Master of Policy and Governance


Drawing on UC's teaching and research strengths in Political Science and International Relations, graduates can now obtain a professional capstone qualification in policy analysis and strategic decision making. This master's programme will provide advanced interdisciplinary training in just one year for those wishing to progress in local, regional, national and third sector/not-for-profit roles in policy and governance.

Features of the Master of Policy and Governance

  • Advanced academic principles are investigated through applied tasks such as case studies and field trips.
  • In collaboration with strategic partners, a panel of experts from outside the university will provide real-world informed mentoring of participants. Mentors will come from organisations such as the New Zealand Parliament and Business Trust, Local Government New Zealand, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, NZ Treasury, and the McGuinness Institute NZ.
  • UC's Department of Political Science and International Relations has attained national and international visibility for the strength of its teaching and academic research.
  • UC has particular expertise in policy processes and community leadership in New Zealand-Pacific contexts, in East and Southeast Asia and in science, environment and technology policy.

Note: This is a sister qualification to the new Master of International Relations and Diplomacy, which caters for students interested in careers in international and global affairs.

Entry requirements

For full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Policy and Governance or use the admission requirements checker. You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification specific requirements

A candidate will:

a) Either:

  • hold a bachelor's degree in any subject, normally with at least a B average in 60 points of 300-level courses in the majoring subject; or
  • have been admitted ad eundem statum as such;


b) Been approved as a candidate by the Programme Director and the Dean of Arts.

Qualification structure and duration

The Master of Policy and Governance (MPAG) comprises 180 points. Students can decide on the level of research that makes up their programme, choosing one of two options:

  • Option 1: 120 points of coursework plus a 60-point dissertation
  • Option 2: 90 points of coursework plus a 90-point thesis (Note: this is normally only open to students with a GPA of 7.5 or with the approval of the Head of Programme).


Students start their studies in February (Semester 1) and the normal enrolment would be full-time for one year. However, with approval, students can study part-time over two years.

Subjects and courses

  • All students must complete the compulsory 30-point course POLS440 Principles and Practice of Policy and Governance.
  • Depending on which option you choose, you will then select elective courses:
    - up to 60 points from Schedule A
    - up to 30 points from Schedule B 
    See the Regulations for the Master of Policy and Governance for an up-to-date list of courses on offer.
  • Research course – either POLS680 Dissertation (60 points) or POLS681 Thesis (90 points).

Field trips

The Wellington field trip is a two-day trip which includes meetings with senior figures in Government and Opposition, a variety of senior ministers, policy advisers, the Parliamentary Research library, and senior leaders, including the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition. The field trip also includes a formal networking and senior peer mentoring event with UC alumni now working in Wellington. This is an effective professional networking event.

Two further regional field trips will be arranged, with local councils setting case study problems and students working with community and groups to address this problem and report back on solutions to a panel of public and policy makers.

Further study

Doctor of Philosophy

Career opportunities

The MPAG caters perfectly for students interested in policy and governance careers in local, regional and national government, and not-for-profit/volunteer sectors.

Graduates will leave UC having:

  • built their knowledge in a chosen area
  • engaged with senior staff and leading professional mentors
  • conducted field-based learning
  • conducted independent specialist policy research.

Useful resources:

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Policy and Governance.

For study planning help contact the School of Language, Social and Political Sciences or the College of Arts:

College of Arts
University of Canterbury
Karl Popper Building, Level 4
Private Bag 4800
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 364 2176
Email arts@canterbury.ac.nz

Kendall Lattin

Kendall Lattin

'I get to learn more every day about the way that our society works...'