Master of Public Policy (MPP) | University of Oxford
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Master of Public Policy (MPP)

About the course

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) is a one-year taught degree course. It enables you to develop analytical and critical skills relevant for understanding the challenges of public policy and its implementation. It also equips you with skills that are essential for effective policy delivery.

The MPP begins with a selection of introductory activities during the induction fortnight. These provide an introduction to policy-making and the MPP as a whole. The curriculum is then orientated around academic learning and developing skills necessary for effective policy-making and analysis.

The current curriculum includes six compulsory core modules:

  • Foundations introduces philosophical concepts and dilemmas facing governments around the world
  • Economics for Public Policy seeks to prepare you for interaction with professional economists by developing the skills necessary to become a critical consumer of economic thinking
  • Politics of Policy-making explores the political challenges of policy-making across a range of national contexts and policy domains.  
  • Science and Public Policy considers ways to understand scientific and medical evidence, the policy implications of this evidence, and the interplay between science and conflicting policy concerns
  • Law and Public Policy discusses legal systems, legislation, and law both as a constraint on government and as applicable beyond the nation state
  • Policy Evaluation demonstrates the contribution that research evidence can make to public policy and provides you with tools that allow you to be a more effective and critical consumer of research evidence

These core modules draw on insights and approaches found within a range of academic disciplines. Taught by academics with direct experience of working in or with institutions or individuals engaged with policy-making, the modules also include opportunities to learn from policy practitioners who will share with you their experiences of real-world problems and policies.

The academic modules are taken alongside a number of more practically oriented modules. These applied policy modules include topics such as strategy, communication, finance, and negotiation. There are also professional skills sessions throughout the year which are designed to help you develop specific skills for successful careers in public policy.

In the third term, you will have the opportunity to select two modules which allow you to specialise on issues of personal interest to you. You will then undertake a summer project placement, for a minimum of six weeks, with a governmental, non-governmental, or private organisation to work on a mutually agreed policy-relevant issue. The BSG website provides more information about the summer project. At the end of your placement you will be required to submit a related policy analysis report and reflective essay. Following successful completion of the course you will then have the option to return to Oxford later in the year to take part in graduation-related events.

Graduate destinations

The MPP prepares you to understand the challenges of working in public policy. The opportunity to develop and apply a range of skills throughout the course, alongside and complementary to the academic programme, enables you to master the key skills which are essential for effective public service, whether in government, non-governmental organisations or the private sector.

The MPP is a degree for professionals and is not designed to prepare you for research courses of study, such as the DPhil in Public Policy.

BSG maintains a network of mentoring and support among alumni and current students. BSG hosts an extensive range of events and brings public policy leaders to BSG to inspire and mentor students.

As a BSG alumna or alumnus, you will join a lifelong community of peers and you will be able to participate in a wide range of BSG activities after you graduate.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any discipline. 

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.7 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

Applicants should have an outstanding academic record with exceptionally high academic results throughout, or should show an impressive upward trajectory in performance. This may be further evidenced by scholarships or prizes awarded because of academic abilities/achievements or glowing academic references ranking you at the very top of your peer group.

It is strongly recommended that you also submit scores from a standardised test such as the GRE, GMAT or LSAT, though these are not required to complete your application. 

Commitment to public service

In addition to academic and analytical ability, applicants are also expected to demonstrate a high level of commitment to public service. Applicants should demonstrate a strong commitment to public service that goes beyond their own life to include the broader community, however defined. In some cases, this may be evidenced through an outstanding record of achievement in volunteering or working in the public, private, or NGO sector. 

Evidence of leadership and impact

Applicants should also demonstrate an ability to lead and have impact in their chosen field. This does not necessarily need to be shown through traditional leadership positions. Applicants should bear in mind that some of the best leaders are also the best followers, and that leadership often requires enabling and empowering others to succeed. Sometimes the most impactful work is also the quieter work which takes place behind the scenes, facilitating the more visible contributions of others. These qualities of leadership, drive or entrepreneurial spark may be demonstrated through voluntary, professional or other activities.

There is no preferred background for the MPP and applications are welcomed from all academic disciplines and professional backgrounds. Prior full-time or part-time professional experience is also viewed favourably, because of the ways in which it can develop and enhance commitment to public service and evidence of leadership and impact, and may in some exceptional cases help bolster a file that includes a weaker-than expected academic record. 

In considering applicants’ achievements and their suitability for a place on the MPP, contextual data including applicants’ place of residence and age, will be taken into account. All applications will be considered holistically and contextually and a less than stellar performance in one category can be made up for by stellar performances in the other two.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.  


Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Blavatnik School of Government to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Blavatnik School of Government and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Blavatnik School of Government.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

The MPP is an applied degree and students will not be taught in-depth research skills. It will not prepare applicants directly for progression to research-based courses such as the DPhil in Public Policy.

In order to be accepted onto the DPhil applicants will be required to have completed a degree that provided the research training and skills necessary for their intended DPhil area of study. For more information on the DPhil entry requirements please see the DPhil in Public Policy.



Working space will be provided for you along with printing and photocopying facilities and you will also be able to book rooms for group study. Some fixed computers will be available in the student working spaces, and there is wireless Internet access throughout BSG.

BSG also makes extensive use of WebLearn (the University’s virtual learning environment) and the majority of the reading list material will be available electronically.

There is an enormous programme of research seminars that run across the University and you will be encouraged to attend those relevant to your areas of interest. In addition, BSG will invite guest scholars to speak on their areas of expertise. BSG’s Summer Project Team will provide you with support and resources to assist you to secure an appropriate summer project placement.


As part of the curriculum, the MPP features a number of practical skills sessions which are specific to public policy. You will also receive invitations to attend talks by visiting practitioners and academics on their respective areas of expertise, and have the opportunity to reflect on how their experiences shape your aspirations.

In addition, the BSG Mentorship Scheme enables you to learn from a distinguished practitioner from a range of sectors related to public policy. You can receive expert one-to-one careers advice at the University's Careers Service, which is located very closely to BSG, and attend careers fairs, talks, workshops and employer presentations. You will also be benefit from a having a summer project adviser who will help you to define, and in some cases re-define, your career aspirations during your preparation to secure a summer project placement with a host organisation. 

Student representation

At the end of each module you will be asked to comment on the teaching and learning experience, evaluate the module and reflect on your personal learning. BSG also holds fortnightly forums in which you will be able talk informally with staff. There are student representative meetings in which elected student representatives can make suggestions, raise any problems and provide feedback, on behalf of their peers, directly to those responsible for the delivery of their degree programme. A student representative will also attend the termly Social Sciences Division PGT student discussion forums. 


BSG will provide spaces for informal student meetings. Cohorts are strong encouraged to organise events to share the experience, skills, knowledge and expertise of individual students within the cohort. 


There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

(including Islands)

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).


If your application is successful, you will be asked to pay a deposit against your course fees at the application stage as a condition of your offer. The deposit amount and date by which payment must be made are shown below.

Fee status

Amount of deposit

Date by which deposit must be paid

(including Islands)
£5,35029 May 2017

The department's website provides further information about deposits for this course.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

There may be additional fees associated with the 6 to 8 week summer project. Students choose their host organisation and the topic of their summer project depending on their individual interests. MPP students have undertaken their summer projects with organisations across all sectors; government, non-profit, international and the private sector. The location of summer projects also greatly varies depending on a student’s interests. Some students decide to carry out their summer project in Oxford or elsewhere in the UK, some return to their home countries and others undertake projects elsewhere in the world. Therefore, costs associated with the summer project may vary depending on the location.

Students will need to meet the costs of travel, accommodation and living expenses, if applicable. Host organisations are sometimes able to provide funding for additional costs associated with a student’s summer project. Where this is not possible students must seek alternative sources of funding. In addition, the School has a limited MPP summer project bursary fund to which students may apply for funding. The BSG website provides more information about the Summer Project.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

If you have any questions about the course, please consult the BSG website. Please note that academics at  BSG are unable to comment on your suitability for the course or offer advice on the admissions process. If you have any questions that are not answered by the BSG website, please contact the Admissions Team via email.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
Up to 800 words

The personal statement should outline your interest in public policy and public service, why you have chosen the MPP at BSG, and what your previous experience and future career development plans are. 

You may also use your personal statement to touch upon any special circumstances with regard to any element of your application that you may wish to bring to the attention of the assessors.

In writing the statement you may wish to consider which unique perspectives and experiences you would bring to the MPP course and what your classmates might learn from you. You may also touch upon how the MPP will enable you to contribute to your community in the future.

The personal statement should be written in English.

This will be used to assess your commitment to public service, evidence of proven or potential leadership and impact, and general suitability for the MPP programme.

Written work:
One essay of 1,500 words

You are required to submit a policy analysis essay on a pressing policy issue. This essay must be entirely your own work and written in English.

Submitted essays should have a clearly defined topic of investigation and should not attempt to sustain broad and sweeping generalisations. When writing the essay, you may wish to consider how policy within your chosen area is made, implemented, and evaluated, as well as how innovative solutions may be formulated using these insights.

Choosing a suitable topic and style of written work forms part of this assessment and is therefore left to your discretion. You are encouraged to choose the format that you find best presents your analytical ability. Similarly, as there is no set topic range, you are encouraged to choose a topic that you are passionate about but where you also have sufficient knowledge to present a succinct and coherent argument.

This written piece will be assessed for the ability to write clearly and concisely, construct an argument, gather and present evidence, exercise critical thought and draw conclusions. The written work you submit should therefore demonstrate your academic and analytical ability and your suitability for the programme.

You must not submit work which was produced in conjunction with others. The word count must be adhered to and listed at the end of the body of written work. The total word count should exclude any footnotes, annotations or bibliography used.

Plagiarism and collusion are serious offences and in order to protect the credibility of the application process applicants are required to submit an electronic copy of their work. All applications are put through plagiarism software to identify applicants submitting an application that is not their own original work.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, academic and/or professional

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

References are invited to evaluate the applicant’s achievements within the selection criteria of academic and analytical excellence, commitment to public service and leadership and impact. It is recommended that you seek out referees that are familiar with your achievements and who can provide substantial personal evidence in support of your application.

Where possible references should be academic but professional references which speak to your academic and analytical ability are also acceptable. Most successful candidates submit at least one academic reference from their current or most recent institute of study.

Current master’s students, or those who have completed a master’s degree, are required to submit a reference from their supervisor or course director on the master’s programme. If you do not provide an academic reference that meets the criteria listed above, you will be asked to do so before the assessment of your application can be completed.

BSG receives a very large number of applications and enquiries each year. In the interest of making the admissions process as impartial and fair as possible, it is not possible to offer feedback to some candidates when the privilege cannot be extended to all. Therefore, the department cannot provide individual guidance on suitability for the course, but would rather encourage you to read the selection criteria carefully and judge for yourself whether your application would meet them.

Each year is a separate admissions cycle and being unsuccessful in one year does not mean that an application would also be unsuccessful in the next.