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MPA Comparative Applied Social and Public Policy, Evaluation and Research

Social and policy research coupled with comparative analysis that has an international dimension

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


21 months full-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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This Masters programme is ideal for mid-career professionals. You'll find the course useful if you work, or intend to work, with policy; either as an adviser, researcher, analyst or consultant.

You'll study a strongly international curriculum that is based around a combination of comparative social and public policy management and advanced research skills training. This course builds directly on our applied policy research expertise, both in the taught modules which draw heavily on our own research and in the practice-relevant activity that provides an opportunity to participate in ongoing policy research projects.

The School of Business & Society has one of the largest concentrations of social policy research in the UK. It is home to two specialist research units: the Social Policy Research Unit and the Centre for Housing Policy.

Global Reputation

York is ranked 7th in the UK and =28th in the world for Social Policy and Administration

QS World Rankings by Subject 2023

Course content

This is a 21-month course that specialises in social and public policy analysis and social research. You'll focus on comparative cross-national and international policy. You'll also spend time analysing policy development and policy lessons from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states.

The first half of this Masters of Public Administration (MPA) will enable you to study and explore a combination of comparative social policy and public management. In the second half you'll get advanced research skills training. You'll undertake practice related activities including small group activities that will expose you to applied policy research in practice with the support of a learning mentor.


Year 1

You'll study modules in your first year that will introduce you to the concepts and techniques you'll use later in the course. You'll also build on your knowledge with a series of masterclasses and your own policy analysis. 

Core Modules

Option Modules

You will also study three option modules. Previous modules have included:

Year 2

In your second year you'll study modules that build advanced research skills and allow you to deepen your understanding of applied social and public policy. 

Core Modules

Option Modules

You will also study one option module. Previous modules have included:

Executive masterclasses and professional learning

Throughout the programme you will undertake a series of masterclasses and engage in portfolio-based learning, including group projects, conference attendance and professional networking.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


You'll work on two independent projects that will be assessed as part of your course.

During Autumn Semester in your second year you will complete a structured scoping review of up to 10-12,000 words.  You will select a policy or delivery issue that relates to your own professional interests and use scoping methods to assess the evidence base.

Towards the end of your second year you'll undertake an Applied Policy Transfer Project in which you'll be able to specialise on a specific policy issue in which you'll explore cross-national evidence to identify policy solutions that may be transferred from one country to another.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Engage and inform policy discussions at local, national, cross-national and global levels through ensuring students have in-depth knowledge of key theories and analytical methods on social and public policy analysis.
  • Identify and synthesise theories and concepts from multiple disciplines and critically apply them to real world contexts to contribute to the informed construction of social and public policy responses to social needs.
  • Effectively design policy research projects drawing on appropriate research theory and methods; retrieve, generate and interpret relevant primary and secondary data, digital resources and work within appropriate ethical codes of conduct and data protection laws. 
  • Communicate research findings and policy analyses authoritatively to specialist and informed audiences in ways that balance academic rigour and accessible presentation of complex information.
  • Reflect on their own independent learning experience by conducting and facilitating the management of an applied policy transfer project and scoping project that would require them to analyse policy context, devise policy strategies and take into account multiple and multilevel interests.
  • Work effectively in teams, with sensitivity to the individual perspectives, organisational positions and institutional dynamics of peers and other actors, and recognition of their own subjective positions.
  • Critically apply knowledge and skills to the pursuit of social progress beyond the local and domestic policy-making context as active and participatory citizens.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home) / International and EU
Full-time (21 months)
The fee for the second year of this programme will be charged at 70% of the continuation fee.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

There are no mandatory additional fees. Books recommended for reading will be available from the Library, but you may wish to buy your own copies. Each book typically costs £30.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Each CASPPER student is given an individualised training budget of £400. This is spent on additional training and conference travel during the Programme (activities are agreed with their learning mentor).

Other funding

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll attend lectures, usually in groups no larger than 30 students, and often with much fewer. You'll also take part in group seminars and hands-on workshops. You will attend a series of masterclasses that explore issues such as research communication, organisational culture, behavioural insights for social and public policy, and  policy evaluation in detail.

You'll have support from a learning mentor throughout the course who will work with you on a one-to-one basis through the course and who will help to advise on professional learning activities.

You'll also be able to attend the School's lectures and University lectures featuring visiting speakers from across the world.

Teaching location

You'll be based in the School of Business & Society in the Church Lane Building on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place nearby.



About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

Your assessment will be continuous and based mainly on essays and reports. You will receive written feedback on all assessed work.

Careers and skills

This course is ideal for mid-career professionals that aim to work in, or already work in, social or public policy.

Career opportunities

  • Public policy analyst
  • Researcher
  • Diplomatic Service officer
  • Senior policy advisor
  • Civil servant
  • Local government manager

Transferable skills

  • Advanced research and analysis skills
  • Qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Critical appraisal
  • Presentation and dissemination of research

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
International pre-masters programme Pre-masters from our International Pathway College
Other qualifications and experience You will also be considered if you have relevant work experience and academic potential
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You'll need at least three years professional experience in a public sector or NGO setting.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
Cambridge CEFR B2 First: 176, with 169 in each component
Oxford ELLT 7, minimum of 6 in each component
Duolingo 120, minimum 105 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT B2 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 70 with a minimum of 65 in each component
KITE 459-494, with 426-458 in all other components
Skills for English B2: Merit overall, with Pass with Merit in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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