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Public Policy and Management (MSc/MRes)

Course Description

This Master's degree in politics, policy and management is ideal if you are working, or seeking a career, in public policy research and implementation. You will gain an advanced understanding of the ideas, interests and institutions that contribute to the making of policy across a wide range of areas, including healthcare, society and social care, migration, the environment, education and macroeconomics. This programme will give you insights into how policy choices are made, in comparison to policy developing by default, without clear choices or the establishment of priorities and strategies.

Alongside this, you will also consider management in the public sector, analysing the issues involved in making decisions about how public services are managed. You will explore how the different parts of national and local government interact and how the private sector is involved in the implementation of public policy. Overall, you will acquire the essential skills needed for the systematic analysis of government policies and for the professional practice of policy formulation and implementation.

The programme is highly topical, considering up-to-the-minute concerns and real-world debates within contemporary UK politics.

The first core module explores how individuals, institutions and interest groups, inside and outside of government, drive, formulate and implement public policy. You will consider case studies of real-world policy issues and the processes by which key decisions are reached and applied. The second core module looks at theories of, and innovations within, public management. You will explore the history of public management and consider how public administration has been revolutionised in the last 20 years. You will be equipped with the conceptual ideas, theoretical approaches and analytical research skills needed to study politics at postgraduate level.

You can then choose 2 option modules from a wide variety of topics including international security, American foreign policy, globalisation, political theory and sociology, nationalism and religion, and war and conflict. You will also learn research methods that will enable you to specialise and undertake the researching and writing of a dissertation on the subject that interests you most.

Our Department of Politics is a lively and distinguished centre of interdisciplinary research, with a strong reputation for the quality of our teaching. Some of the world’s most famous libraries are on our doorstep in Bloomsbury, central London, and you can walk down to Whitehall, where Parliament and the UK’s most influential and important think-tanks and centres of political research and analysis are located.

Our departmental building was once a key location for members of the Bloomsbury Group, so you could be studying in rooms that have hosted distinguished visitors, including T. S. Eliot, George Bernard Shaw and Maynard Keynes.

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

This Master's degree will equip you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the central issues and current trends that face professionals working in public policy, whether as advisers, civil servants, managers or campaigners.
The programme allows you to follow your own interests, with a wide choice of option modules, while developing your research skills and undertaking a dissertation in an area that interests you.
Our location in central London puts us at the heart of the UK’s political life and at the centre of academic London. You can walk down to Parliament and Whitehall, while Bloomsbury contains some of the world’s most famous libraries and centres of research.
You can take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including Senate House Library, which is right next door to Birkbeck, the British Library, which is 5 minutes’ walk away, and the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics, which is walkable from Birkbeck.
Our Department of Politics was ranked 12th in the UK in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) results and is a world-renowned centre of original, influential research.
The department organises a lively programme of seminars and conferences and is home to affiliated research centres, such as the Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life, which run seminars, conferences and other events where some of the world's best scholars present their latest research.
Our academic staff are international authorities in their respective fields, publishing and delivering stimulating teaching in a wide range of political topics including civil society and the state, public policy, development, gender, international security and terrorism, and social and political theory, among others.
Birkbeck Library has a large politics collection, including the major specialist journals, and provides you with access to an extensive range of online materials.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Politics at Birkbeck was ranked 17th in the UK.

Visit the Public Policy and Management (MSc/MRes) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Emma Robinson

4068.jpg Emma Robinson is convinced that her postgraduate studies at Birkbeck have helped boost her career in the world of politics and policy. She said her employers were impressed at interview by her ability to combine work and part-time study. Emma has also been promoted to the role of Senior Strategy and Policy Manager since being awarded a Distinction for her MSc in Public Policy and Management from Birkbeck.

Aged 25, Emma decided that she wanted to develop her political knowledge and skills, and she enrolled at Birkbeck. She was already a political consultant, and had previously studied English Literature at university.

Emma said: ‘I was interested in studying policy, and wanted to study in the evening. The course at Birkbeck offered me these opportunities, and it was really inspiring as I could ask questions. I was studying at a much higher level than I had before and that is exactly what I wanted.’

Her experience was greatly enhanced by the expertise of her lecturers. She added: ‘All the teaching staff have good links with Westminster and Whitehall, and are practitioners involved in policy-making. Networking with the other students was really valuable too as they had interesting and relevant jobs. You meet fantastic people along the way.’

Emma found that her studies greatly helped her career. When she was in the second year of her two-year course she applied for a new job . Emma said: ‘The fact that I was studying and working at the same time differentiated me from other candidates, and definitely helped me get my job. It showed my organisational abilities. I have also recently been promoted.’


School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Postgraduate Taught (PGT) Bursary - Single Award

Applications are invited for one 'Postgraduate Taught' Bursary worth £6,000, to be awarded to a candidate with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School's 'Postgraduate Taught' programmes.This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the departments listed below; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This £6,000 award is in the form of a bursary (i.e., there is no 'fee waiver' but the bursary may be used towards payment of fees). If awarded to a part-time student, the bursary will be paid for two years of PGT study.Please note that in order to apply for funding you must also complete an application for a place at Birkbeck on an MA/MSc programme within the School of SSHP or the MPhil. Stud. in the Department of Philosophy, either before or at the same time as applying for funding.Prospective studentsCandidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent.

Value of Scholarship(s)



This competition is open to new Home/EU and International students who are applying for either a full-time or part-time MA/MSc place in the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy; the competition is also open to students who are applying to the Department of Philosophy and the degree of M.Phil. Stud. Philosophy.This competition is open to new students only.

Application Procedure

Before you apply, you should contact the relevant department for advice.Once you have identified a relevant programme, you will need to:Apply online for the relevant MA/MSc or MPhil. Stud. (Dept. of Philosophy) degree in the normal wayDownload the SSHP Postgraduate Taught Bursary Application Form Word iconThe SSHP Studentship application form should be returned to Jane Halstead, Assistant School Manager, via the following email address:[email protected] STATE ‘PGT BURSARY’ AND DEPARTMENT APPLIED TO IN THE ‘SUBJECT’ LINE OF YOUR E-MAIL.Any queries relating to the PGT Bursary can also be sent to this email address.

Further Information



Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A good undergraduate degree in a related area, or relevant experience combined with an adequate academic background (subject to interview). If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa

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