Master in Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Stirling

Here is the extra marketing information to go with this survey. We’ll have a glossy leaflet out there in no time:

A new degree which applies the rigour of academic research to real world policy problems

Why Should You Study for an MPP?

The MPP is an advanced qualification in research and policy analysis. Studying for an MPP allows you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical skills required to flourish in the policymaking world. It prepares you for a career in the public sector or in sectors that make a contribution to the development or delivery of public policy (such as non-profit or professional bodies).  You can also use it as a springboard for further postgraduate research. The MPP combines core modules in policy and policymaking with a suite of modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines. If you want to use the degree to focus on research (for example, to pursue a PhD) you can take five modules in applied social research. If you want to pursue an interest in other policy-relevant disciplines, you can combine a focus on policy and research with module options in areas such as law, economics, behavioural science, gender studies, social marketing, energy, environmental and international politics. The programme is designed to meet your specific requirements. The norm in the core modules is small group teaching in weekly seminars – to help produce a group identity and a collegiate approach to your studies.  You complete the course by completing eight taught modules, then producing a dissertation which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem and speaks to a policymaker audience.

Applied Research Opportunities

The MPP gives you the opportunity to apply your research to real world problems. We have excellent links with a range of organisations in the public, third and private sectors. When you begin your course, we will discuss how you want to make use of them. If you seek as many practitioner links as possible, we will explore how to apply your studies and coursework to a range of problems identified by those organisations – and arrange, in negotiations with organisations, how best to use your developing skills. You may also be taking the MPP to pursue a more ‘traditional’ academic path, with the knowledge that academic ‘impact’ is a key part of a postgraduate degree. We will discuss how best to balance the theoretical, empirical and practical aspects of your study.

Programme Overview

The programme (of 180 credits) combines core modules on policy theory and practice with a suite of modules in social research and policy-relevant disciplines. The norm is to maintain a meaningful level of contact between students engaged in the MPP and a small cohort of staff (teaching core and common ASR modules), but with the flexibility to take your own path. Core modules are delivered on the same day and there is a high degree of flexibility over optional modules to allow both full-time and part-time students to work around other commitments.

Core modules (45 credits) focus on multi-level policymaking, identifying the responsibilities and policies of local, devolved, national and international decision-makers. We identify the concepts, models and theories used to study policy and policymaking. We compare theories in political science with a range of policy-relevant disciplines (including economics, communication, psychology, management and social marketing). We combine theory and practice by inviting a range of policy actors to give guest seminars as an integral part of the core modules.

Research modules. You can choose up to five 15-credit modules in applied social research (ASR), including qualitative and quantitative analysis, research design and the philosophy of science. If appropriate, you can also choose to replace some ASR modules with research methods modules in your chosen subject – such as the MSc Gender Studies module ‘Feminist Research’ which is a prerequisite for its Research Placement module.

Policy relevant modules. You can choose two 15-credit modules in law, economics, behavioural science, social marketing, gender studies, energy, environmental or international politics.

Dissertation. You complete the course by producing a 60-credit dissertation (around 10000 words) which applies intellectual rigour to a real world policy problem. You will have the option to pursue a placement with a relevant organisation to allow you to tailor your research to a policymaker or policy influencer audience.

Staff: The Director for the MPP is Paul Cairney, Professor of Politics and Public Policy in the Division of History and Politics, School of Arts and Humanities. Paul will deliver the majority of the core module content and oversee the completion of your dissertation (and, if appropriate, as the first supervisor). He will work closely with Richard Simmons, the director of the School of Arts and Social Science’s applied social research programme.

Five reasons why you should choose the MPP at Stirling

1.You will be taught by experienced and committed staff, teaching in a field they are passionate about. All contributing staff are engaged in research at the forefront of their disciplines, including Professor Cairney, who is currently funded by the ESRC to research the Scottish Government’s policymaking capacity.

2. You will develop a range of research skills that enhance further study and employability.

3. You will engage with debates from a wide variety of different disciplines.

4. You will have the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills in real world settings.

5. You will enjoy studying on one of the most beautiful campuses in Europe.

Fees and Funding

Details of tuition fees can be found at: A variety of scholarships and bursaries may be available in any given year, including scholarships in the School of Arts and Humanities. You can find out more about possible sources of funding here:

Entrance Requirements

Normally an upper second class Honours degree, or equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Stirling. Degrees can be in any relevant discipline. If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in any individual test.

To find out more about this programme please contact:

Professor Paul Cairney (Director)

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