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Queen's University

Core Courses

Students in the MPA program must complete 12 half-course credits, normally taking five courses in each of the fall and winter terms and two in the summer term. They may choose to complete a Master's Research Project, in lieu of two optional courses.

MPA students normally complete six required courses from these three groups:

1. Political and Institutional Analysis

MPA 800 - Governing Institutions (Fall)
MPA 802 - Approaches to Policy Analysis (Winter)

2. Economic and Quantitative Analysis

MPA 804 - Principles of Economics (Fall)
MPA 805 - Quantitative Analysis (Fall)

And at least one of: 

MPA 815 - Economic Analysis (Winter) 
MPA 816 - Quantitative Program Evaluation (Not offered 2015/16)
MPA 840 - Economics of Social Policy (Winter)
MPA 844 - Canadian Economic Policy (Fall)
MPA 865 - Behavioural Public Finance (Not offerd 2015/16)

3. Management  

MPA 809 - Management in the Public Sector (Winter 2010)

Core Course Exemption with Replacement Policy

Where a student can demonstrate an adequate background in the subject matter of MPA 800, MPA 804, MPA 805, or MPA 809, the student may receive an exemption from that course.

Students exempted from MPA 804 may replace it with an additional selection from among MPA 815, MPA 840, MPA 844, MPA 865 or a broadly based policy-oriented course in the Department of Economics approved by the MPA Program Director.  Students exempted from MPA 805 will replace it with MPA 816.


1. Political and Institutional Analysis

MPA 800 - Governing Institutions 

An examination of the institutions and processes involved in addressing policy problems. While particular attention is given to Canadian governments, the course considers other influences on the decision making process emanating from the third sector and the global environment.

Political institutions and processes of decision-making play a fundamental role in shaping policy outcomes. This course analyzes governing institutions and the processes of modern government as a means of sharpening our understanding of policy formulation and implementation. While the course pays particular attention to the Canadian experience, American comparisons are used to highlight important differences in the way our institutions function. The knowledge gained in this course should provide a basis for critically assessing political and administrative decision-making and policy outcomes.

A knowledgeable policy actor requires certain skills to be effective. This course is designed to help future policymakers and advisors acquire some of those skills. These include abilities: to work cooperatively and effectively with one’s peers; to communicate ideas clearly and succinctly in a public forum; to write efficiently and persuasively; to analyze and synthesize material; and to succeed in a professional environment.

MPA 802 - Approaches to Policy Analysis 

This course introduces students to a broad range of research strategies, methods and techniques used in policy analysis. It explores recent developments in analytical techniques, with particular reference to their underlying assumptions and their relevance to problems facing policy analysts and decision makers.

This course serves an integrative function within the interdisciplinary MPA curriculum. Rather than dignify any single approach or any single social science discipline as "policy science" in preference to others, the course provides an opportunity for students to develop their own integrated approach to policy analysis. The abstract objective of the course is to help students to develop knowledge and comprehension of the diversity of theoretical and practical approaches to policy analysis. The practical objective is to be able to demonstrate the application of these ideas to a specific policy problem: we learn about policy analysis by doing it.

This course approaches policy analysis from the inside, the view of practitioners, rather than from the outside perspective of analysts who observe the policy process. The focus is not on how decisions are made, but on how practitioners should think about policy problems. Studies that take policy as a dependent variable, such as attempts to explain the machinery of government decision-making or how interest groups and policy communities influence policy outcomes, are outside the scope of this course, as are studies of public management and policy implementation.


2. Economic and Quantitative Analysis

MPA 804 - Principles of Economics 

This course introduces basic concepts in microeconomics and macroeconomics to students who have had limited exposure to economics. It focuses on issues relevant to the public sector.

MPA 805 - Quantitative Analysis

This course introduces basic quantitative concepts and methods used in a wide range of professional careers. Students will work with software to conduct statistical analysis and gain experience working with large datasets. 

And at least one of: 

MPA 815 - Economic Analysis  

In MPA-815 we will study how to interpret economic analyses and how to use the tools of economics to investigate the effects of public policies. We will consider economic incentives in various organizations and institutions, models of economic behavior, the consequences of market failure as well as government failure, the interventions in markets and policy objectives and instruments.  

Supported by guest speakers from the Ontario Public Service we will explore the use and abuse of economics applied to decision making on topics such as business support programs, minimum wage policy, poverty reduction and income distribution, support for post-secondary education and the use of regulatory tools to protect consumers and achieve policy goals.  We will examine the role of economic analysis in submissions to a cabinet or treasury board in support of a policy proposal.

MPA 816 - Quantitative Program Evaluation 

This course focuses on program evaluation and cost benefit analysis including program theory, impact analysis and implementation analysis.

MPA 840 - Economics of Social Policy 

This course applies microeconomic analysis to the field of social policy. The course briefly considers the role of economics in policy analysis and the rationale for government intervention. Policy areas to be analyzed may include: poverty, income maintenance, unemployment insurance, welfare, childcare, child benefits, the retirement system.

MPA 844 - Canadian Economic Policy 

This course brings an economic perspective to major policy issues facing Canada and its trading partners. The topics selected for discussion will vary from year to year. 

MPA 865 - Behavioural Public Finance 

Traditional public finance provides a simple but powerful framework to analyze the questions discussed on the front page of the newspaper every day. This framework, however, is often criticized for relying on an overly simple model of human behavior. Behavior economics advocates a psychologically richer perspective on human behavior for economic analysis. The course introduces this new development in public finance that not only attempts to apply psychology to public finance problems but also tries to reshape core public finance concepts such as moral hazard, deadweight loss and incidence. 


3. Management 

MPA 809 - Management in the Public Sector 

This course provides students with practice in the skills required for effective leadership of public organizations. Focusing on the general management level, the course addresses the tasks of integrating managerial functions, establishing organizational goals and executing organizational strategies. Particular emphasis is placed on problems of adaptation and innovation under fiscal restraint.

School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020