Postgraduate study
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Comparative Public Policy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

The MSc Comparative Public Policy provides intensive analytical training in the systematic comparison of social and public policies from an international perspective.

It helps develop substantive knowledge in a wide range of policy fields around topical issues such as:

  • policy evaluation
  • policy learning
  • policy transfer

Amid the ongoing global public policy challenges, we offer the ideal environment in which to observe contemporary public policy developments and learn from diverse international experiences.

What will I learn?

You’ll focus on variation in national policy patterns within and beyond Europe, with a view to understanding how and why nations differ in their social and public policies and what they can learn from each other’s experience in key contemporary policy concerns, including:

  • labour market
  • work-life balance
  • health
  • social care
  • inequality and welfare issues
  • education policy
  • child-oriented policy and practice

The MSc in Comparative Public Policy is offered as one-year full-time or two-year part-time programme.

Teaching combines:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • essays
  • assessed coursework

You will complete six taught courses, three in each semester. Two of these will be compulsory core courses.

Dissertation

From May to August you will complete either a work-based project or a standard research dissertation.

The dissertation represents a chance to get to grips with a topic of the student's own choosing, supervised by an appropriate member of academic staff.

Placement-based dissertation

The aim of the placement-based dissertation is to provide students with the opportunity to work on their dissertation within the context of a workplace of their choosing. This could be within a public sector, a voluntary, a charitable or a private organisation, subject to the approval of the Programme Director.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScComparative Public Policy1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
MScComparative Public Policy2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

More specifically, the programme aims to:

  • provide an introduction to methods and theories of comparative analysis and knowledge of the different forms and purposes of comparison in comparative policy related research
  • provide you with an understanding of the political, economic and social contexts of policy-making
  • equip you with the skills required to research and analyse policy decisions and outcomes within and between countries in a wide range of policy areas
  • foster an educational setting where students from diverse backgrounds engage in mutually beneficial discussion and debate, learning from a variety of different standpoints and experience
  • enable you to develop the knowledge and skills that support attainment of a qualification relevant to social and public policy research and progression to higher level academic study or professional work

This degree is highly relevant to anyone who works or intends to work in policy-relevant professions in the public, private or non-governmental sectors.

It will provide you with a recognised qualification that can lead to an enhanced range of employment opportunities and further study.

Past students have gone on to employment in:

  • the civil service of various national governments
  • international agencies
  • social research
  • NGOs
  • local government
  • other public and private sector bodies, both locally and internationally

You will develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, preferably in a social science or other relevant discipline. (Revised 14 November 2023 to add information on relevant degrees.)

Entrance to this programme is competitive. You can increase your chances of a successful application by exceeding the minimum programme requirements. Relevant work experience is not required but may increase your chances of acceptance.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee

A non-refundable application fee of £50 must be paid after you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received your application fee.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScComparative Public Policy1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScComparative Public Policy2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your residency status.

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 13 November 2023 30 January 2024
2 12 February 2024 11 April 2024
3 15 April 2024 13 June 2024
4 03 June 2024 31 July 2024

Application fee

You must have paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD