explored in a way that critiques its taken for granted ‘normality’, and unpacks the assumptions underlying this central organisational function.

  • Human Resource Management II: The rise and growth of HRM

    HRM II builds upon the foundations of HRM I. We will continue to examine examples of some of the most important current HRM practices. This module aims to build a wide-ranging cultural image of HRM practices today. We will show that the essence of HRM is to govern one of the central questions of all our lives: who are we when we work today? How does HRM seek to take control over this fundamental question?

    We will explore areas such as employability, performativity and self-realisation. We will look at the complex apparatus of recruitment today, from job advertisements, CVs, to power words and images of ideal human subjects. We will see how performance control and appraisal systems make their cultural contribution to contemporary management in tight connection with work motivation and the idea of self-actualisation. We will also consider how human resources have become the strategic assets of contemporary organisations in the knowledge economy and try to understand what is implied in central trends in contemporary work, including talent management, employee wellness and happiness at work, ‘play@work’ and workplace architectures in 21st-century organisations.

  • Major Approaches to the Study of International Relations

    This module aims to provide you with a broad understanding of the main areas of study within the field of international relations (IR). The introductory session seeks to address the general question as to what constitutes the study of IR. Subsequent sessions aim to examine the major approaches to the discipline (both mainstream and critical), focusing upon the distinctive insights and analyses that they have brought to bear.

    You will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the nature of the wide-ranging theoretical debates that have shaped the discipline and will also be encouraged to take a critical approach to these debates to consider the ways in which we study IR.

    More particularly, you have the opportunity to:

    • understand and critically assess the interpretation of the world and of IR put forward by each theory
    • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each theory
    • apply the theoretical tools to the “facts out there” (linking theory with practice)

  • Conflict Management and Contemporary Conflicts

    The course aims to explore a variety of approaches to conflict management in contemporary conflicts, by third parties and parties in conflict, and critically assesses their effectiveness and potential. The course draws its theoretical foundations from peace and conflict research but is aimed at enabling students to learn to assess the scope for conflict management and peace-building in practice. The module includes both academic literature as well as policy relevant papers.

    The focus of the course is on analysing peace processes and practical problems of conflict prevention, conflict management and peace-building in a range of contemporary international, internal, ethnic, community and environmental conflicts.

    Students will be divided up into groups of two or three, and each group will take responsibility for identifying and investigating a specific approach to conflict management in a conflict of their choice. The choice of cases will vary with the interest of students. In recent year topics included Afghanistan, Chechnya, Georgia, Kashmir, Kosovo, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Liberia/Sierra Leone, Timor Elste, conflict prevention and the emergent global climate change negotiations, and peace-building in contemporary Africa and Asia.

    The course is taught in 10 2-hour lecture seminars, with the first half devoted to the lecture and the second half dedicated to substantial presentations by the student / group.

    Select Bibliography:

    Barash, David P. & Webel, Charles P. (2008) Peace and Conflict Studies, London: Sage.Darby J & Mac Ginty, R, Contemporary Peacemaking (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)Eriksen, T. H., Ethnicity and Nationalism (Zed, 2010).Kaldor, M., New & Old Wars (Polity Press, 2006) Lyons, T. (2008) Conflict Management and African Conflicts – Ripeness, Bargaining and Mediation, London: Routledge, 2008)Misra, A. Afghanistan: The Labyrinth of Violence (Polity, 2004).Misra A., Politics of Civil Wars (Routledge 2008)Paris, R., At War’s End (Cambridge Univ. Press. 2005)Ramsbotham, O, Woodhouse T. & Miall, H, Contemporary Conflict Resolution – 3rd edition (Blackwell's, 2010)Rupesinghe, K, Civil Wars, Civil Peace (Pluto Press, 1998)Zartman, I.W., Peacemaking in International Conflict (USIP, 2005)European Centre for Conflict Prevention, People Building Peace (1999)Wallensteen, P., Understanding Conflict Resolution (Sage, 2006)

  • Theory and Concepts in Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

    Diplomacy and Foreign Policy are central to the understanding of international politics. The structure of the international system induces a constant need for political dialogue and negotiations. Besides war, diplomacy is the common language states are using to interact on the world stage.

    This module introduces students to ways of conceptualizing diplomacy and foreign policy in the 21st century:

    • Why do states rely on diplomacy?
    • What are the current forms and features of diplomacy and foreign policy?
    • Is diplomacy the only form of international dialogue besides war?
    • How do states (and statesmen) negotiate?
    • How has diplomacy evolved throughout history?
    • Does ‘global governance’ exist?

    This module is designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop your knowledge of both theoretical and practical understanding of contemporary issues in diplomacy and foreign policy. Where appropriate, academic teaching may be complemented by lectures and in-class activities carried out by practitioners (diplomats, civil servants, etc).

  • What is Philosophy? Methods, Aims, Debates

    Philosophy is a various and contested discipline, about which we can and should ask metaphilosophical questions: What is philosophy? How ought we to go about doing it? What is its purpose or value? What kinds of knowledge does it produce? What is the relation between it and other disciplines, e.g. literary criticism, history, psychology? Or between it and other forms of writing, e.g. poetry, fiction, political rhetoric? Is philosophy as currently practiced in Anglo-American universities problematically Western or male? Is university philosophy real philosophy?

    The aims of this module are (1) to give you a taste of some of the topics and approaches of contemporary professional philosophy as done here at Lancaster, and (2) to help you to reflect on metaphilosophical questions, both in the discipline and in your own practice.

    This module will usually comprise of three parts:

    • short talks by philosophy staff on their current research and on the metaphilosophical issues it raises, followed by moderated discussion.
    • close reading and discussion of some significant published work in the discipline
    • work and presentation on essays in progress.

  • Studying Religion

    This module aims to provide skills training for postgraduate students in religious studies from induction to completion of the master's dissertation. It seeks to support existing taught modules by introducing a variety of research methods from other disciplines and theoretical issues within religious studies. It also introduces cross-cultural and cross-religious examination of research topics in religious studies. The module will provide you with the opportunity to develop generic skills in library research, essay writing, and dissertation planning.

    Topics covered may include:

    • Induction in the study of religions: resources, essay planning and writing, seminar preparation and presentations
    • Research methodologies: examples selected from philosophical, anthropological, sociological, psychological, and phenomenological approaches
    • Theoretical approaches to the study of religion: examples selected from the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences
    • Dissertation workshop: finding a topic and supervisor, completion plan, case studies.

Learning Environment

You will experience a variety of approaches to learning, including lectures, group workshops, individual tutorials, and research projects. The interactive style of teaching is designed to develop your ability to debate and defend your ideas, and the diversity of the class creates a rich variety of experience to engage with. You will enhance your knowledge through independent study and resources, and our varied assessment methods aim to test your practical and intellectual skills.


Our programme-specific scholarships for 2020 entry are aimed at high-achieving students with a strong academic or personal profile. We'll automatically consider you for these scholarships when you apply and if you are shortlisted we'll be in touch with the next steps, so it's best to apply as soon as possible.

 We also offer other scholarships - visit our Apply for Masters page to find out more.


The Politics, Philosophy and Management programme is an excellent launch-pad for a wide range of careers, and gives you a set of skills and knowledge that will be highly valued by public and private sector employers.

It is an ideal foundation for those who are looking to work in organisations that span national boundaries – whether that be in global companies, in NGOs or in other transnational organisations such as the United Nations or the European Union.

Some who join the programme will already have firm career objectives, but others may want to use their year at Lancaster to explore their options and decide where they would like to go next. Whatever your goals, expert advisers in the Careers team at LUMS are on hand to help you formulate your career plans, make informed decisions and find the best route to achieve your ambitions.

The LUMS careers team helps you shape your career plans and supports your job-hunting process in five key ways:

  • Personalised one-to-one support
    Regular drop-in clinics for quick career queries, reviewing CVs or applications and getting tips on succeeding at assessment centres. There are also more detailed one-to-one appointments for exploring options and discussing your career strategy.
  • In-class sessions
    Interactive workshops on areas such as career strategies, writing CVs and applications, interview skills, psychometric testing, what to expect at assessment centres, and online networking strategies.
  • Extensive programme of events
    Each year around 100 events, including careers fairs, organised by the LUMS team bring top employers on to campus. Your chance to attend presentations, book personal appointments and attend employer-led skills sessions.
  • Specialist resources
    Specialist online careers resources and a well-stocked careers room give you access to industry publications and global labour market intelligence, helping you prepare winning applications and research employers before interview.
  • Access to our alumni networks
    We invite LUMS and Lancaster University alumni back to campus to share their professional experience and tips with you. You can tap into the expertise and know-how of more than 40,000 LUMS alumni worldwide, and the University's even larger alumni network – a valuable resource not only while you are at Lancaster but throughout your career. 

Student Profiles

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