Accessibility statement

Professional development for public managers


Career Development image

We will work with you to support the development of your staff through our menu of study options and by tailoring what we offer to your specific needs.  Our courses offer you the following benefits:

  • Flexibility: studying online means that there is no time lost from the workplace.  Just as importantly, it means that participants can apply their learning and insights immediately to their current roles.
  • Value for money: we have transformed the way in which employees study in order to maximise their learning while minimising the impact on their time and costs.
  • Skills development directly related to the current challenges facing the public and non-profit sectors.
  • A range of options from short courses to qualifications at Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters level.  Credits gained from short courses can be banked towards qualifications.
  • A course team that includes practitioners with extensive experience in public service at senior levels, as well as experts in the subject matter and in online learning 
  • An approach to online learning which emphasises student support and collaborative learning.
  • Networking opportunities: as well as connecting to other students on their course from a wide variety of similar organisations in the UK and around the world, our students have are members of the University's distance learning community where they can interact with many other online learners, join professional networks and benefit from mentoring opportunities for their future professional development.
  • Reputation and robustness: our online courses have an excellent reputation, acquired over more than ten years, for first-rate student support and excellent results.  The Department of Social Policy and Social Work is one of the leading UK centres for teaching and research and for the professional development of public managers.  The University of York is one of the world's leading universities and is one of just six post-war universities to have appeared in the world top 100.


What we offer

Skills development

We offer skills development directly related to the current challenges facing the public and non-profit sectors:

  • Working in turbulent, demanding environments
  • Managing complexity and ambiguity
  • Leading and influencing change, both within organisations and in policy agendas
  • Self-management: we encourage independent and critical thinking, creativity and personal responsibility for managing and developing oneself
  • Communication: participants engage with others from a range of backgrounds and cultures, and develop listening, persuading, negotiating and reflective skills
  • Digital literacy: skills in communicating via digital channels and an understanding of the issues and challenges involved in e-government
  • Cultural and global awareness: our courses provide opportunities to study alongside others from a range of organisational, sectoral and national backgrounds

A range of options

We offer a range of options, from short courses to qualifications at Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters level. Employees can enrol either individually or in groups from the same organisation.  Employees who enrol individually gain from sharing insights with a tutorial group drawn from a wide range of public and non-profit organisations.  Employees who enrol in groups gain from studying together as a cohort who can take their learning back into their organisation as a group.

The main options offered are listed below:  

Single modules which can be studied either for credit (bankable towards one of our qualifications). Individual students can study alongside our wider student body or modules can be arranged for a group of staff from the same employer to study together

Masters programmes which consist of between six and eight modules and an Independent Study Project (which can be geared towards a current organisational issue or problem):

Public Policy and Management (MA) 

Public Administration (MPA)  

Public Administration - International Development (MPA)

Social and Public Policy (MA) 

Bespoke courses

In addition, we can: 

  • Work with you to tailor a course to meet your organisation's needs
  • Select a number of courses to create a pathway specifically for your organisation, and leading to a bespoke qualification
  • Combine online study with face to face study workshops at the University of York

Why online?

Part-time flexible learning

We know that taking time out of employment in order to study full-time is not a practical option for most of us. We also know that part-time study can be disruptive in terms of its fixed class times and time lost to travel. It also limits networking opportunities to those who live near enough to attend.

We offer a professional and personal online mode of study that is designed with the needs of the learner at its heart. Just as professionalising public service delivery is at the forefront of the drive to modernise public services, so we have transformed the way in which employees can study in order to maximise their learning whilst minimising the impact on their time and costs.  

Each module of study consists of nine weekly units which are studied in small groups of up to 15 people, each a practising manager, under the personal tuition of an expert in the subject.  Each week we discuss key aspects of the topic, with flexibility to study and to contribute at any time within the week, and from a web connection that may be at home, in the office, at an airport, or outdoors on a field trip.

Employers and sectors

What type of organisation do our students work for? 

  • Government departments and agencies
  • Local government
  • Health service organisations
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Charities
  • Private sector and not for profit consultancies
  • International and inter-governmental organisations

A selection of roles which our current students and alumni have held

  • Policy Capacity Lead, Canada
  • Economic Development Officer, Scotland
  • Chief Executive, Housing Association
  • Programme Officer, UNICEF
  • Coordinator, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • Head of Human Rights Education, National Human Rights Commission
  • Senior Associate, Government and Public Sector Consultancy
  • Chief Executive, national charity
  • Business Analyst, Government Digital Service
  • Office of Federal Attorney
  • Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • Programme Assistant, World Bank
  • Deputy Regional Representative, Medecins sans Frontiers

Where are our students from?

We have a very wide geographical reach with students in almost 70 countries worldwide creating a truly international learning community within the modules.  A short summary of some of our most densely populated student countries: Afghanistan, Canada, France, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, UK, USA.

Case studies

Examples of partnerships with employers

Department for Work and Pensions

We developed a tailored version of the MA in Public Policy and Management for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which combined online study with face to face workshops for cohorts of managers drawn from across the department. 

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education 

LFHE logo

The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education commissioned us to develop a five-week online course as a contribution to the Foundation's Governor Development programme - a programme of events designed to support those who sit on university governing bodies. ‌

Our online course, 'Rethinking Governance,' was designed to support recently-appointed governors, and all those who wanted to refresh their understanding of the current 'big picture' within higher education and its implications for governance and leadership.

Participants commented as follows:

"Even as an experienced governor in HE, I found the course interesting and challenging.  It was particularly helpful to have the opportunity to stand back and reflect on the key issues in the wider context (something that there often isn't time to do during the regular meeting cycle) and to discuss them with fellow governors from other HEIs."

"All new HEI governors should participate on the 'Rethinking Governance' course, it provides an in depth foundation to the issues facing HEIs and contextualises them from both the executive and governance perspectives."

Alumni thoughts

Below are some short films of our alumni talking about how they found the programme and the impact of their studies on the workplace:

Ifeoma - alumni film‌  Alison Anderson Alumni Video‌  Alumni talking about programme

Contact us

Find out more

To find out more about what we offer, or to discuss how we can work with you to support your organisation's staff development agenda, please contact us:

Helen Story

Admissions Administrator


Phone: +44 1904 321228