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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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James Diao, MPP Student 2022-23

I was delighted to be awarded the Highest Independent Research Paper Prize this year. It has been a joy and privilege to study public policy at Cambridge. My experience was supported by the Kanders Churchill Scholarship, which seeks to bridge the divide between science and policymaking.

In this spirit, my independent research project investigated the use of race in lung function equations. For more than a century, medical laboratories have interpreted lung function measures differently by race. My dissertation surveyed the evidentiary basis for this practice and was written for clinicians, scientists, and policymakers involved in determining guidelines, research priorities, and reparative interventions. Beyond this project, I hope to continue working to move the field toward more precise and outcome-focused measures of lung function.

I was very fortunate to have been supervised by the inimitable Dame Professor Diane Coyle, who encouraged me to provide non-technical context for a broad readership and to target my writing toward the most relevant decision-makers. All things considered; Cambridge MPP was the perfect place to broaden my learning in a global context. I know its lessons will continue to guide my work and thinking as I continue with my medical and scientific training.


Yuko Ishibashi, MPP Student 2020-21

The MPP at the University of Cambridge provided me with an invaluable step towards my personal and professional development goals. The course is academically rigourous and fast-paced, but each module builds upon each other and teaches you how to be a policymaker who is guided by both analytical rigour and a moral compass. Looking back at the year, I feel that I learned far more than I could have ever imagined from a year-long degree.

The blended nature of the course allowed me to further delve into issues of my interest, while gaining exposure to an array of policy areas and angles I had not previously explored. For my work placement, I had an incredible opportunity to work on a policy paper for the Future Leaders Network, the host organisation of the youth engagement group for the G7 summit in the UK. Putting all the lessons and skills gained throughout the course into advocating a cause was rewarding to say the least, and the experience ascertained my interest in pursuing research and policy advisory.

Beyond the insights and new skills I was able to gain during the year, what makes the course unique is the intimate cohort of people with diverse backgrounds, who are truly driven to bring about a positive change in the world, The interdisciplinary structure of the course faciliated open discussions in the classrooms and beyond - and I am certain that I will continue to be inspired by my classmates for years to come. I would not hesitate to recommend the MPP at Cambridge to those seeking to gain a theoretical grasp and command of analytical tools in the realm of public policy.

Ugonma Nwankwo, MPP Student 2018-19

The Cambridge MPP program dips into economics, politics, policy, and statistics, enough range to give students an understanding of the broad set of challenges facing governments and organizations today. It’s a short, but intense course that requires participants to put their best foot forward at all times. I began the program not having the vocabulary or framework for analyzing pressing public policy problems, but as I complete my work placement with UN Women UK, I can confidently say that I feel better versed in policy analysis. The professors are busy experts in the field, but students have the freedom to discuss with them and say, "this is what I am thinking, how I want to go about accomplishing this, do you think this is the best course of action?" and they are always incredibly helpful. If I had to do it all again, I would choose the Cambridge MPP a second time.

Onyinye Okakwu, MPP Student 2018-19

Deciding to pursue an MPhil in Public Policy at University of Cambridge was a leap for me, and a decision I am glad I made. The MPP cohort is extremely diverse and international consisting of people from different professional backgrounds, and countries with varied years of work experience. This provides the opportunity to discover and understand various policy areas and practices across the world. Having the liberty to choose specific areas of interest to explore practically with the work placement between Lent and Easter term, and the independent research paper which runs throughout the course, are two components I love. Although the course is intense, the course structure, teaching methods and teaching staff, the MPP forum, courses undertaken, and the guest lecturers are surely worth it! With members of staff who are helpful throughout the process and supervisions fortnightly, you would hardly be lost in the process. Being part of the MPP 2018 cohort has been an amazing experience!

Mira Naseer, MPP Student 2018-19

My favourite thing about the MPP has been the learning that happens both inside and outside the classroom from my peers. They constantly push me to challenge my own ideas, while at the same time inspiring me with their experiences, knowledge and support. I could not have asked for a better culture within the MPP cohort. Even though we’re only at Cambridge for a year, I know I have made lifelong friends who will be amongst my first calls whenever I need guidance in my future career. 

Simon Gallow, MPP Student 2017-18

Becoming part of the Cambridge MPP has had a huge impact on my personal and professional aspirations. The wealth of inspiring ideas, researchers and debates it gives you access too are unrivalled and the intimate classes allow you to challenge each other with rigour and openness. The MPP has opened my eyes to the world of policy, and how I could best make a contribution to the field. While working on my placement for UN Women in New York, I realised that I was able to tie in my personal passions around gender equality, with a career in this area, leading me to take up a role as Development Director at UN Women UK. Especially when changing career from the private sector, as I did, the insights and networks that the programme offers, are invaluable when making your future career choices - for those who are passionate about policy, and creating social change at the highest level, I cannot recommend the course highly enough!