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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.

Public Policy

Key facts

  • Award MPP
  • Start date September
  • Duration MPP full-time: 12 months, MPP part-time: 27 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based, Stand-alone modules

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 the public sector and 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
  • behavioural science
  • social marketing
  • energy
  • environmental and 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 option to gain practical experience by pursuing a placement with a relevant organisation – allowing you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy-influencer audience.

Our staff 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.

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
MPP Public Policy, 2016

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Work placements

    To gain your Masters degree, you must produce a dissertation of around 12,000 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

    In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), 100% of our research impact in Social Policy was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

    The REF 2014 panel also stated that our work in postgraduate research supervision in combination with the nurturing and career development of postgraduate research students was outstanding. All our staff are research active, and all contribute alongside our postgraduate students to a vibrant and inclusive research environment.

  • 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 -

  • 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 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with 56 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language 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.

The core modules of this course focus on multi-level policymaking, and 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. Those disciplines include everything from economics to communication, psychology, management and social marketing. We also combine theory and practice by inviting a range of policy actors to provide guest seminars as part of the core modules.



The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    Each of the core modules on this course are delivered through weekly seminars.

    The first semester core module ‘How Does the Policy Process Work’ includes a two-hour seminar each week, alongside a 3,000-word report. The second semester core module ‘Policymaking: Theories and Approaches’ includes a three-hour seminar each week – which combines weekly political science theory discussions with weekly guest seminars from practitioners and other policy-relevant disciplines – as well as a 5,000-word report.

    Most Applied Social Research modules are delivered through a series of half-day, one-day or three-day blocks, and involve coursework from 3,000 to 4,000-words. 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. In the UK’s last Research Assessment Exercise, 95 percent of the Faculty’s research was deemed ‘internationally excellent’ – and it received the highest possible score in the most recent teaching quality exercise.

  • Assessment

    You’ll be assessed through a wide range of various coursework as part of your taught modules. That coursework includes essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, computer lab-based assessment for quantitative data analysis, group project reports and the research dissertation.

    There are no exams.

  • Course director
  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)


    Home/EU Students

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

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding
    Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

    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 Masters course, or £1,000 for part-time study.

    Other sources of funding

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    EU and overseas 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 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.

Although the Masters in Public Policy is a new course, 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. Roles include:

  • manager commissioning research for a local authority
  • research fellow at a university
  • senior research executive for a European-wide commercial research organisation

The degree also equips you to pursue a PhD.

  • Testimonial quotes

    I was attracted to Stirling because, first and foremost, it did my preferred choice of course at both undergraduate and postgraduate, and was ranked highly for both courses. I interned in the Civil Service during the summer of 2015 when I graduated from my course, and had the opportunity to be coached for the applications to September 2016 entry to the Civil Service Fast Stream. The MPP course allowed me to gain valuable knowledge about policymaking whilst in the coaching/application process, which both made me better equipped to do the new job and gave me an edge in applications which was useful for getting through the assessments.

    Christopher Rennison
    MPP Public Policy, 2016

  • 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 Career and Employability 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.

Cath Hood
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.
Cath Hood
Scotland Masters in Public Policy
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