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
  • 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

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

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

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
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

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

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 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.

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 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

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 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.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 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
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 28 June 2021

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 ensure that you have submitted all supporting documentation and paid the application fee before the deadline for the round you wish to be considered in.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2021-2022:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 9 November 2020 16 December 2020
2 11 January 2021 19 February 2021
3 22 February 2021 19 March 2021
4 29 March 2021 16 April 2021
5 26 April 2021 21 May 2021
6 31 May 2021 18 June 2021
7 28 June 2021 23 July 2021

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