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Queen's University

Core Courses

PMPA students must complete 10 course credits to meet MPA degree requirements. They normally take five core and five optional courses.

The core curriculum consists of five courses. Core courses in the first year provides students with an understanding of the role of government and the nature of policy-making as well as essential skills in economic analysis and research methods. Core courses in the second year build on this foundation, introducing students to the fundamentals of policy analysis and management.

Core Course Exemption with Replacement Policy 

Where a student can demonstrate an adequate background in the subject matter of MPA 800, MPA 804, or MPA 806, the student may receive an exemption from that course and complete an additional optional course.


1. Political and Institutional Analysis

MPA 800 - Governing Institutions (Year 1)

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.

MPA 802 - Approaches to Policy Analysis (Year 2)

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 (Year 1)

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 806 - Analytical Tools for Policy Research (Year 1)

Public policies are products of interdisciplinary inquiries and deliberations. Policy researchers utilize social scientific research techniques and analytical methods in formulating policy decisions. However, most of us who are not policy makers but need to read such policy statements and documents could invariably benefit from an acquisition of some basic knowledge in, and familiarity with, those analytical techniques and concepts.

This course is designed for that purpose: to provide students with a basic understanding of key analytical techniques, concepts, and their meanings in applied research, so that not only can they comprehend such research techniques and their application in everyday issues, but can also participate in policy discussions, where such techniques are often used. In short, we will discuss a set of selected key analytical techniques, formulas, principles, and their meanings in the everyday life of a layperson, rather than try to advance our expertise in such analytical methods themselves .

3. Management

MPA 809 - Management in the Public Sector (Year 2)

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