MPA Public Administration (Distance Learning) MPA

A statue of Queen Victoria in front of the City Council offices in Portsmouth
Mode of Study
Full-time by distance learning, Part-time by distance learning
Duration
1 year full-time by distance learning, 2 years part-time by distance learning
Start Date
September 2022

Overview

Are you a professional looking to step up into public sector leadership and management? A Master's degree in Public Administration can give you the knowledge, skills and experience you need to advance your career and take on ambitious roles in areas such as national policymaking and ministerial advice.

You can study this MPA Public Administration degree course full-time or part-time alongside work via distance learning, so you can fit your studies around your work schedule and apply your learning to your role in real time.

You'll cover public policy, service delivery and administration from an inter-cultural, inter-professional and inter-organisational perspective. You'll unpack specialist subjects, such as procurement, project management and corporate governance. You'll also learn transferable skills that will be valuable throughout your career.

We'll provide public sector expertise, support and work-based strategies so you can become an expert in your field and take your skills and knowledge straight into your job. Once you graduate, you'll be able to explore new opportunities in public administration leadership and management, or to seek promotion in your current line of work.

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Gain the specialist public sector knowledge and skills you need to advance in your career, including public policy, strategic management, leading change and new ways of working
  • Compare policy processes and outputs within specific fields, including health, education, welfare, economic development, defence, policing and intelligence
  • Complete a live strategic plan based on your own workplace that you can put into action in your existing or next role 
  • Learn from academics with frontline public sector experience and hear from industry expert guest lecturers, including Members of Parliament and local authority experts
  • Have the opportunity to do a work-based placement with a local authority or public sector institution, such as Hampshire County Council or Portsmouth City Council

The course really helps me understand how my professional front line public service role is shaped by decisions made at the highest level. The lecturers and staff are always an email or phone call away to guide me through any difficulty.

Jeramy Jones, MPA Public Adminstration (Distance Learning)

Benefits of distance learning

  • Work from anywhere, at your own pace, in your own time – with interactive online learning materials hosted on our virtual learning environment, Moodle, and available 24/7 on any device – find out how distance learning works 
  • Access to over 600,000 ebooks, 55,000 online journals, digital newspapers and a postal loan service from our University Library – see all library support for distance learners
  • Invitations to online forums where you can discuss your studies with other students and your lecturers
  • Access to all student support services via email, phone, online chat or video call

What you'll study on this MPA Public Administration degree course

Full-time

Modules you'll study
All modules on this MPA Public Administration are core.
 

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critique relevant policy and administrative theories by testing against empirical data
  • Evaluate and explain similarities and differences between state administrative systems
  • Conceptualise the process of policy learning between systems with reference to specific cases

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the leadership style and requirements of your own organisation, or relevant public sector organisation, using appropriate analytical tools
  • Critically assess the leadership models and theories used in organisational analyses, through the use of examples and case studies
  • Identify how change can be led and communicated effectively in a relevant organisational context using appropriate theoretical approaches and models of leadership
  • Critically evaluate the influence of organisational culture and structure on leadership style and application in a relevant professional context
  • Critically assess and apply the theoretical framework for outcomes based organisational leadership in the public sector and its relevance to the future delivery of services

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Identify and critique the origins of New Public Management from a theoretical and practical perspective
  • Critically evaluate the concepts and ideas associated with Public Management and compare them to traditional public administration and private sector management
  • Assess the theory and practice associated with performance management, performance measurement, contract management, quality management and human resource management
  • Appraise the various models of governance and management in the public sector including networked forms of organisation and partnership working
  • Evaluate the responses to the problems and unintended consequences of the 'new public management' movement
  • Demonstrate, using innovative and creative methods, the learning and development gained through the module

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the macro, meso and micro environment of a relevant organisation using the appropriate analytical tools
  • Critically assess the strategic models used in organisational analysis through the use of creative entrepreneurial skills and knowledge
  • Identify the ways in which change can be communicated and managed effectively in a relevant organisational context using appropriate theoretical approaches and models of change
  • Critically evaluate the influence of organisational structure and culture on the process of change in a relevant professional setting
  • Synthesise and apply theoretical frameworks for strategic planning and management demonstrating their relevance for organisational strategic planning

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design a clearly specified proposal for a viable dissertation/project
  • Plan, execute and present a substantial dissertation/project according to the specification provided
  • Justify, deploy and critically evaluate advanced techniques of analysis and inquiry within an ethical framework
  • Systematically interpret complex issues from literature, current research and other data, and communicate conclusions coherently and appropriately for either the academic or workplace community
  • Review and identify the potential for new hypotheses and/or insights and ongoing study

Explore this module

Part-time

Year 1
Year 2
All modules on this MPA Public Administration are core.

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Identify and critique the origins of New Public Management from a theoretical and practical perspective
  • Critically evaluate the concepts and ideas associated with Public Management and compare them to traditional public administration and private sector management
  • Assess the theory and practice associated with performance management, performance measurement, contract management, quality management and human resource management
  • Appraise the various models of governance and management in the public sector including networked forms of organisation and partnership working
  • Evaluate the responses to the problems and unintended consequences of the 'new public management' movement
  • Demonstrate, using innovative and creative methods, the learning and development gained through the module

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the macro, meso and micro environment of a relevant organisation using the appropriate analytical tools
  • Critically assess the strategic models used in organisational analysis through the use of creative entrepreneurial skills and knowledge
  • Identify the ways in which change can be communicated and managed effectively in a relevant organisational context using appropriate theoretical approaches and models of change
  • Critically evaluate the influence of organisational structure and culture on the process of change in a relevant professional setting
  • Synthesise and apply theoretical frameworks for strategic planning and management demonstrating their relevance for organisational strategic planning

Explore this module

All modules on this MPA Public Administration are core.

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critique relevant policy and administrative theories by testing against empirical data
  • Evaluate and explain similarities and differences between state administrative systems
  • Conceptualise the process of policy learning between systems with reference to specific cases

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Critically evaluate the leadership style and requirements of your own organisation, or relevant public sector organisation, using appropriate analytical tools
  • Critically assess the leadership models and theories used in organisational analyses, through the use of examples and case studies
  • Identify how change can be led and communicated effectively in a relevant organisational context using appropriate theoretical approaches and models of leadership
  • Critically evaluate the influence of organisational culture and structure on leadership style and application in a relevant professional context
  • Critically assess and apply the theoretical framework for outcomes based organisational leadership in the public sector and its relevance to the future delivery of services

Explore this module

The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design a clearly specified proposal for a viable dissertation/project
  • Plan, execute and present a substantial dissertation/project according to the specification provided
  • Justify, deploy and critically evaluate advanced techniques of analysis and inquiry within an ethical framework
  • Systematically interpret complex issues from literature, current research and other data, and communicate conclusions coherently and appropriately for either the academic or workplace community
  • Review and identify the potential for new hypotheses and/or insights and ongoing study

Explore this module

Changes to course content

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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master's prepares you for

This Master's in Public Administration is designed to turn ambitious public sector workers into managers and leaders within their field of public administration.

You'll gain the specialist skills, expertise and insight to pursue higher level public sector roles, as well as lifelong transferable skills that you'll be able to apply to complex issues, both systematically and creatively, throughout your career.

When you graduate, you'll be ready to seek new roles in public sector leadership and management, or to aim for promotion in your current public sector career. You'll be able to work with self-direction and originality, and contribute to public administration in local, regional or central government, or in an organisation working in partnership with the Government.

Graduates of this course have gone on to work in areas such as:

  • ministerial advice
  • central government policy units
  • government partner organisations
  • charitable foundations

Graduates of this course have gone on to work for organisations such as the:

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD)
  • European Union (EU)
  • Local Government Association (LGA)

9 reasons to do a Master's

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and from our Careers and Employability Centre, which you can access for 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • 1-to-1 appointments  
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to spend in online lectures and seminars and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change.

Course structure

This Master's degree will take:

  • 1 year (full-time study)
  • 2 years (part-time study)

You can expect:

  • 1 optional live online seminar each week for each module you study, held at times when as many students as possible can attend. These will also be recorded for later viewing. All core material is available online at all times so you can create your own study schedule around work or other commitments.
  • 20 to 25 hours of independent study each week if you study full-time, or 12 to 14 hours each week if you study part-time.

In the last 3 months of the course you'll be focusing on your research project.

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • student presentations 

This Master's in Public Administration is delivered by supported distance learning. You will receive high-quality course materials via Moodle, our online learning environment.

You'll get to chat with fellow students, discuss and present your work and keep in touch with tutors. You'll get plenty of support throughout your studies, including help on writing and structuring essays, and how to undertake research.

You'll need access to a computer and a web connection. You may be able to access some of the resources through a tablet or smartphone, with limited functionality. You don't need to be especially computer literate, although typing skills are useful.

Assessment

You'll be assessed through:

  • work-related assignments
  • essays
  • online presentations
  • reports
  • dissertation or report

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark. This includes group discussions, peer review activities, and virtual seminars.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Dr Sue Roberts, Course Leader

I lecture in politics, the British public sector, strategic management, youth violence and knife crime, leadership, basic academic skills and manage student placements as part of my wider role. Additionally, I lead four modules for the Masters in Public Administration (DL/DA) and the Senior Leader Masters in Public Administration Degree Apprenticeship.

My background is in local and national government as a manager having had fifteen years in public service, during which time I taught at other universities. Having led and managed public sector partnerships in my career, I sustain my interest in multi agency partnerships and collaborative working, especially in relation to public safety.

Read my full profile

Dr Mark Field, Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy

I started my academic career with a Masters in Public Administration (MPA). Following this, I was awarded an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship and undertook a PhD on the Transparency of Expertise in European Union Policy-Making. My research interests are around transparency of expertise in the policy-making process, the role of Civil Society Organisations in promoting transparency, and the impact of Brexit on British and European politics.

I am principal investigator at the University's Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence, responsible for the management and delivery of €100K three year interdisciplinary project into the Study of Transnational Europe.

Read my full profile

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video and phone from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning development tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • Understanding and using assignment feedback
  • Managing your time and workload
  • Revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • Academic writing
  • Note taking
  • Time management
  • Critical thinking
  • Presentation skills
  • Referencing
  • Working in groups
  • Revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.


Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to:

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2022 start)

  • Full-time: £7,600 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £3,800 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

  • Full-time: £7,600 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £3,800 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

These figures both include the Transition Scholarship for EU students.

  • Full-time: £7,600 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time: £3,800 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which relate to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements​

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2022 start

Qualifications or experience
  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Politics, International Relations, Business Management, Procurement, Sociology, Public Administration and Management. Preferably, applicants will have experience of working in a managerial role in a public sector organisation. 

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

  • Applicants may be subject to interview.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us. 

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full. 

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. Current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth and international students also have some different application options, which are detailed below. 

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2022

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.