MPA Masters of Public Administration - International Development

An online study programme

The aim of the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in International Development degree is to enhance your capacity to influence, contribute to or lead the international development agenda at local, national or international levels.

The programme starts twice each year, every September and April.

  • Next course start date: 24th April 2015
  • Application deadline: 27th February 2015

MPA ID Timetable April 2015 (PDF  , 306kb)


This is a part-time, postgraduate-level programme delivered wholly online in fully supported environment. The programme can be completed to Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters level.


The programme is based on a number of principles that inform its structure, content and general approach, as follows:

  • While the focus of the programme is on the delivery of services, this can only be fully understood and achieved when it is linked to the processes of policy development and decision-making. The programme therefore addresses all of these issues within the context of international development in order to help students further their understanding of the underlying causes of development challenges.
  • The wider context within which governments work is changing rapidly and has created pressures quite unlike those faced by public managers in earlier decades. Key issues in this wider environment are the role of global institutions and the implications this has had for governance and decision-making. An understanding of this wider context, and of the differing pressures experienced by the state, civil society and the international community is fundamental to effective international development
  • International development also increasingly involves leading and managing change. The skills that this involves include understanding change at the level of the individual, organisation and society and the ability to develop and reflect on leadership,
  • The design and delivery of the programme reflects and emphasises a practitioner perspective that links theory and practice through a problem-solving approach to learning working alongside other managers from different professional and international backgrounds.

Who is the programme for?

The programme accepts participants from public sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and from private sector organisations that work with public services, for instance those in consultancy, public-private partnerships, and interest groups.

It will be relevant to you if you work in or are looking to develop skills and understanding in:

  • The concept of development and how it might be defined and applied.
  • The international context of public administration, and the role of global trends and institutions.
  • The social, political and economic dimensions of development and how these impact upon administrative and institutional contexts.
  • The processes of public policy, and those factors that might shape their success or failure.
  • Leading and managing change in public services.
  • Working across boundaries (public, private and non-governmental).
  • Influencing policy decisions in order to shape service delivery for the future.


Themes and content

The programme addresses four broad themes:

  • The delivery, management and improvement of public services in the context of international development.
  • The social and political issues influencing the path of development.
  • Strategic capability, including strategic planning, the management of public finances, leadership and organisational learning.
  • The wider context of public service delivery: the implications of global governance and of governance in developing states.

To give a flavour of the programme, here is a small sample of the kinds of questions that it addresses:

  • How does the implementation of policy decisions affect services on the ground?
  • What is the role of leaders and managers in enabling organisational learning?
  • How do global institutions affect public sector governance?
  • What role do partnerships and networks play in public sector delivery, and how can they be made more effective?
  • How can social policies be used to enhance capacities for development without eroding intrinsic values?
  • What are the links between democratization and development?
  • How do economic frameworks help to better understand options for public service reform?
  • What skills do the leaders of public services require in the 21st century, and how can leaders best empower their staff to deliver better services?

Course structure

June 2014 Special Notethe structure of the programme has been altered ahead of the forthcoming September 2014 start date.  The available modules remain the same throughout the 3 year programme but the order of study has been altered.  

The programme is structured into three stages, each stage typically takes twelve months:

  • Certificate: three compulsory foundation modules.
  • Diploma: three further compulsory modules.
  • Masters: either one additional elective module and a 12,000 - word Independent Study Project, or two additional elective modules and a 6,000 - word Independent Study Project.

For timetable please click here: Timetable (PDF  , 303kb)

For Module Outlines please click here.

Certificate StageDiploma StageMasters Stage

Three compulsory foundation modules:

  • Social and Political Issues in Development
  • Governance and Public Administration
  • Policy Analysis and Process

Three further compulsory modules:

  • Leading and Managing Organisational Change
  • Strategic Planning
  • Economics of Public Sector Reform


  • ONE option module and an Independent Study Project of 12,000 words
  • TWO option modules and an Independent Study Project of 6,000 words 


Option modules 
  • Organisational Learning and Performance
  • Public Policy and Management in the Information Age
  • Using Evidence in Social Policy
  • Globalisation and Social Policy
  • Project Management

Online study

Our approach to e-learning is distinctive and may be different from your general perceptions about this mode of study.

  • Flexible, fully supported, modular delivery.
  • Taught exclusively online.
  • Three stages: Certificate, Diploma, Masters. Each stage typically takes 12 months.
  • Up to 8 modules plus an Independent Study Project.
  • Part time study (approx 10-15 hours per week) allows participants to structure their learning around the demands of a career.

The following is a short summary of how online study works at York. 

Key points

The key points about our approach are:

  • These are not self-study programmes which leave you on your own. You will be part of an active learning community with regular contacts and activities.
  • While the e-based approach means that our programmes are very flexible - you can study them anywhere and at any time - they also involve a structured approach to learning. You will be asked to take part in some tasks and activities each week.
  • A key part of this weekly study pattern is a weekly discussion topic. You can join in with this discussion at any time during the week to suit you: you never have to be online at the same time as other people. You will join in with the discussions by posting your comments in a discussion forum. The forums are very simple and easy to use. They provide a reflective and supportive environment, providing all the benefits of studying as part of a community but without having to be in a physical classroom or even online at the same time as other people.
  • As well as interacting with your fellow students in the forums, you will also have regular and structured contact with a dedicated and friendly academic and administrative team at York.
  • The programmes are situated within a Virtual Learning Environment. This is a very convenient and user-friendly integrated website that provides access to study resources, discussion forums, the University of York Online Library and your University email account.

The York Team

A key feature of our programmes is the availability and quality of support that we offer through module tutors, academic supervisors and a dedicated administrative and technical support team.

Requirements & Fees

Entry requirements

A good second class (undergraduate) degree or equivalent qualification. Applicants without undergraduate-level academic experience may also be considered if they have sufficient professional background.

Professional experience in the public service field. This includes roles in government at national or local level, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the voluntary and charitable sector, and private sector roles that support or deliver public services.

If you are not from a majority English speaking country (as defined by the Home Office)  you will need to show evidence that you meet the University English Language requirements:

  • IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any element
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English A and B, or Certificate in Advanced English A

Sufficient study time: 15 hours per week including the capacity to take part regularly in the online weekly tutorial group discussions. These are an essential part of the study process, as explained here.

Willingness to share your experience and be an active member of your tutorial group

A personal computer in your home with an internet connection (minimum  0.5Mbps). An office software suite compatible with Word and Excel formats



For fee information please see the lower part of this page and click the Online Programmes tab.

Class profile

Class statistics for April 2014 cohort

29% Male and 71% Female

Average Age: 34

Age Range: 24 - 45

This class includes students from 11 different countries.


Virtual Open Day Block‌‌

Ifeoma Nwakama talks about her experience of studying the online MPA-ID programme (filmed on campus in York during our conference in 2011).

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Contact details

Helen Smith
Online MA Programme Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1273

Dr Sally Brooks
Online MPA-ID Director

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1258