Data Science and Public Policy (Political Sciences) MSc

London, Bloomsbury

UCL's new MSc Data Science and Public Policy, the first degree to be 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 (2022/23)
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
1 calendar year
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 13 May 2022

Applications closed


Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

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 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.

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

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.

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.

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.

Who this course is for

What this course will give you

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. 

The foundation of your career

This is a new course and so there are no alumni yet. However, alumni from the existing MSc programmes in the Departments of Political Science and Economics 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. Many of our students also continue with their studies, entering PhD programmes at world-renowned institutions including UCL, LSE, Oxford, and Cambridge.


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.


As part of the Political Science Route, the one-year curriculum delivers highly structured training in applied data science as well as substantive instruction in political science.

Core curriculum

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. 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.

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 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 these modules, you will be able to focus on an independent research project which culminates in writing a dissertation. Your project will apply the data science skills developed throughout the year to answer a substantive question of public policy of your choosing.

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 is subject to change.

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 Sciences).


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

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Funding your studies

The Funding your studies session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Funding and Student Recruitment teams, provides information and guidance about the various scholarships and funding opportunities for graduate study at UCL.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £29,400
Tuition fees (2022/23) £29,400

Additional costs

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

Our MSc Data Science and Public Policy Scholarships aim to enable students in financial need to pursue the MSc Data Science and Public Policy. For more information visit the department website.

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

Deadline: 11 July 2022
Value: Full tuition fees (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Michael Curtis Bursary

Now closed for 2022/23
Value: £12,500 (1 year)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

MSc Data Science and Public Policy Scholarship

Deadline: 1 July 2022
Value: Full tuition fees (1yr)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK, EU, Overseas

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 (Economics) at graduate level
  • why you want to study Data Science and Public Policy (Economics) at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • 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 in any application cycle.

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