Further your career in public sector management, guided by leading academics and practitioners.
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) at Ulster is the ideal programme for anyone working in a managerial or governance role in the public, voluntary or community sectors, who is keen to reach the next step in their career.
Designed to improve quality across the public services, this innovative course will enhance your leadership skills and effectiveness, ensuring you stand out in a competitive labour market.
Internationally-recognised, high quality research shapes our teaching. Throughout the programme, you will benefit from the extensive expertise of the academic team, as well as significant input from leading practitioners from across the civil service and public services.
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About this course
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Whether you want to further your learning or advance your career, the MPA is a flexible programme designed to work with your life.
Normally completed over two years, the course comprises nine modules and a project, delivered on a block-release basis. You also have the option to exit after four or eight modules with a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Public Administration.
Students come from a variety of roles and organisations across the public, voluntary and community sectors. This diversity adds to the learning experience. You will study alongside like-minded professionals and gain an invaluable insight into different organisations, while also developing your network.
Modules cover a broad range of topics relevant to public sector management and governance, and will help you hone your leadership and management skills.
You will develop a critical awareness and understanding of policy, management and organisations and explore the impact of various forces on organisations including political uncertainty, economic constraints, demands for greater efficiency and effectiveness and an increasing focus on outcome
You will also learn how to analyse and evaluate key public policies that impact on your organisation.
Career opportunities are excellent and graduates of the MPA currently work across a wide range of organisations in health, housing, education, local government, government agencies, civil services departments, police, non-departmental public bodies and many voluntary and community sector organisations.
4 day blocks for each taught module.
- September 2019
- January 2020
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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Normally a UK second class honours degree, or better, in any discipline or the equivalent of this for international students. Additionally, applicants should normally have gained at least 3 years’ relevant work experience in a supervisory or managerial position.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Teaching and learning assessment
Teaching support for each module is delivered in four-day blocks. The primary face-to-face mechanism for teaching and learning in most modules are interactive lectures, which facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information with students. Lectures are interactive as this befits the class of in-service public sector practitioners whose opinions and experiences are sought on the application of knowledge in their own organisations and the wider public sector. Lectures are therefore to be seen as a mix of formal teaching, seminar work where students are asked to work in groups on a task related to the module content, case studies and problem solving exercises. All modules are supported by on-line resources, which usually take the form of notes and reading.
Course work assignments are an essential part of the teaching and learning strategy; they take a variety of forms and are used to encourage students to read the literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and show that they have reflected upon and improved their own professional practice.
Exemptions and transferability
Students who have successfully completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Health & Social Care Management may be exempted for up to 120 credit points.
Students on the NICS Postgraduate Certificate in Public Administration who are successful may progress to complete the MPA having already collected 60 credits.
Careers & opportunities
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Our graduates are already employed but this qualification should enhance the prospects of further progression.
All members of the MPA teaching team are nationally or internationally recognized experts in their field as demonstrated by their publications, award of research grants and participation in academic networks. The teaching team are all actively engaged with government, local authorities, NGOs, the NHS and other major public service bodies. This takes the form of consultancy work, commissioned research and membership of advisory groups.In addition to work focused on the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, teaching staff have recently been engaged with research or policy advice in relation to public services in Ghana, Turkey, Israel and Kazakhstan.
Fees and funding
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Fees (total cost)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
Scholarships, awards and prizes
High performing students may be awarded the MPA with Distinction.
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Dr Karl O'Connor
Admissions Contact: Kerry Moran
For more information visit
This was a fascinating and intellectually stimulating course, which provided an excellent insight into both the theory and practice of public service. I benefitted significantly from access to the experience and expertise of lecturers and particularly the wide array of guest speakers. My ability to perform my job effectively has been enhanced by the knowledge and skills gained from my studies and I have also significantly increased my understanding of how, and why, wider government works as it does.
Patrick Savage, course participant, DARD.
The content of the course really resonated with me as an experienced policy lead in the NICS. It led me to think about why we do things and how, and indeed how we could do them better. The taught academic material was both interesting and thought provoking, and the lecturers were excellent and very accessible. We also had the benefit of hearing about the experiences of some really fantastic senior staff who participated in the course as visiting speakers from different spheres of the public sector, who willingly shared their knowledge and experience, warts and all, with us. I would highly recommend this course to colleagues.
Course participant, Grade 7, DHSSPS