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M.A. Democratic Governance and Civil Society


The University of Osnabrück’s MA Democratic Governance and Civil Society is an interdisciplinary degree program spanning political science, sociology, and history. It is geared towards qualified students who are seriously interested in analyzing the challenges of policy-making within the arenas of democratic governance. The core of the program focuses on various institutional relationships between the state and society within the context of democratic governance, which take place within and around the multiple institutional interfaces where civil society and state actors meet.

Democratic governance is linked with political, social and cultural challenges for all kinds of political actors participating in political decision-making in all policy phases. Such challenges may be the contradictions arising out of diverse social demands and various economic constraints or problems linked with competing interests between cultural diversity and universal values. Dealing with questions of democratic governance means to emphasize those specific institutional spheres of interaction (markets, hierarchies, associations, networks) which contribute to social order, co-ordination and problem-solving. How can patterns of democratic governance contribute to political problem-solving at the local, regional, national and supranational levels? How can they manage and regulate processes of social and political conflict resolution?

The MA program aims at imparting extended and differentiated, theoretical and empirical knowledge within two main focal areas: “Democracy and Civil Society” and “State and Governance.” The degree program runs for 4 semesters and consists of the following areas of study.


•    Obligatory and Obligatory-elective Modules: During the first year of studies students attend two obligatory and three obligatory-elective modules, each module containing two courses (10 points per module for a total of 50 points). Here, students are imparted with systematic orientations and knowledge within the core focal areas and deal with theories of civil society, democracy, the state, mediation of national and international conflicts, as well as perspectives of governance and European politics
•    Electives: In addition to these core modules the degree program includes an elective area of studies (three modules for a total of 30 points). The elective area allows students to choose classes outside the core themes of the program and even from other departments
•    Research Seminar: During the second year of studies students attend a research-intensive seminar (8 points) where they undertake a small research project
•    MA Thesis: In the fourth semester students prepare their Master’s thesis under the direction of two examiners (24 points)
•    Professionalization and Research Methods: Throughout the two-year program students are required to select a set of courses from a large pool of course offerings and excursions which make up the professionalization and research methods area of the program (16 points)
Courses within the MA program are taught in both German and English languages. All core courses of the program during the first year are offered bilingual. While most of these courses are taught in English, bilingual simply means that students are free to participate in German or English.

Language of Instruction: Courses within the MA program are taught in both German and English. All core courses during the first year are offered bilingual. While course instruction is mostly in English, bilingual simply means that students are free to participate in German or English.

Detailed course plan

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