Two students in the library

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.

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

12-month course, starts in October.

Design your own programme from a range of options in management, politics, international relations and philosophy.

Designed for graduates of any discipline seeking careers in cross-national organisations, agencies or international business.

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.

  • The Rise of Management Ideas and Concepts

    The aims of this module are to examine the influence of scientific ideologies in the domain of management and organisation studies. On the one hand, we shall examine the downstream impacts of scientific knowledge. On the other, we focus upon the upstream conditions associated with the production of scientific knowledge. Recently, radically different concepts of the nature of science have been developed, which entails careful consideration of the process involved in the achievement of scientific knowledge.

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

  • Research in Organisational Settings

    We live in a complex world in which the actions of individuals, groups, organisations and governments are justified or informed by knowledge claims that frequently have their roots in research. Accordingly, this is a module with practical goals as well as academic content. The main purposes are twofold: first, to introduce some of the basic ideas of research methodology and the standard techniques of research relevant to the study of organisational settings; and second, to reach an understanding of research as a process of social communication, one in which knowledge is produced for specific purposes and for the benefit of identifiable audiences.

    The module is also a key stage in your preparation for the research project you will undertake for your dissertation.

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, including those listed below.

  • 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

    Whilst 'knowledge' and its 'management' might be of concern for all organisations, global organisations arguably experience the need for and challenge of ‘managing’ knowledge most acutely. At its most fundamental, this relates to one of the core rationales for being a global organisation: to learn, and leverage the benefits of learning, in multiple different contexts. More subtly, this also relates to how global organisations are themselves communities in which relational ties can facilitate the emergence of spaces of collaboration, creativity and innovation. This module examines these issues in a critical and analytical fashion.

    With ‘being global’ now taken for granted in many organisations, and the largest organisations in the world such as GE and Wal-Mart having revenues greater than the GDP of many countries, it is crucial to understand why and how knowledge and learning are ‘managed’ in such contexts. The module begins by examining how the globalisation strategies of manufacturing organisations are built around knowledge-based rationales and mechanisms, before proceeding to examine the case of global service organisations, with particular attention paid to the way these organisations use their knowledge and power to shape the structures of the global economy.

  • 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. Karen 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.

  • Quantitative Methods in Management Practices

    The purpose of this module is to provide students with key quantitative techniques and their applications within the context of a questionnaire-based survey focusing on an aspect of management research. The main quantitative methods to be covered are: descriptive data analysis, statistical relationships (correlation and regression analysis), hypothesis testing, data reduction analysis (factor analysis) and data classification analysis (discriminant analysis).

    The module will be taught via a mixture of lectures, computer workshops and a survey exercise including design, data collection, analysis, interpretation and presentation of results. Examples will be drawn from several research areas across the various departments in the Management School. The computing laboratory sessions are aimed at introducing students to computer-aided data analysis using the relevant statistical packages.

  • Major Approaches to the Study of International Relations

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

    Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the wide-ranging theoretical debates that have shaped the discipline and will develop an understanding of the importance of questions of theory to the way in which we study IR. More particularly, students will be able:

    • To understand the importance and role of theories to the study of IR• To understand the interpretation of the world and of IR put forward by each theory• To identify the central assumptions and features underlying each of those theories• To analyse the points of debate between these theories and critically assess them• To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each theory• To apply the theoretical tools to the “facts out there” (linking theory with practice)• To develop presentational and organisational skills through the seminar component of the course

    Select Bibliography:

    Scott Burchill et al., Theories of International Relations, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Fourth edition, 2009.Tim Dunne et al., International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, second edition, OUP, Oxford, 2010.

  • 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)

  • Public Policy

    This module examines comparatively the changing nature of policy-making in advanced industrial democracies, focusing primarily on government and politics in Western Europe and North America.

    At the end of the module, students will be able to: demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the academic study of public policy; display an appreciation of the different demands placed upon policy-makers; show an awareness of the different types of theoretical perspectives that have been developed in the political science literature on public policy; identify the role of governmental institutions in the policy making process; distinguish between key policy areas such as economic, social, home and foreign affairs; directly link issues discussed in the curriculum to future employability in public policy.

    The module is taught in weekly two-hour seminars. These will commence in Week 1 and will run for ten weeks, covering the topics listed below:

    1. Studying the ‘quality of democracy’2. Theories of power and organisations3. Policy-making in practice4. Government and legislation5. Multi-Level Governance6. Parties and elections7. Economic policy8. Social policy9. Home affairs and justice policy10. Foreign policy Select Bibliography: Michael Hill, The Public Policy Process, Pearson, 2013Anneliese Dodds, Comparative Public Policy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012Christopher Knill and Jale Tosun, Public Policy: A New Introduction, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 Paul Cairney, Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

  • 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?

    The teaching and learning strategy of Diplomacy and Foreign Policy is designed to give students both theoretical and practical understanding of contemporary issues in diplomacy and foreign policy. Academic teaching will be complemented by lectures and in-class activities carried out by practitioners (diplomats, civil servants, etc.). Select Bibliography: R. Barston, Modern Diplomacy, Longman, 2006.G. R. Berridge, Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, Palgrave, 2002.S. Smith et al., Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases, OUP, 2012.J. P. Muldoon et al., The New Dynamics of Multilateralism Diplomacy, International Organizations, and Global Governance, Westview Press, 2005.A. Heywood, Global Politics, Palgrave, 2011.

  • 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 team-taught module are (1) to give students a tasting menu of some of the topics and approaches of contemporary professional philosophy as done here at Lancaster, and (2) to help students to reflect on metaphilosophical questions, both in the discipline and in their own practice.

    Apart from the introductory week 1, the module has three parts: Part A (weeks 2-5) consists of short talks by philosophy staff on their current research and on the metaphilosophical issues it raises, followed by moderated discussion. Part B (weeks 6-8) consists of close reading and discussion of a classic, opinionated introduction to philosophical ethics and to its metaphilosophy: Bernard Williams’s Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. For MA Philosophy students, this part also counts as the disciplinary segment of PPR400 Theories & Methods. Part C (weeks 9-10) will be taken up with work and presentation on essays in progress.

    Select Bibliography:

    David Edmunds, Nigel Warburton, et al., ‘What is Philosophy?’, Philosophy Bites podcast, Genevieve Lloyd, The Man of Reason (2nd edn, Routledge 1993)G. E. R. Lloyd, Disciplines in the Making: cross-cultural perspectives on elites, learning, and innovation (Oxford University Press 2009): chapter 1Sarah A. Mattice, Metaphor and Metaphilosophy: philosophy as combat, play, and aesthetic experience (Lexington Books 2014)Soren Overgaard, Paul Gilbert, & Stephen Burwood, An Introduction to Metaphilosophy (Cambridge University Press 2013)Nicholas Rescher, Metaphilosophy: philosophy in philosophical perspective (Lexington Books 2014)Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope (Penguin 1999)Timothy Williamson, The Philosophy of Philosophy (Blackwell 2007)

    You can get a sense of the range and style of contemporary Anglo-American professional philosophy by browsing the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online,

  • Doing Contemporary Philosophy

    This module provides research training for students studying the MA in Philosophy. It aims to give students practice at developing key skills for academic research and for delivering and engaging with philosophical papers.This module has three components:

    1. Attending talks by visiting speakers and writing short critiques of them 2. Participating in an internal graduate conference 3. A literature search

    Students will be expected to attend talks by visiting speakers throughout the year (so about ten talks.) Part-time students for whom this is not possible may instead arrange to attend a philosophical conference. Students will write short critiques of the papers they attend (ie summary of argument plus discussion.) They will submit three 1,500 word critiques for assessment. This will give students practice at critically engaging with philosophical papers given in seminars.

    In the summer term there will be an internal philosophy graduate conference. All students must attend and present a short paper based on their research. The aim of the conference is to give students experience of and practice in delivering philosophical papers. The MA conference will also include a discussion of publishing in philosophy. Students will also complete a literature search exercise.

    By the end of this module students will:• have gained experience and developed skills in listening to and critiquing academic papers at the cutting edge of research in their field • had the opportunity to develop their presentation skills through giving a conference presentation of their work

  • 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 supports 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 students the opportunity for developing generic skills in library research, essay writing, and dissertation planning.

    • 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 Select Bibliography: Asad, T, Genealogies of Religion (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993)Heelas & Woodhead, Spiritual Revolution (Blackwell, 2004)King, R, Orientalism and Religion (Routledge, 1999)King, U. (ed.) Gender, Religions, and Diversity (Blackwell, 1995)Reader, I. & G. Tanabe (eds.) Practically Religious (University of Hawaii Press, 1998)

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 2019 are aimed at high achieving applicants from across the world, and all the details can be found below. We also offer other scholarships - visit our Apply for Masters page to find out more.

ScholarshipAmountEligibilityHow to Apply
Open Scholarship

Up to £6,000

Multiple awards available

Applicants who demonstrate a high-level combination of academic achievement and relevant work experience. Our assessment criteria includes academic achievement, English Language competence, work experience and other relevant experience.

All applications are automatically considered before receiving the offer of a place on the programme. Awards are made based on the personal statement along with the degree transcript (including English language where appropriate) and references.

Awards are made throughout the year until all funds are allocated.

 Home/EU 5 scholarships of £5,000 Based on academic excellence for students studying MSc Human Resource Management or MSc in Politics, Philosophy and Management.

Please indicate as part of your application if you wish to be considered for one of these scholarships. Awards are made throughout the year so please apply early.

If you are not successful in obtaining a Home/EU Scholarship, you will be considered for an Open Scholarship.

Total scholarships and discounts awarded will be capped at the full tuition fee, and no part of this award is redeemable for cash or other services at Lancaster University.


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