This is the transcript for the video Master of Applied Policy

Speaker: Hello. My name is Dr John Wright, I am associate professor of regulatory governance and public policy at UTS. This presentation is designed to introduce you to our applied policy program to give you some information about it that can help you make a decision about what you would like to study and how you can go about undertaking study. So, what is applied policy? Well, applied policy is much like a standard sort of a course in public policy and governance, but what it does is it takes the key themes and concepts of policy studies and it applies them in very specific contexts. When we look at evidence-based policy – a key concept in public policy and governance – we will examine it in particular case studies – say in healthcare or environmental policy – and understand it by applying it to a case study.

What we offer at UTS is essentially an applied policy studies program, applied policy. The benefit of applied policy is it will give you strong conceptual and practical skills that can be applied immediately to professional roles in a variety of settings. Applied policy is practitioner focused. It will give you skills that you need to influence public policy, whether it be local level or at the state government level or even the federal government level. This includes critical thinking and communication skills and also technical skills.

The course is expert informed so you learn about the – you learn from the latest research and lessons from practice in the academic literature, and you will be – you will engage and interact with your peers – many of whom come from different backgrounds in the public and private sector and you will be able to engage in sort of joint learning through your colleagues.

The course is constantly updated. We have guest speakers that engage with all our courses and these are people who are actively involved in policy making, whether at the state, local or federal government level. The course is also quite flexible, so you can focus on areas that interest you through your choice of sub-majors and electives. For example, if you are someone who is interested primarily in health policy, you can choose to apply the concepts of policy studies in that particular area. If you are interested in education or environment, ba able to apyou can focus on case studies in that area as well.

Who is this applied policy program for? What kind of students do we normally get on the course and who have we designed the course – who have we designed it for? Applied policy is basically for you if you work in government or if you are thinking of working in any aspect of the private or voluntary sector that involves contact with government or making policy. This is designed for people who need to understand the language of government and the language of policy. You might be a policy practitioner at any level of government. You might have a policy role within a non-profit sector, like say for instance Shelter – an NGO that deals with homelessness.

You might be an analyst or a researcher in a consulting firm that contracts with government. You might be someone who works for one of the big four accounting firms and you need to pitch for government consultancy so you need to understand how government thinks. You might be someone who’s responsible for program design and implementation within the public sector already, or you might be someone who was working in a private office for a member of state or federal parliament. You might be involved in the delivery of public funded programs, or you might be involved in public advocacy. You might be someone who is actively engaged in a social movement at the moment.

This is the kind of course designed for people who deal with government from any of those three sectors. It essentially teaches you the language of government. How to talk to government in order to push policy in the direction that you want to push it. What will you get from this program? Well, you’ll learn to become a policy professional. It will give you a sense of confidence that you are aware of and know how to manipulate all the concepts and technical skills that are in play in the policy space. You will essentially have confidence that you are a competent player in that space. You will gain general and technical skills that you can immediately apply to any role that you are currently involved in – whether it’s in the voluntary sector, the private sector or the government sector.

It will help you understand the politics and processes of policy formation and program delivery. The policy space can often seem incomprehensible and chaotic. The course will essentially give you maps and processes and ideas with which you will be able to bring order to this seemingly chaotic process. Within this space, the course will give you the confidence that you need to make robust and evidence based decisions that you can justify in front of your colleagues – that you can stand up and represent in front of others with confidence.

What kind of job will you be able to apply for when you complete a degree in applied policy? Where will this take you? Well, you’ll be able to apply for such things as a public policy advisor. This might be in a government department, say in the Department of Education or Environment. You will be able to apply for a job as a program officer, someone who rolls out a particular policy within one of these departments – whether it’s state government or whether it’s local government. You’ll be able to apply for a job as a thinktank advisor or a researcher. These generally circulate in different sectors, again whether it’s something like education, whether it’s social care, whether it’s housing. You’ll be able to apply for a job within a research centre. This might be an academic institution. There are a lot of these institutions within universities nowadays. You will be able to apply for a job as a not for profit manager. This is like a third sector organisation, and an advocacy role. You’ll be able to apply for a job in a ministerial team, someone who works in private office for a member of federal or state parliament or even if it’s working for a member of – a senior member of a local government. You’ll be able to work or apply for a social justice advocate in an area that you’re interested in, or a portfolio governance analyst and this might be in the private sector. There are all sorts of directions in which a degree in applied policy can take you.

How is a degree in applied policy taught? What is our teaching and learning approach? This is a master’s program, so this is not an undergraduate program. This is informed by adult education principles that encourage collaboration and interaction. It’s designed to bring adults into the classroom from different backgrounds and to introduce ideas and concepts and techniques to them that they can interact with. There’s as much learning done from other people within the class as there is done from the academic convening the class or the expert addressing the class. We combine academic ideas and policy practice. This is the essence of applied policy. The principles and concepts and techniques from the policy science is applied in particular settings – particular policy settings.

We have a big emphasis on case study learning. Students engage in independent learning and reflection on the material through self-directed study and collaborative learning with peers. You go home and you think through what you’ve learned during the day and then you come back for the second half of the block and apply some of the ideas you’ve learned in collaboration with others. We offer a range of teaching and learning strategies based on real practice, case studies and policy issues including small group discussion, workshops, guest presentations and student presentations basically.

In the classroom, who are you going to hear from? First of all you’ll hear from academics producing leading research. These are people like myself who convene the sessions in which you will participate. We will have other academics – guest academics – purely research academics with extensive experience working in the world of policy in particular areas, say in regional development or public housing. You’ll also hear from senior public sector figures including current and former ministers and heads of government agencies. These people can give you sort of inside stories on the clear realities of how public policy is made.

You’ll also hear from experienced policy makers from all levels of government and from the non-profit sector and from business sectors. All the sectors that you might be interested in working, we bring into the classroom experts from those areas who can essentially give you a practical picture of how the concepts that we teach in the classrooms – how those concepts play out in case studies – how those situations are actually brought together within different sectors of the economy.

So what kind of study options do you have? How do you put together a degree in applied policy? Well, there are multiple ways you can do it. You can either go for a graduate certificate in applied policy which involves 24 units of credit, and this involves completing four subjects – the four foundational subjects which are worth six units each. You can stop there and apply simply for a graduate certificate and that might be all that you need. A lot of our students will come in and do the first year of study and halfway through second semester they will get a job and so they will simply write up the last two subjects and take a graduate certificate. That’s fine. Move into the role that they’d set themselves for.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop there. You can come back in a couple of years’ time or you can persist into second and third year and take a graduate diploma in applied policy. This simply involves 48 units of credit so it’s another four subjects and you can take additional offerings that we have in applied policy beyond the core units, or you can take electives from other faculties within the university or offerings that we have on our master’s of local government program. Then if you want to go further you can take two more core subjects or electives and do the applied policy research project. In order to get the master’s you need to have done the research project which is 12 units of study.

You don’t have to do all these at once. You can take the graduate certificate, go away and take the job that you were interested in getting and then come back in two years’ time and finish up the master’s or finish up the graduate diploma in applied policy. It’s quite flexible. What are the core subjects that are offered as part of the program? If you wanted to do the – simply the graduate certificate of applied policy, what are the four subjects that you would have to do? Well, there are four of them – foundations in public policy, which as the name suggests simply gives you the basic nuts and bolts themes that are relevant to public policy, applied in particular contexts. These are things like evidence-based policy, behavioural public policy, transparency and accountability and things like public participation and so forth.

Then we have the next subject is making public policy, and this gives you an idea of how you – once you have the foundations in public policy, how you go about making decisions. Putting those foundations into practice in delivering policy outcomes. Then we have another subject – evidence and research for decision making and public sector governance which are more technical subjects which will teach you how you go about collecting evidence and conducting research and applying it to the decisions you make and then public sector governance is about how those techniques work in the structure of public sector governance.

What are the electives? What additional subjects do you need to – what additional subjects can you select from to make up the necessary credit points? There’s a wide range of them. The graduate diploma – it will involve you choosing an extra four subjects and the master’s will – you need another 36 credit points beyond that if you – well, you need 48 but if you add the 12 for the research project then that still leaves you 36, so you’ve got to choose an additional six subjects. What can you do, what sort of choices do you have? You can complete a sub-major by choosing 24 credit points of electives within any other of the following areas which are – which will depend on what sort of role that you’re setting yourself for anyway.

If you’re interested in working in local government, you can choose electives off the master’s of local government which involves things like project management and strategic communication. If you’re interested in working in say state level or federal level government, you might do things like behavioural economics through the business school. These will include subjects in evidence evaluation – very technical subjects that teach you how to collect data, how to analyse that data and apply it to decision making. You can also choose other subjects that we have in the institute of public policy and governance that deal with public policy and program design and public leadership.

MAP subjects are also – MAP students are also encouraged to take these subjects that we offer, including contemporary policy challenges and policy in practice. In order to take the master’s you need to complete the applied policy research project and this and is done over an entire year and it’s worth 12 credit points. This is essentially your thesis, and in order to obtain a master’s you really have to – in any sort of university you have to do a thesis. This is a capstone subject for the master’s of applied policy and it allows you to apply the knowledge that you’ve gained from the other subjects that you’ve chosen and the other streams – the other electives that you might have done – on a particular topic of your interest.

You essentially choose a thesis topic and you will receive a supervisor and training in how you should go about preparing and theorising this subject and laying out a workable research program which allows you to achieve it within a year. You will – there will be some classes in planning and actually conducting a research project, which will give you a grounding in – because you will have to do things like this in a normal sort of policy job anyway, so it will give you training about how do you lay out a research program around a topic that you’re interested in? This will take you two semesters.