Data Science and Public Policy (Political Science) MSc

London, Bloomsbury

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 students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
All applicants: 16 Oct 2023 – 01 May 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

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.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

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 . You can apply for a place on either the Political Science or Economics route of this programme.

Who this course is for

Taught by experts in quantitative social science, the degree is designed for people who are passionate about studying public policy, and who want to develop the skills required to play a leading role in the quantitative analysis of policymaking in the years to come.

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.


Students will have the opportunity to meet leading academics and experts in the subject field during their studies. The department of Political Science also organises an annual Careers Week which brings together alumni, industry speakers and skills workshops.

Teaching and learning

The programme includes a variety of teaching and learning methods, designed to develop different critical skills. This includes lectures, small-group and faculty-led seminars and technical training through regular computer labs. You will produce essays, policy briefs, presentations, and research papers that make use of cutting-edge approaches in data science.

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 at least 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.

Core curriculum


In the summer before Term 1, you will complete an online, self-paced foundation module in Maths & Stats. You will take the final exam on the Maths & Stats module in the first week of term. Although the Maths & Stats exam mark does not count toward the Data Science and Public Policy degree in a formal sense, the exam provides feedback on your readiness for the technical demands of the Data Science and Public Policy MSc programme

Term 1

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. You will be taught by leading quantitative social science researchers and data science practitioners in government and industry, to 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.

Term 2

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 options 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; machine learning in economics; and data science theory.
  • One elective from a set of political science modules. The exact modules available each year are subject to change, but these may include law and regulation; policy implementation; making policy work; policymaking and regulation in Europe; global public policy; ; international political economy; and public management.
  • One further elective from the either set of data science or public policy modules.


Alongside your selected modules, you will complete an independent research project under the supervision of an academic in the Department of Political Science. 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 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).


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400

Additional costs

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

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Michael Curtis Bursary

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: £12,500 (1 year)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

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
  • details of your quantitative skills, such as in probability and statistics and data analysis
  • any skills you have with spreadsheets, statistical software, or working with data

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.

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.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.