Home>Study at York>Postgraduate>Courses>Public Policy and Management (Online) (MA)

Overview Understand and influence how policies are made and how public services are managed


2 years part-time

This course is ideal for professionals in the public sector, in not-for-profit organisations or in for-profit organisations involved in public policy or the delivery of public services. During your studies you'll develop the skills and knowledge to influence policy and the way policy decisions are translated on the ground. You'll deepen your understanding of policy-making and its intersection with public management. You will prepare yourself for more strategic roles and help your organisation operate more effectively in complex and challenging environments.

By choosing this part-time online course you will be able to combine your study with your career and family. You'll also be studying at one of the top universities in the world, with teaching and support from experienced academics and practitioners. Our department is ranked 25th in the world, and 4th in the UK. All our courses are run directly by us, so you can always count on coherent and strong support from your academic tutors, personal supervisor and the dedicated support team.

You'll study alongside your peers working in similar organisations around the world. You'll be able to actively engage with them and share ideas, learning and experience as you progress through the course. You'll also be in a position to apply your learning and insights immediately to your work and your organisation.

The thing that's worked well for me is the online learning environment and working full-time while studying. It works fantastically well because you can apply the knowledge straight away, and literally go back into the organisation and say "hey, I understand that now – that makes sense".

Course content What you’ll study


This masters course will develop your knowledge of public policy, so you'll gain a better understanding of how policies are made and then implemented on the ground. You'll also acquire skills in public management, to analyse and influence how public services are run and how organisational change can be best managed.

The first year of the course will ensure you have a foundation in all key aspects of public policy and management. In your second year you can choose areas of study that are most interesting or most applicable to your own work

Towards the end of the course you'll start to prepare for your dissertation which will allow you to explore an area of particular interest with support from a dedicated dissertation supervisor.

You can also study for a shorter period of time and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma. See our brochure for details. 


You will need to take 140 credits of taught modules and complete a dissertation worth 40 credits.

You'll study these modules to a schedule. This will allow you to participate online with academics and fellow students from around the world.

Year one: foundation

In the first year you'll study 80 credits with these modules:

  • Public Management and Delivery (20 credits)
  • Governance and Public Administration (20 credits)
  • Policy Analysis and Process (20 credits)
  • Reflective Practice for Professional Development - part one (10 credits)
  • Digital Government: Policy and Practice (10 credits)

Year two: specialisation and dissertation

In your second year you'll study a combination of taught modules and work on your dissertation. You will have a choice of studying one of these modules:

  • Comparative Social Policy (20 credits)
  • Leading and Managing Organisational Change (20 credits)
  • Social Policy: Evidence, Ideas and Institutions (20 credits)
  • Work, Welfare and Citizenship (20 credits).

You'll then choose to study one of these modules:

  • Globalisation and Social Policy (20 credits)
  • Project Management (20 credits)
  • Public Finance (20 credits)
  • Public Service Reform: Economic and Political Perspectives (20 credits).

You will also need to complete a dissertation and these modules:

  • Reflective Practice for Professional Development - part two (10 credits)
  • Dissertation workshop (10 credits)

Description of modules.

These modules will run for 2016-18. Modules may change in later years in light of student feedback and ongoing research.


Throughout your studies your assignments will help you to apply theory to practice and to combine academic work with case studies or examples relevant to your work.

One of your taught modules, the Dissertation workshop, will help you prepare for your dissertation. You'll learn how to plan and schedule your independent literature-based research project. With the help of your dissertation supervisor you'll work on finding the appropriate scope and focus for your project, and develop a workable structure. You'll also receive feedback on draft chapters and guidance on conducting your literature review and any further research.

Your dissertation is worth 40 credits and will be 12,000 words long.

Previous dissertation topics:

  • Service delivery during crises: challenges in performance management at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • To what extent has decentralisation impacted on development and public service delivery in post-conflict Sierra Leone from 2004 to present?
  • Evidence and ideology in criminal justice policy-making in the UK: the role of the media
  • Is good governance achievable in fragile states? The role of civil society organisations in promoting good governance in South Sudan
  • The role of policy networks in the policy transfer process: the case of the World Bank Institute
  • How has the rise of New Public Management affected the professional development needs of school leaders?
  • An analysis of discourse, power and policy change in drug treatment in the UK 1997-present
  • The enabling and constraining factors that influence knowledge sharing in public organisations.
My current position has really been the highlight of my career, and the educational background my masters degree provided me with was exactly what I needed to be successful in this position.
Rachel, Canada

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

Teaching format

You will study online and can therefore study from wherever you are. It takes about 15 hours per week to complete all readings and tasks. You can decide when you work on these weekly tasks, as all activities can be completed around your schedule.

There are mainly three kinds of activities:

  • Reading the module texts written by our academic team and selected core articles (journal articles, book chapters, case studies)
  • Joining weekly online discussions with fellow students and the module tutor
  • Working on individual tasks such as written exercises to receive feedback from your tutor or to contribute to group work.

You will be supported by:

  • A module tutor: who will facilitate the weekly online discussion and offer individual support
  • A personal supervisor: who will provide ongoing academic and pastoral support. You will be able to approach your supervisor with queries on study skills and your progress
  • The dedicated support team: who will be able to help you with administrative or technical enquiries.

Our distinctive approach.


You will take part in exercises and other tasks as you progress through each module. This will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

At the end of each 20 credit module you'll complete an assignment, normally this will be a 3,000 word assessment. For the 10 credit modules you will work on a journal (or another practice exercise) or will complete a dissertation plan.

All the professors and tutors I have had the chance to interact with have shown a high professionalism and have been great facilitators for students. Because of their academic and personal support I could manage to do a full time job and studies in parallel.
Dorina, Albania

Careers Where you’ll go from here

The course is ideal for people working in the public sector and not-for-profit sectors as well as people working in for-profit organisations that deliver public services. It will allow you to develop the skills required for management in a large and complex organisation. You'll also gain a thorough understanding of public policy so that you can analyse and influence policy-making and implementation.

Career opportunities

Almost all of our current students and alumni are in employment. They work in roles in:

  • Local and national governments and their departments
  • International organisations or non-governmental organisations
  • Other publicly funded organisations such as education and healthcare providers
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Transferable skills

  • Policy analysis
  • Leadership skills
  • Designing, leading and managing change
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Public services management
  • Decision-making
  • Influencing and managing networks and partnerships
  • Reflective practice for ongoing professional development.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You should normally have at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent qualification. If you don't have experience of undergraduate study we may consider your application if you have a suitable professional background.

You should also have professional experience in the public service field. This could be in roles at local or national government, or in non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the voluntary and charitable sector, and private sector roles which support or deliver public services.

You will also need to ensure you have:

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


When you apply you'll need to write a Personal Statement, answering all the questions on this template and acknowledging the Requirements of Study.

International options

The international equivalents of UK qualifications are shown on our country-specific pages. You can also contact the international team for guidance.

English language

If your native language is not English you will need to show evidence of your English language ability. Some exceptions apply, but below are the accepted tests:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 5.5 in each component
  • Pearson (PTE): 61, with no less than 51 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 162 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 17 in Listening, 18 in Reading, 20 in Speaking and 17 in Writing
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all components

​​We have two fee bands for this course. There are discounts for students based in developing countries.

Discounts are also available to: 

  • Employers sponsoring more than 1 student per cohort
  • CIMA certified applicants
  • CIPFA certified applicants
  • City of York Council employees
  • Ministry of Defence personnel
  • University of York Alumni.

If you're a UK or EU resident you may be eligible for a UK Government postgraduate loan.

Enquire Contact our admissions tutors if you have any questions

Rachel McAllister (Admissions Manager)

Rachel McAllister (Admissions Manager)

Dr Enrico Reuter (Programme Director)

Dr Enrico Reuter (Programme Director)

Next steps

Apply now

Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)1904 322142