The Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) provides an advanced qualification in research and policy analysis. It allows you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical skills required to flourish in the policymaking world, preparing you for a career in the public sector and vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy.
The course can also be used as a springboard for further postgraduate research and combines core modules in policy and policy-making with optional modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines.
If you want to use the degree to pursue research, to PhD level for example, you can take three modules in Applied Social Research. If you want to pursue an interest in other policy-relevant disciplines, you can combine a focus on policy and research with options in areas such as:
The course is designed to meet your specific, individual requirements and the course is delivered by small weekly group seminars, with dedicated contact with the course leader.
You complete the course by producing a dissertation which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem to equip the policymakers of the future.
Additionally, there is some scope to take modules from the new MSc in Gender Studies.
Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.
Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org.
If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
For more information go to English language requirements
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.
If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email email@example.com to discuss your course of study.
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From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all taught postgraduate courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.
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The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Master's course or £1,000 for part-time study. Further information on the scholarships is available here.
The course combines core modules on Policy Theory and Practice with optional modules in Social Research and policy-relevant disciplines. Its core modules focus on multi-level policymaking, identifying the responsibilities and policies of local, devolved, national and international decision-makers. We then identify the concepts, models and theories used to study policy and policymaking, comparing theories in political science with a range of policy-relevant disciplines (including economics, communication, psychology, management and social marketing). We also combine theory and practice by inviting a range of policy actors to give guest seminars as part of the core modules.
You can choose modules in Applied Social Research (ASR), including Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis, Research Design and the Philosophy of Science. You can choose modules in law, economics, behavioural science, social marketing, gender studies, energy, environmental and international politics. If appropriate, you can also choose to replace some ASR modules with research methods modules in your chosen subject (such as the Gender Studies course ‘Feminist Research’ which is a prerequisite for its Research Placement module).
The norm is to maintain a generally high level of contact between students engaged in the MPP and a small cohort of staff (teaching core and common ASR courses), but with the flexibility to take your own path. You complete the course by producing a dissertation (around 12,000 words) which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem. You will have the option to pursue a placement with a relevant organisation to allow you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy influencer audience.
The core modules are delivered in weekly seminars and the assessment is one piece of coursework.
The first semester core module titled ‘How Does the Policy Process Work’ includes a two-hour seminar per week and 3,000 word report. The second semester core module ‘Policymaking: Theories and Approaches’ has a three-hour seminar per week (combining weekly political science theory discussions with weekly guest seminars from practitioners and other policy-relevant disciplines) and a 5,000-word report.
Most ASR modules are delivered in a series of half-day, one-day or three-day blocks and involve coursework from 3,000-4,000 words. Most policy-relevant options follow the core module format of the core modules – weekly seminars and one piece of coursework.
Option Modules - Autumn
Option Modules - Spring
This listing is based on the current curriculum and changes may be made to the course in response to new curriculum developments and innovations. The module information is currently linking to the 2016/17 module listing and the information for 2017/18 will be made available on 21st April 2017.
The core modules will be based on materials written by Professor Cairney specifically for policy theory and practice courses, including:
Teaching methods are designed for each module to facilitate your acquisition of skills and progressive development. You are expected to participate in seminars, computer-based workshops and group work. Students experience a range of different forms of assessment across the taught modules. These include essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, a computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis, group project reports and the research dissertation. There are no examinations.
The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.
How Does the Policy Process Work?
FRI, 13:00 – 15:00
Policymaking: Theories and Approaches
FRI, 13:00 - 16:00
In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.
In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, 95 percent of research in Applied Social Science at Stirling was judged to be 'Internationally Excellent' with the top 10 percent of that judged to be 'World-leading'.
The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .
We have built up 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.
The course is run by Professor Paul Cairney, a specialist in public policy research. Paul will run both core modules, coordinate course choices and supervise the dissertations most relevant to his field. The Applied Social Research component is provided by the Faculty of Social Science, which is an ESRC-recognised postgraduate research training centre. 95 percent of its research was deemed ‘internationally excellent’ in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise and it received the highest possible score in the most recent teaching quality exercise.
I liked the well-rounded makeup of the MPP program. Other universities didn't offer a wide range of electives to supplement the core policy classes. The wide variety of electives was a great way to tailor the programme to my interests. I liked the casual feel of the classes, it was very student-led and we had great discussions. I volunteered for the Scottish Political Archives and also participated in a two-week placement at Idox Information Services in Glasgow
April Bowman, Graduate
Paul has research and teaching interests in comparative public policy. This includes comparisons of policy theories (e.g. Understanding Public Policy, 2012), policy outcomes in different countries (Global Tobacco Control, 2012 (with Donley Studlar and Hadii Mamudu)), Scottish politics and policy (The Scottish Political System Since Devolution, 2011 and Scottish Politics 2nd ed, 2013 with Neil McGarvey), comparisons of UK and devolved government policymaking (‘Has Devolution Changed the British Policy Style?’, British Politics, 3, 3, 350-72) and comparisons of policy outcomes across the UK (‘Policy Convergence, Transfer and Learning in the UK under Devolution’, Regional and Federal Studies, 22, 3, 289-307 with Michael Keating and Eve Hepburn). From October 2013-15 he is funded by the ESRC to research the policymaking process in Scotland, and from 2017-21 he is funded by the European Research Council to examine territorial inequalities across Europe (project IMAJINE).
The course combines subject-specific knowledge of the policy process with transferable skills in research and analysis. These are the skills required to flourish in a range of organisations in the public, private and third sectors. It prepares students for a career in the public sector and vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy. It is also flexible enough to allow students to continue their postgraduate studies. Although the MPP is new, it builds on successful courses taught by the Faculty of Social Sciences. Over the past five years, over half of the graduates from the MSc Applied Social Research course have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors, including a manager commissioning research for a local authority, a research fellow at a university and a senior research executive for a European-wide commercial research organisation. Over one-third of its graduates continues with academic study and undertake a PhD.
The course combines subject-specific knowledge of the policy process with transferable skills in research and analysis. These are the skills required to flourish in a range of organisations in the public, private and third sectors. It prepares students for a career in the public sector and vocations that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy. It is also flexible enough to allow students to continue their postgraduate studies. Although the MPP is new, it builds on successful courses provided by the Faculty of Social Sciences. Over the past five years, over half of the graduates from the MSc Applied Social Research have entered social research-related careers in the public, voluntary and private sectors, including a manager commissioning research for a local authority, a research fellow at a university and a senior research executive for a European-wide commercial research organisation. Over one-third of its graduates continues with academic study and undertake a PhD.