Introductory Teaching for the Master of Public Policy (MPP)

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

The teacher will be announced at the start of the course.


This course is compulsory on the Master of Public Policy. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

An introduction to basic mathematical and statistical concepts for use in MPP courses in economics and quantitative methods. The course is designed to give students of all abilities a general introduction to the principles and reasoning underlying quantitative methods for public policy analysis. It explores how quantitative methods and analysis are used in public policy analysis, and gives students a grounding in some fundamental concepts and applications across maths and statistics. This is a four-day course covering in particular:

- Statistics: Correlation and causality in social sciences, descriptive statistics and visualisation, discrete and continuous random variables, basic probability, expectation and variance, the Normal distribution, covariance and conditioning, sampling and the Central Limit Theorem, estimation and confidence intervals, and introduction to hypothesis testing.

- Mathematics: Maths basics & notation, linear functions, quadratic, logarithmic and exponential functions, data visualisation, graphing, logs and exponential, derivative of a function and rules of differentiation, unconstrained optimization with one variable,  unconstrained optimization with several variables, concavity and convexity.


7 hours of lectures and 10.5 hours of seminars in week 0

Formative coursework

There will be some informal opportunity to assess progress during this introductory (pre-sessional) course but the nature of this course means that there is no formal formative work.

Indicative reading

Notes covering the course material will be made available at the beginning of the course.

For a basic and accessible introduction to quantitative methods for public policy, students are encouraged to read Charles Whelan's 'Naked Statistics' prior to the start of the course.

Students may refer to other introductory books for further background reading. For the statistics part, please see Newbold, Carlson and Thorne 'Statistics for Business and Economics' (6th edition), or Wonnacott and Wonnacott 'Introductory Statistics for Business and Economics' (4th edition). For the maths part, please see Ian Jacques' 'Mathematics for Economics and Business' (5th edition), or Wisniewski's 'Introductory Mathematical Methods in Economics' (2nd edition). It is not necessary to purchase these books however for this course.


The course will be assessed with a 2 hour in-class assessment on the final day of the course in week zero. The assessment result does not count towards the MPP final degree, but can be used by students to identify their key areas for future learning.  All students are expected to take the assessment.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills