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Postgraduate study

Master of Public Administration (Applied) 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

The Applied route allows you to develop practice-based experience by providing the opportunity to spend one semester completing an internship, research or study abroad experience.

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

Applied Practice

You gain real-world practical experience in a professional setting to enhance your employability and accompany your academic learning. You undertake an applied practice opportunity to develop your work-related knowledge, skill set and aspirations. With support from the University’s careers advisors you apply for either an external internship opportunity or a project within the university working alongside practising researchers.

You are assessed through a reflective portfolio; this module does not count towards the overall degree classification.

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

You learn through a variety of teaching methods including seminars, tutorials and projects, with an emphasis on participatory and active learning. You are taught by a range of research-active academic staff, ranging from the level of lecturer to professor.

You study six modules across the degree, including a 60-credit dissertation. For the three standard taught modules you receive three hours contact time per week. For the negotiated project module (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. In the Applied Practice module you are afforded the opportunity to gain real-world experience in a public administration setting and to complete a reflective portfolio. Outside of the formally taught sessions, you are also 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 develop your skills and abilities. Methods of summative assessment include a research proposal, presentation, policy brief, negotiated project, standard essay and a 15,000 word dissertation. There is a variety of summative assessments including in-class presentations, supervisory discussion and draft work. Assessed work will be marked according to university timelines, and feedback will be available both 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

You need a lower second class honours degree in a humanities, social science, law, business or management subject area as a minimum – or equivalent professional experience in a relevant field.

We may consider mature students without a degree if you 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



Work placement

The Applied Practice module gives you the opportunity to be placed on an internship, research or study abroad project working alongside the University’s Student Futures team. These projects could include a placement in an affiliated international office, a public or private workplace, or a research project.

Career opportunities

Our Master of Public Administration (Applied) is of great benefit if you are working within, or seeking to work in the public, public-private and third sectors. You engage critically with policy problems and solutions, and have a chance to apply this learning to a real-world setting through Applied Practice.

Examples of jobs graduates of public administration masters go into include working private sector consultancy, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and public sector employment. The holistic perspective across key policy areas is also vital if you are looking to work in government or local government, as well as the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.


Information for international applicants


International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

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2024/25 entry

Fee for UK applicants
£4,325 a year

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Fee for international applicants
£10,000 a year

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