With the current developments around the world, this is one of the most exciting times to be studying 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 (such as health, food, education) and countries.
We aim 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.
This course is designed to blend practitioner and academic perspectives on public policy, and the wide range of modules draw on examples from around the world.
It features international curricula focusing on key public sector developments in the UK, EU, USA and other countries and is informed by world-leading research, reflecting the expertise of staff in the fields of public management, policy analysis and social policy.
Academic English preparation and support
If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.
Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent. You could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.
Across the autumn and spring semesters, you will take 120 credits of core and optional modules.
MA students will complete a 60-credit 15,000-word dissertation over the summer, and an appropriate dissertation supervisor will oversee your progress.
Previous 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
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.
- perspectives of international social policy
- welfare state typologies and cross-national comparisons
- international institutions, standards and goals
- the European Union
- social policy 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 methods
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 competition and market failure/externalities, public goods, discount rates and cost benefit analysis. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be discussed 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: Concepts 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.
Dissertation in Public Policy (MA only)
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.
You will choose 20 credits of optional modules, subject to approval.
This module will examine the concepts, models and practices of managing people in the public sector. It will study the development and approaches of how staff are managed in the public sector in a range of countries (for example, UK and other European countries). The module will also investigate how public sector staff are recruited, rewarded etc and how their performance is measured.
Public Sector Financial Management
The module will study the application of modern financial management techniques in the public sector at governmental, sectoral, organisational and unit levels. It will look at:
- budgetary cycles
- financial and budget controls
- cash and accrual (resource) accounting
- management of working capital
- capital budgets and programmes
- project appraisal
- cost benefit and cost effectiveness analysis
- audit of public organisations
The module will look at both theoretical and practical methods, as well common developments in government policies.
Theoretical Frontiers in Criminology
This module considers a range of theoretical and conceptual issues in criminology relating to the nature and scope of criminology as a discipline as well as recent developments in criminological theory. The work discussed during the course of the module will be at the forefront of the discipline.
The module will examine theories of welfare, the funding of the welfare state and key changes in welfare policies, such as the increasing focus on markets and consumer choice, partnerships, the personalisation of service delivery, and the increasing role of the not for profit sector in service delivery.
It will use developments in health service, social care and social security to explore wider issues in the development of welfare services. Although focused on the UK, other countries will be examined as a way of further understanding the developments in the UK and as a form of policy learning for UK reform. It will look at the obstacles and issues associated with these changes.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Teaching methods and assessment
Modules are typically assessed through essays or reports.
If you have previously studied politics, sociology, law, geography, finance, economics or a science subject, this course enables you to further your knowledge for a career in the broad policy community. It is also suitable if you are already working in the public or not-for-profit sector and wish to enhance your career prospects.
Graduates have pursued careers in the public and voluntary sectors as public sector managers and policy analysts.
Our graduates move into a wide range of careers following their time in the school. Studying at postgraduate level can give you a head start in the job market by helping you to gain new knowledge and develop vital skills.
Average starting salary and career progression
96.3% of postgraduates from the School of Sociology and Social Policy secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £27,900 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £31,000.*
* Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.
Careers support and advice
We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students whatever your course, mode of study or future career plans.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate. Expert staff will help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.
More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.
As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.
You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.
Scholarships and bursaries
See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide. Further information is available on the school website.
Government loans for masters courses
Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.