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Politics and Public Policy (MA)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Part time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

Gain advanced analytical and conceptual skills, enabling you to critically evaluate politics and public policy in various institutions across the UK and internationally.


Multi-level insights

Address and explore Welsh, UK, European and international levels of governance.


Research focus

Develop advanced research skills and undertake in-depth research in a relevant area of your choice.


Skills development

Gain transferable skills from various assignments including speaking, writing, team presentations and policy briefings.


Specialist modules

Modules built on the distinctive and cross-disciplinary opportunities afforded by our expertise in law, politics and international relations.



Close links to the main institutions of Welsh governance, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the United Nations Association (Wales).

The Politics and Public Policy MA programme is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of policy analysis and governance within a multi-level context – from local to international settings.

This programme will equip you with the analytical and conceptual skills necessary to critically evaluate politics and public policy at multiple levels of government. It also provides a thorough training in analytical methods and approaches (qualitative and quantitative) used for conducting research in these areas.

You’ll engage with a diverse range of modules, designed to provide a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding in politics and public policy and allow you to follow your particular interests at the Welsh, UK, European and worldwide levels. You’ll also benefit from our close ties to Wales’ devolved institutions, as well as to the UK and Scottish governments. The school is also home to the Wales Governance Centre, the leading centre for the study of Welsh politics, law and political economy.

Learning activities will include student presentations and group work, designed to refine a range of transferable skills including communication, organisational and interpersonal skills.

Where you'll study

School of Law and Politics

Our vibrant student body combined with highly qualified academic staff provides the perfect environment to explore the dynamic and fast-paced fields of law, politics and international relations.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 6102
  • MarkerMuseum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:1 honours degree in economics, English, geography, history, international relations, journalism, law, modern languages, philosophy, politics, psychology, religious studies, sociology, social policy, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. Please provide additional evidence to support your application such as signed and dated employer references and evidence of professional registration with a relevant regulatory or professional body.

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled. 

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

The programme takes a 3 stage approach.

During Stages 1 and 2 (the taught stage) of the programme you’ll study a maximum of 120 taught credits, comprising six 20 credit modules (all of which are offered at level 7). You must study 60 credits each academic year via a combination of core and optional modules. 

On successful completion of Stages 1 and 2, you’ll progress to Stage 2 (the master’s degree stage) and undertake a 60 credit, level 7 dissertation module.

Subject to successful completion of the requisite number of taught modules, those who don’t proceed to the master’s degree stage may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

Year two

Year 2 is the second stage of the programme and includes the taught and master’s degree stage.  You will further develop your knowledge of public policy, government, and policymaking. Additionally, in semester 2, you’ll study research methods in preparation for your dissertation. You must study any remaining core modules alongside your choice of optional modules.

Upon successful completion of 120 credits of taught modules, you’ll progress to the 60-credit dissertation. The dissertation component will commence at the end of semester 2 and be will submitted at the end of the programme.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

Study for a master’s degree is intensive and challenging, and it is important that you take full advantage of the teaching that is provided in order to succeed. Attendance at classes and dissertation supervisions is compulsory and we will expect you to be well prepared. 

Our teaching will be delivered through seminars or a combination of lectures and seminars.  Other teaching methods include the online use of discussion boards, self-access study packs and formative quizzes and activities.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information.

In seminars you will have the opportunity to discuss particular themes or topics, to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in oral presentation. Communication skills are developed in seminars, where you will make individual contributions to group study. Participation in diverse learning activities, such as small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments will develop your intellectual and presentation skills.

Modules are typically led by experienced staff actively engaged in research relevant to their subject area. Our teaching is research led and this enables you to have access to past and contemporary real-life examples and scenarios. 

How will I be assessed?

Our teaching provides you with a diversity of assessments to reflect practical relevance in analysing and evaluating politics and public policy. Assessments include essay assignments, oral presentations, policy briefs/analysis, team presentations and more.

Assessment will be made up of formative and summative assessment.

Formative tasks do not contribute towards your final degree classification but are designed to give you an opportunity to develop your skills and practice for your summative assessments.  They enable you and your tutors to evaluate the development of your skills and your progress in each module. Formative tasks will normally involve written coursework or a class test or may comprise individual student presentations, or class/group discussions in seminars with formative spoken feedback from the module leader.

Summative assessments contribute towards your final degree classification. Your results in these assessments:

  • determine your formal progression from Stage 1 to Stage 2 (dissertation); and
  • determine your final award.

The nature of the summative assessments in Stage 1 will vary by module but will typically involve written coursework of up to 4,000 words on essays, unseen examinations or pre-release examinations, presentations and can also include an assessment of your general engagement and participation in seminars. Summative assessment in Stage 2 (dissertation) comprises the dissertation (up to 15,000 words).

How will I be supported?

We’ll support you in developing your research and study skills across your modules and also via your dissertation supervisor.

Your learning will be supported through e-learning. All modules are supported by Learning Central, a virtual learning environment that is available on and off campus through which you’ll access a wide range of materials for your modules.

You’ll receive general academic and pastoral support through a personal tutor and where appropriate your personal tutor will be able to signpost you to other areas of student support. We will run a programme of guest lectures and talks which you are welcome to attend.

A designated Disability and Diversity Officer ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities. The university also has a range of services to support you through its Student Life teams. This includes, Student Futures (the careers service), the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service. In addition, you’ll have access to excellent libraries with specialist subject librarians and resource centres. 


Feedback is available through oral feedback during seminars, and you will receive written feedback or recorded feedback on both your formative and summative assessments. Individual feedback on formative work will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your learning, as well as how you might improve your performance in summative assessments. Written feedback will generally be made available no later than 21 working days from the agreed submission date of your assessment.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of your programme you will be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

  • KU 1 Critically analyse and evaluate in tasks and assessments the main concepts and theoretical frameworks used to assess the policy making process, and how these have been applied within contemporary academic research.
  • KU 2 Appraise the causes and dynamics of key changes in the operation and inter-connections of Britain’s political and governing institutions since 1979 in tasks and assessments.
  • KU 3 Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different research methodologies in contemporary political science in tasks and assessments.
  • kU 4 Critically analyse contemporary themes and debates across a range of subject areas within political science, including key concepts, theories and methods used to analyse political phenomena.
  • KU 5 Design and develop an independently researched dissertation focused on an area of politics and public policy, drawing on appropriate evaluation skills and research methods.

Intellectual Skills:

  • IS 1 Critically analyse different approaches involved in collecting political information and their ethical implications in a range of assessments.
  • IS 2 Gather, organize, and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of sources, including the use of communication and information technologies for the retrieval and presentation of information, whilst considering their ethical implications.
  • IS 3 Investigate and advocate solutions to problems in a range of assessments.
  • IS 4 Develop a reasoned argument, synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement in a range of assessments.
  • IS 5 Evaluate an independent research topic of your choosing in a dissertation. 

Professional Practical Skills:

  • PS 1 Collaborate with others to achieve set tasks.
  • PS 2 Gather, organise, and collate evidence, data and information from a variety of sources, including information and communications technology.
  • PS 3 Demonstrate the ability to reflect on your own learning and constructively utilise feedback in a range of assessments.
  • PS 4 Evaluate a range of evidence to reach a reasoned judgment in a dissertation.

Transferable/Key Skills:

  • KS 1 Manage your own learning self-critically.
  • KS 2 Communicate ideas effectively and fluently, both orally and in writing.
  • KS 3 Work independently, demonstrating initiative, self-organisation and time management.
  • KS 4 Collaborate with others and contribute effectively to the achievement of common goals.
  • KS 5 Independently gather, analyse and evaluate evidence for a research dissertation.

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year two £5,225 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year two £11,350 None

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Careers and placements

Studying for a Politics and Public Policy (MA) will demonstrate that you have an excellent understanding of government and policy-making at multiple level of governance and will be of use in a wide range of roles within the public, private and third sectors. You’ll also have advanced analytical, research and communications skills, including the ability to independently solve problems and make decisions in challenging situations. For these reasons, the degree opens the way for careers in a wide range of fields. These include a variety of roles at local, Welsh, UK, EU and international levels. The emphasis on research skills and independent study also means that you’ll be well-placed to continue your academic studies and undertake a PhD.



Next steps


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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.