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Course content

Policy-making in all sectors has become more data driven. Advanced training in issues of data use, data sharing, transparency, and accountability are important for both the public and private sectors.

Unlocking the potential of collecting, sharing and analysing massive amounts of administrative and economic, social and political information to bring economic and social benefits requires individuals trained in both evidence-based decision-making and social data science.

It will equip you with the technical understanding of a range of social data science techniques and the practical software and programming skills to implement these methods to address your research questions, allowing you to pursue other professional research activities.

You will develop a number of skills that are valued in professional and managerial careers. The understanding you will gain of complex political and cultural issues, often in continually changing environments, can also be relevant to both business and public sector appointments, or for PhD level study. Previous students are now working for organisations such as the ONS Data Science camp, YouGov, the FCA and Defra.


The MSc Policy Analytics is designed to train you in market-leading social data science skills that are in high demand with employers. In addition to that, the programme provides you with opportunities to apply your skills through practical experience. There are a number of options available to you including work placements and industry-based research consultancy projects.

work placement will allow you to get hands-on analysis experience for a period of typically 3 to 6 weeks. There are a wide variety of placements to choose from locally, nationally and in Europe working in public sector organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and industry. Your work placement will also be supported by a bursary to enable you to make the most of this opportunity.

Industry-based research consultancy projects are a variant to a more traditional style dissertation. These provide you the opportunity to partner with an external organisation to examine a research question of mutual interest. This option is designed to integrate the applied nature of the course with direct workplace experience as you work on your project.

Programme structure

The programme comprises 180 credits in total: taught modules worth 120 credits in total, and a supervised dissertation worth 60 credits.

Each taught module is normally taught through seminars, underpinned by reading and essay assignments.

Learning and teaching

Each module on the MSc Policy Analytics is typically delivered by lectures interspersed with seminar discussion, presentations, group work, reading and essay assignments. We also bring a number of subject experts, including alumni, into our module teaching. You will learn a range of social data science skills and their application to policy-making. This will enable you to evaluate the suitability of these methods and the rationale for using them. There is a strong emphasis in this course on the practical skills associated with working with data using a range of statistical software, including R, Stata and Python.

A large component of the MSc programme will include guided and independent study. The dissertation / research consultancy project is the main opportunity for you to apply the skills you have learnt to a policy-related topic of your own interest. You will also develop the communication of the findings of your work to a range of audiences using effective data visualisation tools.

In addition to module based teaching we offer a variety of additional training including;

  • Applied Data Analysis Workshops which seek to provide additional support to students interested in Quantitative Methods for the Social Sciences. These aspire to raise interest in Applied Data Analysis amongst both undergraduates and postgraduates, and embed quantitative literacy in wider University practice.
  • The Q-Step Seminar Series is a long-running successful annual postgraduate conference which brings together researchers from across all humanities and social science disciplines.



Exeter Q-Step Centre brings together international research-focused social scientists. Q-Step research takes an interdisciplinary and data-driven focus to address major societal challenges. The Centre’s research focuses on the three themes of connecting people, society and data. Our approach to research is interdisciplinary and works across the University of Exeter and with a number of industry partners. Q-Step’s interdisciplinary research activity also offers an opportunity for our students to learn-by-observing data analysis and to be part of cutting-edge research.


The University of Exeter’s Q-Step Centre has a total 17 core research staff across a number of disciplines including Politics, Sociology, International Relations and Criminology as well as over 20 affiliated staff and several industry partners. These staff have expertise in a number of areas including complex survey data, text analysis and network analysis. Exeter Q-Step has research funding from a variety of sources including the EU, ERSC and the Policing College Fund.

Visit the MSc Policy Analytics page on the University of Exeter website for more details!





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