Data Science and Public Policy (Political Science) MSc
UCL's MSc Data Science and Public Policy, co-taught by UCL Economics and Political Science, will equip a new generation of policymakers to solve the biggest problems in today's society through data science.
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university; or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. All applicants must provide evidence of successfully completing at least one advanced module in quantitative methods, statistics, data science or econometrics during their Bachelor's degree.
Relevant practical or work experience in a related field may also be taken into account. For example, this might include: i) at least two years of experience working in a public sector organisation, a think tank, an international-governmental organisation, or in a public-policy consultancy role; or ii) at least two years of experience working in a data-science role.
The English language level for this programme is: Level 4
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.
About this degree
The rapid expansion and increased availability of quantitative data in recent years provides policymakers with both important opportunities and great challenges. The vast size and complexity of digital information has the potential to improve how we understand, design, implement, and evaluate effective public policy. However, translating this wealth of information into useful insight requires a deep understanding of cutting-edge data-science methods, rich technical skills, and detailed knowledge about economic and political processes.
The Data Science and Public Policy MSc is defined by two routes: the Political Science route and the Economics route. You’ll receive training in applied data-science methods and insight into economic and political processes on both routes via three shared compulsory modules. The Political Science route delves deeper into public policy formation and implementation, while the Economics route (see the separate Graduate Prospectus entry) further explores modern quantitative economic analysis. Each route has its own set of entry requirements to reflect the emphasis of that route and to ensure you thrive on whichever path you choose to pursue. You can apply for a place on either the Political Science or Economics route of this programme.
Who this course is for
What this course will give you
This programme will provide you with intensive training in applied data-science methods, computer programming, statistics, and machine learning, with a focus on applying these tools to questions in public policy. You will also take specialised modules in political science and economics through which you will develop a strong understanding of key issues in public policy formation, development and analysis. The programme features a combination of compulsory modules and options, enabling you to chart your own path.
The foundation of your career
As this is a new course there are no alumni yet. However, alumni from the existing MSc programmes in UCL's Political Science and Economics departments have gone on to attain employment in diverse areas, including in the civil service (e.g., HM Treasury, local government), international institutions (e.g., the European Commission, the UN), central banks (e.g., Bank of England and European Central Bank), research (e.g., Institute of Fiscal Studies, the Institute of Government), consultancy (e.g., Accenture, KPMG, PWC, Frontier Economics and Charles River Associates), and the financial sector.
The programme is designed to teach you the knowledge and skills required to provide insight into important questions in public policy using advanced statistical methods. A series of in-depth substantive modules, delivered by economists and political scientists, will provide you with the analytical tools to think deeply about important questions in policymaking. The methodological training will enable you to understand and, crucially, apply cutting-edge quantitative methods to real-world problems. Our research-based curriculum promotes a variety of research skills, which will enable you to understand, and contribute to, quantitative analyses of public policy.
Teaching and learning
You will undertake a range of formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments include in-lecture practical exercises and discussions; applied problem-sets; in-class quizzes. The programme will also make use of extensive computer-lab-based problem sets which will help to develop and test your practical coding skills. Summative assessments include essays, reports and exams.
Each module on the programme will involve approximately three hours of contact time (spread across lectures and seminars), and 8 hours of private study per week.
The one-year Political Science Route curriculum delivers highly structured training in applied data science as well as substantive instruction in political science.
In the summer before Term 1, you will complete an online, self-paced foundation module in Maths & Stats.
The first term will provide you with foundational data science and programming skills that are required for modern quantitative analysis. You will take three core data science modules and one political science module in the first term:
- Statistical Learning for Public Policy. This compulsory module, which runs throughout term one and term two, provides an introduction to a variety of statistical methods in data science, as well as many recent advances in machine learning. You will learn about the mathematical foundations of these approaches, and, crucially, will also gain experience in applying the methods to real-world public policy datasets.
- Statistical Programming for Social Data Science. In this module, you will also develop your skills in data management, visualization, and statistical computation and will become well-versed in the R programming language.
- Data, Evidence and Public Policy. In this module, you will study how data science methods are used in and are forcing changes upon, the contemporary policymaking process. Receiving lectures from both leading quantitative social science researchers and data science practitioners in government and industry, you will explore how “big data” is used in public policy. You will also address some of the ethical and legal challenges that have arisen in response to the growth of data science approaches in this field.
- The Politics of Public Policy. In this core module you will learn a series of important theoretical approaches that political scientists use to study processes of public policy formation and delivery.
In the second term, you will continue to study the Statistical Learning module, and will cover some cutting-edge methods in data science. In addition, you will be able to concentrate on the particular data-science subfield that interests you the most. You will also take two further elective modules from political science:
- Statistical Learning for Public Policy (continued from Term 1).
- One elective from a set of data science modules. The exact modules available each year are subject to change but may include quantitative text analysis; causal inference; time-series econometrics; machine learning in economics; and data science theory.
- Two electives from a set of political science modules. The exact modules available each year are subject to change and will depend on your module selections in Term 1, but these may include law and regulation; policy implementation; making policy work; policymaking and regulation in Europe; global public policy; energy and climate policy; health policy; and public management.
After completing your final exams, you will complete a lightly-supervised research project. Your project will apply the data science skills developed throughout the year to answer a substantive question of public policy of your own choosing, subject to the agreement of your Department of Political Science dissertation supervisor.
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Data Science and Public Policy (Political Science).
Fees and funding
Fees for this course
|Tuition fees (2023/24)||£32,100|
|Tuition fees (2023/24)||£32,100|
All full time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £4,000 for this programme.
There are no additional costs for this degree.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
Funding your studies
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.
When we assess your application, we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Data Science and Public Policy (Political Science) at graduate level
- why you want to study Data Science and Public Policy (Political Science) at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme and route
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme and route
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with the essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver. Applicants who have a portfolio are strongly recommended to submit it when they apply.
Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.
Choose your programme
Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.
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