PG Certificate in Delivery and Strategy for Public Services

An online study programme

This Postgraduate Certificate is aimed at those who have practical experience of managing the delivery of public services, be that within the mainstream public, non-governmental or private sectors.  You will be seeking a deeper understanding of how organisations interpret and respond to their fast changing external environments, 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 individual is crucial to this.  The programme will enable you to actively reflect upon and analyse your own experience within the wider organisational context, helping you to both develop your understanding within the wider organisational context and also develop your own understanding and competence as a manager 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 3 modules as part of a small group of like minded and experienced managers, facilitated by a dedicated tutor, and you will also be supported by a single supervisor for the duration of your studies.  Each module is studied sequentially over the course of a year and 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 the Public Policy and Management route.


This certificate programme aims to provide you with a conceptual framework for understanding public service delivery and strategy, 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 specifically for strategic planning and management
  • understand the role of organisational learning in shaping strategy and performance
  • apply skills and tools relevant to strategic planning and the development and management of learning within public service organisations
  • 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 and leaders from the public sector and non-governmental organisations, and from private sector organisations that work with public services. 

Current and recent participants have included:

  • Policy and Research Officer in a national non-governmental organisation
  • Performance Manager, government department
  • Programme Officer, UN agency
  • Policy Evaluation and Advocacy Officer, UN agency
  • Communications Officer, international NGO


Themes and content

  • The changing context of public service delivery, including global trends in reform, the modernisation of public services and the shift to private sector delivery
  • The implications of this changing context for relationships between citizens, consumers, users and the state, and relationships between sector partners
  • Frameworks, concepts and techniques relevant to analysing this changing context and in particular to managing performance
  • The distinctive issues of strategic planning and management within public service contexts
  • Tools and techniques for analysing the internal and external strategic context and for strategy selection and implementation
  • 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 strategic management and direction
  • Tools for planning and evaluating individual learning as a reflective practitioner, and for developing learning capacity institutionally 

Course structure

The programme is studied over twelve months and consists of three separate modules, studied sequentially, each over nine weeks, followed by a four week period to write your assessment.   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

Strategic Planning

  • Differences between strategic planning and management in the public and private sectors.
  • Mission statements and goal-setting techniques. Strategic decisions and evaluation.
  • Strategic leadership. Coordination and networks. Crisis management. Transformational strategic management.

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 performance at both the organisational and individual levels?

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 (approx 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.


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 the Diploma/Masters in Public Policy and Management by completing 3 or 6 additional modules.  The structures going forward would be as follows:

Certificate level

  • Public Management and Delivery (already studied)
  • Governance and Public Administration
  • Policy Analysis and Process

Diploma level 

  • Using Evidence in Social Policy
  • Strategic Planning (already studied)
  • Organisational Learning and Performance (already studied)

Masters level – 3 options:

  • Term one: Options module chosen from the list below
  • Term two: Either 1 further options module or the first term of a 12,000 word Independent Study Project
  • Term three: Either complete the 12,000 word project or undertake a 6,000 word Independent Study Project

Elective modules

  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Globalisation and Social Policy
  • Introduction to Research Methods
  • Labour Markets, Work and Welfare
  • Leading and Managing Organisational Change


  • Project Management
  • Public Finance
  • Public Policy and Management in the Information Age
  • 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