MSc Urban Policy and Analytics

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This interdisciplinary masters draws on the work of the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) and the Crime and Wellbeing Big Data Centre at Manchester Met to offer a challenging course in a research driven environment.

The programme asks you to consider the challenge that urbanism brings to our analysis for, and our analysis of, urban policy. The programme will focus on different theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding urban governance, policy and data analysis for policy. It will provide you with analytical skills to undertake research in urban studies.

Cities are core to human political, social, and economic life (Storber, 2013) and there is significant and growing academic debate and empirical research around the role and effect of city living. There are also significant questions raised in real world governance, public policy, and analysis for policy around cities, both in the developed world (for instance, policy debate around the devolution agenda in the UK, specifically in terms of Greater Manchester) and in the Global South.

Core to these debates is the question of the universality or particularity of the urban experience; that is, the extent to which urbanisation is a universal process, with common driving forces, or is particular to each individual city case. This is a key question in urban studies, and has significant implications for our analysis of, and analysis for, urban policy. For example, what can we learn from Manchester’s experience of urbanisation and its recent devolution governance reforms, and can this learning be applied to current governance and policy questions in the Global South? Are policy ideas and innovations ‘mobile’ – can an idea that fits the policy, economic and social context of Manchester (for example) be transferred to other cities, and what are the implications of this? What are the challenges of analysing, interpreting and comparing data? What can evaluations of policy interventions in one city tell us about the likely success of that intervention in other areas?  

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities is offering scholarships worth £2,000 for graduates with a first class honours or upper second class degree. Excellence scholarships are available to full-time home and EU students for 20/21 entry. Find out more on our postgraduate funding pages.

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

This course aims to equip you with the skills to progress to higher research programmes, and/or to expand and enhance your career opportunities and professional practice within public policy or public administration and related agencies and organisations. Successful completion provides evidence of high standards in a range of transferable skills that may be relevant in non-related career settings, for example, information retrieval, summarising complex material, applied data analysis, producing high quality reports, initiating and developing projects.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

A good first degree in any social science subject, particularly sociology, human geography, politics/political science. Students with a good first degree in computer science or data science, with an interest in the urban analytics module, would also be welcome. Students with a first degree in other subjects may also be considered and should talk to the programme director in the first instance.

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

The core units for this course are:

  • Researching the City (30 Credits)
  • Understanding the Urban (30 Credits)
  • Dissertation (60 Credits)

The optional units for this course are:

(you will choose four of the below units for Term 2, all 30 credits)

  • Evidence, Policy and Evaluation
  • Policy Analysis
  • Relational Urbanism
  • Smart Sustainable Cities
  • Urban Analytics
  • Urban Governance, Policy and Politics

Read more about this year of study

Core Units


Dissertation Unit: You will be expected to conduct a piece of individual research on an appropriate degree topic. The units approach will be flexible and may encompass a range of methods to achieve learning outcomes.

Understanding the Urban

How do we explain, define, conceptualise and understand cities and the urban. Drawing on the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the core module will examine cities in history, this module will explore cities as a sense of time and space, in terms of the built environment, and as posing unique social problems and policy challenges. It will compare and contrast different theories of urbanism, considering whether these offer a plausible explanation of the city development over time, of differences in pace, scale and density of urban development, and differences across parts of the world.

Researching the City

This module is designed to prepare students for undertaking their dissertation, and also for undertaking applied urban research more generally. The module introduces students to a wide range of issues they might encounter when designing social research and presenting findings. The module will also provide students with a broad understanding of alternative solutions to research design challenges; to enable students to select a justifiable design for any social research question; and to be capable of evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others’ research designs.

Likely Optional Units

Evidence, Policy and Evaluation

This module examines how policy is formulated, implemented and evaluated. This includes an understanding the social, economic and political processes that are involved in shaping policy, including the role of interests and of evidence.

Policy Analysis

This unit focuses on analysis of urban policy (as opposed to analysis for policy). It examines theories and approaches of policy analysis, exploring the main methodological approaches, and aims to give an understanding of key issues involved in urban policy research. It also introduces students to current academic debate around policy mobilities (or policy transfer), and methods for undertaking analysis on the social reproduction of cities.

Urban Governance, Policy and Politics

How are cities governed? This module explores comparatively different forms of public governance in both the developed and developing world, examining issues of power, politics, urban citizenship, urban social movements and other informal governance mechanisms. The module examines how models of urban governance and policy making have developed over time, and how these relate to the relevant policy domain or higher order legislative and governance frameworks. It explores issues of complexity within governance processes, and the challenges of urban governance, which operate within multifaceted political and policy environments. The module addresses the role played by different forms of urban governance in urban economic and physical development.

Relational Urbanism

In this module, students will be introduced to current theoretical and methodological debates on comparative urbanism. In particular, they will engage with relational urbanism, a recent development in urban studies that seeks to break away from the perceived Anglo-American bias within urban studies and move towards theories and methods that are relevant and appropriate to the Global South.

Urban Analytics

The aim of this module is to provide students with the theoretical and methodological skill sets to creatively and critically analyse urban challenges centred on inequality, sustainability and mobility. The module will introduce students to a range of consolidated specialist programmes capable of taking advantage of advances in open, administrative and big data. Attention will be paid to the ways in which urban analytics can inform spatially and temporally sensitive decision-making. The module will be delivered by a mixture of lectures, practical hand-outs and tutorials. On occasion, international leading scholars will be invited to deliver webinars. The module will provide guidance on the use of mainstream software packages (e.g., GIS and Stata) as well as freeware and open source packages (e.g., semi-parametric GWR and R). The potential of these software packages to support urban analytics will be demonstrated with reference to international case studies focused on transport, crime, health and urban segmentation. 

Smart Sustainable Cities

The module will introduce key concepts underpinning the notions of smart cities and sustainable cities. These include the Internet of Things, social innovation, circular economy, resilience, low carbon transitions, and social entrepreneurship.  The module recognises that smart cities can be vulnerable to unforeseen events, and that efficient cities may not be resilient ones. It also explores tensions between ‘resilience’ (often associated with preservation of the status quo) and ‘transformation’, referring to more  fundamental change in goals, behaviour and infrastructure.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


Department of Sociology

Our Department of Sociology provides courses in the areas of sociology, criminology, global change and quantitative methods.

Its academic staff are actively involved in high-quality research and the department is home to the Policy and Evaluation Research Unit and Manchester Centre for Youth Studies, advising national and local policy-makers, and holding major roles in several significant national and European projects.

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Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

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UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £8,500 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1417 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £16,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2667 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

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If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

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