In this well-established programme, you’ll focus on analysing the activities of government, especially those policies relating to the welfare state.
You’ll develop an advanced understanding of political, economic and social contexts of policy-making, and be trained in the skills needed to analyse and research policy decisions and outcomes.
The programme is popular internationally, and you’ll study in a setting where students from various backgrounds learn from the policy experience of their own and each other’s nations.
As a recently devolved polity, Scotland is an exciting place to observe contemporary developments in government, and Edinburgh hosts democratic institutions that will inform your studies.
Who is this programme for?
Our well-established programme caters for a diverse range of students, with varied academic and professional backgrounds, from many different parts of the world, studying full-time or part-time, and seeking to go on both to further study and to employment in the public, private or voluntary sectors.
The MSc in Policy Studies focuses on analysing the activities of government, especially those policies relating to the welfare state. Among the questions addressed are the following:
How are priorities chosen?
How are policies paid for?
How do citizens make their views known?
Do policies work?
Can they be made more effective?
Are those who implement policies sufficiently accountable?
At the end of the programme, students should have the critical skills necessary to assess different policy options, and to understand the origins of policy.
Structure and Courses
The programme can be taken on a full or part-time basis and consists of two main elements. Firstly students must complete a taught element made up of six courses (or an equivalent number of credits).
All students on the MSc in Policy Studies take the two core courses, Political Issues in Public Policy and Economic Issues in Public Policy.
In addition students take at least one research training course, the school offers ESRC recognised basic training courses in data collection and quantitative data analysis, and a course on Comparative Analysis in Social and Public Policy. Other research training courses may be available and students should check with the Programme Director.
Finally, students make up the remainder of their six courses from options provided by the Social Policy Subject Group, other subject groups in the School of Social and Political Science and other Schools in the University. Where students choose courses outside the Social Policy Subject Group, these are subject to the approval of the Programme Director.
Social Policy courses
European Social Policy
Global Politics of Public Health
Globalization and Public Health
Health Systems: strengthening and reform
Health Systems Analysis
Public Policy in Scotland
Social Determinants of Health and Public Policy
Social Inequality and Social Protection
Examples of other approved courses
Institutions and Policies of the European Union
International Political Economy
Energy Policy and Politics
Multi-level Democracy and Public Policy
The Politics of Migration in Europe
Global Environmental Policy
Risk, Regulation and Governance 1
The MSc in Policy Studies can be used as a gateway to a range of employment opportunities and further study. A survey of previous graduates of the MSc in Policy Studies and the MSc in Comparative Public Policy found that, within six months, students had gone on to employment in the Scottish Executive, in social research, in a housing association, in local government, and in other public and private sector bodies. One had taken up a voluntary position within the EC delegation in New York.
From other students who keep in touch we know that our students go on to occupy positions in the civil service, think tanks, NGOs, as well as taking the opportunity to pursue further study at doctoral level and to take up internships.
All students have access to the Edinburgh University Careers Service during the programme. The service provides both general and specific guidance on career options, runs career fairs, talks and training sessions, offers assistance with a CV, applications forms and interview preparation, and helps in exploring further study options.
Fully accredited by The University of Edinburgh
International Student Requirements:
For students whose first language is not English, detailed information about required English language qualifications can be found on our website.
Our website will also inform you which international qualifications meet our general entry requirements.