StudyQA — Master: Public Policy (MPP) — University of Edinburgh

Public Policy (MPP)

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 24.9 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 24.9 k / Year(s)  
30 place StudyQA ranking:3781 Duration:12 months

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The MPP is a full-time, 12-month, professional taught programme.

Two semesters of intensive academic work

Students complete two intensive semesters of academic courses and skills workshops at the Academy of Government. The first semester gives students a robust foundation in public policy, economics, and various analytical methods. The second semester allows students to select from a wide range of optional courses, offered by Schools across the University, focused on specific policy areas. Students can thus pursue their own interests in semester 2 using the broad-based skills and knowledge acquired in semester 1. The focus is on policy specialisation.

The Capstone project

Following this, students complete a Capstone project where the focus is on the application of the skills acquired in a professional policy environment. The Capstone project consists of a placement in a public policy organisation (typically 8-10 weeks in length) and a period spent writing up a 10,000-word Analytical Report. Students then present their research orally to Academy faculty and students.

Teaching philosophy

As a student on our MPP you will be taught and assessed in a variety of innovative ways. The focus is on providing a strong, practice oriented programme. Teaching sessions in the first semester are three-hours and typically divided into three components. The first is academic-led, the second is student-led, and the third is practitioner-led.

An academic lecture will build on readings, which students will be expected to have completed before class, and identify key issues for debate and discussion. The student-led hour will pick up on these themes and develop further debate either through a classroom discussion, presentations, group exercises, or practical activities/simulations. The practitioner-led hour will put the learning into practical context, using specific case studies where possible and appropriate.

The MPP is assessed through a variety of mechanisms, including written policy briefs, short policy memos, problem-solving tasks, individual and group presentations, written analytical reports, self and peer assessment, and crisis response simulations.

Why study with us?

The Academy of Government offers a distinctive approach to the teaching of public policy and international affairs, built around the concept of multi-level governance. The University of Edinburgh is one of the leading institutions globally for the study of multi-level governance. Increasingly, leaders have to engage with policy problems at the sub-national, national, and international levels. Our curriculum is designed to capture the essence of this complexity.

Furthermore, the Academy of Government provides interdisciplinary training that blends insights and literature from political science, public policy and administration, business, law, and economics to create a solid foundation. From this foundation students can develop policy-specific expertise in a range of areas, from global health policy to international development, from social and welfare policy to foreign and security policy.

Finally, the teaching of public policy at the Academy of Government is committed to bridging theory and practice. The majority of seminars include a public policy practitioner, alongside an academic. In addition our strong connections to the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament allow for numerous activities outside of the curriculum - including visits to government offices, parliamentary committees, parliamentary debates - that add an all-important practical component to the study of public policy.

MPP Courses

The MPP involves two intensive semesters of work at the Academy of Government, followed by a Capstone project in which students apply their learning and skills in a professional policy environment. On this page you will find details of courses offered at the Academy. Short summaries of the courses are below. Clicking on the course titles will allow you to download the most recent version of the course syllabus.

In semester 1 all students on the MPP complete four foundational courses designed to give a robust grounding in public policy, economics, and analytical methods. In semester 2 the focus is on specialisation and students can select from a range of policy-specific courses offered by Schools across the University. Students undertake one further corecourse in semester 2.

Please note that additional skills-based seminars (non-credit bearing) on topics such as negotiation, effective communication, writing policy, and leadership are supplementary to the courses detailed below.

MPP Courses - Semester 1

Core I: Politics of Public Policy

This course will introduce students to the literature on policy-making and to the principles of public policy from the perspective of the institutions of political systems. It is particularly concerned with the exploration of issues that cross the remits of different levels of government (local, regional, national, international). The course provides a framework for discussing the mechanisms and processes of government and is presented in a way that facilitates comparative analysis of political systems. The course equips students with applied knowledge of policy-making, enabling them to critically assess the degree of value of general models and concepts of the policy-making process.

Core II: Economics for Public Policy

This course applies economic reasoning to the analysis of public policy. It provides a toolkit for understanding key economic issues in public policy, in particular the rationale for, and consequences of, government intervention in the economy. The course discusses a variety of economic techniques of policy appraisal, including cost-benefit analysis. The emphasis is primarily microeconomic thus enabling analysis of market failure and intervention in particular sectors of the economy. The course also addresses the macroeconomic and international context and the ways in which they constrain public policy. The course is concerned with how economics is applied in practice and consists of case studies and engagement with practitioners who formulate and implement economic policy.

Core III: Analysis for Policy

This course introduces students to the broad range of analytical approaches and methods relevant to policy development, implementation, and evaluation. It considers analytical methods relevant to: identifying policy issues; learning from elsewhere; appraising options; conducting consultations; implementing policy; and learning from implementation processes and outcomes. While the course focuses on policy analysis as a technical activity it recognises that such analysis is a political activity with ethical implications. In parallel to this course students are offered a comprehensive introduction to statistics through a 9-week workshop series.

Core IV: International Dimensions of Public Policy

This course explores the implications of ongoing developments in the international system for the processes and substance of policy-making. Drawing on theoretical and empirical literature the course will enable students to understand the international dimensions of public policy and global governance. Attention is given different analytical approaches that emphasise the comparative and changing roles of states and other actors. The first half of the course considers attempts to make policy internationally/trans-nationally. The second half of the course examines how international/transnational issues constrain and shape domestic policy-making. Traditional and non-traditional areas of foreign policy are scrutinised, as well as broader themes.

Semester 2

Core V: The Practice of Public Policy

This course explores the day-to-day activities of public policy practitioners and explores what it means to 'do' political and public policy work.

In addition, in semester 2, MPP students, working with the MPP Director, will complete three optional courses from a broad provision of courses offered across the University. Examples of such courses include:

  • Advanced Issues in Social Policy (SCPL11018)
  • Advanced Theory in Science and Technology Studies (PGSP11371)
  • Africa and International Politics (PGSP11151)
  • Analysing Qualitative Data (PGSP11110)
  • Armed Force and Society (PGSP11245)
  • Controversies in Science and Technology (PGSP11370)
  • Critical Perspectives on mental health and well-being in the 'global south' (PGSP11377)
  • Energy Policy and Politics (20 credits) (PGSP11132)
  • Engagement for Public Policy Practitioners
  • European Union in International Affairs, The (PGSP11061)
  • Evaluation Research Methods (PGSP11373)
  • Foreign Policy Analysis (PGSP11300)
  • Global Environment and Society (PGSP11359)
  • Governance, Development and Poverty in Africa (PGSP11327)
  • Health and Human Rights: Principles, Practice and Dilemmas (SCPL11019)
  • Health Systems: Strengthening and Reform (PGSP11364)
  • Innovation in Sustainable Food Systems (PGSP11400)
  • Intermediate Inferential Statistics (PGSP11321)
  • International Political Economy (PGSP11171)
  • International Security (PGSP11162)
  • Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices (PGSP11296)
  • Key Skills in Development Practice (PGSP11348)
  • Political Issues in Public Policy (PGSP11247)
  • Regulation and Governance of the Life Sciences (PGSP11396)
  • Security Governance
  • Scotland, Social Structure and Social Change (PGSP11257)
  • Social Determinants of Health and Public Policy (IPHP11002)
  • Social Inequality and Social Protection (PGSP11258)
  • Survey Methods and Data (PGSP11157)
  • The use and evolution of digital data analysis and collection tools (PGSP11388)
  • Urban Development (PGSP11368)
Applicants must:Possess a minimum of an Upper Second Class (2:1) honours degree, U.S. GPA of 3.25, or equivalent;Provide an official transcript and certificate (if the degree has been awarded);Tell us, in a personal statement uploaded with their application, about their motivation for pursuing a public policy degree and any relevant experience that they have;Where applicable, provide an English proficiency certificate (details of the standards are below).References are not required upon initial application but they may be requested at a later stage in the process.English language requirementsURGENT SELT UPDATEThe UK Home Office has announced changes to the Secure English Language tests it will accept for students who require Tier 4 visas.The arrangement that the Home Office had with Educational Testing Service (ETS) to provide Secure English Language Testing (SELT) ended on 5 April 2014.As a result TOEFL tests are no longer accepted as evidence of English language ability from *new* applicants. If you wish to make an application you should read the below list of accepted providers and take a test with an alternative provider.This SELT information was updated on 21 April 2014. For further details, see the Home Office guidance on Educational Testing Services.IELTS total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module);Pearson Test of English total 67 (at least 61 in each 'Communicative Skills' section);CPE grade B;CAE grade A. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 7 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.


We are in the process of seeking accredition from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) based in Washington, DC; and from the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA).

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