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MSc Public Policy

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Key facts

  • Start date: September or January
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

Study with us

  • explore various conceptual and methodological tools and their connections to real-world problems
  • gain a range of useful research and analysis skills
  • freedom in dissertation topic to focus on any area of public policy 
  • provides rigorous training in the analytical frameworks and methods required in the study of public policy
  • ideal for those wanting professional skills to become a policy practitioner, analyst or to proceed to a PhD
  • January and September start dates available
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Why this course?

Our MSc in Public Policy provides rigorous training in the analytical frameworks and methods required in the study of public policy. You’ll explore the various methodological tools and their connections to real world problems facing governments and related organisations. You’ll also gain a range of key skills including:

  • analytical and critical thinking
  • research management
  • data analysis
  • report writing and presentation

The course is ideal for those wanting professional skills to become a policy practitioner, analyst or to proceed to a PhD.

Scottish Parliament

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

Interested in postgraduate study?

At the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, our friendly and knowledgeable team will be available to provide you with all the information you need to kick-start your postgraduate journey at the University of Strathclyde. Register for upcoming events below:

What you’ll study

The course 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. In addition, you'll undertake a research project dissertation.

Work placement

You may apply to do a client-based project as part of your dissertation research. Following a career workshop session, and on the advice of the School, you can contact host organisations including local, city, and national governmental organisations to arrange a work-based MSc dissertation.

These projects will normally be unpaid and may need to be developed further to meet the requirements of an MSc dissertation.


The School of Government & Public Policy have a number of research centres that relate to the topics covered and the content of the course. For example, the European Policies Research Centre is a leading hub for the study of regional development policy and collection of such data in Europe, a centre that is of increasing importance in the wake of Brexit. 

Specialised policy centres focused on health and energy – such as the Centre for Energy Policy – also add to the applied policy environment at Strathclyde.  The Institute for Future Cities' City Observatory, located in Strathclyde’s award-winning Technology & Innovation Centre, uses data to understand and address urban problems. The University also has many centres and institutes with projects that incorporate European governance and political issues, such as Fraser of Allander Institute.

Guest lectures

Speakers at our weekly seminars include guest lecturers who come to Strathclyde as part of the Erasmus programme. They're also available for individual consultations with you as an MSc student here. Strathclyde’s organised research centres such as the European Policies Research Centre, routinely host their own 'Speaker’s Series' where talks relevant to the content of the course are common. You'll have time for networking with visiting speakers afterwards.

Learning & teaching

All classes are taught in seminars, which combine theoretical discussion and a strong empirical or policy focus, as appropriate. Seminars consist of a variety of teaching techniques; including from small-group work, structured debates, presentations, and background lectures.

Classes average 20 contact hours with additional computer laboratory sessions for some methods classes.


Methods of assessment include written assignments, blogs, podcasts, practical team projects, presentations, individual projects, and exams. Most classes involve more than one method of assessment to help you realise your potential.

Taught classes make up two-thirds of the total assessment. Both January and September starts will complete a dissertation over the summer, which accounts for the remaining third. 

Tom Hall Public Policy Graduate
I chose to enter the Public Policy MSc at the University of Strathclyde because I was aware of the quality of teaching that was on offer in the course, and because of the variety of topics that were available to study as part of the course.
Tom Hall
Graduate, Public Policy (MSc)
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Course content

Please note that the below is an indicative list of classes. These are subject to change.

Theories and Practices of Regulation and Governance

The aim of this class is to introduce students to the concepts, theories, institutions, and processes of regulatory governance. The course is designed to provide students with analytical tools to understand the interactions between actors and institutions forming contemporary governance systems.

Policy Analysis

This class investigates theories of the policy making process. After taking this class you will be able to describe, and perhaps even influence, real-world policy making.


The MSc dissertation is assessed by means of an academic or practice-based project.

You'll also choose two classes from the following:

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.

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.

Quantitative Methods 1

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.

Policy Analysis: Problem Structuring Methods

This class describes how analysts may better help decision-makers to better understand problems in the public and the private sphere. The class demonstrates a range of low-cost analysis tools which help to formulate and structure messy societal problems.

Choose two classes.

Quantitative Methods 2

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

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. 

European Governance

This class seeks to examine the EU system of governance through the lenses of democracy, legitimacy and efficiency. Examining key processes, policy areas and proposals for reform, participants will be encouraged to consider the role of the EU and the nature of its relationship with its public.

Comparative Political Economy

This class looks at how the interplay between economic and politics shapes societies. It familiarises students with models of capitalism and the diversity of political economy traditions amongst states. It also explores the interface between domestic and supranational political economies - the competitive struggle between member states to shape EU economic policy, and the constraints that EU policy places on the governance of the domestic economy.

Contemporary Security Challenges and Responses

Security is an overarching concern of contemporary times. The late 20th century saw radical changes to the concept of security. No longer primarily focused on war between nation-states, security threats became far more varied and a-symmetrical, with increased attention paid to counter-terrorism and cyber-security. Contemporaneously, the concept of national security expanded to incorporate not only ‘traditional’ threats from hostile actors, but a host of issues ranging from the impact of climate change, natural disasters, resource security and even recession. Security has become increasingly globalised and interconnected in threat and response while also increasingly recruiting the populace to be ‘secure citizens’.

In this class we'll analyse today's key security challenges, looking at the shifting definition of security, 'traditional security' in the 21st century, human security and humanitarian intervention, refugee and migrant security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, protective security, cyber-security and climate change and security.

Debating International Relations Theory

This class aims to introduce students to current debates in international relations theory. The academic discipline of international relations has developed its own distinctive theoretical traditions, as well as drawing on other fields, and learning about these traditions will help students navigate and make sense of competing claims about world politics and the best way to make sense of it.

Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on the strengths and weaknesses of rival thought frameworks, and on their application and purpose, to gain the theoretical understanding needed to understand international relations materials.

Levelling Up: A Guide to the New Regional and Industrial Policies

Cities and regions are instruments of economic growth. This module examines the processes of economic and regional development which occur in city-regions. The module presents a strategic management perspective on managing the diverse assets of cities, including the human resource component, the industrial organization of the city, and factors of production necessary for growth.

Networked Institutions, Infrastructure and Technology

Networks are a critical part of modern day life. Networks inform the way we govern and the way we structure our critical techniques such as roads, water and power. Operating strategically within a network is a critical component of practice for many professional occupations whether public, private, or non-profit.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

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

English language requirements

Please check our English requirements before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

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

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Chat to a student ambassador

If you want to know more about what it’s like to be a Humanities & Social Sciences student at the University of Strathclyde, a selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

Chat to a student ambassador

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Scholarships

View all our scholarships
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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are full-time per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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Full-time: £7,750
Part-time: £3,875

England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full-time: £7,750
Part-time: £3,875



Additional costs

Poster presentation: £10.

Visa & immigration:

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences: International Scholarships Postgraduate Taught 2022/23 (January entry)

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

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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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
Josh Box, MSc Public Policy student
Staff and lecturers always go out of their way to help, whether face-to-face, through Skype or e-mail. Student support services are also very good, as are the finance department who have given me invaluable support and advice.
Josh Box

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

Mark Shephard
University of Strathclyde prides itself in being the place of useful learning and to that end we offer a range of MSc programmes combining methods training with subject-specific knowledge so that our students can equip themselves with skills to make a real-world difference.
Mark Shepherd
Course Director
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Start date: Sep 2023

Public Policy

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Sep 2023

Public Policy

Start date: Sep 2023

Start date: Jan 2024

Public Policy (January)

Start date: Jan 2024

Start date: Jan 2024

Public Policy (January)

Start date: Jan 2024

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Contact us

Prospective student enquiries

Contact a member of our team on LiveChat between 10am and 4pm (GMT)

Telephone: +44 (0) 141 444 8600