Global challenges and the role of public policy

Now is the time to develop the knowledge, skills, and capabilities for a successful and rewarding public policy career
Copyright University of Bath

Policymakers face a range of profound and long-standing challenges including climate change, technology & AI and population ageing, alongside contemporary issues such as the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, all this amidst a backdrop of trying to repair government finances and get their own domestic economies on an even keel following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Crucially, all these issues are first order and require officials to have the appropriate multidisciplinary knowledge and skills to navigate these challenges. Indeed, only by understanding the issue holistically can effective solutions be designed, implemented, and evaluated.

Public policy at the University of Bath

The Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) at the University of Bath has been developed to provide individuals with the skills to understand why particular decisions are made, especially when one may be part of the policy process itself. This part-time programme, specifically designed for working professionals and open to students from a variety of backgrounds, brings together an international cohort of students through a combination of intensive residentials, supported by year-round remote teaching and support to create an enriching learning experience.

As globalisation renders public policy issues more complex, collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches are more important than ever. The MSc Public Policy at Bath draws on the knowledge of leading academics from a variety of departments, including social and public policy, health, economics, and politics – equipping students with practical, transferable, and relevant skills which are needed for a career in policymaking.

The programme offers individuals the opportunity to develop a thorough understanding of contemporary public policymaking and politics in the 21st century, how to evaluate conventional policy decisions and the space and freedom to research policy issues from a critical and academic perspective. By doing so, students not only develop their skillset but can refine and implement these skills in their day-to-day work.

Lessons from the front line

The academics who lead the MPP programme draw upon their extensive first-hand experience of working at the highest levels of government to inform their teaching and continue to frequently engage with officials and place a strong emphasis on demonstrating the importance of policy design, development, and evaluation.

Professor Harry Rutter has an extensive track record of policy engagement. Among many other roles he co-chaired a SAGE sub-group and attended main SAGE during the COVID-19 pandemic; established and led the National Obesity Observatory; and was a senior policy advisor to Public Health England.

In addition to his roles in the UK, his work on complex systems approaches to public health research, policy and practice has been highly influential with the World Health Organisation at both European and global levels.

"Current approaches have tended to take a very traditional view of how we should address public health problems," says Harry Rutter, Professor of Global Public Health. "What we want to do is bring together systems thinking, understanding of complexity, and the outstanding work that my colleague Anna Gilmore and her team have been doing for many years on commercial determinants of health and tobacco control. We want to shape a new way of thinking about public health problems – new ways of doing research on them and new ways of shaping policy and practice to tackle them and improve health across the world."

Dr Ricky Kanabar
Dr Ricky Kanabar

The MPP programme is led by Dr Ricky Kanabar, who has worked with multiple government departments and the Scottish and Welsh governments on a range of high-profile issues, including poverty measurement, social care and informing the design of family support programmes. More recently, Ricky’s research on intergenerational wealth inequality has informed the work of the Social Mobility Commission.

Whilst maintaining an academic profile, he sits on the boards of various national charities and has contributed to numerous think tank reports. Ricky leverages his unique experience and profile at the intersection of economics, social and public policy to inform his teaching and demonstrate to students how theory can be applied to inform and evaluate government policies.

Alongside a tailored approach to distance and intensive on-campus residentials, the programme regularly invites guest lectures from senior decision-makers, leading public policy intellectuals, former Ministers, and Permanent Secretaries – drawing on the extensive networks and public events programmes of the Institute for Policy Research, a unique department at the University of Bath which delivers part of the MPP programme and is led by Professor Nick Pearce, a former Head of the No. 10 Downing Street Policy Unit. Such events, which bring together graduate students and experts from across the university, provide our students with an unprecedented opportunity to expand and shape their professional networks.

A course with real-world relevance

Throughout the course, instructors place equal importance on both theory and practice, and assessments have been designed specifically to test students’ ability to apply their knowledge in a real-world context. A core mission of the programme is to enable students to apply the skills they learn in real-world settings.

“The course gave us the toolkit of practical application and development of skills, while being rooted in a theoretical framework to analyse and develop public policy," says Paul Clements, MSc Public Policy graduate and Director of Incident Management & Resilience at the Environment Agency. "Our study was complemented with the rigour of applying that in real-world case studies and practical analysis.”

A unique opportunity

The MPP programme at the University of Bath offers students a unique opportunity to invest in their careers and develop the knowledge, skills, and capabilities for successful and rewarding public policy careers, whether in the UK or beyond.

Crucially, from the very beginning of the programme the skills taught have real-world relevance and applicability. The course structure is particularly suited to professionals who wish to balance their work with high quality postgraduate training, enriching their current jobs while creating new opportunities for their career development.

Course details

► Two years part-time, starting in September 2024

► Taught through interactive online seminars and intensive residentials on campus

► Application deadline: 31 July 2024

Find out more about the course and apply




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