Our Masters in Public Policy allows you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical skills you’ll need to redefine the world of policymaking. We prepare you for a career in the public sector and vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy.

This course is extremely flexible, and you can tailor it to fit your particular interests. Core modules on Policy Theory and Practice are combined with optional modules in Social Research and policy-relevant disciplines. If you want to pursue an interest in other policy-relevant disciplines, you can also combine a focus on policy and research with options in areas such as:

  • law
  • economics
  • behavioural science
  • social marketing
  • energy
  • environmental and international politics

You can also use this degree as a pathway to pursue research to PhD level by taking three modules in Applied Social Research.

As part of the Master's course, you must complete a dissertation. You’ll also have the option to gain practical experience by pursuing a placement with a relevant organisation – allowing you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy-influencer audience.

Our staff have built up a wide range of connections with organisations in the public, private and third sectors. These can be used not only to pursue your placement-based coursework but also build your own personal networks.

Top reasons to study with us

#1 State of the art knowledge from world-leading experts

#2 The course is flexible, and you can tailor it to your own interests

#3 You can pursue a placement with a relevant organisation

Work placements

To gain your Master's degree, you must produce a dissertation of around 12,000 words that applies intellectual rigour to a real-world policy problem. You’ll have the option to pursue a placement with a relevant organisation, enabling you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy-influencer audience.

Course details

The core modules of this course focus on multi-level policymaking and identifying the responsibilities and policies of local, devolved, national and international decision-makers. We then identify the concepts, models and theories used to study policy and policymaking – comparing theories in political science with a range of policy-relevant disciplines. Those disciplines include everything from economics to communication, psychology, management and social marketing. We also combine theory and practice by inviting a range of policy actors to provide guest seminars as part of the core modules.


Each of the core modules on this course are delivered through weekly seminars.

The first semester core module ‘How Does the Policy Process Work’ includes a two-hour seminar each week, alongside a 3,000-word report. The second semester core module ‘Policymaking: Theories and Approaches’ includes a three-hour seminar each week – which combines weekly political science theory discussions with weekly guest seminars from practitioners and other policy-relevant disciplines – as well as a 5,000-word report.

Most Applied Social Research modules are delivered through a series of half-day, one-day or three-day blocks, and involve coursework from 3,000 to 4,000-words. The majority of policy-relevant options follow the same format as your core modules - weekly seminars and one piece of coursework.

The Applied Social Research component of your course is provided by the Faculty of Social Sciences, which is an ESRC-recognised postgraduate research training centre. In the UK’s last Research Assessment Exercise, 95 percent of the Faculty’s research was deemed ‘internationally excellent’ – and it received the highest possible score in the most recent teaching quality exercise.


You’ll be assessed through a wide range of various coursework as part of your taught modules. That coursework includes essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis, group project reports and the research dissertation.

There are no exams.

Course director

Professor Paul Cairney

+44 (0) 1786 467598


Fees - 2018/2019

  • Overseas £15,250
  • Home/EU £6,300
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Last updated November 14, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
12 - 27 months
6,300 GBP
Home/EU: £6,300 - Overseas: £15,250
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