Policy In Practice

As a professional degree program, UBC’s Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) is designed to prepare you to deal with complex public policy challenges and drive meaningful change in the real world.

Our unique curriculum encourages creativity, innovation and collaboration by seamlessly integrating learning and practical experience. Expect a mix of case studies, field visits, workshops, and other hands-on activities, including the key program components outlined below.

Global Policy Project

A defining element of UBC's MPPGA curriculum is an intensive Global Policy Project (GP2) (GPP 590), which provides opportunities for you and your team to engage with policy makers and civil society and apply your creative thinking and strategic design skills to a real-world policy challenge. GP2 is completed over the course of Year Two through a combination of Design Studio sessions and intensive stakeholder engagements. The project offers you an opportunity to apply methods and skills learned during the core courses taught during Year One.

Here’s how it works:

  • You will work in a team under the guidance of a faculty member to complete each step of the Project.
  • Your client will present a specific challenge facing its organization, providing context to help you understand and define the problem.
  • Collaborating closely with your client and faculty in class and the field, you will analyze the problem, gather data, and work through possible solutions.
  • You will present your final policy recommendations in a policy report and symposium at the end of Year Two.

Some Global Policy Project work will be locally based while at other times may involve national or international travel. The program will cover the cost of travel to your project destination in the form of economy class airfare up to a reasonable amount specified by the program for each project.

Additional project costs such as accommodation, in-country transportation, research costs, food, vaccines, and insurance will vary by project and will be the responsibility of the student. Students will have the opportunity to rank their projects of choice prior to being placed on teams.

Various professional development workshops will be incorporated throughout the MPPGA program, with the purpose of preparing you for your Project work, which begins in Year 2.  You will enhance your skills in areas such as team collaboration, conflict resolution in a policy environment, report writing and presentations, and develop new skills in policy research design, the strategic design process, and a variety of field research techniques.

In Year 2, GP2 includes regular lectures on specific skills and techniques needed for the project. You will also have a policy studio component regularly throughout Year 2 to work on your Project. The policy studio is a flexible, visual learning space with a focus on collaborative experiences where students, faculty, and clients co-design experiments that integrate creative thinking with scientific methods in problem identification and analysis.

See examples from the 2017-2018 projects in this story on the Global Policy Project symposium held at UBC.

GP2 Team Presentation 2

MPPGA students Sarah Froese, Keskine Owusu Poku, and Luis Pablo Acosta Zamora presented a report that examines the efficacy of three major activities of the Aga Khan Rural Support Program for sustainable livelihood development against the backdrop of rural development policies of the state.

MPPGA Co-operative Education Program (Co-op)

The Master of Public Policy & Global Affairs Co-operative Education Program is facilitated by the UBC Arts Co-op Program. The MPPGA Co-operative Education Program allows you, our MPPGA students, to acquire practical, paid work experience specific to policy-related professions as a compliment to your classroom learning. Work placements occur during the summer between the first and second years of the MPPGA program. As a Co-op graduate, you will be well prepared, academically and professionally, for your future careers as policy practitioners in diverse sectors around the world.

For more details on the types of work you might perform, placement locations around the world, and eligibility and application, please visit the MPPGA page of the Arts Co-op website.

MPPGA students from our 2017 cohort have secured various UBC Arts Co-op positions this summer. Their employers range from Global Affairs Canada and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to CanCham Hong Kong and CowaterSogema. The current placements include:

  • Aaron Nelson, Junior Project Officer, CowaterSogema
  • Adam Cassady, Research Assistant, The Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI)
  • Adedoyin Luwaji, Research Assistant, Performance Audit, Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia
  • Alex Ash, Intern, Foundation for Innovation at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
  • Ali Abdullah Bajwa, Economic Research Intern, National Immigration Centre, The Conference Board of Canada
  • Chiamaka Mọgọ, Policy Analyst & Education Programs Assistant, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office, UBC
  • Clare Min Jeong Kim, Junior Policy Analyst, International Assistance Envelope Management, International Assistance Policy Division, Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Darren Touch, Junior Officer, Indigenous Partnership Office, Natural Resources Canada, Government of Canada (NRCan)
  • Hadis Siadat, Junior Policy Analyst, Sectoral Policy Division, Infrastructure Canada
  • Juliana Craig, Member Management Trainee, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong
  • Nicole So, Junior Policy Analyst, International Assistance Envelope Management, International Assistance Policy, Strategic Policy, Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Shaf Noorani, Student Research Assistant, Policy Co-Op with the Viral Hepatitis program, The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
  • Simin Yook, Junior Bilateral (Political/Commercial) Relations Officers, Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • Susanne Beilmann, Community Services Assistant, The City of Surrey

MPPGA Co-op student Ali Bajwa is working as an Economic Research Intern with the National Immigration Centre at the Conference Board of Canada this summer. In one of the projects he's addressing, he is analyzing the impact of automation on the Canadian labour market and how it ties into Canadian immigration policy.

Eleven MPPGA students from the 2016 cohort completed their Co-op jobs in the first summer of the program. Placements included the Conference Board of Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute, the UBC Sustainability Initiative, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues.

Eleven MPPGA students from the 2015 cohort participated in Co-op in the first year of the program, including working with Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa, the Conference Board of Canada, Goldcorp Inc., BPI, and the City of Richmond.

For more information on this program, please contact the MPPGA Co-op Coordinator for the Arts Co-op Program, Anna Jubilo.

Policy Practitioner Sessions

These exclusive sessions for MPPGA students involve intimate and in-depth discussions with policy practitioners from diverse backgrounds to expose students to new ideas, current topics, and best practices in practicing policy. The sessions are chaired by MPPGA students to further develop their management and communication skills. They are scheduled throughout year.

Winter Session 2017-2018:
Yasmin Karim, Programme Manager, Gender and Development, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme Pakistan
Frederika Steen, senior public servant in Australian immigration, former Chief Migration Officer in the Australian Embassy in Berlin
Kevin Quinlan, Chief of Staff to City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson
A Panel on Careers in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
John Steen, Associate Professor in Strategy, University of Queensland Business School

Professional Skills Workshops

As an MPPGA student, you will enjoy exclusive access to a series of professional skills workshops organized by students and faculty. Designed to develop skills and improve employment readiness, these learning events will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Intercultural Fluency
  • Finance and budgets
  • Technical media skills
  • Public speaking
  • Curriculum vitae (C.V.) writing
  • Conflict resolution

Students are encouraged to attend as many workshops as possible before graduation. Program staff listen carefully to feedback and adjust the workshop planning schedule according to your needs and interests. The program has offered the following workshops:

  • The Persuasive Presenter - Objectives and Outcomes
  • Collaboration Skills
  • Strategic Design
  • Social Media Strategy
  • Documentary Film making Workshop
  • Intercultural Fluency Workshop
  • Annual Co-op Conference
  • Job Search Skills for the Policy Professions

Professional Growth Opportunities

The MPPGA program seeks to cultivate policy skills, knowledge, and networks that will support you as you work towards your professional goals.

MPPGA students Clare Kim and Tommy Koh attended the 4th annual Canada-ASEAN Business Council Business Forum held in Singapore from March 21st to 22nd, 2018. Under the direction of Professor Kai Ostwald, Clare and Tommy are UBC’s project leads for an ongoing research collaboration examining the possibilities for a ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement with the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), the National University of Singapore (NUS), and the International Development Research Centre. Learn more about their experiences here.

MPPGA students Marc Attallah, Farah Kashaf, Laurélène Faye, and Reagan Rockzsfforde represented the UBC teams in the 2018 National Public Administration Case Competition. Hosted by SFU and organized by the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration  in collaboration with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. Learn more about this opportunity here.

In February 2017, UBC MPPGA students Angelo Wang, Laurélène Faye, and Toyin Christiana had the opportunity to participate in the NASPAA-Batten Simulation Competition on Food Security at the University of Washington in Seattle.

After Graduation – Enhance Your Career as a Policy Professional

The MPPGA program is designed to provide you with a highly specialized skill set, combining data analysis with policy tools, economic understanding, communication skills, and creativity that is sought after by industry, non-governmental organizations, local and national governments, and inter-governmental agencies around the world. Expect to work in areas such as:

Policy Strategy Policy Design and Analysis
Strategic Communications & Digital Diplomacy Project Management
Data Analysis Evaluation & Needs Assessment
Procurement Analysis Research Services
Government Relations External Relations
Regulatory & Environmental Affairs Global Security
Technical Writing Social Service Delivery
Humanitarian Aid Immigration

Policymaker
Policy Advisor
Analyst – Policy, Data, Strategy, Procurement
Government Relations Director
Deputy Director, Online Communications and Engagement
External Relations Director
Political Affairs Officer

Advocacy Strategist
Business Development Planner
Community Engagement Officer
Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant
Ethical Trade Consultant
Gender and Social Inclusion Advisor


Energy Policy Analyst
Environmental Economist
Ethical Supply Chain Consultant
Regulatory and Environmental Specialist
Sustainability Analyst


International Security Advisor
Intelligence Collection Analyst
Foreign Service Officer
Humanitarian Aid Worker

Hear from Cesi Cruz, MPPGA Assistant Professor, who teaches policy analysis and program evaluation, as she speaks to the program’s comparative advantage:

*If you are an employer and wish to partner on the Global Policy Project or have a career opportunity for one of our students, please contact the MPPGA Partnership Team at mppga.partnerships (at) ubc.ca for more details.