Accessibility statement

Professor Ellen Roberts

MA (Cantab)

  • Director of Online Studies
  • Programme Director - Online Masters of Public Administration
  • Chair, University Distance Learning Forum



  • 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 is Programme Director for the Department of Social Policy and Social Work’s 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 is currently leading the department’s work for Athena Swan, a national initiative to promote gender equality in higher education.


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

Publications and presentations

Slobodan, T., 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
Director of Online MA Programmes

Tel: 01904 32 1250

Twitter @YorkEllen