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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Every year, the MPhil in Public Policy issues two awards to outstanding students for performance across the entire programme, and on the Independent Research Paper. Below are some testimonials from the 2022 winners:


HIGHEST OVERALL AVERAGE - Margot Mollat Du Jourdin

My independent research paper explores how trust in the British government has been eroding over time, partly due to several political scandals where policy decisions appear to have been motivated by private interests rather than the public good. Written as a policy memo, my paper analyses the challenges associated with the lobbying industry and argues for a fair, accountable, and transparent lobbying regulatory framework. This new framework is essential to maintain the government’s ability to achieve the structural changes needed to tackle increasingly complex problems such as the climate crisis, Brexit, and the pandemic recovery.

Working on this paper at a time when the UK was grappling with many political and ethical scandals felt both challenging and timely. I am particularly grateful for Professor Diane Coyle’s guidance and support as I encountered challenges in my research due to the lack of empirical data available on the question. Her thoughts and confidence were critical in allowing me to make the case for an evidence-based, feasible and well-rounded policy solution to address the lack of ethics in British politics and restore citizen’s confidence in decision makers. 



As a public policy advocate and researcher, I am really interested in answering questions about equity in health and social care. The United States has an alarmingly high incarceration rate of almost 600 incarcerated individuals per 100,000 residents. In a country where almost 1% of the adult population is behind bars, it is important for policymakers to realize that they cannot adequately address public health without discussing prison health. With my independent research this year, I was specifically interested in exploring gaps and challenges in policy response to the spread of COVID-19 in incarceration facilities.

Almost 1 in 5 incarcerated individuals had been infected by COVID-19 at least once by the end of December 2020. As the world prepares for COVID-19 endemicity and scientists warn of the increased likelihood of respiratory pandemics in the future due to concerns like environmental degradation, urbanization, and climate change increasing the rates of animal-to-human pathogen transmission, incarceration individuals are likely to be left behind unless a coherent strategy for mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 (among other respiratory illnesses) is adopted.

I began by identifying various political, social, and administrative drivers that make incarceration facilities uniquely vulnerable to disease transmission. I then established a set of policy interventions and used data from over 1600 incarceration facilities across the United States to evaluate the efficacy of the responses. While conventional interventions—like social distancing and vaccination—are incredibly useful, my research suggests that it's also important to reevaluate aspects of healthcare administration like the costs & payment structures associated with using medical services while incarcerated.

I was really surprised and tremendously humbled to learn that my research was recognized for the award. As a student, it has always been my aim to ensure that my work is forward-thinking and mission-driven — and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to throw myself fully into this project over the course of this year. Of course, I want to extend my thanks to Dr. Matthew Agarwala for his supervision, as well as my mentors back home without whom this research wouldn't be possible.