smiling woman

Public Administration Degree Apprenticeship (Distance Learning) MPA

Study online alongside your current role on our two year part-time Master's Public Administration course and take the next step in your government career.

Key information

See full entry requirements
Study mode and duration
Start date

Course information

Please select the page of your interest

Showing content for section Overview


Are you ready to take the next step in your central, regional or local government career? This two-year senior leader MPA Public Administration Master’s degree apprenticeship allows you to build your skills and get your MPA qualification while you work full time.

The course is work-based, and you'll typically spend about 20% of your working week studying online by distance learning. You'll need to do some additional studying outside of work time. The Government or your employer pay your tuition fees – so it doesn’t cost you anything. 

You’ll develop your strategic leadership and management capabilities and get the knowledge you need to take on ambitious new roles. You'll cover public policy, service and administration from inter-cultural, inter-professional and inter-organisational perspectives.

You'll also study specialist areas relating to public administration, such as the legal system and corporate governance, and learn transferable skills that will be valuable throughout your career. You’ll have many opportunities to put what you learn into practice, as you’ll be completing the course alongside your job.

When you finish the course, you'll have the confidence to take on more challenging leadership roles in the future and become more effective in your existing role.

Join our Postgraduate Open Events

From finding out which postgraduate option is right for you, to exploring the perfect course, browse our upcoming webinars and in-person events and book your place today.

Book now

Apprenticeships logo

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

MPA Public Administration

Our Master's courses in Public Administration are specifically designed to prepare you for public sector management. Hear our lecturers and current students explain the benefits of studying your MPA with us.

Dr Sue Roberts: It's exciting, it's current, and it's happening now and it changes everybody's lives.

The Master's in Public Administration is a Master's level degree related to administering and managing government. The distance learning version of the course offers students flexibility. If you're in the middle of a session and suddenly you've been called away, you can come back to it later.

If you really want to work ultra hard on your Master’s, do the degree apprenticeship. At the end of your degree, you do a 4000 word project and you can put CMI after your name.

Katy: The Master's in Public Administration has four modules, so it started off with a module which is all about public management.

The second module in the first year was then around strategic management, and in the second year we started off with a module around public policy, and then the fourth module was outcomes-based leaderships. It was just really, really interesting because it combined lots of learning from a historical perspective, but then also lots of practical skills for your workplace as well.

Dr Sue Roberts: Career opportunities for our graduates have been so widespread. We've had students going on to lead clerking facilities at the House of Lords. We've had people move on to management and leadership positions in policing.

Dr David Alemna: Currently, I work part time as a teacher. I'm a lecturer in Politics and International Relations, and I also work part time for a management consultancy in London. The module was taught with a student-centred approach and I learnt a lot from my tutors in terms of how they spoke to us, how they supported us, and I also apply that in my teaching as well.

Dr Sue Roberts: I love the fact that people can come back to me and say, now I know what you were talking about. Now I know how to apply this, and it's made a big difference. The MPA offers amazing placement opportunities, including placements at local level and national level.

Dr David Alemna: I was fortunate to do my work at Hampshire County Council. That gave me good experience. It also ticked the box on my CV and that was able to get me jobs afterwards as well. Why did I choose Portsmouth? It has a lovely seaside, a nice environment to walk around.

Katy: The University of Portsmouth is a great place to choose. It was a distance learning course, so there were students not only from the south east of this country, but actually from around the world. It kind of broadened my learning, but equally, the course tutors were really knowledgeable in terms of their experience. It was just really, really good quality tuition and support.

Dr Sue Roberts: If you take a breath, if you walk on a pavement, if you use night services like street lighting, like roads, within a city, all of that is about government decisions and policy. So every aspect of your life, my life and everybody else's is governed by what we do on the Public Administration course.

Entry requirements

Public Administration Degree Apprenticeship entry requirements

Qualifications or experience

  • A minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. A strong profile of relevant professional experience and/or training and demonstration of academic ability to achieve at postgraduate level, will be considered.
  • All applicants to the Degree Apprenticeship courses must have an acceptable Level 2 qualification in English and Mathematics. Acceptable qualifications include GCSE with grade C/4 or above and Functional Skills with Pass - please note that we are not able to accept all kinds of Level 2 qualifications, so if you are unsure whether you have a suitable qualification please get in touch. If you do not have an acceptable qualification, you may be required to take an additional assessment during the application process.

I'm an employer interested in this degree apprenticeship for my staff

There's more information for you about degree apprenticeships in general on our information for employers page, or you can contact us directly. 

If you have an employee, or employees, in mind, that's great; if you are creating a new opening, we can help you shape and promote the role.


Degree apprenticeships: employer information

You and your employer

When you begin studying for your degree apprenticeship:

  • You need to be 18 or over
  • You should be able to satisfy government requirements on residency: 
    • you must be a citizen or have the right to live in the UK/EEA
    • you must have been a resident in the UK/EEA (not the Channel Islands or Isle of Man) for a minimum of 3 years
    • you must not need a Student Route visa, and must not have been on a Student Route visa within the past 3 years
  • You need to have the right to work in the UK, and to spend at least 50% of your working hours in England
  • Your job should meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard relevant to this degree – we can advise you and your employer on this
  • Your employer needs to have registered an apprentice service account – we can help your employer with this if needed

If you aren't currently working in a relevant field, you can apply for a job and degree apprenticeship simultaneously. Read more about applying for this degree apprenticeship.

What you'll experience

On this course, you'll:

  • Critically examine how public policies are made and implemented
  • Gain specialist knowledge in fields that match your career aspirations
  • Learn how to solve complex issues with a creative approach
  • Boost your ability to lead and manage strategically
  • Cover topics such as citizenship, the legal system and corporate governance
  • Compare policy processes and outputs in specific fields, including health, education, welfare, economic development, defence, policing and European integration
  • Examine public policies, management systems and administrative systems from an international perspective
  • Assess the effectiveness of public organisations
  • Complete a personal project on a topic of your choice
  • Get a learning manager from the University and a workplace mentor
  • Access our Library resources, including electronic resources which you can accessed from anywhere with a web connection
  • Have access to the University's student support services and community including study support and the Students’ Union
  • Receive feedback from and take part in discussions with lecturers and other students

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees

The course fee is shared between the Government and some employers, meaning no cost to you as the degree apprentice. Total tuition fees are £14,000 paid over 2 years.

Please see our Degree Apprenticeships page, or contact us, for further information.

Additional course 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 course costs

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.

We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.


On this course, you'll study modules worth a total of 180 credits. 

We’ll introduce you to different ways of delivering public services with maximum efficiency and effectiveness. You’ll develop an understanding of the impact of contextual forces on public organisations.


Core modules

You'll examine approaches to leading and managing in a sector which has transformed over the last two decades.

You'll research and explore traditional models of administration against those used now in a management orientated public sector that works in partnership with others on a continuous basis, for example via practical engagement with the private sector, commissioning and procurement with partners, managing people in new, networked models and transforming a sector constantly challenged by resource issues.

You'll gain professional skills in leadership and management, innovation and creativity, political awareness and partnership working, governance and probity.

You'll examine macro, meso and micro environments to create a vision and mission statement, plus strategic outcomes and a wider strategic plan. You'll identify appropriate business skills like planning and the planning/resource relationship.

Specifically, you'll evaluate environments using analytical tools and assess strategic models via creative, entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

You'll also explore how to communicate and manage change effectively and evaluate structural and cultural influences on change processes in professional settings.

Core modules

You’ll apply policy and administrative theory to a range of case studies from the UK, EU States and beyond, comparing across a range of empirical cases, to explore and explain the influences and constraints acting on political decision-makers.

You’ll have the chance to share knowledge and experience from your own administrative and national systems with your fellow students to inform the case studies.

You'll approach issues such as economic challenges, pandemic preparedness, youth violence and crime, policing, health integration and conflict in policy.

Engage with policy issues and their multiple outcomes that cause challenges at local and national levels.

You'll also explore modern issues affecting policy design and development, professional practice and partnership, working in all aspects of governance and bringing innovation and creativity to solving new and complex problems in public services delivery.

Optional modules

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own topic within a public administration that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award.

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your dissertation or report.

With academic guidance, you'll choose your own literature or empirical topic within a field of study that fits the parameters of your intended Master’s exit award.

You'll bring together everything you’ve learned to design and evaluate ethical methodologies, conduct systematic research, and communicate your ideas professionally in your report.

For the first half of the module, you’ll cover a wide range of project management tools and techniques for managing different aspects of a project (for example time, cost, quality and risk).

The emphasis is on the ability to critically appraise and justify their use.

For the second half of the unit, you’ll take an in-depth look at the project management processes within the project life-cycle.

You’ll focus on the relationships between the key participants within the different project phases, using case studies drawn from real life.

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

Learning support

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

ASK provides online support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques


We’ll support you through online tutorials on the phone or over Skype throughout the course.

How you're assessed

You’ll be assessed through:

  • briefing documents
  • analytical reports
  • research-based projects

Career development

You can put the skills you’ll learn on this course to use wherever your public administration career takes you.

Previous Portsmouth Public Administration students have gone on to take up senior roles in local and central governments, and with United Nations and other non-governmental organisations.

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.


The application deadline is to be confirmed.

Applications received after this deadline may not be considered.


I'm applying with my current employer

If you're already in full-time work, and your employer is interested in you studying this course, get them to contact us and we'll work out how to work together. 

If your employer isn't interested yet, you might find it useful to share our information for employers page with them.

Employer contact form  Information for employers


I'm looking for a job with a Degree Apprenticeship role

If you're not in full-time employment, or your current employer is not interested in degree apprenticeships, you'll need to find a role that does offer a degree apprenticeship. You can search the list of open degree apprenticeship vacancies, or contact us with your details and we'll let you know when degree apprenticeship vacancies come up.

When you apply for a role that includes one of our degree apprenticeships, you'll follow the company's standard recruitment process for the job, while we assess your academic suitability for the course.

Search degree apprenticeship roles (  Contact us


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.