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Department of Political Science


In addition to the general Master's programme in Political Science, you have the opportunity to focus on one of the following five tracks:

In order to graduate in a major, you must complete at least 42 ECTS (major) or 54 ECTS (mono) in the corresponding module group, including the track research seminar and the corresponding preparation for the track research seminar. These are designated as compulsory elective modules.

You can only select one track. However, you can still change this or drop it altogether up to the last semester of your studies.

In the general specialisation 'Political Science', you can attend courses from all module groups, but you must acquire at least 12 ECTS (major) or 18 ECTS (mono) in each of two module groups. Details are regulated by the study regulations.

Political Science

The general track “Political Science” offers the opportunity to set a personal study focus according to your own interests. As the courses offered in this area cover the entire spectrum of the subject, the political science track offers the best options for an individualized study path.

Democracy, Development and International Relations

The track “Democracy, Development and International Relations” addresses issues of democratization, development policy and international relations from a comparative perspective. Recognizing that domestic processes are closely intertwined with international influences and that countries within regions influence each other in a variety of ways, the track combines various sub-disciplines of political science, including comparative politics, development policy, international relations and conflict studies as well as area studies. We offer a wide range of courses that focus on both old and new democracies. The focus is on topics such as the functioning and quality of different models of democracy, democratization and development processes, the transformation of cleavages and party systems, interethnic and international conflicts, and problems of policy-making in international relations. The courses apply this perspective to specific regions (e.g. Europe and the OECD countries, the Arab world, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia) or take a comparative look at different regions of the world. 

The track promotes an understanding of the ideas, structures and institutions on which democratic and economic developments are based. It enables students to comprehensively evaluate current processes, both nationally and internationally. Graduates of the track typically work in the fields of media and communication, in public administration or with interest groups, as well as with NGOs and international organizations.

Political Economy and Philosophy

Political decisions of major importance to society as a whole usually have significant economic, political and normative implications. Processes of (inter)national integration and disintegration, problems of collective action, distribution issues, as well as the governance of migration, climate change, social and economic policy or public infrastructure are just a few examples of such decisions.

In order to understand the relevant decision-making processes, the track “Political Economy and Philosophy” examines political phenomena from different perspectives. In addition to the central political science perspective (in particular comparative and international political economy, comparative political science, political behavior, policy analysis), the perspectives of economics, political sociology and political philosophy are included in particular. The focus is on empirical social research. Students are largely free to choose the relative weighting of the political economy and normative focal points of their curriculum.  

In this track, students learn to comprehensively examine political decision-making problems, to question their political-economic, social and ethical components, and to systematically assess the quality of assumptions made.

Our graduates are particularly well prepared for career prospects in political and economic decision-making positions and in academia. The track “Political Economy and Philosophy” prepares students to grasp and incorporate the complexity of decisions and to act effectively and prudently in politics, business and society.

Swiss Politics

This track focuses on the Swiss political system and its special features as well as its interdependencies with the international environment. Starting with questions on the socio-structural foundations, institutions, decision-making processes and actors of Swiss consensual democracy and the interactions with the international political system, the focus is dedicated to analytical questions, e.g. on political participation, changes in the party system, (direct) democratic decision-making, the internationalization of Swiss politics or policy fields such as social, environmental or economic policy. In addition to comprehensive methodological training, specific research areas such as electoral research, institutional studies, policy analysis and evaluation are important elements of this major. Within the track, you have the opportunity to specialize in a specific area (e.g. voting and electoral behaviour, the relationship between Switzerland and the EU, political decision-making processes and their effects) or to study the entire spectrum of Swiss politics. 

Graduates of this track are particularly well prepared for professional challenges in media work, political parties, associations, administration or political consulting, as in addition to in-depth political science skills, they also acquire broad and precise knowledge of the Swiss political system, as well as research and application-based skills in the analysis, evaluation and design of decision-making structures and policies. As the largest political science institute in Switzerland, and with its close links to the ETHZ and the Center for Democracy Aarau, the IPZ guarantees a broad spectrum of courses and great flexibility in the design of your studies in Swiss politics. 

Political Data Journalism

The academic focus on “political data journalism” is an innovative interface between political science and data science. Given the increasingly easy availability of economic and political data, there is a growing demand for highly qualified data analysts. This development is particularly evident in journalism, as can be seen in pioneer outlets such as “The Guardian”, “The New York Times” and “Die Zeit”. However, this development goes far beyond that and extends across a broad spectrum of organizations - from companies to NGOs to government institutions, there is a need for experts who can not only perform data-driven analysis, but also communicate the results effectively. The programme builds on a solid foundation in the social sciences and enables students to develop their skills in various areas of data science - from deep learning to data mining and data visualization. Our graduates are also able to communicate their findings through professional storytelling. In addition to internal lecturers, external experts from the fields of journalism and data science contribute to the curriculum. Our graduates find employment in a variety of data-intensive sectors and work in university research, at renowned media companies (e.g. SRF), in survey research (e.g. GfS and LeeWas), in the private sector (e.g. AXA), at NGOs (e.g. Jacobs Foundation) and in government institutions (e.g. Swiss National Bank) after graduation.