MSc International Public Policy
Queen's University Belfast
Belfast, United Kingdom
1 - 2 year
Full time, Part time
GBP 21,100 *
Earliest start date
* international fee
The MSc in International Public Policy at Queen’s offers a high-quality programme of academic and personal development, providing students with the tools to understand and influence the contemporary policy problems faced by governments globally.
Students undertaking the MSc programme will engage with a wide variety of theories, concepts and cases in the study of public policy both domestically and internationally, and will be exposed to a variety of research methods. As they progress through the MSc programme, students can choose to examine public policy issues across a range of international policy domains including climate change, global ethics, security and terrorism, policing and crime, youth and social justice, and EU governance, and write a supervised dissertation on a public policy theme of their choosing.
As well as hearing from guest speakers, there will also be a study visit to the EU institutions in Brussels and the OECD in Paris to better understand the interplay of public policy between national and international levels.
The programme uniquely offers opportunities for personal as well as academic advancement, and participants on the MSc can avail of the opportunity to undertake the Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
International Public Policy Highlights
- The MSc in International Public Policy will involve a study visit to the EU institutions in Brussels and the OECD in Paris to better understand the interplay of public policy between national and international levels. Queen’s is ranked 22nd in the world for international outlook (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020).
- Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Participants on the MSc programme will avail of the opportunity to undertake the Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
- Queen’s was ranked 3rd out of 199 universities worldwide and 2nd out of 44 UK universities for our Graduate School.
- Queen’s was ranked joint 1st in the UK for Research Intensity (Complete University Guide 2021). Queen’s is ranked in the top 140 in the world for graduate prospects (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020) Queen’s is ranked in the top 75 universities in Europe for Teaching Excellent (Times Higher Education, 2019).
The MSc in International Public Policy will be particularly useful for students wishing to work in public affairs, consultancy, NGOs, public relations, journalism or the public service at national or international levels.
The MSc programme has three different components:
• 60 CATS Compulsory Modules (3 modules)
• 60 CATS Optional Modules (3 modules)
• 60 CATS Written Dissertation
If you wish to take the programme on part time basis you will be required to complete 3 taught modules each year (two Compulsory Modules in Semester 1 and one Compulsory Module in Semester 2 in Year 1; optional choices in Year 2).
To acquire foundational knowledge and understanding in International Public Policy, students will take three core modules:
• HAP7001 - Approaches and Debates on Research Design (Semester 1)
• PAI7070 – International Public Policy (Semester 1)
• PAI7030 - Global Political Economy (Semester 2)
• PAI7022 The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
• PAI7038 Theories of Comparative Politics
• PAI7103 Global Development
• PAI7051 Contemporary Security
• PAI7099 UK and EU
• PHL7056 Global Ethics
To acquire foundational knowledge and understanding in International Public Policy, students will take three core modules:
HAP7001 - Approaches and Debates on Research Design (Semester 1)
This module aims to introduce key approaches to research design, while also introducing some of the contemporary debates in research in the social sciences and humanities. It will also provide students with an introduction to some of the key practical research skills they will find of use when designing and conducting their academic research. These skills are also those which students will find necessary as they continue their academic and research career.
Students will have a high degree of choice across workshops, enabling them to tailor the module content to their pathway of student and personal research goals. The workshops will address five key areas: Fundamentals of Research; Debates; Philosophy of Science/Epistemology; Qualitative Methods; and Quantitative Methods.
The broad aims of the module are to:
Introduce students to the diversity of research approaches and debates;
Heighten awareness of methodological issues facing researchers in the social sciences and humanities;
Develop an awareness of interdisciplinarity and its potentials and challenges in research;
Encourage students to develop their research skills through the selective use of this reading guide and their own search for appropriate literature on research design topics that are of interest to them.
PAI7070 – International Public Policy (Semester 1)
This module introduces students to the study of international public policy adopting a multi-level approach. Students will begin by looking at contemporary public policy making theories and models at national level, before turning to the international level and the interplay between these levels.
The Module will adopt a strong comparative dimension, and involve the use of official statistics and international league tables with a view to better understanding the bases of decision-making at international and national levels.
PAI7030 - Global Political Economy (Semester 2)
This module provides a themed examination of the changing politics of the world economy, through the lens of the sub/inter-discipline, known as International Political Economy. International Political Economy (IPE) has become the accepted academic term for the analysis of the exercise of economic power and the politics of economic policy and capitalist development placed in a global context. This module introduces students to theories and concepts in International Political Economy related to the exercise of power and authority. It then goes to analyze a number of key topics and issues relating to the power and politics of economic organization and management including: the future of United States supremacy; the politics of money and finance; theories of development; the politics and policy of economic development in developing countries; problems of underdevelopment; the politics of global civil society; the global politics of energy policy and climate change; and the political economy of environmental sustainability.
Elective Modules (60 CATS) – choose 3 from 15 options (20 CATS EACH)
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics
PAI7022 The Politics of the Republic of Ireland
This module explores and analyses the political development of the Irish Free State/Republic of Ireland in historical context. It combines an historical and thematic approach to provide students with an understanding of the politics of the Irish Free State, later the Republic. It introduces students to key debates on the Irish Revolution and its background, on Irish historical revisionism, on the foundations of statehood, and the institutions and political culture of the new state. Particular themes include partition , the pursuit of stability and order, negotiations of identity, problems of modernisation, Ireland’s shifting place in European and world politics, changing attitudes towards partition and ‘the Troubles’, the impact of social change on self-representation in a post-Tiger context.
PAI7103 Global Development
This module will cover cutting-edge debates on the contemporary form and function of the policies, theories, and practices that comprise the field of Global Development. This module is not only concerned with mainstream policy and practices, but also with the dialectical processes of resistance that are generated from the implementation of ‘Development’ practices and projects across diverse polities and geographical contexts. Interdisciplinary in nature, this module draws from scholarly fields across: International Political Economy; Human Geography; Business Management; International Relations, and Development Studies. This course will be comprised of the following topics (note that while the module will cover these debates, these topic headings are merely indicative at this stage): 1. What is (Global) Development? Aside from providing an overview of the module, this topic covers: ontological debates on what constitutes ‘development’ and the means to achieve it, why scholars and practitioners increasingly refer to ‘global’ rather than ‘international development’, and how ideas of development are rooted in longstanding assumptions of teleology and deeply held ideas on the possibility of material, social and spiritual progress. 2. Understanding Poverty: Geography, Colonialism and Capital.
PAI7038 Theories of Comparative Politics
The module is divided into four parts. The first is an overview of the field, placing it in the context of the evolution of political science since World War II. We review the particular assumptions and questions that have marked thinking about politics from the 1950s, and how these have influenced the evolution of the discipline of comparative politics. This section also includes some of the fundamental critiques of the way the discipline has evolved. Three illustrations are highlighted: the legacies of Marx, Durkheim and Weber. The second part looks closely at the rational choice theories that mark the fundamental orientation of the field. This is followed, in the third part, by a discussion of the logic and process of comparison according to the tradition of political institutionalism. The fourth section emphasizes critical debates on political culture and state/society relations. Given the enormous scope and breadth of the field, we cannot cover all the debates or even probe a selected few to their depths. Therefore, students are cautioned that our readings and discussions are a beginning—and far from conclusive. We will look at the basic approaches and controversies surrounding the following topics: the political system and the state (and the system-state debate); (political) culture; development (with the challenges from underdevelopment and dependency); and the ‘new institutionalism.'
PAI7099 UK and EU
This module offers students the opportunity to address core issues in Politics via a focus on the UK’s relationship with Europe in a time of flux. It is built around three broad themes: understanding, negotiating and delivering Brexit.
The first part of the module focuses on explaining the UK’s past relationship with Europe, it’s nature as an ‘awkward partner’ in European integration and the outcome of the 2016 Referendum (“understanding Brexit”). It introduces students to theories of Euroscepticism, ideas of British ‘exceptionalism’ and the study of elections, referendums and public opinion.
The second part of the module engages with the on-going Brexit negotiations, in terms of trade, citizens’ rights and borders. It introduces students to the politics of trade and negotiation dynamics. It considers and explain changes to both the UK and EU positions in the negotiations.
The third part of the module focuses on Brexit delivery - the administrative challenges of taking back control and the constitutional challenges of repatriating competences for central and devolved governments. It introduces students to studies of multi-level governance and devolution and theories of implementation, enforcement and good governance.
PAI7051 Contemporary Security
The module will examine the key theoretical approaches and practical issues and debates that have defined the evolution of Security Studies. They will engage the changing definitions of security and approaches to understanding security. It will address both ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ security and the ways in which these are increasingly connected in both theory and practice. Moreover, it will introduce students to the inter-disciplinary nature of engagements with security (from politics to geography to technology). It will engage theorising in application by introducing students both to the major concepts and theoretical assumptions of understandings of security and showing how these play out in debates and practices of security. Students will be introduced to the core concepts and differences between ‘traditional’ rationalist theories of security and the emergence and development of varieties of critical security studies. They will then examine key issues in security that may include: The state, sovereignty and internal securities; uncertainty, the security dilemma and risk; regimes, regions and security communities; non-proliferation and disarmament; theorising war; migration and borders; surveillance and security; cyber-security; environmental security: beyond energy and resource conflict; Poverty, food, and human security; gender and security; and others. Students will therefore engage critically with the intersections of theory and practice; domestic and international; and state and human securities; and be able to understand contemporary transformations of security in relation to power, sovereignty, mobilities, and technology.
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
SOC9044 Youth and Social Justice
This module introduces students to key concepts, theories and debates in youth studies, and to contemporary youth issues. It provides an understanding of the ways in which major social science disciplines have conceptualised and studied young people, alongside some of the contemporary issues that affect their lives. The module explores the framing, conceptualisation and theorisation of youth across time, considering the academic and political interest in young people. In doing so, it will consider the relationship between young people, social change and social policy. The module encourages students to apply critical thinking and theory to contemporary ‘youth issues’, and to critically consider institutional and policy responses. A key focus is the consideration of ways in which division and disadvantage are reproduced, and how social justice issues are responded to at policy, practice and societal levels.
PAI7007 Global Terrorism
This module introduces students to the range of important issues relating to the phenomenon of
global terrorism and responses in terms of the global war on terrorism.
The key debates that students will engage with will include: the emergence of transnational terrorism structures, transnational terrorism case studies, state and transnational state responses to terrorism including international actors such as the UN, NATO and other regional organisations.
The study of these debates will lead to the investigation of particular groups, state actors, themes and responses which will culminate in a student-led simulation exercise.
Overall the module aims to equip students with an understanding of the key discourse and examples as they pertain to contemporary terrorist challenges and responses at a global level.
PAI7021 The Politics and Institutions of Northern Ireland
The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement put an end to armed conflict in Northern Ireland and set up institutions designed to govern a society and polity divided along unionist and nationalist lines. As the experience of Northern Ireland shows, governing in such a context is not easy. Stability and cross-community agreement can be hard to reach, which has occasionally led to the suspension of Northern Ireland’s institutions. Yet these institutions have endured despite repeated crises and are heralded by some as examples of post-conflict governance.
The module explores contemporary developments in Northern Irish politics and discusses institutional design and politics in a changing Northern Ireland. It addresses topics such as the development of Northern Ireland’s consociational model of government, how institutions like the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive perform their functions, how parties and identity shape politics and voting behaviour, North-South relations after Brexit, and Northern Ireland’s place in Europe.
PAI7027 Conflict Intervention
The module will evaluate the changing nature of intervention, from unilateral forceful intervention to multi-lateral intervention, to humanitarian intervention, and third party mediation. Focusing on state, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors’ interventions, it will look at various conflict intervention practices in all phases of conflict from conflict prevention to post-conflict peacebuilding.
PAI7032 Gender, Politics and Democracy
This module analyses the link between gender, politics and democracy in a comparative context. It begins by discussing approaches to research gender in social science, and specifically in political science. The fundamental concept of political representation is adopted as the theoretical prism through which patterns of gender presence and interest representation are explored. Numerical, or ‘descriptive’ representation is taken as a starting point, and develops into discussions on the role of parties, electoral systems, and gender quotas in addressing women’s political under-representation in a global context. The contribution of women’s movements, state feminism and trans-national agencies in fostering gender democracy is also discussed. The module incorporates insights from current research on the subject by well-known scholars and offers an opportunity to students to study the subject in detail and to participate in the activities of the Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics.
PAI7052 Institutions and Politics of the EU
The module explores the structure and institutions of the European Union (EU) as well as selected theoretical approaches to the study of European integration. It examines in detail the nature and roles of the EU’s main institutions (i.e. Commission, European Parliament, Council, European Council, European Central Bank, and Court of Justice), and provides a critical assessment of selected EU policies and political challenges facing the EU. In doing so the module explores the decision- and policy-making dynamics within the EU as well as some of the most pressing themes in European governance.
PAI7059 Freedom and Modernity
The modern era is distinguished by the emergence of divergent interpretations of the nature of freedom, individual, social, and political. This course is devoted to exploring the nature of these different conceptions and the theories of freedom associated with them. Benjamin Constant famously contrasted the liberties of the ancients, i.e. collective political freedoms, with the liberties of the moderns, i.e. individual freedoms. Berlin’s canonical contrast between negative and positive liberty, while partly inspired by Constant, approaches the analysis of freedom in a different way, foregrounding the contrast between ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’. Recent work on freedom, however, challenges these accounts by reviving an older, republican, conception of freedom as freedom from domination. Where libertarian theories typically consider the state to be the primary threat to freedom, the non-domination account understands the state to be a potential bulwark against domination by other social actors. In this way, its concerns overlap with those of the critical theorists who are similarly concerned with obstacles to freedom in social relations more generally, reflected in theories of alienation and disciplinary power. This course will combine analytical and genealogical approaches to the problem understating the complexity of freedom in the modern world. Topics will vary from year to year but may include: liberal and libertarian conceptions of individual freedom, the relation between individual and political freedom, populist and constitutionalist conceptions of collective freedom; freedom as non-domination and the problem of structural domination; dimensions and theories of autonomy: moral, social, and political; alienation and disciplinary power.
PAI7100 Engaging citizens in democratic institutions
This module explores the relationship between citizens and political decision-making in contemporary democracies. Around the world, conventional democratic processes and institutions have come under strain. Decreasing levels of voter turnout, low levels of trust in politicians and political institutions, and declining membership of traditional organisations such as political parties are just some expressions of a growing gap between citizens and decision-makers. This module will critically examine the changing nature of citizen engagement with democratic decision-making before considering ways of supplementing conventional processes and institutions with greater opportunities for citizen participation. We will consider two broad approaches. First, the module will introduce students to well-established forms of citizen participation, such as traditional consultations, public meetings and referendums. Using examples from around the world, it will then introduce students to a range of democratic innovations designed to engage citizens in consultation processes differently, such as participatory budgeting and deliberative mini-publics. Students will engage in debates about different practical forms of participatory and deliberative democracy as well as learn about how these consultation processes are designed and implemented. The objectives are to enable students to engage critically in discussions about citizen engagement and public participation and to develop their public engagement skills. Throughout the module there will be an emphasis on connecting academic research with democratic practice: where possible students will hear directly from practitioners and will have the opportunity to attend and observe real-world forms of citizen engagement.
PHL7057 Social Injustice
This module examines the problem of social injustice in contemporary, plural societies. The first half of the module explores some of the main philosophical assessments of social injustice. Students will first be introduced to key critiques of liberal theory as a response to the structural disadvantages associated with difference (including race, gender, sexual-orientation, religion, and class, among others). Here, liberal policy approaches to difference (including toleration, uniform treatment, and non-discrimination), will be critiqued alongside liberal modes of justification for their failure to deal appropriately with the disadvantages suffered by affected groups.
The second half of the module discusses the practical implications of both social injustice and its potential solutions. Precise topics vary year-on-year, but may include discussion of some of the following questions: Is unfettered freedom of speech a necessary feature of or a hindrance in the fight for social equality? What role does historical injustice play in the ongoing oppression of marginalised groups? Is the recognition of difference the appropriate response to cultural domination? How has social media changed the shape of social justice movements? Is civil disobedience a legitimate response to injustice, and must it always be ‘civil’ in nature?
LAW7825 Climate, Justice and Human Rights
This course will be presented in three parts:
a) Theories of Global Justice in the Anthropocene
i.Law and the Anthropocene
i.Planetary and Social Boundaries
ii.Human Rights and Responsibilities
iii.Law, Cyborgs and the Trans-human
b) Climate Justice and Human Rights
i.Climate Change and Human Rights (a)
ii.Human Rights, Human Limits (b)
iii.Human Rights and the Biocentric Turn
iv.Law and the Commons
c) Climate Change Law & Practice:Negotiation Simulation
i.World Climate Negotiation Simulation
ii.Climate Change and Systems Thinking
iii.Live Negotiation Simulation
iv.Negotiation Debrief and Group Assessment
LAW7841 Policing and Crime Prevention
The focus of this module will be the exploration of key facets of policing and crime prevention. The module is taught in two interrelated parts: The first part deals with the front-end of the criminal justice system as represented by the state police and focuses on a number of key debates in policing studies such as the historical role of the police, issues around democratic accountability, the ‘doing of policing’ involving questions of race, sexuality, gender and age, as well as the impact of austerity, the burgeoning of the private security sector and the commodification of security more generally. The main emphasis is on state policing in the UK although many of the issues and debates have a resonance in other jurisdictions and contexts. The second part of the module focuses no less importantly on the back-end of the criminal justice system, namely the ways that crime prevention policy and practice has been operationalised in political discourse over the past three decades. This has shifted from viewing crime as something that requires a social response (employment, education and opportunities) to something that is deemed to be entirely voluntaristic, requiring a punitive, carceral response. The module demonstrates that policing and crime prevention are political activities that need to be framed within the broad ambit of social justice.
The research and writing of a 15,000-word dissertation on any chosen aspect of Politics or International Studies. Submission date 15th September.
Program Tuition Fee
Scholarships and Funding
How do I fund my study?
The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study.
A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Master's courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.
English Language Requirements
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