MPA Public Administration - University of Portsmouth

Public Administration

Campus or Distance Learning

Part Time2yrs

Full Time 1yr

Integrated study of the management and administration of public sector organisations

Course Overview

Why take this course?

If you want to enter or enhance a career in central, regional or local government, or in organisations in partnerships with governments, this course has been designed to meet your needs. It brings together people from a wide range of organisations to create an inter-cultural, inter-professional and inter-organisational educational environment.

While we prefer applicants to have experience of a public sector managerial role, exceptions may be made for a good relevant degree.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Examine the ways in which public policies are made and implemented and acquire specialist subject knowledge in fields relevant to your career choices
  • Compare policy processes and outputs within specific policy fields including health, education, welfare, economic development, defence, policing and European integration 
  • Obtain a wider international perspective of public policies, management systems and administrative systems

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course delivers transferable lifelong skills that you will be able to apply to complex issues, both systematically and creatively. This will improve your capabilities and enable you to work with self-direction and originality, as well as help you contribute to public administration and society at large.


 Esther Hiamey, promoted to Policy Manager in Ghana after the MPA

I would thoroughly recommend the MPA. My placement was fantastic. The public sector in the UK is so supportive to the community. A real eye opener.

Esther Hiamey, promoted to Policy Manager in Ghana after the MPA

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Structure & Teaching

We will introduce you to different ways of delivering public services and how to access their efficiency and effectiveness. As a result, you will gain knowledge and develop an understanding of the following areas:

The impact of contextual forces on public organisations including:

  • the legal system
  • ethical, economic, environmental, social and technological change issues
  • international developments
  • corporate governance
  • the role of public sector organisations in economic development and regeneration
  • the marketisation of service delivery
  • citizenship issues in public organisations
  • the concepts, processes and institutions in the management of resources and operations
  • financing the public sector (sources, financial management, accountability and financial reporting)
  • management and development of people within organisations, human resource management, human resource development and change management
  • the uses and limitations of quantitative and qualitative research methods for providing information and evaluating options in an uncertain organisational environment
  • the development, management and exploitation of information systems and their impact on organisations
  • the use of relevant communication and information technologies and applications in public sector management within a global knowledge-based economy

You will study:

  • Strategic Public Management and Leading Effective Change
  • Dissertation/Major Project (Masters in Public Administration)
  • Comparative Public Policy and Public Administration or Public Management

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Contemporary Security in International Relations: Providers and Challenges
  • From Security to Risk: European International Relations In The 21st Century
  • Nation and Identity
  • Negotiation and Lobbying in the EU: A Simulation Game
  • Practice-Based Knowledge in British Public Administration
  • Work Related Learning/Independent Learning

For part-time students a number of distance learning management units are available in addition to a work-based learning unit, which allows you to achieve credit for study or a project undertaken in the workplace.

Credit for prior learning may be awarded, provided that the course studied relates to the Portsmouth MPA curriculum.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Teaching and Assessment

You will be taught using a variety of lectures, seminars, tutorials, student presentations, visiting speakers and structured visits to public sector organisations. International students will have a full portfolio of activities that will include English language classes, visits to public organisations and structured advice on how to develop their academic performance.

All students receive an induction to our library and how to use our electronic sources of information. Each student will have a personal tutor, as well as the support of an extensive system of student services.

How are you assessed?

These include work-related assignments, extended essays, examinations, assessed presentations, reports, completion of logs and a dissertation or extended piece of work-related research culminating in a management report.

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Facilities & Features

The Study Centre

A suite of rooms with a comfy seating area, desks where you can work, printers, Mac workstations and access to the wireless network so you can log in using your own laptop. There are also several study rooms where you can work on group projects.

Flexible Learning

You will benefit from web, email or phone access to many of our facilities and services. Our student website, LookUP, will be your one-stop shop for all news, information and links to other services, and 24/7 online access to the University Library’s vast electronic book, journal and database collections will help you find the right resources for your studies.


We aim to provide you with as much support as possible. There are tutors available to support your studies via online tutorials, email and telephone conferencing. You will also be assigned a personal tutor who will offer support and guidance throughout your studies.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

On-campus students

Trips form an integral part of the course and the cost of these trips are covered by the School, although you will need to cover your own subsistence costs.

Distance Learning students

There will be an optional campus based unit. Students who take the campus based option will be responsible for the costs of travel to and from Portsmouth and for their own accommodation and living costs whilst in Portsmouth. These could range from £50.00 to £1000.00 depending on travelling distance.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

The course delivers transferable lifelong skills that you will be able to apply to complex issues, both systematically and creatively. This will improve your capabilities and enable you to work with self-direction and originality, as well as help you contribute to public administration and society at large.

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.

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Visit us or apply now

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University's Admissions Team before being transferred to individual departments for consideration and processing.

Postgraduate Open Evenings

Visit us on one of our Postgraduate Open Evenings to meet subject specialists and admissions teams who'll provide information and guidance on our taught Master's courses and research degrees.

Book your place

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University. You can visit Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4pm.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours

Can't get to Portsmouth?

If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and see us at one of the events we attend around the UK or contact the admissions team – see the 'Key Facts' section above for contact details..

Staff from our International Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.

Further information

If you have any further enquiries about postgraduate study at Portsmouth, including advice on the Postgraduate Loan entry, plus scholarships and bursaries available, visit our postgraduate pages.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
University House
Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484