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Postgraduate study

Master of Public Administration MPA

The Master of Public Administration is the most widely recognised graduate management qualification within public and third sectors. It combines public administration, sociology, politics, public policy and law. The MPA is attractive to sectors including local and national government, the civil service, private and public sector consultancy, NGOs, and international organisations.


Course overview

You develop highly transferrable critical thinking, communication, leadership, and research skills and examine significant policy challenges facing society.

You analytically examine the key issues involved in policy development and public engagement and gain an understanding of the value of considering them together to facilitate successful implementation.

You also consider the development and intersections of key aspects of public policy such as health, welfare, crime, education and housing to prepare you for careers in government, public-private partnerships, and the voluntary, community, and social enterprise sectors.

Study this course and you may be eligible for a £2,500 Sir Keith Skeoch postgraduate scholarship.

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Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Contemporary Issues in Public Administration, Politics and Policy

You study the most important issues in public administration, politics and policy in the modern world at local, national and international levels, and will be assigned a supervisor to explore an area of independent research into a contemporary issue in public administration, politics or policy. You design an area of independent study, determining the contemporary subject area, methodology and structure of the assessment. You write a learning contract outlining the aims, methods and outcomes of the study, and complete a reflective learning log which will develop awareness of research, learning processes and time-management.


You apply your knowledge, written communication and research skills to a specific area of interest relevant to the field in a dissertation or knowledge exchange equivalent of 15,000 words. The dissertation can take a traditional format or the form of knowledge exchange such as a systematic review and policy recommendations, or a research report to a public body.

International Law

You gain a comprehensive understanding of the principles and structures which underpin international law, the sources and modes of development of international law, the nature of key international institutions and of the operation and enforcement of international law in specific areas and in the context of current international issues. You critically examine the extent to which international law performs its function of maintaining the international legal order.

Introduction to Public Administration and Policy

You assess the principles and theories in the management of the public sector and investigate key policy debates. The module offers you a comprehensive survey of the key literature and theories underpinning the study of policy conception and analysis alongside training in undertaking research into the public policy process.

You investigate the practice of public administration across history using case study examples, which questions how policies are implemented, impacted and evaluated within different contexts across public administration. You are encouraged to engage in debates about current public and social policy issues in areas such as local government, health, welfare and crime.

Social Research Methods

You develop an advanced understanding of the processes and issues of social research. Drawing upon the philosophical underpinnings which are central to research methodologies, you consider the relationship between theory, methods and data. You also critically consider the need to balance theory with conducting research on real issues in the real world. This ensures you have a coherent understanding of the decisions researchers make when deciding which research methods to use and to develop practical skills in using a variety of research methods. You also develop a sound understanding of ethical and practical issues in designing, conducting and analysing research.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The course uses a variety of teaching methods including seminars, tutorials and negotiated projects, with an emphasis on participatory and active learning. A variety of teaching and learning strategies afford you the opportunity to engage with different source material, audiences and potentially stakeholders. You are taught by a range of research-active academic staff, ranging from lecturers to professors.

You study five modules, including a 60-credit dissertation. For the three standard taught modules you receive three hours contact time per week. For the Contemporary Issues in Public Administration and Policy you receive three hours per week of contact time in the first half of the module and weekly individual meetings with an assigned supervisor in the second half. In the Dissertation module, you are assigned a supervisor for up to ten hours of individual meetings. Outside of the formally taught sessions, you are expected to work independently under staff guidance, with an emphasis on reading extensively on a weekly basis.

How you are assessed

Modules are continuously assessed so you receive regular feedback to help you develop your knowledge, skills and abilities. Summative assessment includes a research proposal, presentation, policy brief, negotiated project, standard essay and a 15,000 word dissertation, in-class presentations, supervisory discussion and draft work. Assessed work will be marked according to University timelines, and feedback given electronically and in project tutorials. Across these assessments there is a strong emphasis on employability through the acquisition of a wide range of transferrable skills.


Entry requirements

Minimum lower second class honours degree in a humanities, social science, law, business or management subject area, or equivalent professional experience in a relevant field.

Mature students without a degree may be considered if they can demonstrate appropriate professional experience and/or other relevant qualifications, such as three years in a public, public-private, or third sector role with evidence of management responsibilities.

International applicants should have an IELTS (academic) score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each component (or approved equivalent).

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country



Career opportunities

The Master of Public Administration greatly benefits those working within, or seeking to work in the public, public-private and third sectors to engage critically with policy problems and solutions.

Graduates are well placed to work in private sector consultancy, non-governmental organisations, international organisations, and public sector employment, government or local government, as well as the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.


Information for international applicants


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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£6,710 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£17,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants

  • Length: September enrolment: 1 year, January enrolment: 16 months, including a summer break
  • Start date: September or January (international applicants only)
  • Semester dates

Apply now (full-time)



2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£750 for each 20 credits

More details about our fees

  • Length: 2 years, including a summer break
  • Start date: September or January
  • Semester dates

Apply now (part-time)

Apply now (part-time)


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