The value of Oxford’s Master of Public Policy – why choose our MPP?

Working in admissions at the Blavatnik School of Government, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to meet potential students from all over the world, each looking to find a course that best suits them. Among the variety of questions they ask, there is one that comes up frequently and it’s about what makes our Master of Public Policy (MPP) unique. It’s as if students are asking: “why should I choose to study for the MPP at Oxford, instead of picking any of the other (cheaper/longer/closer) options available?”

The MPP class of 2019
The MPP class of 2019

It’s a fair question – everyone knows that postgraduate education is a big investment in terms of both time and money. The way I like to respond is by highlighting the three aspects that, to me, stand out when I look at the Oxford MPP compared to other programmes.

1. Place

When potential applicants come to visit, they are often struck by the beauty of the city of Oxford – known as ‘the city of dreaming spires’ – and by the modern look of our award-winning building, designed to foster dialogue and collaboration. But there is more to Oxford than its architecture. Earlier this year, the University of Oxford was ranked world’s best university for the fourth year in a row, and in its 900-year history it has always fostered innovation and research excellence.

The Blavatnik School of Government combines such a rich history with an exciting and dynamic environment aimed at reimagining governance in the 21st century. At the School and in Oxford, students experience the best possible mix of tradition and innovation with unrivalled access to world-leading thinkers and practictioners.     

2. People

The MPP is about people. This year we welcomed 124 MPP students from 50 different countries. They are all exceptionally talented individuals who are passionate about public policy and public service, and they all have very different backgrounds. We limit the number of students we accept every year because we want them to be able to interact meaningfully with each other during the year. Being in the class is a stimulating experience in itself; for some students, this will be the first time they are confronted with a different world view from their own, bringing on personal and professional growth.

It doesn’t end there – current students are connected with former students from the very start of the MPP (and sometimes even before they move to Oxford), and when they graduate they officially become part of our alumni community. A lifelong resource which allows former students to be connected with each other, hold each other to account and keep strong ties with the School and its faculty.

Students also build strong links with the Blavatnik School’s faculty and spend a lot of time with them being taught and supervised by them. There are ongoing opportunities to engage with faculty – this could be through teaching, discussion and supervision, as well as through common areas of policy interest.  There are over 20 faculty members who teach on course, as well as many visiting speakers. The Blavatnik School of Government has one of the largest research portfolios of any department within the Social Sciences Division – therefore you are being taught by academics researching real life problems – the results of which will have a real world impact.  Many faculty members also lead research programmes, also based here at the School. 

3. Content

The MPP at Oxford is shorter than other similar programmes – 12 months – but it fits in as much as other courses do in 18-24 months. ‘Intense’ is a word that is often used during the first few weeks of the MPP, and students will grow to understand fully what that means in the coming months.

The MPP covers a range of disciplines that are needed in professions related to public policy – from economics to law – which provide a framework for policymaking, as well as philosophy, ethics and the fundamental values behind each approach to public policy. The course is characterised by high levels of ‘contact time’ as opposed to time allocated for independent study and assessment. This means that students spend a substantial amount of time engaging in activities such as being taught by our faculty during classes and seminars, participating in discussions and workshops moderated by faculty, being supervised by tutors and academics, and finally, in some cases, working closely with a member of faculty on a summer project placement.

The MPP is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and as such, applicants need to choose well. At the Blavatnik School we offer world-class teaching, a high amount of ‘contact time’, small class size, a lifelong community of engaged peers and the opportunities that come from being a part of the best university in the world. Of course, this comes at a cost – the MPP fees are high, but the value our students obtain from their year in Oxford is unparalleled. And because we feel strongly that finances should not be a barrier to studying with us, we at the School work continuously to raise funds to support as many students as possible. This year alone, seventy seven per cent of our MPP students receive some form of financial assistance to support their studies. So if you have the right motivation and drive, the MPP can be the course for you. We in the admissions team look forward to receiving your applications!

Admissions will close on 10 January – a little earlier than in previous years. It’s worth keeping in mind that due to the winter break in December, we strongly recommend that all applications are submitted before of 19 December, as after that date it might be more difficult to receive timely and quick assistance from the School’s admissions team, should you incur any problems or have any questions.

Kim Edwards is Admissions Officer at the Blavatnik School of Government. If you want to contact our admissions team, please email admissions@bsg.ox.ac.uk

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