How to apply

The MSc in Public Policy Research is aimed at individuals who want to pursue a career in applied research that seeks to inform and improve public policy. 

It is designed for top graduates who have completed our MPP or an equivalent professional taught master’s degree. This is because the MSc builds upon pre-existing knowledge that candidates must have about the public policy process, training in leadership and the core skills of policymaking and implementation.

There are two application deadlines for the MSc in Public Policy Research: 5 January 2024 and 1 March 2024. We strongly encourage you to apply using the January deadline be considered for University Scholarships. If you are applying for the Public Policy 1+1 programme, you must apply using the January deadline.

We aim to select people from around the world who show a commitment to improving public policy through conducting, synthesising and disseminating applied, impactful research.

Graduate admissions at Oxford

All applications to the MSc are initially managed by the University of Oxford’s central Graduate Admissions and Funding Office on our behalf. For more information about the criteria and how we assess against them please see the Oxford University Graduate Admissions website.

Please note, in considering applicants’ achievements and their suitability for a place on the MSc, we take a holistic approach and consider a range of contextual factors.

In addition, we also seek evidence of proficiency in the English language. Read the full requirements. If you already have English language test scores at the required level, please include them in your application. However, you are not required to provide test scores when you submit your application.

If you receive an offer of a place, the department may require you to submit language test scores by a specific deadline as a condition of your offer. It can take several months to secure a place for a language test, so we recommend arranging to sit a test as soon as you decide to apply.

To apply, and for details about what you need to apply to the MSc, please refer to the Oxford University Graduate Admissions MSc website.

Graduate admissions

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What to expect during the application process

We do not receive your application file until after your application has been processed and deemed complete by Graduate Admissions, so please contact them for any technical queries related to the application form. Once we receive your MSc application, we assess it against the selection criteria stated in the Graduate Admissions pages.

We will aim to assess all files by mid-March 2024 and notify applicants after that. Applicants who merit an offer will receive a conditional offer via email. Some strong applicants may also be placed on a waiting list.

Say ‘yes’ to your future at Oxford

Receiving an offer

If you are offered a place for the MSc in Public Policy Research, your offer letter will make clear any conditions of admission: for example, meeting the English language requirements and/or achieving a particular degree classification. Your application will then be automatically assessed in two separate processes: one in relation to your college; and another in relation to university-managed funding opportunities. The exact timeline depends on each college and different university funding schemes and is beyond our control.

Once you are accepted by a college, you will receive a firm offer of a place subject to the fulfilment of financial conditions. Please note that you are guaranteed a college place if you hold an offer of a place on the course.

Your application will be automatically considered for the University-managed scholarships for which you are eligible. Your offer will also come with an invitation to complete an MSc Scholarship Questionnaire – usually within two weeks of receiving the offer – should you wish to be considered for funding directly managed by the School.

More information about the application process can be found on the Graduate Admissions pages.

Learn what life is like in Oxford.

College membership
The true Oxford experience

As part of the University of Oxford, every Blavatnik School of Government student becomes a member of a college. This means that, not only will you be part of the School’s global network and the University’s centuries-long history, but you’ll also have access to the sense of community and family unique to Oxford colleges. The University of Oxford is in fact a ‘collegiate university’: it is made up of 45 different colleges and halls. Each of them has its own particular character, but they are all independent, self-governing bodies that give students and scholars the benefit of belonging to a smaller academic community and provide facilities for study, accommodation, welfare, sport and leisure activities.

Thanks to your college or hall you will meet additional academics and students across subjects and year groups who, like the faculty at the Blavatnik School, come from a variety of academic backgrounds, cultures and countries. Alongside your supervisor at the School, you will also have a college adviser who will be a member of the college’s academic fellowship and will offer support and advice.

Thanks to your college or hall you will meet additional academics and students across subjects and year groups who, like the faculty at the Blavatnik School, come from a variety of academic backgrounds, cultures and countries. Alongside your supervisor at the School, you will also have a college adviser who will be a member of the college’s academic fellowship and will offer support and advice.

Choosing a college
Explore life in Oxford through your college community

As a Blavatnik School of Government student, you may choose to apply to a particular college in your application or make an open application. If you apply to a specific college you will automatically be considered by that college. If you are successful they will notify you that you have been awarded a place. If you are unsuccessful you will automatically be considered by other colleges until you are offered a place. The decision to state a preference of college, or to make an open application, will not affect the likelihood of your success for admission. If you make an open application, the central Graduate Admissions office (or in some cases the Blavatnik School) will allocate a college for you to be considered by. Read more about what choosing a college entails. By receiving an offer to study on the MSc you are guaranteed a college place.

For more information on Oxford's collegiate system please see the College Guide. For a list of accepting colleges at the time you make your application please view the college tab on the MSc graduate admissions website.

College membership and accommodation
Spend your year in Oxford the way you want to

Colleges have very popular accommodation facilities and staying in a college is often known as ‘living in’. However it’s important to remember that the offer of a college place does not necessarily mean that you will be guaranteed accommodation, so we encourage you to look at all options available, including private rental.

The Graduate Accommodation Office lets and manages rooms, flats and houses in and around Oxford city centre, on sites owned by the University, to full-time graduate students.

For help with accommodation information for visiting students, academics and staff members, visit the Studentpad website, hosted by the Graduate Accommodation Office, where a number of private landlords advertise for tenants associated with the University.

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Find answers to all your questions about the MSc

If you have any questions about the course that are not answered by our FAQs page and the comprehensive Graduate Admissions and Funding FAQs, our Admissions team will be happy to help. However, please note that we are unable to provide individual guidance on suitability for the course, and we can’t offer feedback to applicants. This is because we receive a high number of applications and enquiries each year and we are committed to making the admissions process as impartial and fair as possible.

One last thing to remember – each year is a separate admissions cycle and being unsuccessful in one year does not mean that you will also be unsuccessful in the next!