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Course content

Programme description

This programme is designed for graduates who want an advanced professional qualification that will provide a launch pad for a career in the public sector, nonprofit sector or international policy community.

The programme aims to:

develop analytical and conceptual skills to enable critical evaluation of major policy issues, policy processes, policy implementation and policy linkages
examine in detail the political, economic and social context of policy-making at the local, regional, state and international levels
develop an in-depth knowledge of specific policy issues
provide a thorough training in analytical methods and approaches (qualitative and quantitative) used for policy development and implementation
develop an understanding of practical and ethical issues in policy-making
enhance knowledge and professional skills for public sector careers
provide professional experience through the work placement component

Programme structure

You will be taught using a variety of innovative teaching methods with a focus on providing a strong practice-oriented element to provide you with the skills necessary for a career in the public sector.

The types of assessment used will include:

writing short policy briefs of memos
problem-solving tasks
individual and group presentations
writing analytical reports
self and peer assessment
developing skills portfolios
other varied oral and writing tasks

Work placement

This programme offers an opportunity to undertake a work-based placement (approximately 8-10 weeks) with a policy organisation. Students undertaking a work placement are required to produce a professional analytical report, based on their placement, which explores an existing public policy problem faced by a real-life public or non-profit sector organisation and your recommendations for a strategy to address it.

Such places are not guaranteed and are dependent on a students overall academic performance as well as the availability of suitable placements. Students not undertaking a work placement will complete an analytical report in which they will be expected to engage with a policy problem, collecting data, and presenting policy recommendations.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the programme, you will have gained skills in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

Policy-making processes, including policy development and implementation.
Multi-level governance, policy interests, actors and power.
Domestic, European and International Policy Arenas.
Public Economics and Market Failure.
Analytical Methods for Policy.
Policy learning and transfer.
Theories of policy-making.

Intellectual skills

Analytical: involving the ability to analyse and critically evaluate major public policy issues, including their historical evolution; their social, political, economic, cultural and ethical dimensions and implications; and their strengths and weaknesses.
Methodological: involving the ability to appreciate a variety of methods and approaches available in the analysis of policy, to choose when particular approaches are relevant, and to employ them effectively.
Interdisciplinary competence: involving the ability to develop complex arguments using material from different related fields (e.g. politics, social policy, public management, economics, law, geosciences, public health).

Professional/subject-specific/practical skills

Ability to critically evaluate factors shaping the policy-making process.
Skills in applying theories and insights from scholarly research to practical issues.
Ability to write analytical reports regarding policy issues and problems.
Practical skills and professional experience gained through the placement.
Ability to form a research-driven goal (of an essay, report, presentation), identify methods necessary for a given project, and to complete a project on time.

Transferable skills

General analytical: ability to critically evaluate policies and arguments, and to analyse policy documents and datasets.
Organisational: ability to complete a project, setting up analytical and research goals, identifying necessary means and ways to completion.
Interpersonal: leadership, delegation and team-work or group-work (presentations, joint policy reports, discussions in class).
Communications: ability to prepare and present reports, papers and briefs to a mixed audience of academics and practitioners using powerpoint etc.
Methodological: ability to evaluate and apply different qualitative and quantitative analytical methods.
Reflective: ability to reflect on self-development, progress and skills.

Career opportunities

An MPP is a recognised professional qualification. The combination of academic excellence and practical experience ensure that MPP graduates are well placed for careers in public policy, government, think tanks, consulting firms, NGOs, party politics, and advocacy/lobbying organisations, among others.

The transferable skills you will gain from the programme, and the experience and networking opportunities from the Capstone placement, will give you a competitive edge in the employment market whatever your eventual career.

Executive Programme in Public Policy

The University’s Academy of Government also offers an Executive Programme in Public Policy, aimed at mid-career professionals from the public sector, international organisations, business and civil society organisations, on a flexible, credit-accumulation basis:

Visit the Public Policy (MPP) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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