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MA Public Policy and Management (online)

Understand and influence how policies are made and how public services are managed

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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This course is ideal for professionals in the public sector, in not-for-profit organisations or in for-profit organisations involved in public policy or the delivery of public services.

You'll gain the knowledge and skills you need to analyse and influence how policies are made and implemented in an age of increasing complexity. You will develop your capacity to help your organisation operate more effectively in the delivery and management of public services within challenging environments.

This course will prepare you for more strategic roles. You will be able to apply your learning directly to your work and choose from a range of option modules to ensure you are learning about what is important to you.

The design of the course and the support provided mean that you will be able to balance the requirements of your studies with your work and other responsibilities.  

I deeply enjoyed the MA. The coursework was stimulating and the online platform and tutorial support were excellent, making it feasible to pursue the degree while working full time.
Kate Lancaster, Public Affairs and Communications, OECD

Global reputation

Our department is ranked 10th in the world and 4th in the UK (QS World Rankings by Subject 2020)

Global learning community

Our online mode of study means you will be working alongside your peers working in similar organisations around the world

Course content

This Masters course will develop your knowledge of public policy, so you will gain a better understanding of how policies are made and then implemented on the ground. You will also acquire skills in public management, and learn to analyse and influence how public services are run and how organisational change can be best managed.

The first year of the course will ensure you have a foundation in all key aspects of public policy and management. In your second year you can choose areas of study that are most interesting or most applicable to your own work

Towards the end of the course you will start to prepare for your dissertation which will allow you to explore an area of particular interest with support from a dedicated dissertation supervisor.

You can also study for a shorter period of time and graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma.


To graduate with a Masters degree, you will need to take 140 credits of taught modules and complete a dissertation worth 40 credits.

You will study these modules to a schedule. This will allow you to participate online with academics and fellow students from around the world.

Year one: foundation

In the first year you will study 80 credits with the following modules:

Year two: specialisation and dissertation

In your second year you will study a combination of taught modules and work on your dissertation. You will choose one of these modules:

You will then choose to study one of these modules:

You will also need to complete a dissertation, as well as modules designed to develop your professional and research skills:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


Throughout your studies your assignments will help you to apply theory to practice and to combine academic work with case studies or examples relevant to your work.

One of your taught modules, the Dissertation Workshop, will help you prepare for your dissertation. You will learn how to plan and schedule your independent literature-based research project. With the help of your dissertation supervisor you will work on finding the appropriate scope and focus for your project, and develop a workable structure. You will also receive feedback on draft chapters and guidance on conducting your literature review and any further research.

Your dissertation is worth 40 credits and will be 12,000 words long.

Previous dissertation titles have included:

  • Service delivery during crises: challenges in performance management at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • To what extent has decentralisation impacted on development and public service delivery in post-conflict Sierra Leone from 2004 to present?
  • Evidence and ideology in criminal justice policy-making in the UK: the role of the media
  • Is good governance achievable in fragile states? The role of civil society organisations in promoting good governance in South Sudan
  • The role of policy networks in the policy transfer process: the case of the World Bank Institute
  • How has the rise of New Public Management affected the professional development needs of school leaders?
  • An analysis of discourse, power and policy change in drug treatment in the UK 1997-present
  • The enabling and constraining factors that influence knowledge sharing in public organisations.

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:

  • Identify, assess and formulate responses to current challenges in public management and the delivery of public services, drawing on a critical understanding of continuities, change and reform in the public and non-profit sector.
  • Scrutinise the impact of multi-level and networked governance on public administration and the management of the non-profit sector.
  • Analyse and influence policy processes, drawing on an advanced understanding of the factors that shape policy decisions and that impact on policy success or failure.
  • Contribute to effective policy-making and public management in an era of globalisation by applying their understanding of the complex interplay between policy actors, public managers, political circumstances and socio-economic factors.
  • Communicate and collaborate as reflective and collegial practitioners in a digital networked world, by strengthening continuously their ability to reflect on their own professional and academic development.
  • Apply acquired specialised skills and in-depth knowledge from interdisciplinary scholarship in policy analysis and public management in order to independently research problems and identify solutions specific to their professional contexts.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home) / International and EU
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
Higher band fee. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
Part-time, distance learning (2 years)
This lower band fee applies to student based in developing countries, employers sponsoring more than one student per cohort, CIMA certified applicants, CIPFA members, City of York Council employees and Ministry of Defence personnel. Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Additional costs

All reading materials are available via the course’s Virtual Learning Environment and the university’s extensive online Library.

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 will study online and can therefore study from wherever you are. It should take you about 15 hours per week to complete all your reading and tasks. You can decide when you work on these weekly tasks; all activities can be completed around your schedule.

The three main kinds of activity you will be asked to do are:

  • reading the module texts written by our academic team and selected core articles (journal articles, book chapters, case studies)
  • joining online discussions with fellow students and the module tutor
  • working on individual tasks such as written exercises to receive feedback from your tutor or to contribute to group work.

There is also an opportunity in each module to take part in an optional 'live' seminar session with the module tutor and fellow students, to explore the module content or prepare for the assignment.

You will be supported by:

  • a module tutor who will facilitate the online discussion and offer individual support
  • a personal supervisor who will provide ongoing academic and pastoral support. You can approach your supervisor with queries on study skills and your progress
  • a dedicated support team who will be able to help you with administrative or technical enquiries.

Our distinctive approach.

Assessment and feedback

You will take part in exercises and other tasks as you progress through each module. This will allow you to receive feedback on your progress and understanding.

At the end of each 20 credit module you will complete an assignment. Normally this will be a 3,000 word assessment. For the 10 credit modules you will work on a shorter written piece or journal, or will complete a dissertation plan.

All the professors and tutors I have had the chance to interact with have shown a high professionalism and have been great facilitators for students. Because of their academic and personal support I could manage to do a full time job and studies in parallel.
Dorina, Albania

Careers and skills

This course is ideal for people working in the public and not-for-profit sectors as well as people working in for-profit organisations that deliver public services. It will allow you to develop the skills required for management in a large and complex organisation. You will also gain a thorough understanding of public policy so that you can analyse and influence policy-making and implementation.

Career opportunities

Almost all of our current students and alumni are in employment. They work in roles in:

  • local and national governments and their departments
  • international organisations and non-governmental organisations
  • other publicly funded organisations such as education and healthcare providers
  • charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Transferable skills

  • Policy analysis
  • Leadership skills
  • Designing, leading and managing change
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Public services management
  • Decision-making
  • Influencing and managing networks and partnerships
  • Reflective practice for ongoing professional development.
"I am so thankful to have found York and owe so much of my success to the program. I will never run out of great things to say. I truly would not be where I am today had I not embarked on the Public Policy and Management programme."
Rachel, Director, Policy Development and Coordination, Alberta Education

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other qualifications and experience If you don't have experience of undergraduate study we may consider your application if you have a suitable professional background
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You should have professional experience in the public service field. This could be in roles in local or national government, or in non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the voluntary and charitable sector, and private sector roles which support or deliver public services.

You will also need to have:

  • A computer in your home with an internet connection (minimum 0.5Mbps)
  • An office software suite compatible with Word and Excel formats.

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 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components

For more information see our English language requirements.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. 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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