Master of Public Policy

Core Policy Courses

See the McGill course catalog for the MPP.

The fall module includes 12-week required core courses and 6-week elective core courses. Each Core Policy Course is 6 hours per week, and worth 3 program credits. Students take only two courses at once. Each course is custom-designed for the MPP program and combines the theory of policy with many applied examples and exercises.

Required Core Courses

Science, Experts, and Evidence 

This course examines the role of experts, science, evidence and their utility for public policy. In theory, science is cleanly self-correcting, autonomous, and objective. In practice, it is messy, socially embedded, and subject to bias. This course surveys how policy leaders can grapple with this reality by exploring the theory of science, scientific evidence in practice, evidence in the marketplace of ideas and human fallibility.

Instructor: Nicholas King

Microeconomics for Public Policy

This course provides the essential microeconomic principles for analyzing the consequences of government policies. Emphasis is placed on contrasting competitive markets with oligopolistic and monopolistic ones. The case for relatively free markets is examined, as are the many situations that suggest a case for government intervention. A central theme is that government policies involve important tradeoffs, and understanding them is an essential part of the contribution that economic analysis can make to policymaking.

Instructor: Mayssun El-Attar

Law, Human Rights and Public Policy 

This course introduces students to law as both a driver and outcome of public policy. As a policy driver, the law will be analyzed as a normative framework for designing policy, resolving conflict, and determining institutional legitimacy. Students will also explore law as a policy instrument or outcome, focusing on legislation, caselaw, and international treaties. The course uses human rights (Canadian and international) as the main substantive area of law and provides students with basic legal literacy tools.

Instructor: Pearl Eliadis

Reasoning About Public Policy

The investigation of what is involved in reasoning well about public policy, including some of the heuristic tools that have been developed; cost-benefit analysis, harm reduction, the precautionary principle, compromise, "ideal observer". Determining the appropriate sphere of application and how it can be brought together into an overall, coherent conception of practical rationality in the policy context.

Instructor: Andrew Potter

Elective Core Courses

Students have a choice between:

The Canadian Political and Policy Landscape

Canada’s ten provinces and three territories are united under one of the world’s most decentralized federations. Key public policy programs are delivered at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels of government — creating challenges for effective public administration and policymaking. This course examines the complexities of the Canadian policy landscape resulting from these arrangements which are further enriched by a Westminster parliamentary system, multiple major political parties spanning the political spectrum, the relationship to the Crown and the historical treaties with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and Quebec’s Francophone culture and status as a nation within Canada.

Instructor: Andrew Potter

The Global Political and Policy Landscape

Policymaking at the global level is multidimensional and driven by governance structures and regulatory regimes that extend beyond nation states. The United Nations with its fifteen specialized agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and the International Labour Organization includes 193 member states and impacts global policymaking in areas such as fiscal policy, health, international development, climate change, and refugees resettlement. This course will introduce students to the body of applied research on how policy is formulated in the global policy landscape and provide them with the necessary skills to be policy leaders in this context.

Instructor: Emily Rhoads

Analytical Methods for Policy Evaluation

The objective evaluation of the impact and costs of policies is essential for their continued improvement over time. This course focuses on the concepts and analytical techniques necessary for the evaluation of specific public policies, including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Specific topics include sampling theory, applied regression analysis, the use of surveys and interviews, and randomized controlled trials.

Instructor: Erin Strumpf

Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation

This course focuses on the need for and the practice of rigorous program evaluation for the improvement of public policies. Specific analytical tools will be examined, including logic models, stakeholder engagement and reporting, data collection, performance indicators, and cost-benefit analysis.

Instructor: Leslie Fierro

Comparative Democracies

Comparison of the structures of government and policy processes in a number of developed democracies including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Examination of the relationship between the political and bureaucratic structures, the civil service, the role of citizens, stakeholders, lobbyists, policy institutes and legislators, and the policy development process.

Instructor: Narendra Subramanian

Science Policy

Exploration of the tensions at the science-policy interface, both domestically and internationally.

Instructor: Rees Kassen

Global Macroeconomic Policy

This course develops and assembles the key elements of a macro model used by mainstream policymakers in central banks and finance ministries. It then uses this theoretical perspective to examine important and contentious policy issues, such as the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus, the consequences of high government debt, the case for low inflation, the challenges of inflation targeting, and the policy approaches to enhancing long-run economic growth.

Instructor: Francisco Alvarez

Canada-U.S Policy Relationship

Brief historical review of the Canada-U.S. bilateral relationship, and an examination of several important current policy issues.

Instructor: Vincent Rigby

Media and Information Literacy

This course examines the development, role, and impact of mass media on the policy process. It includes an exploration of the nature of the role of the media in shaping public opinion, policy agendas, and political debate; the use of information in new communications technology; and the relationship between news media and social media in the digital information age.

Instructor: Taylor Owen

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