MPA Comparative Applied Social and Public Policy, Evaluation and Research (21 month MPA)

The Masters of Public Administration in Comparative Applied Social and Public Policy, Evaluation and Research (MPA CASPPER) is aimed at mid-career professionals who wish to obtain advanced study and placement experience and who currently work as or intend to become: policy advisors and analysts, project leaders, policy consultants, policy researchers and evaluators.

This 21-month full-time programme specialises in social and public policy analysis and social research, building upon the University of York's well-established MPA, social research and comparative analysis programmes.

Applicants to the programme include individuals with Chevening Scholarships, World Bank SPIRIT support, University of York Scholarships, Santander scholarships, and those sponsored by a number of national Ministries and agencies (including Turkey, South Korea and Thailand).


Our MPA CASPPER programme has a strong comparative cross-national and international focus, and places particular emphasis on the analysis of policy development and policy lessons from within OECD member states.

In addition to academic modules, participants will complete an Applied Policy Transfer Project and an Applied Policy Research Placement.

  • Next start date: September 2017

Who is the programme for?

  • Mid-career professionals from government agencies and international NGOs.
  • Those with an interest in comparative analysis, policy-transfer, and innovations in policy delivery.
  • Those wishing to understand the debates and challenges around emerging forms of governance.
  • Those wishing to be mentored by experienced academics, evaluators, administrators and managers.
  • Those who currently work as or wish to become: policy advisors, policy analysts, project leaders, policy consultants, policy researchers and evaluators.

Entry requirements

Entrants to MPA CASPPER will require at least 3-years professional experience in a public sector or NGO setting, in addition to an upper second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification. However, if you have relevant work experience with good academic potential you may also be considered.

International students: if English is not your first language you should also read the English Language requirements 2016/17 for postgraduate study.


The standard annual tuition fees for can be found on the Fees, bursaries and scholarships  page.

Fees quoted are for one year of study only and are subject to increase in subsequent years. The University reserves the right to alter the level of fee


Themes and content

The curriculum is strongly international, reflecting the research interests of staff based within SPSW (globalisation, East Asia, Asia-Pacific, and Europe). The international focus is reflected in a number of the core modules: Comparative Social Policy Methods, Comparative Social Policy: Governance, Management and Delivery, and Globalisation and Social Policy. The international focus of the programme is also encompassed within the Applied Policy Transfer Project.

The CASSPER programme is based around a combination of social policy analysis and research training modules. In the Autumn Term you are provided with a broad introduction to comparative social policy theory and methods and grounding in key social policy analysis themes, issues and theories. In the Spring Term, you undertake more detailed comparative analysis of governance, management and delivery and combine this with study of the impact of globalisation on social policy.

Following completion of these modules, you will embark on your Policy Transfer project during summer term under the advice of your learning mentor and attend a series of master-classes. You will also have the opportunity to present your research in progress to a wider audience during a programme of dissertation workshops During summer and in the following Autumn, you will begin your placement activities. Autumn and Spring terms of Year 2 allow you to undertake methodological training in qualitative and quantitative methods. During Summer Year 2 you will produce a 12,000 word systematic review linked to your placement and undertaken with the guidance of your own individual learning mentor. You will also complete an applied policy research placement report.

Course structure

This is a 21-month, full time postgraduate programme. 

 Year 1Year 2
Autumn Term

Social Policy Analysis

Comparative and International Social Policy Research Methods

Introduction to Social Research Methods

Applied Policy Research Placement Report

Spring Term

Globalisation and Social Policy

Comparative Social Policy: Governance, Management and Delivery

Advanced Quantitative Methods

Advanced Qualitative Methods

Summer Term Applied Policy Transfer Project CASPPER Master Classes Placement Linked Systematic Review Report
Summer Vacation Placements commence over Summer Vacation  



The MPA CASPPER is grounded in advanced real-world practice of policy research professionals. The first half of each year provides the theoretical content on international and comparative social policy through lectures, seminars and hands-on workshops. In Year 1, you will undertake an Applied Policy Transfer Project and over the Summer, you will undertake a Placement which will underpin your Year 2 work.

Role of the Learning Mentor

Each student will be assigned a ‘learning mentor’ to assist them in tailoring a programme of training activity. The mentor will allow individuals to fully utilise the opportunities offered by the 2-year programme: including site visits and on-the-job experiental learning and reflection.

The research mentor will have a number of roles: involvement in the scoping review, overseeing the systematic review, arranging further activities within the research placement, and supervising the research training budget. The research training budget allows each student in the 2nd year of study to access specialised research courses and activities, offered within the University of York; or nearby specialist centres and organisations.

The Department

The programme draws on our expertise in a wide range of social science subjects (including social policy, public policy, political science, public management, policy analysis and sociology) and draws on the extensive networks connected to the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. In addition to staff within specialist policy research units, we have developed relationships with local, national and international bodies, including analysts based within local and national government, NGOs, the OECD and WHO.


Working under the supervision of their mentor and specialising on a specific policy issue, students complete a Policy Transfer Project (8,000 words) in which they examine cross-national evidence to identify potential ‘policy lessons’ that might be transferred from one set of countries/one country to another.

This Systematic Review module involves students undertaking a longer (40-credit) independent study project that takes the form of a structured systematic review (12,000 words). This module also allows for learning outcomes attached to (a) the placement and (b) the methods training to be assessed in a single piece of extended writing.


As part of the programme, all students undertake a study placement selected, where possible, to match the interests, expertise, and career aspirations of the student. They will work alongside their research mentor (see below) with expertise in policy-related activity:

  • Employment, labour markets and social security reform
  • Social care and social services
  • Housing and urban policy 
  • Health policy in a global context
  • Environmental policy

Students will also shadow their mentor at key points by, for instance, attending research group team meetings (including with external researchers), attending stakeholder meetings (e.g. with policy makers/research commissioners) and attending research dissemination events (e.g. presentations to policy audiences). All students will undertake a systematic review of literature tied to the topic of the placement, guided by their mentor.

As the above implies the placement takes, in the main, the form of work shadowing a research team undertaking applied policy research but with tied activities that will be independently assessed via the systemic review project tied to the placement topic (see below). Placements should last a minimum of 80 hours.


Professional learning environment

‌You can apply for this course using our online application system.  If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process.

Apply now

Contact details

Rachel McAllister
Admissions Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 1273