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. 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.

After the coursework, you’ll also complete a traditional MSc dissertation supervised by an academic from the School of Government & Public Policy. The MSc in Public Policy also offers students the opportunity to write a Field Dissertation on a selective basis.

The Field Dissertation differs from the regular MSc Dissertation in that the student has two dissertation advisors:

one academic from the School of Government & Public Policy and a Professor of Practice: Professors of Practice are senior practitioners with a wealth of experience from the public and private sectors who are affiliated with Strathclyde's International Public Policy Institute (IPPI).

IPPI's Professors of Practice provide important links between the University's academic research and the world of practice in national and international organisations in the public and private sectors.

Facilities

Established in 2010, the School of Government & Public Policy has three research centres:

Course content

Compulsory classes

Semester 1

Policy Analysis

Public policy is the study of how governments and other agencies acting in the name of the general public deliberate on and enact policy.

This class examines the theoretical, empirical and practical issues involved in conducting policy analysis. Included are discussions of major concepts, processes, and types of policy issues, all studied in comparative manner. Major classics in the field will be read.

Semester 2

Comparative Public Policy

This class revolves around the different aims for conducting comparative policy analysis such as explaining the variation of policy output and outcome across different institutional, economic, social and cultural settings, generalising a given theory of policy process in different geographical contexts and by taking time into consideration, as well as capturing the interdependence of countries. Units of analysis include countries, states/regions, local governments, and international organisations.

Students will be introduced to concepts, research design, and methods.

You'll also choose two classes from the following:

Principles of Research Design

This class covers key research design issues and enables you to evaluate alternative research designs and create appropriate research proposals. The class is designed to help you decide a research topic and a design that you will use for your dissertation. Topics covered include formulating research questions, developing concepts, and how to select cases to study.

Quantitative Methods I

This class introduces participants to the use of quantitative methods in social research; in particular, the logic and language of empirical analysis, the principal types of quantitative data (official statistics and surveys), and the use of software packages for statistical analysis.

Quantitative Methods II

This class trains participants in the design, application, presentation, and critical evaluation of quantitative political research using relevant software packages for statistical analysis.

Qualitative Methods

This class provides an overview of the ever-expanding field of qualitative methods in Political Science, International Relations and Policy Studies. A variety of data collection/generation and analytical methods will be examined, and situated within different traditions/paradigms of social research.

Throughout this class, we'll examine how these methods can be applied in students’ own research projects.

Elective classes

Choose two classes.

European Governance

The evolution and the future of EU integration is of particular contemporary relevance. This class examines processes of decision making and policies at the European Union level. It also evaluates the quality of governance through the lenses of democratic principles such as representation, legitimacy and efficiency.

European Political Economy

Europe is currently at crossroads, economically, politically and socially. This class uses a political economy approach (ie the interaction between economics and politics) to engage core European debates, including the dilemmas of EU integration, the tension between economic efficiency and social cohesion, the future of the Euro, and the implications of Brexit. It also examines the challenges faced by European nations in an increasingly complex global environment.

International Institutions & Regimes

The purpose of this class is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the concepts and theoretical approaches central to understanding and analysing the role of international institutions and regimes in the contemporary world.

This class will survey a variety of international institutions and regimes, exploring how they shape global interactions in a number of cross-cutting issue areas such as security, trade, human rights and the environment. The overall analysis will contribute to the understanding of the theories, practices and processes through which global politics are organised and to an assessment of the future of international institutions and regimes in global governance. 

Principles of Research Design (if not taken as core)

This class covers key research design issues and enables you to evaluate alternative research designs and create appropriate research proposals. The class is designed to help you decide a research topic and a design that you will use for your dissertation. Topics covered include formulating research questions, developing concepts, and how to select cases to study.

Quantitative Methods I (if not taken as core)

This class introduces participants to the use of quantitative methods in social research; in particular, the logic and language of empirical analysis, the principal types of quantitative data (official statistics and surveys), and the use of software packages for statistical analysis.

Quantitative Methods II (if not taken as core)

This class trains participants in the design, application, presentation, and critical evaluation of quantitative political research using relevant software packages for statistical analysis.

Qualitative Methods (if not taken as core)

This class provides an overview of the ever-expanding field of qualitative methods in Political Science, International Relations and Policy Studies. A variety of data collection/generation and analytical methods will be examined, and situated within different traditions/paradigms of social research. Throughout this class, we will examine how these methods can be applied in students’ own research projects.

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.

Assessment

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 isc.strath.ac.uk 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.

Scotland/EU

  • 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

International

  • 2016/17 - £13,000 full-time

How can I fund my course?

To recognise academic achievement, the Dean's International Excellence Award offers international 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.

Scottish students

Students living in Scotland can find out more about funding from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

English students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs.

Please note

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

Careers

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

Contact us

Apply

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

Public Policy

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Public Policy

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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