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Mastering my development as a public policy leader: Paul’s story

MSc Public Policy graduate Paul talks about how the course helped him to enhance his skills and progress in his career.

A man wearing a police uniform.
Paul studied MSc Public Policy alongside his role as Chief Superintendent (Force Operations & Communications) within the Greater Manchester Police.

We spoke to Paul Clements, Director of Incident Management & Resilience at the Environment Agency, who graduated from MSc Public Policy in 2020.

He shares his experiences of studying at Bath, and how the course helped him to progress his career and build the skills he needed to do so.

The right path to develop professionally

As someone deeply entrenched in public service, the decision to take an MSc Public Policy was a pivotal one for me.

Bath emerged as a really good choice, offering a blend of flexible learning and a reputation for academic excellence. I graduated in 2020 and I'm currently director of Incident Management and Resilience at the Environment Agency.

Confidence in Bath’s excellence

When you’re investing in doing a master’s degree, you need confidence in the quality of the institution. So it was really important to me that I selected somewhere with a reputation for excellence.

Bath’s offering of flexible learning - combining online and face-to-face teaching - suited my needs given my family commitments. The course puts the learner at the heart of any experience, offering real online functionality and virtual library resources, as well as the environment to share and collaborate with academics and peers.

Also, if I had known how beautiful Bath was, I would have come earlier! I think it's a really special place to be a student.

A rich learning experience

The course gave me the opportunity to engage with a diverse cohort of professionals from various backgrounds. I was studying alongside like-minded students aiming to share our experiences and knowledge and learn together on our MSc journey.

I discovered real interdependencies between what I and some of the cohort had worked on. For example, I was, as head of missing people in London, dealing with vulnerability and public protection. One of my group worked for the Greater London authority on homelessness and policy development and another worked for a charity specialising in outreach and interventions. It was really beneficial to be on the learning journey together and my learning experience was a richer one as a result.

The course gave us the toolkit of practical application and development of skills, while being rooted in a theoretical framework to analyse and develop public policy. Our study was complemented with the rigour of applying that in real-world case studies and practical analysis.

I’m very proud of my dissertation on children in care and had great academic support for it. Others have now used that as background research for their own studies and shared it with colleagues. Knowing that policymakers are reading it, and potentially influencing government policy, makes it even more worthwhile.

Changing my thinking

Doing this course helped me develop both professionally and personally, and to fill in gaps in my experience and knowledge and more.

In policing, I had one foot in the tactical operational space and the other in the strategic space. The master’s helped me to think differently and to position myself more in a strategic leadership space. I now think in a much broader sense - more high level, more strategically, more systemically, and much more long-term.

The job that I'm now in is a more senior position in public service and the rigour of the master’s made me think about things in a different way. It gave me the foundation and the confidence to get to Director level.

A sense of public duty is my motivation. I am always going to be in public service, so developing the scale and breadth of my responsibility means I can welcome the opportunities to be accountable for more challenging policy problems and more complex systems.

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