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Policy Boot Camp 2020 Registration closed

This year’s boot camp will take place online, over Zoom and Slack

How do we reach net-zero carbon emissions? How can we close the digital divide and end tech inequality? How do we develop thriving local places? 

The 2020 Policy Boot Camp, brought to you by the University of Manchester and UCL, will help you make sense of the policy making process. With an introduction to policy making led by Prof Andy Westwood, and workshops devised by professionals from across the sector, this course is perfect for anyone interested in public policy. You’ll tackle tough policy challenges and develop imaginative and urgently-needed responses to real-world problems. You’ll meet new people and work with diverse groups to get to grips with the basics of the policy world. Following the course, there will be opportunities for paid internship placements at a range of policy organisations.

Hundreds of students participated last year across UCL through the Global Citizenship programme and at UoM through the Policy Boot Camp. Over thirty gained funded internships at organisations from across the policy world including Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, Metro Dynamics, and the Cabinet Office. Find out more about the UoM Boot Camp 2019 here, and hear from some of the UoM interns here.

The Policy Boot Camp is a modular course designed to guide you through the policy making process. Working in teams with practitioners from central and local government, think tanks, and experts from across civil society, you will learn about the challenges and trade-offs faced by policy professionals. You’ll learn how to inform decision making using examples of real life challenges we face today. You’ll be working with staff at think tanks, universities, consultancy firms, local authorities and other policy organisations to develop responses which will help them to address real, current problems.

The 2020 boot camp will run from:

17th August – 27th September

Some of last year’s participants reflect on the boot camp, and the opportunities with which it has provided them

Because of the COVID pandemic, this year, the boot camp will be completed remotely. You don’t need to be on campus – you just need a computer, working webcam, microphone and an internet connection.

This boot camp is for students of all backgrounds and all academic disciplines. Whether you study engineering, languages, medical sciences, history, drama, or politics, this course is for you.

We are committed to increasing the diversity and inclusivity of our activities. We strongly encourage applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), disabled, LGBTQ+ and disadvantaged students.

Boot Camp Structure

Detailed schedule here!

Induction Sessions

Induction sessions will run on Monday 17th (14:00-16:00), Tuesday 18th (10:00-12:00) and Wednesday 19th (15:00-17:00). As well as a general introduction to the course, a specific schedule and the tools you will need to complete it, you will be assigned your affinity groups. These groups will act as a support network of peers, and you will have an opportunity to get to know them in the session.

For those who can’t attend one of the three induction sessions, these will be recorded, and there will be a later affinity group session on Thursday 20th (9:00-10:00).

The Boot Camp is made up of four modules

Introduction to Policymaking

This module, led by Andy Westwood, will give a broad overview of policymaking. Who are the key policy actors? What are the policy windows to consider? What about resource limits? And what makes some policy problems so hard to resolve?

Methodology Toolkit

Led by practitioners from across the policy world, this module will introduce key methodologies and give you hands-on experience using them. Find out about and get experience with systems thinking, public opinion research, behavioural insights, and policy artefacts.

Pathways into Public Policy

Hear from a series of high profile policy actors – including Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green – about their careers and how they got where they are today. What’s it like working in parliament, Government, and the third sector?

Policy Challenge ‘Sandpits’

The core of the boot camp is a series of sandpit-style challenges. A policy organisation will present a problem they’re currently working on. Sessions will be on reaching net-0 carbon emissions, place-based policy, and addressing digital inequality, with more tbc. Working in teams, over a number of days you’ll develop responses, apply methodology, write policy briefs, and put together policy products. At the end, you’ll present your ideas to leading policy experts.

More details

Time commitment


The course takes place over six weeks and while some modules are mandatory, most are optional. If you have a preexisting commitment and can’t make it to one session, that’s fine – there’ll be plenty of others you can join. More details about the schedule will be available once you sign up.

How long will it take?

Over the course of the boot camp, we’re providing 50+ hours of course content. But you don’t have to complete it all. The most time intensive modules are the policy challenge sandpits which run over multiple days. Find out more in our FAQs.


What’s in it for me?

As well as being great fun, the boot camp will give you useful experience for the future, whether you want to work in policy or not. You’ll make connections with people from across the policy-world and have something to put on your CV. Plus, it could result in a paid internship at a policy organisation and set you up for more work in the sector.

Do I need experience?

You don’t need any experience of policy or politics to participate in the boot camp. In fact, we encourage people who have never studied politics or policy to apply. Engineers, linguists, marine biologists, and actors can bring just as much to the policy making process as PPE students can.


2019 Internships

Lots of students from the 2019 Boot Camp and Global Citizenship programme received internships, both on placements funded through the programme, and organised their own efforts. We have secured funding to offer a similar internship programme this year, and further information will be provided as the programme starts. The course is also designed to give participants the experience to secure their own internships in policy organisations.

How do I qualify?

To qualify for an internship, you’ll have to complete all the mandatory modules – about 25 hours over the whole course. There’ll be lots of optional stuff available too.


When is the deadline?

Places will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis and in line with our widening participation policy. The registration period has now ended.

What’s the process?

There’s no test or application process, and you don’t have to have any previous experience to sign up to the boot camp. But in the signup form, we do ask you to think about why you’re interested in policy, what your relationship with it is at the moment, and why you think it’s important.

In case you were wondering, the boot camp is totally free. All you need is a little time and an internet connection.

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