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Master of Public Administration (MPA) - MA

Why study this course?

Within the context of increased political and economic uncertainty, public sector management and administrative reform have become more important than ever. The Master of Public Administration course is a well established and prestigious programme aimed at those who aspire to access or progress within a public service or a voluntary sector career and enables managers to understand and deal with uncertainty. Benefitting from a work placement with an organisation from our wide network of public and voluntary sector employers, this programme offers an intensive year of professional and academic development at the highest standard. In the most recent (2014-15) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 100% of graduates from this course were in work or further study within six months.

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The aim of this course is to equip present and future public service practitioners with the skills and understanding needed to play a significant role as change agents within their home professional environments.

The programme places great emphasis on:

  • developing a variety of academic capacities and transferable skills related to public administration
  • instilling flexibility of thought and innovation as guiding principles to public sector management and reforms
  • developing a commitment to lifelong learning and reflective practice in students.

This innovative public policy oriented and public management based course is taught by an experienced and dynamic team of academic staff who are active in the international research community in the fields of public management reform in transitional countries, comparative public policy and governance, strategic management in public sector organisations, corruption in transitional countries, and local and regional governance.

Our aim is to develop high quality administrators and managers who will play a critical role in their home country environments. This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary programme of study, which is intellectually rigorous and professionally relevant to your local context and organisation. The course is particularly attractive to graduates working in public services abroad who want to develop expertise in public service reform, capacity strengthening and institutional development.

The course meets the demands of an ever more complex and dynamic sector comprised of government departments, local authorities, public agencies and voluntary organisations from Britain and abroad, thus reflecting the need for skilled and innovative public managers, administrators and policy makers acting as agents for change.

Using a blended learning approach incorporating a variety of teaching and learning strategies appropriate to postgraduate level study, the course introduces you to the latest strategic management and planning tools applied in public agencies, overviews emerging trends and best practice in public policy within a comparative context and provides a strong theoretical and methodological grounding. Uniquely, the programme benefits from a bespoke research methodology component focused on public policy and management research and analysis. Moreover, the University’s vanguard Virtual Learning Environment, coming to support the teaching and learning process, as well repeated opportunities to reflect upon personal academic development, add value to your student experience and to the overall value of the programme.

The core teaching team on this course is both experienced and dynamic. The team is involved, on a regular basis, in civil service training, in consultancy and advisory work for public sector organisations, as well as in internationally recognised academic research, thus providing the Master in Public Administration teaching with relevant, informative and contemporary case-studies. One of the course’s greatest strengths is that it achieves a fine balance between its theoretically informed structures and the practical application of skills developed throughout. Expert practitioners from a range of public and voluntary sector organisations contribute to the course.

The course has historically attracted students sponsored by the Commonwealth, the governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Romania, South Korea, Vietnam, and students from (amongst others) Afghanistan, Germany, Kosovo, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and the USA. Our graduates access managerial and decision-making positions in a range of public and voluntary sector organisations.

A key feature of this course is that it includes a work placement module that offers students the chance to experience directly the work of a relevant area of public service in a London-based organisation over a substantial period of time. You will also benefit from the skills and support from our full-time placement and employability officer.


The course’s variety of teaching and learning styles is reflected in the variety of assessment tools employed throughout the course. Within the general principle of mixed mode formative and summative assessment, we use a diversity of assessment instruments: a range of written assignments, such as essays, reports, portfolios, individual or group classroom presentations, and the dissertation.

The MPA dissertation is a 60 credit project that allows students to pursue individual research on a topic of their choice, within the public administration and public policy fields.

Detailed verbal and written feedback is given on all assessments, and significant tutorial support is given during the dissertation, including bespoke dissertation workshops.

You will be required to have:

  • a good honours degree in a relevant subject discipline (applicants with lower qualifications but with appropriate and substantial professional work or voluntary experience in a relevant area will be considered)

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2017/18 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday afternoon

    The module will explore the explanations that have been given for the variations in policy in fields such as health, education, urban policy, etc between nations and groups of nations. It will draw on examples of policy in each area from both developing and developed nations. Students will be encouraged to research case studies in particular fields of policy and to present these. The instructional model is devoted to a comparative analysis of local policies in some of the most important social fields. The general principles of government policy are considered in turn, along with a comparative study of national economic development policy, social policy, and policy in health, education and public order. There will be special topics consisting of the basic directions of local policy (municipal development, public services and transport). Having studied the model, the students will have gained an overall impression of typical problems tackled at national level in these areas, ways of solving them in different states and the machinery of government policy in these areas.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester
    • spring semester

    The Project/Dissertation is a major part of the MPA course and for this reason it carries three times the weight of a normal module. It allows students to conduct an extended investigation into a topic of their choice within the field of public administration / policy.

    The Dissertation provides the opportunity for students to integrate the theory, practice and experiential learning gained whilst in Britain in a piece of extended research in international public administration. This may be done either by working in their indigenous setting or by continuing to work in Britain.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Monday

    The module enables students to design and conduct research in a public service setting (including that required for projects and dissertations), to understand key debates in public policy research and to bid for and evaluate bids for funding.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Monday

    This module introduces students to the concept of public service strategies and how they relate to the public policy making process. It requires you to focus on the strategy making process in an organisation of your choice. An introduction to concepts of strategy, administration and management is followed by an analysis of contexts, core values, problem identification, options analysis, models of decision-making, and implementation. Strategies of, and management of change are a key focus. The evaluation of the success of strategic decisions and an appraisal of ethical issues arising are also considered.

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  • This module examines the process of European integration. It seeks to explain why this process has occurred and to examine the nature of its principal institutional manifestation, the European Union.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Thursday

    This multi-disciplinary module examines health and health care in urban settings. It focuses on the notions of urban health crisis, urban health penalty and urban health advantage which are examined by reference to London and other selected “global” and "world cities". It explores the significance for health and health care of London and other world cities by focusing at their position as global cities as the starting point. Hence, students will examine health challenges experienced in London and other world cities by patients, communities, health workers, service providers and local authorities against a background of globalization. The module uses a public health approach grounded in the impact of social and economic factors on health exemplified in the work of the London Health Improvement Board and WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. The module highlights urban and public health issues and inequalities in health status amongst population groups and communities within urban settings. In addition, it analyses the outstanding factors that create differences in health and healthcare systems between global / world cities in the developed and developing world. Therefore, it provides an opportunity for students to develop skills underpinned by global citizenry and attributes that will enable them to engage critically with the process of formulating policy in relation to shifting public health agendas towards health promotion and health care improvement in urban settings in the context of globalisation.

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  • No module details available
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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday

    This module has been designed to enable students to reflect on their management knowledge, skills and experiences, set their own development goals and draw on a robust theoretical framework and practice skills set to address common management issues. Students will be able to analyse management approaches critically in respect of the quality of service delivery and staff performance and in the context of resource constraints.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday

    This module provides an advanced examination of patterns in multi-tier governance, within the context of globalisation and increased complexity of the modern state. It explores the historical and contemporary nature of sub-central (local and regional) and supra-national governance, their relationship with central governments, and sets this within the theoretic and systemic context.

    The module provides an analysis of competing theories that could explain the complexity of modern state administration and governance. The tensions between globalisation and subsidiarity will be discussed, as well as the concepts of multi-level governance, decentralisation and localism. These concepts and theories will be reviewed through a series of case studies of local and regional governance in the United Kingdom, the European Union and internationally, as well as through identifying the issues and frameworks that impact on contemporary modes of governance at these levels. It concludes by evaluating the potential future direction of governance at local and regional levels.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday

    This is a core module for the MSc Public Health programme. The module explores theory, policy and practical aspects of public health and health promotion within a World Health Organisation context and a Faculty of Public Health approach. Students contextualise current public health practice drawing on comparative approaches. The main focus will be key theories, policies and practices influencing developments in public health and health promotion at international, national and local levels. Relevant initiatives and research in strategies and priorities for public health and health promotion such as health inequalities, participation and involvement, partnership working, social determinants of health, life styles and behaviour and population groups will be analysed. The Module also provides an opportunity to examine multiple global perspectives in relation to key contemporary public health challenges.

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester

    The module enables students to experience directly the work of a relevant area of public service in a public or voluntary sector organisation over a 25-30 day period.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester

    Within communities and environments where 'user involvement' and public participation in a range of social and political processes has received increased attention in recent years, so too has the need for effective participation in social research and evaluation activities. Moving beyond ideas of people as research participants, this module examines ways of involving different communities and reasons for using participatory methods, its contexts and how these approaches increase understanding of people's lived experiences. It will further focus on how to decide the appropriateness of different approaches in varied contexts.

    2013-14 timeslots:

    SS7055 will run on 6 single days (9.30-4.30pm) in Autumn Semester - ie not throughout the semester.

    Autumn Semester slots:

    October 7 and 8 (Mon-Tue) 9:30-4:30
    November 8 and 9 (Fri-Sat) 9:30-4:30
    December 5 and 6 (Thur-Fri) 9:30-4:30

    Read full details.
  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Thursday

    The module starts from the proposition that the study of social policy includes much more than the study of western welfare states. It examines critically the ways in which societies and communities from the local to the transnational, not just governments, address (or fail to address) basic needs. The module uses a selection of policy examples which aim to address a range of basic needs such as access to paid employment, healthcare, schooling, citizenship, family benefits, in and out of work benefits, pensions, affordable housing, adult care, early childhood education and care. It will look at aspects of these through various analytic lenses, including the impact of policies on social divisions, and the roles of neoliberalism, globalisation, social investment, human development, social development, antiracist and feminist perspectives. The module includes a ‘regional’ approach, covering some of the following: the European Union; Latin America; North America; sub-Saharan Africa; East Asia; the Indian sub-continent. The most prominent approaches to comparative social policy are pervasive, namely: regime analysis, path dependency/institutionalism, and convergent functionalism.

    Read full details.

The course consists of five taught modules, a work experience placement in a UK public service organisation (two days a week over 15 weeks), and a triple-module dissertation (which may be completed in your home country).

Core modules cover:

  • Strategic Planning and Change Management Core (20 credits)
  • Comparative Public Policy Core (20 credits)
  • Researching Public Services Core (20 credits)
  • Public Administration Dissertation Core (60 credits)
  • A range of subject-related optional modules within management, community development and European studies. You have the opportunity to specialise in, for example, health management, development and administration, or project and human resources management.

Read more about the modules from our course specification.

”Studying the MPA course on a part time whilst working full time from 2011 to 2013 was challenging and rewarding as it involved the opportunity to share and learn different working practices and policies from Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA. The MPA course is set-up to test your skills and abilities as you are assessed via different means such as regular presentations, to written reports and essays and the feedback received from colleagues and lecturers were very insightful. The knowledge and skills gained has enhanced my career prospects at current organisation and future aspiration to work in the public sector in other parts of the world.

I would recommend the MPA as you are taught by experienced and helpful lecturers with varied background who deliver lectures in an interactive manner and the international background of the students makes for an interesting and lively informative debates throughout the lectures.” 

“I am proud that I have been part of London Metropolitan University. Through very qualitative teaching and practical experience, it has prepared me professionally for the job market. As part of my Masters degree in Public Administration (MPA) I finished an internship at the London Borough of Redbridge. This has been a life changing opportunity. I was able to learn a lot and practice my knowledge gained during the MPA in evaluating one of the Borough's employment project. I was even offered a job!”

"My MPA experience was the best work - study balance decision I've ever made. The course content and teaching was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the varied interactions with my globally oriented course mates. During my work placement with the London Borough of Hackney's Policy and Research department, I had the opportunity to put to practice all the taught strategic public policy theories.”

You can read more MPA profiles in our profiles section from Anastasiya, Nicole and Whitney and Salma.

Graduates can expect a host of public administration job opportunities in the contexts of transition and modernisation – the course is ideal for those already employed in the sector who wish to update their skills, or progress to further study.

The work placement is also an excellent opportunity for you to practice the skills and apply the knowledge acquired during the programme, but also to forge long lasting professional relationships within the sector. The network of employers that offer work placements for our students include: the London Boroughs of Hackney, Harrow, Havering, Islington, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Westminster; government bodies such as the Department of Work and Pensions, and voluntary sector organisations such as Thames Reach, amongst others. Students have praised the work placement for its relevance to their career development and the employability skills it fosters.

Our recent graduates have accessed positions in central governments in Romania, Poland, Bangladesh, in executive agencies and local government in the UK and in wide range of voluntary sector organisations in the UK and abroad – to name just a few.

Between 2016 and 2020 we're investing £125 million in the London Metropolitan University campus, moving all of our activity to our current Holloway campus in Islington, north London. This will mean the teaching location of some courses will change over time.

Whether you will be affected will depend on the duration of your course, when you start and your mode of study. The earliest moves affecting new students will be in September 2017. This may mean you begin your course at one location, but over the duration of the course you are relocated to one of our other campuses. Our intention is that no full-time student will change campus more than once during a course of typical duration.

All students will benefit from our move to one campus, which will allow us to develop state-of-the-art facilities, flexible teaching areas and stunning social spaces.

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

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When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

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