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Programme Description

The MPhil in Public Policy provides an interdisciplinary grounding in public policy theory and practice, with courses ranging from philosophy and policy analysis through to media and politics.

Throughout the course there is an emphasis on the realities of policy making, whether that is within government or in the third sector. This practice focus is reflected in the number of invited speakers from government and international organisations, the extended case approach to teaching, as well as the work placement that students undertake which forms the basis for their final paper for the course.

Beyond the formal course there is a strong and growing policy community in Cambridge, through other masters level courses focused on government and policy, via the open lectures of Cambridge Public Policy and through the activities of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP).  

The course is aimed at students who wish to have a leading role in government, companies or NGOs. The blend of theory and practice will help students to understand the mix of hard and soft skills they will need to be effective policy entrepreneurs and students will leave the course having broadened and strengthened their policy analysis and implementation skills. 

Please visit the companion blog site for the MPP where there are comments and postings from current students, alumni and faculty of the MPP.



The Master's in Public Policy (MPP) is a nine month practice oriented programme that was launched by the department in October 2013. The course runs from October to June.

The course aims to strengthen the interconnections between science, research and innovation in public policy. Integral to these aims, the MPP will promote better awareness within policy circles of scientific developments and emerging technologies, which in turn will encourage long-term thinking and better strategic planning.

The MPP programme will qualify its graduates to:            

  • Cope with different forms of information, qualitative and quantitative with varying degrees of precision, relevance and uncertainty
  • Consider issues from a range of disciplinary perspectives
  • Spot what is missing, and how to recognize when the picture is incomplete
  • Critically appraise information from different kinds of experts
  • Integrate different forms of thinking
  • Consider the implications of complexity, risk and uncertainty in policy-making
  • Be effective policy makers in an increasingly complex world

The course seeks to attract students who want to build careers in public policy whether in government at national and international levels, or in the third sector or in the private sector. The MPP will provide students with a thorough intellectual grounding and practical experience in the processes of policy making, as well as an understanding of the range of knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the world of policy.

Candidates for the MPhil in Public Policy take a range of modules and case studies across the course of the year.  In addition they will complete independent essays and a report on their work placement, as well as a professional development course. 

Course Structure

Case Studies

The programme includes case studies that focus on particular policy decisions and a set of known outcomes. Case studies apply an in-depth multidisciplinary approach to major episodes in recent UK public policy.


Candidates will take five modules on a range of subjects, below is a list of the modules we expect to offer in 2017-18, actual titles may change. 

Module Titles

  • Introduction to the Policy Process and Policy Analysis
  • Macroeconomics: Theory and Policy
  • Statistics for Policymaking
  • Science, Evidence and Policy
  • Politics and Policy

Individual modules differ in how they are taught. Some options are taught by small group teaching, others by seminar. Each module involves between one and a half to two hours of teaching per week during the course.

Work Placement

A 14‐week programme that will take place during the Easter vacation and through the Easter Term during which students will work with an organisation external to the University, for whom they will deliver a policy document addressing a key issue. The placement will enable students to integrate and apply the core technical and managerial skills and specialist knowledge they have gained on the course. Students will work with their client to define the problem then design a strategy to address it, gather the relevant data, formulate and evaluate options and report recommendations. This work will form the basis of a final work placement report.

Independent Research

The independent research module straddles three terms of the MPP. This module provides the opportunity for students to delve deeper into a particular area of interest. Students will build their own programme; attend lectures of their choice from a selection of more than 50 master’s level course with direct relevance to their particular interests and to their topic. They will also benefit from meetings with CSaP’s Policy Fellows, senior policy makers from Whitehall, Westminster and industry. The independent research module enables students to build a broad network of meaningful contacts at the University that they will be able to draw on in their future careers.

Policy Analysis Exercise

The policy analysis exercise is a one-week project akin to a flight simulation. Students will be challenged to think about the practicalities of implementing policies and about the ethical problems that arise in policy making.