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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Structure and Courses

The programme is available full-time over one year, or part-time over two years.  The MSc in Comparative Public Policy is an intensive taught degree. Students complete six courses (two core courses and four options) and an extended dissertation on a comparative topic of their choice. 

Core courses

Select between 40 and 80 credits of the following specialist courses:

Students also have access to a wider range of options taught in other MSc degrees in the School.  The degree programme is complemented by research training in a variety of methodologies and research techniques on introductory and advanced level tailored to the research needs of individual students. Please consult the degree programme table (DPT) of the programme for an overview of available optional courses. Note that the records will be updated by the end of August for each academic year. Some courses might not run some years due to staff availability.


The dissertation offers you the chance to work under the supervision of an academic member of staff to explore in depth a comparative topic of your choosing.  This is an ideal chance to get to grips with an issue that fascinates you, and is good preparation for further study. You will also have the opportunity, should you wish, to undertake a Placement-based Dissertation with an external organisation and write your dissertation on the project you have worked on. There is a possibility to undertake such a placement with an organisation of your choice, and this should be discussed with your Programme Director.

Students in recent years chose to write dissertations on topics such as:

  • tax and benefit fraud in Britain and Germany
  • educational systems in Scotland and Iceland
  • the impact of European Union disability legislation in Scotland and Italy
  • European Neighbourhood Policy
  • gender, development and globalisation in Mexico and Malaysia
  • regulation of advertising of prescription drugs in the USA and New Zealand

Part time study

Part time students usually take four courses in their first year and two in their second; the dissertation element can be started as early as April or May of the first year, although there is a degree of flexibility to fit around work or personal commitments of any given student. For more information see the Degree Programme Table (DPT).

Image: Graffiti, Potterrow, Edinburgh. ©Andy Aitchison 2007.