Postgraduate study

Public Policy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Public Policy

The MSc Public Policy covers both the theories and approaches to understanding and engaging with policy work, as well as applying these theories and approaches to policy making in a practice-oriented way through case study learning.

What are the factors that shape the policy decisions taken by governments at supranational, national and local levels? How do these decisions interact and impact on society and on the economy? Answering such questions effectively requires an inter-disciplinary understanding of the field of public policy, drawing insights especially from politics, sociology, and economics. With a particular focus on the social and economic policy fields that are at the heart of modern welfare states, the MSc Public Policy offers an advanced understanding of the political, social and economic context of policy-making and government activity in modern societies.

The degree, based in the School of Social and Political Science, draws on the School's multi-disciplinary expertise across different fields of public policy, with a focus that ranges from the local to the global.

The programme will be delivered through lectures, seminars, group work and guided independent study.

You will complete three taught courses per semester, one of which is compulsory, the other two optional.

Compulsory Courses

  • Political Issues in Public Policy (Semester 1)
  • Policy in Action (Semester 2)

After successfully completing the taught modules you will work towards an independently researched dissertation.

You can undertake a standard dissertation or potentially a placement-based dissertation, which can be undertaken in the UK or abroad.

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
MScPublic Policy1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScPublic Policy2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

By the end of the programme, you will have:

  • a firm grounding in a broad set of literatures on policy making and public policy
  • knowledge and understanding of core explanatory theories, concepts, and issues in policy analysis
  • an awareness of different models of the policy process
  • an understanding of the use of concepts and measures in analysing policy
  • skills to analyse and evaluate policy decisions and outcomes in a wide range of policy areas,
  • the ability to draw on a variety of disciplinary paradigms in the understanding policy and policy making.

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

The MSc Public Policy opens up a wide variety of career opportunities and scope for further study. Recent graduates have gone on to employment within government at European, national and sub-national local levels, as parliamentary assistants/researchers, in the health and education administrations, with a range of think tanks and policy consultancies and in the charity/voluntary sector. Others have progressed to doctoral study at the University of Edinburgh and other world-leading research Universities in a number of countries.

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

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

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • 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

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.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScPublic Policy1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScPublic 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, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Jay Wiggan
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 3939
  • Contact: j.wiggan@ed.ac.uk
  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 11 July 2019

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Jay Wiggan
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 3939
  • Contact: j.wiggan@ed.ac.uk
  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD