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Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Comparative Applied Social and Public Policy, Evaluation and Research (MPA)

Overview Social and policy research coupled with comparative analysis that has an international dimension


21 months full-time

This masters programme is ideal for mid-career professionals. You'll find the course useful if you are, or intend to, work with policy; either as an adviser, researcher, analyst or consultant.

You'll study a strongly international curriculum that is based around a combination of comparative social and public policy management and advanced research skills training. This course builds directly on our applied policy research expertise, both in the taught modules which draw heavily on our own research and in the practice-relevant activity that provides an opportunity to participate in ongoing policy research projects.

The Department of Social Policy and Social Work has one of the largest concentrations of social policy research in the UK. It is home to two specialist research units: the Social Policy Research Unit and the Centre for Housing Policy.

Course content What you’ll study


This is a 21-month course that specialises in social and public policy analysis and social research. You'll focus on comparative cross-national and international policy. You'll also spend time analysing policy development and policy lessons from OECD member states.

The first half of this MPA will enable you to study and explore a combination of comparative social policy and public management. In the second half you'll get advanced research skills training. You'll undertake practice related activities including small group projects that will expose you to applied policy research in practice with the support of a learning mentor.


Year 1 modules:

You'll study six modules in your first year that will introduce you to the concepts and techniques you'll use later in the course. You'll also build on your knowledge with a series of masterclasses and your own policy analysis.

  • Social Policy Analysis
  • Comparative and International Social Policy Research Methods
  • Globalisation and Social Policy
  • Comparative Social Policy - Governance, Management and Delivery
  • Applied Policy Transfer Project
  • Comparative Applied Social and Public Policy, Evaluation and Research Master Classes

Full description of modules


You'll undertake a placement which is selected, where possible, to match your interests, expertise and career aspirations. You'll work alongside a mentor with expertise in policy-related activities.

Year 2 modules:

In your second year you'll study five modules that build advanced research skills and allow you to deepen your understanding of applied social and public policy. You'll also write an experiential analysis of your placement experiences and undertake detailed independent study on a topic that links to your professional interests and experience.

  • Introduction to Social Research Methods
  • Applied Policy Research Placement Report
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • Advanced Qualitative Methods
  • Placement Linked Systematic Review Report

Full description of modules


You'll work on two independent projects that will be assessed as part of your course.

In your first year you'll work on the Applied Policy Transfer Project to produce a 8,000 word report under the supervision of your mentor. You'll be able to specialise on a specific policy issue in which you'll explore cross-national evidence to identify policy solutions that may be transferred from one country to another.

Towards the end of your second year you'll undertake a longer independent project in which you'll produce a structured scoping review of up to 10,000 words.

Funding opportunities

‚ÄčThere are a number of funding opportunities for students on this course: 

You can also explore more general sources of postgraduate scholarships and funding:

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

You'll attend lectures, usually in groups no larger than 30 students, and often with much fewer. You'll also take part in group seminars and hands-on workshops. You will attend a series of masterclasses that explore issues such as research communication, organisational culture, behavioural insights for social and public policy, and systematic reviewing of evidence in detail‚Äč.

You'll have support from a personal supervisor throughout the course. You'll also have a mentor who will work with you on a one-to-one basis through the course of your placement

You'll also be able to attend the Department's lectures and University lectures featuring visiting speakers from across the world.


Your assessment will be continuous and based mainly on essays and reports. You will receive written feedback on all assessed work.

You'll complete a 8,000 word report: exploring a policy issue in a cross-national context. You'll also produce a longer scoping review of up to 10,000 words which will be linked to your policy interests and the research methods training you'll receive.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

This course is ideal for mid-career professionals that aim to work in, or already work in, social or public policy.

Career opportunities

Our graduates have gone on to enhance their careers in a diverse range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations in roles such as policy analysts and advisers, This course also provides a foundation for a career in social and policy research.

Transferable skills

  • Advanced research and analysis skills
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Critical appraisal
  • Presentation and dissemination of research

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You'll need at least three years professional experience in a public sector or NGO setting. You'll also need to have achieved at least a 2:1 in your undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification. We may also consider your application if you have relevant work experience with good academic potential.

International options

Guidance on international equivalents for entry qualifications.

English language

If your native language is not English, you should meet an English language proficiency level of 6.5 in the IELTS test with at least 5.5 in each component. We accept other English Language Tests.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions

Next steps

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