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    Department of Politics and International Relations Logo
  • Study Type

    Full time & Part time available

  • Subject Areas

    Politics & Government

  • Start Date


  • Course Duration

    Full Time: 12 months | Part Time: 24 months | Flexible: 72 months

  • Course Type


  • Course Fees


  • Last Updated

    25 March 2019

Gain the tools to understand and assess public policy with our MA Public Policy degree.

Domestic and international public policy decisions affect all areas of our lives, including:

  • health
  • welfare
  • housing
  • education
  • security
  • international development
  • energy
  • climate change

On this interdisciplinary course, you will use traditional and modern insights from both economics and politics to develop the essential skills needed in policy making and policy administration.

You will work with experts from the School of Politics, Economics and International Relations. Our academics are specialists in their fields and bring the results of their own cutting-edge research to the programme. For example, many of our economists conduct applied research that influences economic policy formation at the local, national and international levels, while other academics are commissioned by the government and international agencies to produce policy solutions – and this work directly informs what you’ll study.

You will gain exposure to policy makers, with many classes led by analysts from the UK government. We also run seminars that feature politicians and government officials.

Here at Reading, you will be just a 30-minute train journey from London, a major hub of political, financial and policy making activity. Reading itself is home to a number of financial services businesses and has the highest density of digital tech businesses of any UK town or city. Our location makes it very easy for us to arrange trips to relevant organisations and institutions during your studies.

This master’s course is designed for graduates with a good understanding of core economics and quantitative methods.

Flexible study options for MA Public Policy students

In addition to core taught modules, the programme also includes three flexible components:

1. Specialist pathways that reflect major public policy challenges.

There are five different pathways within MA Public Policy. You can combine modules from different pathways, or choose to specialise in one:

  • Global and Regional Governance and Institutions
  • International Security Studies
  • International Development and Emerging Markets
  • Sustainable Environments
  • Welfare and Social Policy

The pathways are designed so you can tailor your studies to reflect your personal or national interests, as well as provide an issue-based focus for further in-depth analysis.

2. Applied research project with placement, or a Capstone project.

This component enables you to apply your academic knowledge in a practical way. You can also receive formal credit towards your degree for placement learning.

You have the option of completing an individual applied research project with placement, or a Capstone project, where you will work in teams to deliver a project for an external organisation. If you choose to do a Capstone project, you will have to submit an individual report after the project is complete. If you choose to do a placement, you will have to share a report about your research and other projects carried out during the placement.

Additionally, Reading is an accredited partner of Climate-KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community), which is Europe’s largest climate innovation initiative. This partnership provides our students with many opportunities for free and significantly discounted Climate-KIC short courses and summer schools.

3. Research dissertation.

You can choose to undertake a dissertation in conjunction with the pathway component of your studies.

You can attend this course on a full-time basis over one year, or part-time over two years. We also offer flexible study, which allows you to study this course on a module-by-module basis over an extended period of time.

What will you study?

Compulsory modules

Optional modules

Careers for MA Public Policy graduates

This programme is designed for people who want to work in public service or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including international agencies. It is particularly relevant for people who wish to pursue a career in the international sphere of public service, or with the domestic or foreign service of their home state.

Our graduates pursue careers in a wide range of areas in government, civil service, business, research, journalism, and teaching. A number also go on to further postgraduate studies at PhD level.

Read more about where our MA Public Policy graduates are now

  • Vepa Rasulow is in the final stages of joining the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Turkmenistan office) as a national programme officer.

Visit the Public Policy MA page on the University of Reading website for more details!