Student insights: Michael Rees

Photo of Michael Rees

Hilary Term is action-packed for our taught master's students. As well as option papers, assignments and preparations for their theses, they are also making the most of the wider opportunities of the University and city. We caught up with Michael Rees on the MSc in CSP to find out what brought him to Oxford, and how he's finding life here.

Why Oxford? Oxford’s reputation extends well beyond its world-leading research and beautiful buildings. I had been told by friends who had studied here that the quality of academic staff and students made Oxford an incredibly intellectually and personally stimulating environment. I was very keen to discover that for myself.

What drives your interest in social policy?
I came to social policy as a former student of moral and political philosophy. After examining philosophical justifications for Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, I realised that the development of just societies depends more on public policy design, implementation and evaluation than abstract theorizing. I hope that I might take ideas and skills developed in the MSc program into my future career as an Australian public servant.

What were the highlights of your first term on the course?
Learning about the origins of social welfare states has been fascinating. It is incredible to think about the comparatively recent development of institutions like old age pensions, unemployment insurance and family support and the context in which they arose. The growth of social policies has completely transformed the nature and responsibilities of nation states in less than 200 years.

What has been challenging, unexpectedly or otherwise?
As a student with a background in the humanities, I have found the qualitative and quantitative methods courses to be challenging. Learning the methodologies of a new academic discipline requires one to see the world in a different way and to utilise very different skills. These courses have made me a more rigorous research analyst which I hope will allow me to incorporate world-leading academic insights into Australian public policy.

Do you have ideas of what you want to do after the end of your MSc?

After the MSc, I would like to continue my studies in the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. The MSc has given me an excellent understanding of cross-national differences in social policy and the development of social welfare states. I hope that the MPP will teach me to develop specific policy proposals and navigate the political processes required to make them a reality.