Core Policy Courses

The fall and winter terms are divided into two 6-week modules. Each Core Policy Course is 6 weeks long (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 courses:

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: Christopher Ragan, Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy

Comparative Government Structures

This course compares the structures of government and policy processes in a number of developed democracies including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The course will address 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: Ian Peach, Senior Policy Advisor at Status of Women Canada

Ethics, Rights, and Law

This course examines the legal and ethical dimensions of public policy and considers how these provide boundaries to the purpose and practice of public policymaking. It provides an introduction to legal systems, human rights, and the law in the making of national and international public policy.

Instructor: Pearl Eliadis, Adjunct Professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law

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: Mayssun El-Attar, Faculty Lecturer in McGill's Department of Economics

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: Christopher Ragan, Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy

Information and Media 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.

Instructors: Taylor Owen and Cindy Skrzycki.

Experts, Science, and Evidence in Public Policy 

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, Associate Professor in McGill's Biomedical Ethics Unit

Students will select 1 of the following:

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: Chantal Hébert, Political columnist with the Toronto Star and a weekly participant on CBC’s The National “At Issue” panel. 

The U.S. Political and Policy Landscape

As a federal republic with the President, Congress and the federal courts sharing the powers of the national government, the U.S. political landscape is complex. This complexity is enhanced by the federal government sharing power with 50 states and the domination of the political landscape by only two major political parties. With significant primary races and biennial elections at different levels of government, the U.S. political system is dynamic. This course examines the complexities arising from the dynamism of the U.S. political landscape and provides students with the knowledge to formulate policies which take into account these realities.

Instructor: David Shribman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist 

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: Jennifer Welsh, Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance & Security, McGill University 

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