Key Facts

Course Title: Public Policy
Course type: MPP (MA in PP)
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
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Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Business and Management


The new Masters Degree in Public Policy is based on the belief that education in how policy is made, how it is implemented and ways

in which these processes could be improved, and can, in turn, improve the capacity of government to ‘deliver’ and also the intellectual understanding of policy, government and politics. Government may refer to central, local or regional government, and, in a wider definition of the state, to the public policy ‘fields’ (such as health, education, economic affairs and so on) which affect society, the citizenry, key social groups and individuals.

The course is led and staffed at a high level of academic seniority by leaders in the field of public policy and its specialisms – widely published academically, and widely experienced in advising at central and local levels in the ‘real world’.

Aims of the Course

The course aims to combine rigorous academic study of public policy and implementation with insights from the world of practice and experience. Students may be early ‘high fliers’ in ministries, regional or local levels of policy, government and professional or managerial practice who wish to prepare themselves for choice in future roles as well as deeper specialisation through the dissertation; or they may be good graduates who wish to undertake academic, professional or ‘policy’ careers. The course is overtly designed to maximise the benefits of ‘transfer’ from one group to another.

The course has three key integrative themes: explanations for policy shortcomings, and an analytical and politically-sophisticated approach to policy options; the ‘implementation gap’ (between policy intentions and actual outcomes) both in theory and practice, and different types of explanation for this; and changing relations between the state, professions and (inter-) professional practice.

Course participants will:

  • Study the ‘policy process’ both in theory and in practice, nationally and internationally – relating to the countries of the UK and to Europe, with further comparative insight (e.g. from the USA)
  • Explore issues of implementation and governance, locally and at ‘street level’
  • Analyse changing state/ professional relations
  • Acquire a high level ability to understand and commission research, and a wide range of analytical methods of use in both policymaking and policy analysis
  • Take a variety of electives, including (by choice) the possibility of intensive comparative study visits and/ or engagement with the European Union. Mentoring and placements may be available to suit course members (students), depending upon their needs and wants

Entry Requirements

First or Second class honours degree or distinctive and relevant experience.

Course Content

The MPP is a 2-year part-time of 1-year full-time Masters programme which comprises: 4 core/compulsory modules (total 90 credits: 2 at 30 credits and 2 at 15 credits); a further 30 credits of module(s) to be taken as option(s); and a dissertation (60 credits).

The programme is designed so that a ‘hierarchy’ of qualifications is available – the PG Cert in PP, the PG Dip in PP and the MPP.

Course Modules

Politics, Political Economy and Public Policy:
Explaining and Making Public Policy – This is the linchpin module. Its key aims are to present a framework for understanding the public policy process. The term ‘process’ refers to the continuum from the underlying factors which generate policy ‘inputs’ through to policy ‘outputs’ (e.g. laws) through to social ‘outcomes’ (i.e. the effects of policy once it has been implemented). It has a mostly national and international perspective. It draws on political science and political economy as well as other disciplines.

Policy Implementation and Governance: policy in action.
This module analyses in detail policy implementation at local and community levels. It explores the theory and practice of governance in the ‘post public administration’ age.

The state, professionalism and inter-professionalism
This module presents some sociological theories of the professions, and explores the changing nature of state-professional relations. The implications for practice are elucidated.

Research and Analytical Methods for Policymakers and Professionals: Commissioning and Using Research; Understanding Analytical Methods
This gives an understanding of research, of evidence-based policy and of ‘theory-based’ implementation’. This would be less on ‘how to do’ research than to be ‘researchwise’ as a commissioner or user of research; analytical methods of use in evaluating policy options (e.g. decision analysis; econometric techniques); and the use of (e.g.) microeconomics in providing incentives for implementation, as well as economic evaluation as part of the battery of evaluation techniques. There would be a component on ‘how to do research’ for those Masters-level students preparing for the dissertation.

Leading and managing in multi-agency settings – elective.

Management of Human Resources – elective.
Variety of other electives; including the possibility of ‘tailor made’ electives to suit the course members in each intake.

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by ‘summative’ written assignments; ‘formative’ individual and group work; and a dissertation (60 credits out of a course total of 180) which allows an innovative piece of work to suit the individual, and/or his/her employing organisation.

Dissertation – This will be either based upon a workplace-based project (mostly PT students) or designed to fit the student’s developing policy interests (mostly FT students.) It will be an academically-rigorous PGT Masters dissertation, drawing upon knowledge acquired in the previous modules and – if applied to the candidate’s workplace – done so in a way which converts a practical task into a project capable of fulfilling clear academic criteria.