MPP in detail

The MPP has a dynamic programme which evolves from year to year to respond to developments in practice and to address emerging phenomena in policy across the world. This page gives you an indication of recent content and is meant to be taken as a guidance. 

This is a schedule of the 2017-18 MPP curriculum, divided into Oxford's three teaching terms, for illustrative purposes.

Michaelmas term
(21 September – 15 December 2017)

Hilary term
(8 January – 16 March 2018)

Trinity term
(16 April – 15 June 2018)

Summer term
(6+ weeks between 16 June and 1 September 2018)

Policy Challenge I

The Politics of Policymaking

Policy Challenge II

Summer Project

Foundations

Law and Public Policy

Option I

 

Economics for Public Policy

Evidence and Public Policy

Option II

 

Applied Policy modules

Applied Policy modules

Applied Policy modules

 

Professional Skills Programme

 

A summary of course content from the 2017-2018 MPP curriculum follows, again for illustrative purposes.

Policy Challenge

This intensive module commences during the first two weeks of the MPP. During this period, you will be engaged in a series of case study discussions, team building exercises and a rigorous policy exercise. The case studies will set the stage for the ambitions and aspirations of Blavatnik graduates, by exploring how leading public service figures define, analyse, and address major public policy challenges. The team building exercise is an experiential problem-solving challenge designed to help you build skills such as active listening, empathy, information sharing, and critical analytical thinking. The policy exercise explores what it means to achieve a “world better governed”.

Economics

Public policy leaders frequently interact with professional economists. This course aims to prepare MPP graduates for this interaction by developing the skills necessary to become a critical consumer of economic thinking. You will explore economists’ preoccupation with markets, consider the challenges of financing policy via taxation, focus on design and how to choose between competing project designs and examine the political obstacles that can hinder implementation, together with solutions suggested by the economic literature on institutions.

Evidence in Public Policy

How do policymakers know whether their policies meet their intended objectives? Can they improve the way policies are implemented? Given limited government budgets, these questions are increasingly at the heart of public policy. The aim of the Evidence in Public Policy module is to provide you with an understanding of how policymakers gather, assess and use evidence in practice.

Foundations

One of the consistent responses from senior government practitioners is that they want policymakers who are not just skilled across a range of professional competencies, but also have a humane outlook and a moral compass. Foundations challenges you to think deeply to explore your own basic moral and political outlook, and reflect formally on the moral values and goals that do, and should, apply in public policy.

Law and Public Policy

Law provides a framework within which public policy is developed, shaped and implemented. In the Law and Public Policy module you will explore the key ideas which underpin how legal systems work, and how law both constrains and can be used as a tool in the policy process.

The Politics of Policymaking

Policymaking is a fundamentally political process. The Politics of Policymaking will help prepare you to be a successful agent for change across diverse institutional contexts by learning how to ‘think politically'. You will consider how actors and institutions shape outcomes in domestic and international politics. Understanding and navigating these dynamics is essential for the advocacy for, design of, and implementation of successful policies.

Policy Challenge II

Policy Challenge II is an opportunity to bring together all the learnings from the MPP to address contemporary policy dilemmas in a simulation-type setting. The advantage of this pedagogy is that it requires you to go beyond determining what theoretically ‘optimal’ policy should look like to developing deliverable policy for the real world. Additionally, students will experience the dynamics of multilateral negotiations, interest group politics, and the interface between domestic and international politics. 

Applied Policy modules

In addition to term-long core modules you will also choose four intensive Applied Policy modules. The Applied Policy modules enable you to apply your theoretical learning, build module-specific sets of skills and knowledge, and understand the important fundamental principles involved in decision-making by different groups of stakeholders. Previous Applied Policy modules have included: Communications, Private Finance, Public Budgeting, and Negotiations. The selection may differ from year to year.

Option modules

In Trinity term you will select two Option modules thereby allowing you to specialise on issues of particular interest. The Option modules cover a range of contemporary policy issues and the selection may differ from year to year. In previous years they have included modules on Africa, big data, the challenges of democratisation, climate change, economic development, education policy, governing in a digital age, international economic relations of governments, international migration, legal and illegal politics, police and policing, political communication, social policy, sustainable nutrition, urban challenges in developing countries, and taxing business.

Summer Project

The Summer Project is the last assessed component of the MPP, and gives you the opportunity to apply your skills and knowledge to a real-life policy environment. You may complete a placement in a governmental, non-governmental, research institute or private organisation. The Summer Project placement should last at least six weeks and can be based in the UK or abroad. Explore the Summer Project section for more information.

Professional Skills

Complementing the MPP and its learning outcomes, the School offers a range of professional skills sessions designed to help you acquire, develop and enhance practical and transferable skills necessary for a successful career in public policy. See the Professional Skills section for more information.