Scottish Parliament

MScPublic Policy

Why this course?

This course provides rigorous training in the analytical frameworks and methods required in the study of public policy.

It’s ideal for those wanting professional skills to become a policy practitioner, analyst or to proceed to a PhD.

You’ll explore the various methodological tools and their connections to real world problems facing governments and related organisations. You’ll learn a range of key skills:

  • Analytical & Critical Thinking
  • Research Management
  • Data Analysis
  • Report Writing & Presentation

You can study this course full-time over 12 months or part-time over 24 months.

You’ll study

The MSc in Public Policy is organised into core and optional classes. You’ll also complete a dissertation. The core classes provide an introduction to the theory and practice of public policy, as well as a range of skills and methodologies to design, conduct and report on social research.


Established in 2010, the School of Government and Public Policy integrates the Department of Government with three research centres:

Research placement

You can do a research placement through the Erasmus programme.

Course content

Compulsory classes

Semester 1

Comparative Public Policy

This class assesses the existing theories, concepts and approaches in the field of comparative public policy research, as well as analysing contemporary developments in the field.

Policy Analysis

This class examines the theoretical, practical and ethical issues involved in conducting policy analysis, both research of policy and the policy process, and research designed to be used in the policy process.

Semester 2

You'll choose two classes from the following:

Principles of Research Design - Semester 1

This class enables you to evaluate alternative research designs and formulate appropriate research proposals.

Quantitative Methods I - Semester 1

The classes covers methodology and measurement in social science research.

Quantitative Methods II - Semester 2

The module will look at statistical tools that enable you to interpret social scientific data sensitively and sensibly.

Qualitative Methods - Semester 2

This module introduces qualitative research design and the range of qualitative techniques available for research. Both computer-based and other approaches are used.

Elective classes

Choose two classes.

Elective classes

These may include:

  • European Governance
  • European Political Economy
  • Contesting Global Governance
  • International Institutions and Regimes
  • Principles of Research Design (if not taken as core)
  • Quantitative Methods I (if not taken as core)
  • Quantitative Methods II (if not taken as core)
  • Qualitative Methods (if not taken as core)

Learning & teaching

The MSc in Public Policy comprises of core and optional classes and a dissertation. The core classes provide an introduction to the theory and practice of public policy, as well as a range of skills and methodologies relevant to designing, conducting and reporting on social research.

All classes are taught in small-group seminars. You’ll receive considerable time and attention from our staff in the seminars and individual supervision sessions.

If you’re studying part-time you’ll attend classes across two academic years. You’ll work on a dissertation over 10 months.

Classes average 20 contact hours, with additional computer laboratory sessions for some methods classes. Part-time students attend classes across two academic years. They then work on their dissertation over the course of 10 months.

Indicative readings

  • Cariney, P. (2012) Understanding Public Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Dodds, A. (2013) Comparitive Public Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Sabatier, P. & Weible, C. (ed) (2014) Theories of the Policy Processes. 3rd ed. Boulder: Westview Press.


You’ll be assessed by a variety of methods including essays, options papers and group projects. These account for two thirds of the total assessment. Your dissertation accounts for one third of the total assessment.

Entry requirements

First or upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in social science.

English language requirements

You're required to have a suitable minimum level of competency in the English language if your first language is not English or if you have not been educated wholly or mainly in the medium of English.

For postgraduate studies, the University of Strathclyde requires a minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5) or equivalent. Tests are valid for two years.

Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

If you’re a national of an English speaking country recognised by UK Visa and Immigrations (please check most up-to-date list on the Home Office website) or you have successfully completed an academic qualification (at least equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree) in any of these countries, then you do not need to present any additional evidence.

If you are from a country not recognised as an English speaking country by the United Kingdom Vis and Immigration (UKVI), please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • 2016/17 - £4,600 full-time
  • 2016/17 - £2,300 part-time

Rest of UK

  • 2016/17 - £4,600 full-time
  • 2016/17 - £2,300 part-time


  • 2016/17 - £13,000 full-time

How can I fund my course?

To recognise academic achievement, the Dean's International Excellence Award offers students a merit-based scholarship of up to £3,000 for entry onto a full-time Masters programme in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Check our Scholarship Search for more help with fees and funding.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Where are they now?

Examples of organisations our graduates work for include:

  • Audit Scotland
  • Centre for African Family Studies
  • Centre for Scottish Public Policy
  • Confederation of Passenger Transport
  • German Red Cross
  • Hall Aitken Associates
  • Health and Social Care Alliance
  • HMRC
  • Invicta Public Affairs
  • Ministry of Finance Iceland
  • Morgan Stanley
  • National Centre for Social Research
  • NHS 
  • Ofgem
  • Santander Bank UK
  • Scottish Council for Development and Industry
  • Scottish Refugee Council
  • Serco Group
  • The Improvement Service
  • The Scottish Parliament
  • United Nations Development Programme 
  • West and Central Voluntary Network


Public Policy

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Public Policy

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

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