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MPP Public Policy

Our Masters course gives you an advanced qualification in research and policy analysis, and is taught by world-leading experts in the field.

Key facts

  • Award MPP
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration MPP full-time: 12 months, MPP part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

Our Masters in Public Policy allows you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical skills you’ll need to flourish in the world of policymaking. We prepare you for a career in vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy.

This course is extremely flexible, and you can tailor it to fit your particular interests. Core modules on policy theory and practice are combined with optional modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines. If you want to pursue an interest in other policy-relevant disciplines, you can also combine a focus on policy and research with options in areas such as:

  • law
  • economics and behavioural science
  • strategic communications
  • international politics

You can also use this degree as a pathway to pursue research to PhD level by taking three modules in applied social research.

As part of the Masters course, you must complete a dissertation. You’ll also have the potential to gain practical experience by pursuing a placement with a relevant organisation (with our help) – allowing you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy-influencer audience.

Our staff have a wide range of connections with organisations in the public, private and third sectors. These can be used not only to pursue your placement-based coursework, but also build your own personal networks.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

On successful completion of this course, you should be able to

  • demonstrate the skills required for a career in the public sector, or in vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy;
  • demonstrate the necessary intellectual and practical skills to analyse policy and policymaking;
  • demonstrate an awareness of the politics of the policy process;
  • apply a range of research skills –including theory-informed policy analysis -that enhance further study and employability;
  • engage with debates from a wide variety of different disciplines;
  • apply your knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

Work placements

To gain your Masters degree, you must produce a dissertation of around 10,000 words that applies intellectual rigour to a real-world policy problem. You’ll have the option to pursue a placement with a relevant organisation, enabling you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy-influencer audience.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

Professor Cairney has written two books and three collections of introductory blog posts to underpin the two core modules. These resources describe the state-of-the-art research on policy analysis and policy process research, and are updated regularly. Read the blog collections:

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in applying for the course, please contact Professor Paul Cairney in the first instance - p.a.cairney@stir.ac.uk.

Other routes of entry

If you don't currently meet our academic requirements, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need to progress onto some of our courses. Explore INTO University of Stirling to see the pathway and pre-masters routes available.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with 60 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The core modules of this course focus on policy analysis in the context of multi-level policymaking, identifying the responsibilities and policies of local, devolved, national and international decision-makers, and tailoring recommendations to those audiences. We identify the concepts, models and theories used to study policy and policymaking – comparing theories in political science with a range of policy-relevant disciplines. Those disciplines include everything from economics to communication, psychology, management and social marketing. We also combine theory and practice by inviting policy actors to provide guest seminars as part of the core modules. The coursework fosters a range of skills, from blog posts to attract a wide audience to a research-intensive dissertation to answer a pressing policy question.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

Each of the core modules on this course are delivered through weekly seminars on campus (with the option of online/hybrid attendance).

The first semester core module ‘The Politics of Policy Analysis’ includes a two-hour seminar each week. The second semester core module ‘Policymaking: Theories and Approaches’ includes a four-hour seminar each week – which combines weekly political science theory discussions with weekly guest seminars from practitioners and other policy-relevant disciplines.

Many applied social research modules are delivered through a series of half-day, one-day or three-day blocks. The majority of policy-relevant options follow the same format as your core modules - weekly seminars and one piece of coursework.

The applied social research component of your course is provided by the Faculty of Social Sciences, which is an ESRC-recognised postgraduate research training centre.

Assessment

You’ll be assessed through a wide range of various coursework as part of your taught modules. That coursework includes blog posts, policy analysis, essays on practical lessons from policy theory, and the research dissertation.

There are no exams.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023/242024/25
Students from the UK and Republic of Ireland£8,700£9,100
International (including EU) students£19,645£20,600

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our  Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Eligible students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Funding 

Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £12,167 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,770 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

After completing this course, you’ll graduate with subject-specific knowledge of the policy process – with transferable skills in research and analysis, which you’ll need to flourish in a range of organisations in the public, private and third sectors.

This course prepares you for a career in the public sector and vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy.

Over the past five years, most graduates from the MPP Public Policy and MSc Applied Social Research course have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

The degree also equips you to pursue a PhD.

Testimonial quotes

I think the best feature about the MPP in Public Policy is the freedom that you get to choose what you enjoy, and you can really direct your learning. For example, I studied humanitarian studies, policy evaluation and research but within those modules, I got to write and research about domestic abuse policy and the Rwandan genocide. It really is a huge span.

Billi Allen-Mandeville

Employability skills

We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at university and develop the graduate attributes required by employers. We have a dedicated Faculty Employability and Skills Officer and a Careers Service that work in partnership with academic staff to ensure you get the best out of your University experience and are given the right opportunities to make you ready for the world of work.

Students have access to advice, information and career opportunities not only in the UK but worldwide.

What our students said

Billi Allen-Mandeville
Billi Allen-Mandeville
United Kingdom
MPP Public Policy
I came to study at the University of Stirling because of the unique Master of Public Policy. It is the only one of its kind in Scotland and it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made for my education.  
Read Billi's story
Cath Hood
Cath Hood
Scotland
Masters in Public Policy
I chose the Masters because it gave me the opportunity to build on my professional skills, knowledge and experience and put it into a new perspective.
Read Cath's story

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