Master of Public Policy (MPP) | University of Oxford
MPP students in discussion at the School
MPP students in discussion at the School
(Image Credit: John Cairns)

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 carefully planned programme of activities during the induction period which provides an introduction to policymaking and advice on how to derive the greatest benefit from the MPP experience. The curriculum for the rest of the course is delivered via a series of lectures, seminars, case studies and workshops across three terms, culminating in a summer project at the end of the third term.  

You can expect to spend at least 300 hours of contact time. The curriculum integrates insights and approaches from a range of academic disciplines and also includes opportunities to learn skills from policy practitioners. 

The current curriculum includes the following modules which all students must take:

  • Economics
  • Evidence and Public Policy
  • Foundations (Philosophy and Public Policy)
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Policy Challenge I
  • Policy Challenge 2
  • The Politics of Policymaking

You can also personalise your learning to meet your professional needs by choosing from a number of options, applied policy modules and summer project choices, as well as from a complementary programme of professional skills. 

Your learning will be assessed in a variety of ways, including examinations, essays and in-class assessments of a more practical nature. 

For more detailed information about the course please see the Blavatnik School website.

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 that trains people to hone their skills in policymaking and analysis and is not designed to prepare you for research courses of study, such as the DPhil in Public Policy.

The Blavatnik School of Government maintains a network of mentoring and support among alumni and current students. The Blavatnik School hosts an extensive range of events and brings public policy leaders to the school to inspire and mentor students.

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 2018-19

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 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. 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.

Please note, in considering applicants’ achievements and their suitability for a place on the MPP, the Blavatnik School of Government takes a holistic approach and considers a range of contextual factors including applicants’ place of residence and age, will be taken into account.

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

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. 

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.

Resources

At the Blavatnik School of Government there is a dedicated MPP study area and additional study spaces elsewhere in the building, some of which can be pre-booked. Students also have access to the student common room, as well as to the communal facilities such as the café and the Inamouri Forum. Students are strongly encouraged and supported to organise their own peer-learning and social activities. 

The Blavatnik School does not have its own library because most reading material is made available electronically. However, students can choose to study in a number of the University’s many excellent libraries as well as at their college library. 

The Blavatnik School benefits from having its own ICT Team, which provides support and advice to students.

Funding

There are over 1,100 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).

Further information on scholarships and funding opportunities specific to this academic department is also provided on the MPP funding webpage.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2018-19

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£36,880£3,112£39,992
Overseas£36,880£3,112£39,992

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).

Deposits

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

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£5,50029 May 2018
Overseas£5,500

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 of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

Additional information

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, there may be costs associated with the summer project, depending on the type and location of the placement, such as travel and accommodation expenses. You can find out more about the summer project on the Blavatnik School of Government website. You will need to meet any additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from the school or your college to help you cover some of these expenses.

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 2018-19 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between c. £1,015 and £1,555 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 Blavatnik School of Government website. Please note that academics at the Blavatnik School of Government 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 Blavatnik School of Government 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.

CV/résumé

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 include details of:

  • your interest in public policy and particular problems or issues that you care about
  • why you want to do the MPP at the Blavatnik School of Government and how you think it will help you tackle the challenges you care about in this world
  • what public service and leadership mean to you in this context
  • the skills and experiences you would bring to classroom discussions
  • how being part of the MPP community would enable you to go on and have greater positive impact in your chosen communities.

You may also use your personal statement to explain any special circumstances relating to any element of your application that you wish to bring to the attention of the assessors.

The personal statement should be written in English.

The statement 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 written piece of 1,500 words

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

Submitted work 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 policy-focused 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. You should also appropriately reference your work, using the university’s guidance on referencing.

Plagiarism is presenting some else’s work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional. The test for determining if plagiarism has taken place is quite simple: has material been included in this piece of work without adequate referencing? If the answer to this is ‘yes’, then plagiarism has occurred. Therefore, when taking information from a source it is important that the source is fully acknowledged. 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. For more information on plagiarism and how to ensure you avoid it, see the plagiarism section of the University’s website

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.

The Blavatnik School of Government 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.

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