Postgraduate study

Comparative Public Policy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Comparative Public Policy

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 and policy transfer.

Amid the ongoing debate on Scotland’s role within the UK, we offer the ideal environment in which to observe contemporary public policy developments.

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 and child-oriented policy and practice.

Teaching combines lectures, seminars and tutorials, plus a combination of essays and assessed coursework.

You will complete six taught courses - three each semester. In addition, you will complete an independently researched dissertation.

This programme aims to give you:

  • a thorough training in methods of comparative analysis
  • ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)-recognised training in analysing datasets
  • knowledge of different forms and purposes of comparison
  • grounding in the politics and/or economics of policy-making
  • a detailed comparative knowledge of substantive areas of policy
  • knowledge of policy learning and transfers in a comparative context

Highly relevant to anyone who works or intends to work in policy-relevant professions in the public, private or non-governmental sectors, this degree provides 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 Scottish Government, social research, housing associations, local government, and in 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.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

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.

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, and 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*.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2020/21 are shown below.

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 3 March 2020 3 April 2020
2 14 April 2020 20 May 2020
3 1 June 2020 29 June 2020
4 6 July 2020 27 July 2020

*(Revised 2 March 2020 to include application deadlines.)

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