Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP)

1.0 Aims and Objectives

The vision underpinning the Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP) is the value of strengthening the production of social science researchers so that they may contribute to public policy development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The programme will go a long way in providing for the development of competencies in research and public policy and will therefore generate a cadre of professionals able to work in a wide variety of settings including but not limited to government bodies, think tanks, civil society organisations, regional and international organisations, media and universities. MRPP graduates should be able to produce social science research that can contribute to public policy and good governance, and also be able to utilise research evidence in public policy development. At the end of the programme, all graduates will be able to demonstrate:

a) An advanced knowledge of different conceptual and methodological approaches to social science research.

b) An advanced knowledge of various theoretical and conceptual approaches to the formulation and analysis of public policy.

c) Competency in research techniques to design and execute policy-oriented social science research.

d) Ability to apply policy analysis and development tools to different kinds of public policy issues.

e) Advanced capacity of the utilisation of evidence-based research in the process of developing and implementing public policy.

f) Competency to do effective monitoring and evaluation of public policies.

Some competencies are specific to research, others are to public policy, while others are relevant to both pathways. The programme structure and course outlines were designed to ensure that these competencies are developed by each student and reflected in the learning outcomes achieved by each graduate. Of paramount importance is the fact that graduates of the programme are expected to have a unique perspective on problem solving by combining ethics, technical competence, critical thinking, communications, research techniques and analytical and leadership abilities.

2.0 Rationale for the Programme

Even though the MPA programme offered by the department of PAS has been strengthened and reviewed several times since its inception in August 1990, it is clear that the programme has not been able to address or satisfy the existing demand to train and develop public policy researchers. The two courses offered under the MPA programme relating to public policies (MPA 602 - Public Policy and Administration and MPA 610 - State and Development Policy in the Developing Countries) focus mainly on the policy formulation and implementation process as well as the historical and theoretical analysis of the role of the state in development respectively. They do not adequately enable students to critically analyse and research about public policies as they affect citizens on a daily basis. Hence, the rationale for establishing the MRPP programme is to produce high quality graduates equipped to pursue scholarly research that is policy relevant and/or contribute to evidence-informed policy practice.

The MRPP programme will, therefore, go a long way in reinforcing and strengthening the existing MPA programme particularly the public policy stream. This is mainly because the design and delivery of the MRPP programme seeks to integrate various social science disciplines and apply these perspectives to problems of public policy. The programme has a dual focus on social science research and public policy. Both “pathways” are reflected in the degree name to emphasise:

a) A unique approach to public policy embedded in research. Research is embedded as a useful tool in synthesizing and presenting evidence as well as deepening understanding of policy issues.

b) The mix of competencies in terms of conceptual knowledge, skills and experiences that straddle both research and public policy.

c) That research concepts and methods are applied somewhat differently in the public policy domain than in the context of academic scholarship.

In view of the fact that the MRPP programme will be offered by twelve African universities, it will contribute to all the efforts that are geared towards positioning the University of Botswana as an institution of repute in the international stage. The programme will attract students from the SADC region and around the world. This will result in the programme having cultural authenticity and relevance.

3.0 Target Group

This programme is designed to develop the research skills of all the people who are involved in public policy formulation, implementation and research. It will cater for officers in public and private organisations, media fraternity, Non-Governmental Organisations, community based organisations and students from the SADC region. Government sponsored employees are expected to constitute a significant percentage of the students which will greatly contribute to the sustenance of the programme.

4.0 Departmental Regulations For The Master Of Research And Public Policy (MRPP)

4.1 Preamble

Subject to the Academic General Regulations, departmental special regulations shall apply.

4.2 Master’s Degree Programme

The programme of study shall be offered for the award of the Masters of Research and Public Policy (MRPP).

4.3 Entrance Requirements

In line with the General Academic Regulation 41.3.1 the minimum entrance requirement shall be a Bachelor’s degree with at least a second class lower division (GPA 2.8) or equivalent. In exceptional cases where applicants have very strong work experience but do not meet the minimum academic standards, the Department of PAS may decide to deem the applicant eligible for consideration. The MRPP is designed to appeal across disciplines. For example, a medical student interested in health policy can apply and be admitted because a variety of disciplinary and experiential backgrounds will enrich the programme.

5.0 Programme Structure

The MRPP programme shall have two graduate pathways. These are the “research pathway” and the “policy practice pathway.” The former is for students who are primarily interested in doing policy relevant research who may aspire to undertake advanced scholarship, teach in African universities and/or work in research think tanks and other types of research organisations. The latter is for students primarily interested in using research as policy practitioners who aspire to influence, inform or shape public policy, through work in national and sub-national governments, think tanks, advocacy organisations, media, private sector as well as regional and international organisations. Interaction among students involved in both pathways will provide a richer learning experience for all. Many of the needed competencies for both pathways are identical. The programme architecture allows for each student to customise their learning experience through their choice of courses, field experience and dissertation.

The programme shall be offered through course work, workshops, field experience and dissertation. Course work, which will be undertaken in semesters 1 and 2, is meant to give students the theoretical tools for research using a mix of uniform course content with localised course content. E-learning materials are to form an integral part of the course delivery and will provide Lecturers with an opportunity to bring international practices and experience into the classroom as well as enable students to interact across MRPP universities thus advancing the University of Botswana’s internationalisation policy. During the last two semesters (i.e. 3 and 4), students will be expected to write and present a dissertation to demonstrate integration of learning experiences from course work, field experience and workshops. The programme structure for the two pathways is illustrated below:

A) Research Pathway

Semester 1

Core Courses

MRP 600: Qualitative Research Methods For Public Policy

MRP 601: Quantitative Research Methods For Public Policy

MRP 602: Public Policy Development And Analysis

MRP 603: Governance And Politics Of Public Policy

MRP 604: Social Science Foundations For Public Policy

Semester 2

Core Courses

MRP 605: Economics For Public Policy

MRP 606: Ethics In Research And Public Policy

MRP 611: Political Economy of Public Policy

Optional Courses

MRP 607: Advanced Qualitative Methods

OR

MRP 608: Advanced Quantitative Methods

And one of the following

MRP 609: Applied Policy Analysis

MRP 610: Contemporary Issues In Public Policy

MRP 612: Global Context Of Public Policy

Semester 3

Core Courses

MRP 701: Research Policy And Public Interface

MRP 702: Gender, Social Diversity, Equality & Public Policy

MRP 703: Leadership And Public Policy

Semester 4

Core Courses

MRP 704: Field Work

MRP 705: Dissertation

B) Policy Practice Pathway

Semester 1

Core Courses

MRP 600: Qualitative Research Methods For Public Policy

MRP 601: Quantitative Research Methods For Public Policy

MRP 602: Public Policy Development And Analysis

MRP 603: Governance And Politics Of Public Policy

MRP 604: Social Science Foundations For Public Policy

Semester 2

Core Courses

MRP 605: Economics For Public Policy

MRP 606: Ethics In Research And Public Policy

MRP 609: Applied Policy Analysis

Optional Courses

MRP 610: Contemporary Issues In Public Policy

OR

MRP 612: Global Context Of Public Policy

And one of the following

MRP 607: Advanced Qualitative Methods

MRP 608: Advanced Quantitative Methods

MRP 611: Political Economy of Public Policy

Semester 3

Core Courses

MRP 701: Research Policy And Public Interface

MRP 702: Gender, Social Diversity, Equality & Public Policy

MRP 703: Leadership And Public Policy

Semester 4

Core Courses

MRP 704: Field Work

MRP 705: Dissertation

Summary of course offering

Core courses 15+9+9 33

Optional courses 6 6

Field Work and Dissertation 8+ 16 24

Total credits 63

A field work, with a maximum of eight weeks, will be undertaken at the end of semester 2. It seeks to expose students to new and real world environments and issues. It will also be used to facilitate data collection for the dissertation as well as afford students future employment opportunities with the host organisations. The field work will be awarded eight (8) credits from the overall 24 credits awarded for the dissertation. Each student will be expected to present a record of the activities undertaken during the eight weeks. Furthermore, the host organisations and the students’ supervisors will submit reports for students to be awarded the eight credits.

6.0 Duration Of The Programme

The programme shall be covered over a period of four (4) semesters on a full-time basis and six semesters on a part-time basis.

7.0 Award Of Master’s Degree

A student shall be eligible for the award of Master’s degree of Research and Public Policy (MRPP) after satisfying all the programme requirements.