Master of Public Administration in International Development


The Master of Public Administration in International Development has been designed to support managers or potential managers of public organisations in developing countries. While the content of the MPA and the MPA in International Development overlap in several skill areas (e.g. principles of public administration, policy analysis, policy learning, strategic planning and public finance), they differ with respect to considerations of the environmental factors (political, cultural, economic) that impact on the work of public managers and the ways in which those factors shape the character of governance and the management and delivery of public policy in these different state forms. Hence to understand governance in developing countries it is crucial to understand the meaning of development from an administrative perspective.

Participants pursue a cluster of core modules which are commensurable with the international modernising civil services agenda and indicative skills development in developed and developing administration. The core modules provide common skills training for managers in policy and operational delivery. In the summer term, all course participants are required to complete a 8-10,000 word policy report supported through personal supervision and a support workshop.

All participants on York Masters degrees in public administration are provided with additional support workshops in Graduate Study and Professional Skills and may also participate in the Politics Departmental Seminar, Political Science Workshops and Practice Workshops which bring high profile academics and practitioners to the department to share their ideas with staff and students.

The convenor of the Master of Public Administration in International Development is Dr Simona Davidescu, E-mail


Core modules


The module examines the intersections of social conflicts, identities and citizenship in contemporary development. How do development policies impact differently on distinct social groups; in what ways can they aggravate or alleviate social conflicts? How should we understand and analyse conflicts over power and resources? What impact does development have on the lives of the poor? How might the poor gain more effective citizenship and participation in development and politics?

Political science has numerous theories about how states mediate and regulate conflicts over power and resources. However, these theories often presuppose the existence of effective institutions, citizenship rights and forms of civil society organisation that may not be present in many developing and transitional states. The module therefore examines how we can understand conflicts over power and resources in such states, and the relevance of concepts such as clientelism, patronage, networks and corruption for analysing the actual functioning of power in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The module also assesses strategies for promoting effective citizenship and active participation in the development process.


This module explores the theory and practice of managing change. The overall aim is to develop students' capacity and confidence in initiating and responding to change and thus to help them to deal more effectively with change within their own organisations.

The early units look at the broad context in which change takes place: the economic, social and institutional factors that are currently shaping change, and the role of stakeholders (nationally and internationally) in this process. The module then moves on to consider change at the levels of the organisation and individual, including how individuals respond to change and the approaches that can assist with the transition. The final part of the module considers collaborative approaches and the tools and skills that are helpful for managing change. The role of leadership in relation to change is also considered throughout the module as a whole. The module also contains two units, coming midway and at the end, which provide for review, reflection and consolidation of the ground covered in the previous units.

This module recognises the complexity of change and the limitations, therefore, of tools and techniques as 'prescriptions' for change. At the same time, it also seeks to enlarge students' sense of the scope for influencing and managing change and the role that tools and techniques can play. It begins by introducing some established theories, frameworks and techniques for diagnosing, developing and evaluating change processes. Throughout, there is a dual emphasis on the organisation and the individual: how organisational contexts affect and shape change and how individuals respond to change. The overall aim is to link theory and practice: to enable students to analyse and develop ways of dealing with real instances of organisational change.


The module provides an introduction to the specialist sub-field of policy analysis. It explores a range of theoretical and practical themes including: the impact of economic, political and cultural context upon the policy process; the difficulties of defining policy problems and solutions; the evolution and diffusion of policies across time and space; and the challenge of implementing policy in the real world. Throughout the lectures and workshops there will also be an emphasis upon developing broader connections between policy analysis and theories of governance, democracy and the state. In sum, this module provides the student with a holistic view of the relationship between power and public policy in the modern state. PUBLIC FINANCE

The module examines a range of theoretical, practical and policy based dimensions relating to public finance, including market failure and public choice theories, public expenditure and taxation, and the financial planning and control of public monies. These are addressed in the context of both developed and developing countries.


This module provides an introduction to the management of public finances. As governments face both increasing financial pressure and growing demands for their services, it is vital for all students of public administration and management to understand both the context and management of public money.

The aims of the module are to examine the academic theory, policy and practice that relate to the management of public finances. The module combines an examination of both the economic perspective and rationale for government spending together with a financial management perspective on issues such as resources allocation, accountability and value for money.

The module will reflect an international context by examining the policies of a range of countries as well as a critical consideration of developments in global initiatives emanating from bodies such as the OECD, IMF and World Bank.


This module looks at major theories and policies of development governance. Debates about how best to achieve economic and social development in the developing world have focused on what role the state should play in the development process. The module examines this question by looking at the experiences of different parts of the developing world, asking why some regions have performed so much better than others. The module charts changing trends in development policy from early state-led models of development, to the rise of neoliberalism and the more recent preoccupation with ‘good governance’. It considers how and why these changes in policy have occurred and what effect they have had in different parts of the developing world.

The topics covered include development planning, East Asian ‘developmental states’, neoliberalism and the role of the market, the growing significance of NGOs and other non-state actors, the role of different forms of institutions and whether democracy is essential for effective development governance. The module also looks at the emergence of new challenges facing developing countries, particularly the growing threat presented by climate change. The module is multidisciplinary, introducing students to influential ideas in the politics, economics and political economy of development.


This module aims to introduce managers in the public and not for profit sectors to the main themes, concepts and practices of strategic management. The module aims to equip students with practical skills, offer them opportunities to use these skills in work based and case study scenarios and also give students insight to enable them to analyse and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of strategic management in the public and not for profit sectors.


The purpose of the report is to review and integrate learning activities across a number of the modules which have already been undertaken during the autumn and spring terms. This is achieved through the development of an independent piece of research in which a process of policy or organisational change is evaluated from both a practical and an academic perspective. This 8-10,000 word policy report is supported by the Graduate Study and Professional Skills workshop convened in the autumn and spring terms which provides workshops in dissertation writing and apparatus of scholarship. A Policy Report Workshop is convened in the summer term at which participants present research proposals to a forum consisting of subject specialists and colleagues. This workshop includes a formal process of written peer and supervisory review providing a broad range of feedback for students. A specialist supervisor is provided for this component of the course. The Policy Report is completed during the last five months of the programme.

Participants also have access to a weekly term-time programme of Departmental seminars and research workshops in the Department of Politics throughout the academic year. However, attendance at these events is not obligatory for Masters students.


A series of induction workshops will be provided for new students in Week 1 of the autumn term in the Department of Politics. These include: orientation sessions on Graduate Study at York with the Director of the Graduate School; a course introduction with the Programme Convenor; a one day team building workshop with the course team; a social reception to meet colleagues and staff; and a Graduate School party.

Autumn Term

 3 compulsory modules:

Spring Term

3 compulsory modules:

Summer Term