Do you want to know more about what it’s like to study one of our online short courses in government and public policy?
Hear from one of our course graduates, Melieha Long, about her experience on the Evidence in Public Policy short course. Melieha is a Senior Strategist and Policy Coordinator at the Scotland Office of the UK Government. In this blog, she shares how her learning experience on our course has benefitted her and her professional development.
Why did you choose to study this course?
This course is directly applicable to the work that I do in terms of seeking out sound evidence to form positions on policies designed by other government departments, and how best these can be delivered with Scotland in mind.
I chose this course because I wanted to supplement my own research, knowledge and experience with a practical learning opportunity to consolidate this further.
The Evidence in Public Policy course, I feel, is essential learning for all policy professionals, analysts, operational delivery professions, project managers and the like in public service or third sector roles that make policy decisions based on evidence.
Why did you choose to study online?
I was assured that this would be a high-quality course delivered online. When compared with other online study I have participated in, this course has been far more engaging, and applicable.
Studying online suited me as I was able to fit my learning in around my work life with ease, rather than having regimented time frames where I was needed in a physical learning environment. I did most of my studying at home with some reading done at work. I tended to do the reading on a Monday, then spend Friday afternoon doing the online course content (including any activities), then used Sunday as a spill-over day if I needed it.
I am lucky that my department allows up to 10 days a year to be used for training, so this enabled me to use good chunks of the working day to do the course.
What was your favourite module on the course?
I really enjoyed them all, but particularly enjoyed Week 5 – Aggregating and Finding Evidence. This is because the reviewing and reporting exercise was a really helpful tool for translating the learning which had been delivered over the previous weeks into a practical example of how this would be used in my actual job. Being able to critically evaluate a piece of analysis in that way was incredibly applicable and will be a helpful piece of learning to take away into my own team.
How did you find the support you received?
Excellent – the course facilitator was always on hand to answer my questions and guide me through the course. The video sessions were great and enabled me to ask questions directly and share thoughts with other students. My fellow students were also great for support and for sharing ideas, learning and experience.
What impact has the course had on your career?
This course will enable me to more effectively advise on whether policies will work in Scotland by providing me with the tools to critically assess evidence and draw conclusions on the external validity of evaluations. More broadly, this will support my applications to future roles with a policy development focus, as it will demonstrate that I have the knowledge to apply to designing evaluations.
Purely by having completed this course, I also expect that this will have a benefit to my future career prospects, given the prestige of the institution.
What advice would you give to anyone considering studying an online course with Oxford?
Ensure that you have enough time available to you to fully engage in the course. Luckily, the course runs periodically throughout the year, so I would recommend considering what time of year you are most likely to be able to commit the most time to.
I got most value from the activities which involved collaboration. The course offers a lot of flexibility, with stretch options and core reading. However, I feel that to get the very most out of the course, the real value is in the discussions with other coursemates, using this as an opportunity to understand the challenges and experiences faced in public service institutions across the world. The more time you can put into sharing knowledge, reading the perspectives of other learners and contributing to the discussion, the better – from my experience.