The Institute of Public Affairs
Formally launched in 2011, the Institute of Public Affairs at LSE is an outward-facing global centre for public policy training and analysis. Drawing on LSE faculty from six of the School’s prestigious academic departments, the Institute harnesses the research and teaching expertise of this interdisciplinary group to deliver its two-year Master of Public Administration degree. Inaugurated in 2003, this flagship LSE programme has grown from an initial cohort of 18 students to one which now has 200 students spread across two academic years.
About the MPA
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a two-year graduate degree programme in public policy and administration, offered through LSE’s Institute of Public Affairs. There is also an Executive MPA programme.
Students taking the MPA programme will develop high-level professional policy-making skills required by employers in the public sector and private sector, and by non-governmental organisations.
equips talented students with knowledge and professional skills in economic and political analysis to undertake and advise on public policy-making
combines rigorous academic development with strong practical applications in individual and group-based work
prepares students for careers in the public sector, private companies and non-governmental organisations around the world, including government departments and agencies, consultancies and international development agencies
offers the opportunity to specialise in a sub-field of public policy and administration including economic policy, social policy, public management, development policy and European public policy
equips students, through the MPA Skills Development Seminars, with strong professional communication skills fundamental to all future career directions
The programme is taught over two academic years. The programme comprises a range of core compulsory courses, courses that are compulsory to students’ chosen specialisation (called a policy stream), and option courses.
In late August prior to the start of year one, students attend a compulsory pre-sessional refresher course at LSE in mathematics and statistics. This course updates and refreshes students’ knowledge of mathematics and statistics in preparation for the programme.
In the first year, students take three core compulsory courses which provide them with strong foundational knowledge and skills in political and economic analysis. These will support students in their chosen specialisation in the second year of the programme.
Political Science and Public Policy – Students will learn game theoretical concepts and apply them to a variety of political contexts; these tools should be useful both for explaining existing political outcomes and for designing interventions to achieve desired future outcomes.
Micro and Macroeconomics (for Public Policy) – Students will learn macro- and micro-economic concepts, models and methods suitable for appraising policy, applicable in a wide variety of contexts.
Quantitative Approaches and Policy Analysis – Students will learn skills for the quantitative evaluation of public policies, with the help of regression based evaluation methods, cost-benefit analysis and computable general equilibrium modelling.
In addition, students choose a fourth course in year one from a wide range of options available across LSE’s academic departments. Students’ choice can be based on their strengths and interests.
In the second year, students take a combination of core compulsory courses, courses that are compulsory for students’ chosen policy stream, and option courses.
The MPA Capstone Project – The MPA Capstone is a key component of the second year curriculum. The MPA Capstone is undertaken by a group, usually of three to five students, for a client organisation such as a public sector organisation, international body, or private sector consultancy, on a relevant topic to analyse public policy. From October to February, team members devote approximately two days per week to the project. Each project is closely supervised by an MPA staff/faculty member, who provides advice and monitors progress. The projects earn a collective grade. Students are expected to manage the division and development of work amongst themselves.
Over the years, the MPA Programme has collaborated with a diverse group of highly reputable clients. These include private sector companies (eg, Boston Consulting Group and British Business Bank), international organisations (eg, UNICEF, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, OECD and UNESCO), NGOs and foundations (eg, Migration Policy Institute and the Gates Foundation) and government agencies (eg, UK Department for International Development, Greater London Authority).
At the beginning of the second year, students choose a policy stream from a range of five which allows them to specialise in a particular area of public policy and administration. Each policy stream has a number of associated compulsory courses. The five MPA policy streams are:
Public and Economic Policy, including the associated compulsory course Economic Policy Analysis. This stream focuses on the economic and political analysis of public policies. Typically, graduates from this policy stream pursue careers in economic policy-making.
Public Policy and Management, including the associated compulsory course Public Management: Strategy, Innovation and Delivery or Public Budgeting and Financial Management. This stream focuses on understanding decision-making and management in the public sector and budgetary processes. Typically, graduates from this policy stream pursue careers in public management or public sector consulting.
International Development, including all three associated compulsory courses Political Economy of Development I, Political Economy of Development II and Development Economics. This stream focuses on the analysis of economic and public policies for developing countries by teaching analytical tools and how to apply them to development policy. Typically, graduates from this policy stream pursue careers in international development organisations, government development agencies, NGOs, or private sector companies.
European Public and Economic Policy, including the associated compulsory course Political Economy of Europe. This stream focuses on the economic and policy analysis of Europe, as broadly understood. Typically, graduates from the policy stream pursue careers related to public policy making working with EU institutions, regional organisations, national administrations and the private sector.
Public and Social Policy, including the associated compulsory course Welfare Analysis and Measurement. This stream focuses on the analysis of public and social welfare. Typically, graduates from the policy stream pursue careers related to public service at local, national and international levels in the fields of education, employment, health policy and social protection.
Finally, students pursue a number of option courses from a wide range of options available across LSE’s academic departments. Alternatively, students may choose to write an MPA Policy Paper (6,000 words) or MPA Dissertation (10,000 words) as an option course. This choice is based on each student’s strengths and interests.
The MPA Skills Development Seminars
The MPA offers a series of Skills Development Seminars (SDS) to help students strengthen their analytical, evaluative, writing skills and presentation skills. In the first year, the Skills Development Seminars and participatory workshops focus on writing for a policy audience, working in groups and delivering effective presentations. In the second year, they offer academic and practical guidance tailored to Policy Papers and Dissertation. This training is relevant for the Dissertation and Policy Papers as well as for essays, policy memos, the Capstone reports and presentations.
The MPA Policy in Practice Seminars
The Policy in Practice Seminars (PiPs) are an integral feature of the MPA programme. These are weekly seminars involving distinguished professionals or researchers who share their experience in public policy. PiPs provide students with an opportunity to connect classroom learning to real-world scenarios. It encourages students to bring their theoretical learning to life through corroborating or challenging things they have learned.
Speakers in 2014/2015 included:
James Deane, Director of Policy and Learning at BBC Media Action
Michaela Bergman, Chief Counsellor for Social Issues at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
Duncan Green, Oxfam's Strategic Adviser
His Excellency Guy Trouveroy, the Ambassador of Belgium in the UK
MPA Dual Degree
The MPA Dual Degree Programme provides an opportunity for selected students to split their MPA degree between two highly reputable institutions. You will have to study for one academic year on the LSE MPA degree in London. The second academic year could be spent on one of the following programmes at our global partner institutions:
the MPA or the MIA at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
the MPP at Sciences Po, Paris
the MPP at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
the MPP at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY), National University of Singapore
the MPP at the Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP) at the University of Tokyo
Please note: there is no direct entry into the MPA Dual Degree programme. To be eligible to apply for the dual degree programme, you need to be accepted to, and commence study on, either the LSE MPA or one of the partner institution programmes listed above. Please visit lse.ac.uk/mpa for further information.
You can find the most up-to-date list of optional courses for Master of Public Administration (MPA) in the Programme Regulations section of the current School Calendar.
You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, some circumstances may cause the School to subsequently change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to circumstances outside of its control. You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee places on its courses. You should visit the School's Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the Updated graduate course and programme information page.
MPA graduates proceed to a wide range of destinations after graduation. Our alumni have assumed consulting, advisory and analyst roles in government – the UK Department of Work and Pensions, the US Department of the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance of Japan; private sector companies – Deloitte, McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and KPMG; international organisations – the World Bank, OECD, UNICEF, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); and think-tanks and NGOs – the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Institute for Public Policy Research (IIPR), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and Fundação Getúlio Vargas. Some graduates also go on to study doctoral degrees at LSE and at other world-renowned institutions.