Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value MPA

London, Bloomsbury

The Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value MPA teaches the competencies, capabilities and leadership skills needed for purpose-driven organisations - in public, private and civil sectors - to confront the grand challenges of the 21st century.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
1 calendar year
2 academic years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 31 Mar 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate Arts and Humanities, Social Science and Economics, and Engineering subjects awarded with an Upper Second-class Honours (2:1), or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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.

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

There is no equivalent post-graduate degree that combines our alternative approach to policymaking and a focus on structural change and innovation. IIPP’s MPA teaches the dynamic skills required for purpose-driven organisations — in public, private, and civil sectors — to confront the grand challenges of the 21st century. Tackling these challenges requires new ways of thinking and new organisational capabilities.

As a graduate of IIPP’s MPA programme, you will have the skills and confidence to help organisations become more innovative, mission-led, and driven by public purpose. You will understand the explorative and risk-taking processes that innovation requires, and you will be able to challenge and provide alternatives to current policy orthodoxies. By studying with us, you will build a network of like-minded peers and become part of an Institute that is at the forefront of public sector innovation policy and research.

The cross-disciplinary programme is divided over three terms in one academic year. Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. In the first term there are four core modules (15 credits each). In the second term there are two core modules (15 credits each) and two optional (elective) taught modules (15 credits each); one optional module is lead by IIPP; the others are selected from across UCL, allowing students to pursue particular interests. The third term is dedicated to a final placement or thesis project (60 credits). Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MPA in Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value.

Who this course is for

A minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in the disciplines of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Economics or Engineering from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required. This programme will be attractive to both those who have recently graduated, as well as practitioners who desire to further their knowledge, understanding and application to improve their potential to contribute to tackling the grand challenges of the 21st century through innovation. 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. Please note we run a gathered field application process so will not start making or relaying decisions until after the programme deadline.

What this course will give you

UCL is one of the world’s top ranked universities, known for its research excellence as well as a history of disruptive thinking. Across the university, UCL’s students and faculty are tackling grand challenges, ranging from climate change to health care for ageing populations. IIPP sits within The Bartlett, UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment, which is internationally recognised for its work on the built environment and cities.

Through the MPA’s optional modules you can take advantage of the expertise within the Bartlett, as well as across UCL. Studying this globally unique MPA programme at UCL, you will gather an in-depth understanding of the economics of innovation, technological, social and institutional innovations, and cutting-edge thinking around public administration and governance, strategic design and digital transformation. A cross-cutting theme throughout the programme is new economic thinking and systems approaches needed for tackling key 21st century challenges. Through joining the MPA programme you would become part of IIPP and UCL, globally recognised leaders in research and innovation.

The foundation of your career

Graduates from the MPA will possess a unique skill set in public policy, organisational and institutional innovation, new models of innovation policy (mission-oriented innovation), and strategic design and digital transformation of public services. Many public sector organisations, policy think tanks and other policy analysis organisations, NGOs and large private organisations are looking for employees who are well versed and skilled in new ways of justifying, evaluating and implementing public policies. Graduates will have strong analytical and leadership skills.


The programme is aimed at teaching the competencies, capabilities and leadership skills needed for purpose-driven organisations in all sectors - public, private and civil organisations. 

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through lectures and seminars; the assessment is based on personal and group presentations, reports and papers.

Typically, full time students over terms 1 and 2 will have 6 hours of contact time (on average) per week. This will consist of both lectures and seminars. Our optional enrichment lectures will be an additional hour each. Term 3 will depend on which option a student chooses but will not usually exceed 6 hours a week.

Self-directed study hours will usually be in-line with contact hours, with students using their good judgement in this regard. 


The programme is divided over three terms in one academic year, with six compulsory and two optional taught modules plus a final project.

All students take six compulsory modules, which represent the four disciplinary pillars of the course: economics, politics, public administration, and design. Uniting these distinct modules is a focus on challenging economic orthodoxies and exploring the new thinking, institutions, and skills governments need to drive transformative change.

Compulsory modules

  • New Economic Thinking and Public Value (15 credits) [Term 1]

The module will consider the alternative models for public policy, governance and administration from those focussed on ‘market fixing’ to new ones that can be expressed as ‘market making’. The latter requires all organisations, including those in the public sphere, to be equally ambitious around experimentation and exploration. This requires building new competencies and dynamic capabilities inside public institutions, which are oriented towards producing, nurturing and evaluating the creation of public value.

  • Economics of Innovation and Public Purpose (15 credits) [Term 1]

The module introduces students to the economics of innovation and technical change, with a focus on theoretical contributions in evolutionary and structural economics – including techno-economic paradigms, national, regional and sectoral systems of innovations, industrial ecosystem and diversification dynamics. Students are also encouraged to understand innovation dynamics in different country contexts, and what context-specific factors constraints innovation and the translation of innovation into new markets, products and purposes.

  • Politics, Power and Systems Change (15 credits) [Term 1]

The module focusses on understanding systems, actors in the systems, and institutions. This includes an introduction to systems analysis and mapping, encouraging students to take a wide view of problems and their interconnection to other issues, and an exploration of systems change cases.

Particular attention is paid to policy actors and how they act within, and are shaped or constrained by, the systems that they seek to affect. As such, the module critically interrogates simplistic, linear notions of policy making. It also explores theories of power, introducing ideas of agenda-setting and knowledge-production, along with more conventional views bases on conflict and formal hierarchy.

  • Making Decisions: Evidence and Evaluation (15 credits) [Term 1]

This module combines a survey of policy evaluation methods, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method approaches, with a deeper discussion of the connection between a phenomenon, measurement, interpretation and, ultimately, decision-making.

Students will also engage with literature on how policy-makers use and interpret evidence and how this shapes their decision-making. This will be explored further through the use of case studies

  • Creative Bureaucracies (15 credits) [Term 2]

Rooted in the study of public administration, this module looks at governance frameworks geared to developing dynamic capabilities within organisations, enabling them to become more flexible, adaptable and willing to experiment. The module begins by exploring the concept of creative bureaucracy – and whether that is an oxymoron! – before for looking at topics including the history of public administration, non-Western public administration traditions, and questions of ethics and representation. The module, in the second half, considers issues of digital transformation in depth.

  • Transformation by Design (15 credits) [Term 2]

This module helps students develop strategic design skills and techniques for creating policy innovation cultures, processes, environments and organisations, particularly addressing the dynamics of digital transformation. The module uses tools from design thinking and applies them to issues in public administration, including policy design, public service design, and policy labs. As design has a significant practice component, the seminars are often practice-based, allowing students to apply the tools and thinking introduced in the lectures.

Optional modules

Students also take 30 credits of optional modules. Please note that the list of optional modules given here is indicative rather than exhaustive. This information is published in advance of enrolment and availability is subject to change:

  • Digital Transformation (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy II: Social Justice and Equality (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Urban Innovation and Policy (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Development, Technology and Innovation Policy (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Smart Cities: Context, Policy & Government (15 credits) [Term 2]
  • Social Diversity, Inequality and Poverty (30 credits) [Terms 1 and 2]
  • Rethinking Capitalism: (15 Credits) [Term 2]

Policy Analysis Thesis

In the third term, the thesis option presents students the opportunity to undertake a substantial written analysis. Students work independently with an IIPP supervisor and focus on a policy problem or organisational and institutional challenges in the public sector. The analysis is based on thorough academic understanding of the challenge and its context, and students are challenged to develop viable alternatives.

For these projects, students carry out empirical research to support their conclusions. Students have high-level interviews with policy actors, as well as conducting sophisticated quantitative analysis. Successful theses have taken on topics ranging from digitalisation in Indonesia to the role of creative industries in the United Kingdom’s national innovation system. In many cases, these theses are shared with the organisations under examination upon completion.


Alternatively, in the third term, students can choose to take the placement option which involves working with an organisation on a live project. Further details can be located in the 'Placement' section below.

Year One

The first term is focused on modules New Economic Thinking and Public Value and Economics of Innovation and Public Purpose that delves into the different approaches to understanding the creation and measurement of public value and different framings for purpose led organisations.

The second term is focused on the module Creative Bureaucracies looking at governance frameworks geared to developing dynamic capabilities within organisations that need to be flexible, adaptable and willing to experiment.

You will also take an elective module.

Year Two

The first term is focused on modules Politics, Power and Systems Change and Making Decisions: Evidence and Evaluation that considers how the approaches can be applied to understanding structural change in the economy (from innovation challenges to those in fiscal and financial frameworks).

The second term is focused on the module Transformation by Design, developing practical policy design and implementation skills with special attention to the emerging sphere of digital and AI tools.

You will also take an elective module.

In the third term you will do either the policy thesis or the placement. 

Studied over a period of five years, you will select a combination of both core and elective modules. The number of modules per term will be dependant on the number you choose to enrol onto in any given year.

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 MPA in Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value.


During Term Three of the MPA, students may take part in a placement with one of IIPP’s partner organisations. During the placement, student groups work closely with their placement organisation on a policy problem; the placement culminates with a group presentation and individual written reports. To date, we have partnered with over a dozen public sector organisations, both in the UK and abroad. The projects have ranged from analysing data collected from a Covid-19 support hotline to helping a regional revitalisation programme become more mission-oriented. More information on the programme can be found here.


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.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £24,200 £12,100
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc. on this programme, please get in touch with the Senior Teaching and Learning Administrator, Ms Isha Reid, by e-mailing or telephoning +44 (0)20 3108 8261.

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

UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies. 

Any additional funding available from the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and the Built Environment Faculty Office are advertised on the respective websites.

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

Bartlett Promise Scholarship - Master's

Deadline: 31 May 2023
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,364 maintenance/yr (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

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 Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value at graduate level
  • why you want to study Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value 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 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: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.