Public Policy

Course Overview
The MA in Public Policy prepares its graduates to work in government, public bodies, civil society organisations, NGOs, international organisations, businesses and other fields and organisations that require an expert understanding of policymaking. In addition to core policy and research training modules, it offers a field trip to Brussels to examine EU policymaking and specialised modules in specific policy areas including: Policy in the Digital Age; Advocacy and Development; Gender; Peace and Conflict; Disability; Ageing; Child and Family; Ocean and Marine; Urban Policy; Social Welfare; and Negotiation; as well as an optional module in data analytics for public policy. At a time when policy formulation and implementation is increasingly subject to political scrutiny and negotiation, the course emphasises the political contexts in which policy is made and implemented and the development of digital government and new forms of public consultation and participation.

The programme is aimed at Arts and Social Science graduates seeking a qualification that will help them to secure policy-related employment; graduates from other fields including Commerce and Law seeking to improve their employment prospects; graduates interested in pursuing PhD research, particularly in areas where University of Galway has specialist policy expertise.

Subjects taught

Core modules (35 ECTS)
These modules provide students with the theoretical and empirical tools that are necessary for the analysis of public policy and the completion of the research dissertation.

1. Public Policy and Politics (10 ECTS) reviews the major approaches to the study of public policy, and introduces students to key concepts including the policy cycle, policy stakeholders, public participation, and digital government (Semester 1).

2. Policy Challenges: National, European and Global (10 ECTS) introduces students to contemporary policy challenges at national, European and global levels and to mechanisms for public consultation. It examines how issues make it on to the agenda of decision-makers and prepares students to contribute to policy-making processes through the writing of policy proposals and policy briefs. The module is taught by experts from a range of disciplines across the university including Law, Economics, Political Science, Sociology and Management. There is a particular emphasis on the use of public consultations (Semester 1).

3. Research Methods and Methodology (10 ECTS) This module aims to give students a solid grounding in research methods. The topics covered include definitions of research, argument and logic, sources of information, tools for information searches, theory and practice of basic qualitative and quantitative research methods (Semester 1).

4. Research Workshops (10 ECTS) This module provides workshops relevant to the development of students’ dissertations. The workshops are led by academic staff with diverse and varied research experience. Typical workshop topics include academic writing, critical thinking, literature review, methods selection, working with primary sources, and the development of a research proposal, along with workshops focused on specific fields of research. (Semesters 1 and 2).

SP6145 Research Paper (20 ECTS)

The Research Paper on an original research topic is completed over the summer months.

Optional modules (30 ECTS)
The optional modules enable students to specialise in areas of interest, build on foundational knowledge, and develop focused expertise, and choose a research area for the final research paper. Students can concentrate on a specific policy area by choosing closely-related modules in areas such as Development; Peace and Security; Gender; Ageing; Marine; NGOs and Advocacy.

The field experience module offers students a field trip to Brussels to meet and network with practitioners and visit institutional venues (N.B. availability of this module is subject to public health advice).

5 ECTS modules, Semesters 1& 2
SP574 Families and Children in Society and Policy

5 ECTS modules, Semester 2
SP6128 Field-based Learning (Brussels Field Trip)
MK5116 Negotiations
DEV6102 Data Analytics for Social Sciences 1
GG6103 Development and Human Rights
GG6110 Applied Gender Analyses
GG106 Women, Conflict and Human Security
ENLIGHT Summer School: Equity and Sustainability Transitions

10 ECTS modules, Semester 2
SP6143 Urban Public Policy: Smart & Liveable Cities
SP6149 Conflict, Peace & Security
SP6120 Irish Politics North and South
SP6122 Social and Political Context of Activism and Advocacy
GG6109 Gender, Sexuality and Global Health
HI6100 NGOs in the 20th Century and the Making of the 20th Century World
LW575 Crime and Disorder
EC5116 Global Issues in Agricultural, Marine and Renewable Energy Economics
EC5115 Environmental Economic Modelling
EC5131 International Policy and Ageing across the Life Course
DJ6137 Strategic Communication
DJ6144 Communicating Climate Action and Science
LW5208 European Consumer Law and Policy
LW550 Advocacy and Access to Justice
SP6127 Professional Experience (Placement)
N.B. Some optional modules require students to have taken certain prerequisite courses. The list of available modules may vary from year to year. Availability of optional modules in some disciplines will be subject to minimum head counts as determined by the disciplines involved.

Assessment methods include: essays, exams, continuous assessments, policy briefs, policy papers, and the research paper.

Entry requirements

A primary degree or its equivalent, with Second Class Honours Grade 2 overall. Applicants should also have achieved an upper Second Class Honours degree (2.1) or equivalent, GPAs of at least 3.0 of 4.0 or equivalent for international students, in a relevant subject such as Sociology, Politics, Public or Social Policy, Geography, History, a language, Economics, Business, Law. An interview may, in addition, form part of the application process.

Application dates

How to apply
We encourage all applicants to apply as early as possible.

Review/Closing Dates (for Taught Programmes)
For most programmes, University of Galway does not set specific closing dates for receipt of applications. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and course quotas will be reviewed continuously throughout the application cycle with the exception of applications for some programmes which are reviewed after the specified closing date. Candidates who do not have their final degree marks available may be made a conditional (provisional) offer.

Online Application
Applications to most postgraduate programmes at University of Galway are made online via (see "Application Weblink").


1 year full-time, 2 years part-time.

Enrolment dates

Next start date: September 2024.

NOTE: You are advised to apply by 1st July 2024.

Post Course Info

Career Opportunities
This programme will be particularly useful for students wishing to work in national or local government, public bodies, civil society organisations, NGOs, European and international organisations (e.g., EU, Council of Europe, UN agencies) businesses (e.g., Google, Facebook, LinkedIn), public affairs, consultancy, public relations, journalism, and other fields and organisations that require an expert understanding of policy-making.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Postgraduate Diploma (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider