Public Policy MA


Fact file

MA Public Policy
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.2 (or international equivalent) in any discipline
Other requirements
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September or January
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course focuses on critical issues and key developments relating to public policy, such as globalisation, Europeanisation, governance, and policy evaluation.
Read full overview

With the current developments in countries around the world, this is one of the most exciting times to be studying anything to do with the public sector, governance and government, and the delivery of services to meet people's needs. You will have the opportunity to study policy development, implementation and evaluation across a wide range of policy sectors (eg health, food, education etc) and countries.

The aim of all of our programmes is to provide you with the skills, knowledge and tools to make sense of the world of public policy and management, so that you can critically analyse situations and problems, and use this to improve practice.

The MA Public Policy is designed to blend both practitioner and academic perspectives on public policy, and the wide range of modules draw on examples from different countries around the world.

Student profile

Zhanar Gabdullina talks about studying the MA Public Policy and being an international student in Nottingham.

Key facts

  • This course features international curricula focusing on key public sector developments in the UK, the EU, the US and other countries
  • It is informed by world-leading research and reflects the expertise of staff in the fields of public management, policy analysis and social policy
  • The course is multidisciplinary
  • The Research Methods and Research Management module allows students to develop their expertise and give particular consideration to their dissertations

Course details

This course consists of taught modules totalling 120 credits (which are taken during the autumn and spring terms) and a 60-credit dissertation (undertaken over the summer period). Modules are taught by a mixture of lectures, group work and class discussion. They are normally assessed by a 3,000 to 5,000-word essay (or equivalent).

The 15,000-word dissertation offers students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of their choice. Support for producing the dissertation is provided by a Research Methods and Research Methods module and one-to-one supervision.

Past dissertation topics include:

  • Aid donorship and poverty in Africa
  • Food policies in China
  • Public procurement and corruption in the Philippines
  • Citizenship in Arab Gulf states
  • Improving education in India
  • Evaluating policies for returning students to settle in Hong Kong
  • Policy evaluation: supporting SMEs in Kazakhstan

We also offer a Public Policy PGDip. Students pursue the same programme of study as on course, but do not undertake a dissertation. PGDip students can transfer to this course if they perform satisfactorily in the first semester (full-time) or in the first academic year (part-time).




Dissertation in Public Policy

There is no taught element beyond supervision. You will be allocated a suitable supervisor taking into account your interests and professional experience. You have to produce a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Dynamics of International Social Policy

This module introduces you to comparative analyses of different welfare state models and approaches to social and public policy; institutions, issues and debates in international social and public policy; and methods of cross-country comparative analysis.

Topics include:

  • Perspectives of international social policy
  • Welfare state typologies and cross-national comparisons
  • International institutions, standards and goals
  • EU policy
  • Welfare in less developed countries
  • Globalisation and welfare states
  • International migration and the boundaries of welfare
  • Discrimination in a multicultural world
  • International cooperation, policy learning and policy transfer
  • Comparative research methodology
Economics and Policy Analysis

The module will provide an introduction to the application of economic theories and concepts to policy analysis and provide an overview of public sector economics and of current issues in public sector economic analysis.

Topics covered include public expenditure, competition and market failure/externalities, public goods, discount rates and cost benefit analysis. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be examined as a way of further understanding the ongoing policy developments.

The module is designed for 'non-mathematicians' and does not involve any econometric analyses. No prior knowledge of economics is required.

Globalisation, Europeanisation and Public Policy

This module provides an applied, critical and informed understanding of the concepts and processes of globalisation and Europeanisation, and the impact of globalisation and Europeanisation upon governance and public policy.

In particular, it examines the impacts of globalisation and Europeanisation upon the governance of and the making of public policy in Britain and other countries.

Policy Analysis: Concept and Theories

This module provides an applied, critical and informed understanding of policy-making and policy analysis in government.

It examines key concepts, models and theories of policy-making and policy analysis, and illustrates them by examining policy-making in Britain and other countries.

Public Management and Governance

This module will cover models of management and governance in the public sector. 

It will critically examine comparative and historic trends in managerial practices and theory and contextually relevant ideas about management and governance in the public sector, including specific professional contexts.

This will include critically exploring specific debates about the alleged move from public administration to new public management and new public governance, from hierarchical to networked and marketised forms of organisation, and those involving communities in the design and delivery of public services.

Research Methods and Research Management

This module provides a general introduction to a range of key issues in the design and conduct of social research, plus guidance on writing both a dissertation proposal and a dissertation. The module combines more formal taught sessions with practical exercises, some of which are group-based.

By the end of the module you will be equipped with the methodological and practical skills to carry out independent research using a variety of research designs and methods.



You will need to choose a further 20 credits of optional modules from an approved list.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The Graduate School website has information on funding sources. The school also has information on funding.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2017 entry scholarships will open in late 2016. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



The course provides the opportunity for those who have previously studied disciplines at undergraduate level which offer a good base for policy studies (politics, sociology, law, geography, finance, economics and pure science subjects) who now see their future in the broad policy community to further their knowledge. It is also suitable for those who already work within the public or not-for-profit sectors and wish to enhance their career prospects.

Graduates from this course have successfully pursued careers in the public and voluntary sectors as public sector managers and policy analysts.

Internships and development

We continue to develop close links with the National School of Government, Nottingham Citizens and other public sector bodies to provide internship opportunities for MPA and MPP students. You will be kept up to date with any upcoming opportunities throughout your time at Nottingham.

This course opened a new horizon for my intellectual as well as professional development. I received valuable lessons on economics, governance and globalisation from the school, which helped me to develop a dissertation on Food Inflation and Social Welfare that helped me to get a project with the World Bank's Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit.

Anuja Kar

Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the school. The level of study fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market, allowing you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

A postgraduate degree from an institution like The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 100% of postgraduates in the School of Sociology and Social Policy who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £27,031 with the highest being £40,800.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Get in touch
+44 (0)115 951 5559


School of Sociology and Social Policy
Law and Social Sciences Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Social Science videos

Social Science videos


The Enquiry Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
f: +44 (0) 115 951 5812
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry