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Public Policy MSc

Course Description

What is public policy? Who are the key actors and which institutions are involved? Who is it shaped by and how does it have an impact on an economic, social and cultural environment that is increasingly globalised?

This programme investigates the international public policy environment in terms of global political economy and the impact of business, voluntary sector and public policy agents in the field of multi-level governance. The programme encompasses both a theoretical understanding of the policy process and models of appraisal with a practical orientation to evaluating research evidence.

As well as considering generic policy concerns, the programme gives you an opportunity to choose from a range of substantive policy issues. These include: the economics of public policy; poverty and social exclusion; penal policy; cities, housing and public policy; health and public policy; migration, asylum; and sustainability. All the programme units consider policy in an international and comparative context.

Programme structure

Core units
-Governance, Institutions and the Global Political Economy
-Informing and Evaluating Policy: Research Methods and Analysis
-Power Politics and the Policy Process
-Public Management and Organisations.

Optional units - Optional units can vary, but may include:
-The Economics of Public Policy
-Gender and Violence: International and Global Perspectives
-An International Analysis of Poverty and Social Exclusion
-Social Policy and Social Change in East Asia
-Critical Policy Studies and the Internationalisation of Public Policy
-The State of Labour
-International Analysis of crime, harm and justice
-Environmental policy and social justice
-Migration, asylum and human rights
-EU and global perspectives
-Social Policy and Social Change in East Asia
-Public Policy for a complex and uncertain world

You must complete a dissertation of 15,000 words. The dissertation accounts for 60 credit points. You begin work in late April and must submit by September.


Graduates from our MSc in Public Policy frequently work in roles that focus on strategy, policy development and implementation or policy research. Potential employers include local or central government departments; national or international non-governmental organisations; and international institutions, such as the European Union and the United Nations.

Visit the Public Policy MSc page on the University of Bristol website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Gemma Heath

261.jpg Gemma Heath (MSc Public Policy 2008)
Gemma Heath gained an MSc in Public Policy at the School for Policy Studies in 2008 and hopes to go on to work for an NGO.
My reasons for choosing a Masters at Bristol were based on the reputation of the institution, its location and, most importantly, the fact that it offered a course I would enjoy studying. The University of Bristol’s reputation was clearly apparent, but it was also the structure of the course and the modules offered that attracted me to the MSc in Public Policy at the School for Policy Studies.
I began university life at the University of Manchester, where I studied a BA in Historical Studies and Social Sciences. Almost immediately after graduating I realised that I still did not feel like I had gained as much knowledge as I would have liked; I felt there was so much more out there to learn. I wasn’t ready to give up on education, so I decided to apply for a taught Masters.
Before I started my Masters, I found myself a job as a claims advisor for an insurance company and also spent some time helping a local candidate with his election campaign, which allowed me to observe some of the theories I had learnt during my first degree in practice within local politics.
Weighing up the benefits
I have sometimes been given the impression that postgraduate study can be viewed as a disadvantage to obtaining real life work experience by certain employers. However, for me, postgraduate study was a way to carry on learning more about a subject which I love, and I still think my Masters puts me in a good position for the future.
When I complete my Masters I am hoping to find work within an NGO so I can make an impact on policy decisions through that route. But there are several career areas I could attempt to enter as a result of my postgraduate studies, such as local or national government, or working within a charity.
I think that postgraduate study is worth the cost because skills from a Masters programme are easily transferable to many careers, and, with the hunt for graduate jobs becoming increasingly competitive, it is quite possibly something that will give you an edge over thousands of undergraduate students.
Extract reproduced with kind permission from Prospects.ac.uk


Entry Requirements

An upper-second class honours degree or international equivalent.

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