Academic Curriculum

Master of Public Policy

Where bold thinking energizes change.

The MPP is designed to be completed through one year of full-time registration. Students begin their studies during the last week of August and continue through to August of the next year.

Core Courses

PPOL 600: The Study of Public Policy

Provides an introduction to the study of public policy, focusing on defining the boundaries of public policy and approaches to the study of public policy. Introduces the research, communication and professional competencies of public policy professionals.

PPOL 619: Governance, Institutions and Public Policy

An examination of the rules and informal relationships among those determining public policy outcomes. Alternative institutional relationships and the evolution of those relationships are studied. The ever-changing dynamic of multi-level governance and court versus legislative public policy making are explored.

PPOL 615: Public Finances

An overview of government finances and the restrictions on policy choices resulting from the need for governments to satisfy a budget constraint. Tax policy, the appropriate design of expenditure policies, policies with respect to deficits and debt, and issues of intergovernmental relations will be examined.

PPOL 609: Decision Analysis

The focus is on the foundations, applications and use of quantitative methods commonly used in decision making in the public and private sectors. Included are methods such as impact analysis, cost-benefit analysis, surveys, game theory and risk management tools.

PPOL 607: Politics and Collective Choice

How public policy issues emerge and how they are developed, refined, and influenced by the political process. The roles and influences of NGOs, interest groups, the media, political parties, and social protest on the development of new public policies are examined from the perspective of several disciplines. The importance of agenda setting, management and planning, policy reform and the organizational resistance to change is examined. Models of rational actors and bureaucratic behaviour are explored.

PPOL 621: Communicating Policy

Examines all aspects of communication in the context of policy, including the impact of new modes of communication on the development and dissemination of public policy. The new role of blogs, online communities, and web-based media at marshalling and influencing public opinion and the changing role of print media are discussed and evaluated. Implications for copyright policies, media concentration, privacy, and advertising are among the issues examined.

PPOL 617: Regulation and the Law

The role of international and national legal institutions in determining public policy choices. Legal research and interpretation skills are developed through specific public policy issues such as the design of market regulation in telecommunications, energy and various utility markets.

PPOL 605: Markets and Public Policy

The role of markets in the allocation of resources and the determination of income. Sources of market failure, and the appropriate public policy response to those failures, are examined. Students learn how private firms make decisions, and how they respond to policy initiatives.

PPOL 623: Capstone Project

Students learn methods by which research contributes to the design and development of policy outcomes. Students are required to apply the skills they have learned to the completion of a capstone project which investigates a well-defined issue of public policy. The final product of the capstone project is expected to be a substantive, well-researched, focused and highly professional document. Work on the capstone project will be guided by a School of Public Policy faculty member and may include input provided by an expert from the private sector or public sector.

Elective Courses

Students normally take two elective courses. Course offerings change annually. 

Energy Transitions and Policy

This course will explore the energy transition that the world is currently undergoing. While fossil fuels will be an integral part of the mix for years to come, a push to reduce the emissions intensity of our energy supply stands to transform both the way we use and produce energy. This elective course will critically explore policies that affect the pace, efficiency and distributional implications of this transition.

Social Policy

This course will focus on providing you with skills and understandings that will prove useful for evaluating and understanding social ills and their policy responses. The course will build on the fuzzy theoretical concepts of fairness and equity but emphasize empirical measurement of social ills such as poverty, income inequality, and homelessness. The goal of the course is to prepare you for a career in the civil service or the non-government sector developing practical solutions to social policy problems.

Health Policy

This course provides an overview and analysis of topics in health policy and health care reform. The aim of the course is to introduce students to key concepts and principles, which are of use in analyzing and planning health policy, and develop skills in critical evaluation and evidence based health policy decision making. The course will be run as a combination of lectures and seminar discussions, with assignments focusing on written analysis and presentation of health policy related topics of interest.

Foreign Policy

This course is designed to familiarize graduate students with the field foreign policy analysis, generally considered to be a distinct subject within the broader field of International Relations. The course will focus on theories and empirical findings, using a level-of-analysis approach to explore the factors that influence foreign policy decisions. We will also look in more depth at Canadian foreign policymaking, using the theories as foundational building blocks to understand Canada’s international actions.

The Multi-Faces of Israel

Part of this course is held in Israel during reading week in February 2020. During the week-long trip, a series of distinguished academics and practitioners will lecture on topics such as security issues; environmental policy; innovation; the issue of Settlements; and Israeli Law and Human Rights.

Responsible Development of Hydrocarbon Resources and Policy

This course explores the policy, engineering and science of responsible development of hydrocarbon resources. Learning outcomes will focus on the integration of policy, regulation, science and engineering in assessing new technologies and policy change.


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