PG Certificate in Delivery and Change for Public Services

An online study programme

This Postgraduate Certificate programme is aimed at those who have practical experience of managing the delivery of public services, be that within the mainstream public, non-governmental or the private sectors.  You will be seeking a deeper understanding of how organisations identify, investigate and manage change, how they make those key decisions that enable effective change, and how organisations learn, adapt and develop their internal capacity in order to deliver efficient and effective services in an increasingly competitive world.

The role of the manager is crucial to this, both as leader and as decision maker.  The programme will enable you to actively reflect upon and analyse your own experiences within the wider organistional context, helping you to both develop your own understanding of the wider organisational context and to develop your own understanding and competence as a manager, decision maker and leader within your organisation.

This programme is not currently recruiting new students


This is a part-time, postgraduate-level Certificate programme delivered wholly online in fully supported environment.  You will study each of the three modules as part of a small group of like-minded and experienced managers, facilitated by a dedicated subject-expert tutor, and you will be supported by a single supervisor for the duration of your studies.  Each module is studied sequentially over the course of one year and is assessed by way of an essay.  

If you subsequently decide that you would like to continue to a Diploma or Masters qualification it is possible to register for either the Public Administration or Public Policy and Management route.


This certificate programme aims to provide a conceptual framework for understanding public service delivery and the management of change within public services, within which your professional experience can be reflected upon and considered.  We will also equip you with practical skills that will enable you to put your learning into practice.  Specifically, we will;  

  • explore  the international context of public service delivery, including reform trends, and their impact on governance, accountability and the role of the public manager
  • explore the distinctiveness of public services, and the implications of this distinctiveness for the delivery of services and for leading and managing change
  • analyse the factors that help and hinder the management of change, including the complex relationships between the individual, structure, culture, power and change 
  • explore tools and techniques for diagnosing change requirements and for evaluating change
  • understand the role of learning in shaping organisational performance
  • develop the capacity to become reflective practitioners who are able to review their experience, connect theory with practice and learn effectively from this process

Who is the programme for?

We welcome early and mid-career managers / leaders from the public sector, non-governmental organisations, and from private sector organisations that work with public services.  The roles of current students and alumni across our programmes include:

  • Assistant Director in an NHS Trust (UK)
  • Programme Specialist for UNDP
  • Consultant Project Manager in Justice and Home Affairs Agency (EU)
  • Senior Communications Manager with UNICEF
  • Programme Consultant with an INGO (Africa)
  • Finance professional working on own account with EU agencies
  • Policy Director for regional tier of government (North America)
  • Local Government Performance Manager (UK)


Themes and content

  • The changing context of public service delivery, including global trends in reform, modernisation of public services and the need for organisations to do things differently
  • The implications of this changing context for relationships between citizens, consumers, users and the state, and relationships between sector partners
  • Frameworks, concepts and techniques for understanding organisational change, for taking control of change and ensuring that it is successful
  • Tools and techniques for analysing the need for change, the various ways in which change can be understood, how it might be approached and planned, and the role of leaders and change agents 
  • The role of learning in organisations at an individual and institutional level, including the influence of power, culture, resistance and emotion, and how these processes impact on change
  • Tools for planning and evaluating individual learning as a reflective practitioner, and for developing learning capacity institutionally 

Course structure

The programme is structured into three modules, taking twelve months to complete in total.  The three modules are:

Public Management and Delivery

  • What trends and pressures are affecting public service organisations, why and with what consequences?
  • Why have market-based arrangements been introduced into many public sector settings and how should public sector performance be measured

Organisational Learning and Performance

  • How and why should organisations learn?
  • What techniques are available for effective knowledge management and for the application of learning to the improvement of performnace at both the organisational and individual levels? 

Leading and Managing Organisational Change

  • How and why does change occur in organisations and how does this impact on individuals and performance?
  • How can change be successfullly managed in complex public sector organisations?
  • What skills and behaviours do leaders and ‘change agents’ need?

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.
  • Part time study (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 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.



Entry requirements

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


Further study

After the Certificate you may wish to continue your studies onto one of our Diploma or Masters level qualifications.  It is possible to convert this Certificate into either the Diploma/Masters of Public Administration or Diploma/Masters in Public Policy and Management by completing 3 or 6 additional modules.  The structures going forward would be as follows:

Public Administration

Certificate level – 3 compulsory modules

Public Management and Delivery (already studied)

Governance and Public Administration

Policy Analysis and Process

Diploma level – 1 compulsory and 2 elective modules

Leading and Managing Organisational Change (already studied)

Organisational Learning and Performance (already studied)

One options module, from the list below

Masters level 

One options module, from the list below

Then, either one further options module, or term one of a 12,000 word Independent Study Project

Then, term two of the 12,000 word Independent Study Project, or a 6,000 word Independent Study Project.

The options modules

  • Public Finance
  • Public Policy and Management in the Information Age
  • Globalisation and Social Policy
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Using Evidence in Social Policy 

Public Policy and Management

Certificate level – 3 compulsory modules

Public Management and Delivery (already studied)

Governance and Public Administration 

Policy Analysis and Process

Diploma level – 3 elective modules

Using Evidence in Social Policy

Organisational Learning and Performance (already studied)

Leading and Managing Organisational Change (already studied)

Masters level – 3 options:

One options module chosen from the list below

One further options module or, term one of a 12,000 word Independent Study Project undertaken over the course of two terms.

Term two of a 12,000 word Independent Study Project, or a 6,000 word Study Project.

The options modules

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Globalisation and Social Policy
  • Introduction to Research Methods
  • Labour Markets Work and Welfare
  • Project Management
  • Public Finance
  • Public Policy and Management in the Information Age
  • Strategic Planning
  • The Economics of Public Service Reform 


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Contact details

Helen Chan
Online MA Programme Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1273

Ellen Roberts
Online MA Programmes Director

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1250

Twitter @YorkEllen