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Core courses on the MPhil in Technology Policy

The MPhil in Technology Policy programme’s core courses introduce students to key concepts and tools, building on a firm grounding in economics and policy, ranging from problem framing and systems analysis through to complexity, decision-making under uncertainty and strategic thinking.

Throughout the core courses there is an emphasis on real world applications through case study materials on policy issues in a wide variety of areas (e.g. the Internet, transport, space policy), taught by senior practitioners from both the academic and business worlds.

The course introduces some of the central themes of the MPhil in Technology Policy. The emphasis is on policy-related knowledge and skills for those planning careers in the area of technology and policy. We adopt a professional practice approach which stresses career relevant insights and skills. In other words, the purpose is not simply to provide a theoretical foundation in ‘Technology Policy’ although the module builds on analytical and conceptual frameworks. Some specific themes include the role of expertise in policy making, ideological and disciplinary approached to the policy process, the interaction of technology evolution and regulatory oversight, business-government relations and private sector influence on policy.  The concepts are discussed in greater detail using cases drawn from each week’s headlines. Through debates and discussion, both in class and on our Technology Policy blog, the students explore the links across technology, regulation, politics, economics and corporate strategy.

The module gives you an introductory understanding of public policy, an appreciation of the processes of policy -making and its analysis, competence in communicating with policy makers, and insights into leadership in technology strategy.

Covering the economic principles behind technology policy and its main instruments, this course equips you with an understanding of the treatment of technology in microeconomics, with its welfare implications. It includes principles of industrial economics to understand where and when policy can be fruitfully applied. It covers selected macroeconomic topics with special emphasis on the role of government expenditure, investment, and growth. The course also includes an examination of the principles behind investment in technology infrastructures that require long term, capital-intensive assets and a degree of state support. The lectures draw on a wide range of sources and cover both theory and empirical studies on the economics of technology policy.

This module looks at the practical policy challenges that new technologies pose. Specifically, it consolidates and extends the formal work of the modules Technology Policy: Concepts & Frameworks, and Economics Foundations of Technology Policy, through a series of guest lectures by practicing policy makers in government and business dealing with new technologies such as AI, fintech, healthcare, telecoms, cyber security, autonomous vehicles and digital platforms. It gives access to a range of policy-oriented issues that examine the drivers, impacts and consequences of technology and policy developments within and across sectors, countries and regions.

Accordingly, each two-hour seminar is led by a specialist practitioner and/or academic. The typical format comprises an initial presentation followed by discussion. Reading is required prior to the seminar to ensure the opportunity for the fullest discussion and active participation.

This module is a survey of three distinct yet related forces – business, government and technology – in the context of emerging economies. Each of these forces individually plays an important role in how emerging economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America are striving to grow while controlling inequality and ensuring sustainability. Increasingly these forces also interact with each other in both positive and negative, predictable and unanticipated ways.

The topics that this module addresses include: innovation in emerging markets; government innovation in emerging markets; the globalisation of innovation; the role of emerging markets with a special focus on China; policies for sustainable growth in emerging markets; the formation of policy in emerging markets; policy issues that arise in emerging markets; the management of risk in the regulation of technology; and the policy issues that arise due to cross-border investment.

Selected papers, book chapters, case studies and actual government or industry briefings on the role of business, government and technology in emerging markets are analysed and discussed. The course takes an interdisciplinary perspective and helps students develop their research skills, as well as formulate and inform policy on these topics. Having completed the course, you should be able to knowledgeably review and evaluate high quality academic and policy briefing papers on topics related to business, government and technology in emerging economies.

The module focuses on social cost benefit analysis (CBA) of policy and the econometrics of policy evaluation. The first half of the course covers how to do the analysis – evaluation of outputs, inputs and their discounting – looking at how to handle risk and distributional issues within the analysis and going on to examine a number of case studies.

The second half focuses on applied econometric methods that are used in evaluating the impacts of programmes/policies. Through case studies students are equipped with a clear understanding of the data requirements, assumptions, and types of conclusions that can be drawn from i) randomised and natural experiments, ii) difference-in-difference analysis, iii) regression discontinuity design approaches, and iv) instrumental variable estimation.

The course considers how much technology innovation and regulations are shaped through the interplay of the key actors including governments, firms and civil society. We use the European Union as a case study of transnational governance but the discussion will be relevant when thinking about the extraterritorial reach of the United States or China or when considering the future evolution of trade blocs such as ASEAN or Mercosur. We examine the role of European institutions and other stakeholders in shaping policy on issues across a range of sectors, including the tech sector, energy and climate, transport, trade, competition, development, defence, and research and development.

The course provides direct exposure to European policy-makers drawn from across a range of perspectives, sectors, institutions and ideologies. Aside from Cambridge-based lectures, the course involves an intensive field trip to European institutions for meetings with European parliamentarians, Commission officials and others involved in European science and technology policy. You are provided an opportunity to investigate in depth a specific area of technology policy that falls within the broad remit of European science and technology policy.