Accessibility statement

Professor Ellen Roberts

MA (Cantab)

  • Emerita Professor



  • Public management
  • The management of change
  • Organisational learning
  • Project management
  • Governance

Brief Biography

After an initial career in the UK civil service, Ellen joined the University of York in the mid 1990s, to develop professional development programmes for public service professionals.

While in the Civil Service she had first-hand experience of the policy process in various roles as Assistant Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Security and through postings to the Cabinet Office. She also had direct experience of Parliament as a member of the team charged with taking through a major piece of mental health legislation.

At York she was for many years Director of Studies for the School for Business and Society. She created innovative online programmes for public service professionals, and received a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Award for this work in 2009. Her key interest is in enabling public service practitioners from diverse backgrounds to benefit from academically challenging and relevant professional programmes, and in the contribution that online learning communities and student support mechanisms can make to meeting this objective. She is also interested in organisational learning, and in the contribution that simultaneous work and study, via distance learning, can make to improving individual and organisational effectiveness.

She recently Chaired the Department’s Athena SWAN Self Assessment Team, leading to a Bronze Award in 2020. During 2020 she also Chaired the University’s Online Learning Expert Panel, set-up to advise the University on its transition to online learning in response to Covid-19.

Ellen is a trustee at York Archaeological Trust.


  • Masters of Public Administration
  • Masters of Public Administration (International Development)
  • MA in Public Policy and Management
  • MA in Social Policy

Publications and presentations

Tomic, S., Roberts, E. and Lund, J. 2020. Designing learning and teaching online: the role of discussion forums. 01 April. Advance HE [Online]. Available from:

Brooks, S. and Roberts, E. (2015) ‘Simultaneous Immersion’: How online postgraduate study contributes to the development of reflective practice among public service practitioners, Interactive Learning Environments. article (PDF , 483kb).

Roberts E and Lund J (2007) Exploring e-learning community in a global postgraduate programme, in Andrews, R. and Haythornthwaite, C. (eds) The Sage Handbook of E-Learning Research, London: Sage.

October 2011 (Beijing) “The role of distance learning in civil service training”, Chinese Academy of Governance International Conference.

Ellen Roberts

Contact details

Professor Ellen Roberts
Emeritus Professor
School for Business and Society

Twitter @YorkEllen