PG Certificate in Policy, Management and Governance

This programme is not currently recruiting new students

An online study programme

This Postgraduate Certificate programme is the shared foundation stage of both the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) and Masters in Public Policy and Management (MA).  It can also be studied simply as a Postgraduate Certificate award.  Once complete, students wishing to progress to the Masters award continue onto either the Public Administration or Public Policy and Management route.  Further details of the full Masters awards can be found here for the MPA and here for the MA.

The programme will enable you to actively reflect upon and analyse your own experiences within the wider organisational 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.

The programme starts once each year.

  • Next Course start date: 6th May 2016
  • Application deadline: 28th February 2016.  


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, 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 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
  • 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)


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

Governance and Public Administration

  • What is 'governance'?
  • How do public institutions, society and markets interact in shaping public policies and services?
  • How has globalisation affected state governance in different parts of the world?
  • What is the relationship between good governance, institutional capacity, accountability and public service delivery? 

Policy Analysis and Process

  • How is policy made, who influences the policy agenda and what issues affect policy 'success' and 'failure'?
  • What can we learn from how difference countries approach similar policy problems?

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 10-15 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

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 UK Home Office) you will need to show evidence that you meet the University's English language requirements. If you have any queries about your need for a language certificate please contact for advice.

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

You may wish to simply study this Certificate award.

However, upon completion you may wish to proceed to the next level and move onto the Diploma or Masters award. This Certificate allows you to move onto either the Masters of Public Administration or Masters in Public Policy and Management.

Masters of Public Administration MPA

Masters in Public Policy and Management MA


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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

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