Public Administration - MPA

2025/26 Part-time Postgraduate course

Award:

Master of Public Administration

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences

Campus:

Belfast campus

Start date:

September 2025

Overview

Further your career in public sector management, guided by leading academics and practitioners.

Summary

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.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

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 eight modules (one of which is double), delivered on a block-release basis. You also have the option to exit after four or six 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.

There is also an opportunity to study at one of our partner universities in the European Master of Public Administration 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.

Module Code - Module Title - Year

PUP709 - Public Administration & Governance - 1

PUP816 - Strategic Leadership - 1

PUP802 - Policy Analysis - 1

PUP892 - Applied Government - 1

PUP801 - Policy Co-Design & Policy Evaluation - 2

PUP712 - Comparative Public Administration - 2

PUP711 - Research Methods & Skills - 2

PUP713 - Dev Collaborative Policy Solutions (double module) - 2

Attendance

Modules are taught over four day blocks spread over the academic year.

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching is in presence. Assessment is normally based on coursework and projects.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Belfast campus

Accommodation

High quality apartment living in Belfast city centre adjacent to the university campus.

Find out more - information about accommodation (Opens in a new window)  


Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

Find out more - information about student wellbeing (Opens in a new window)  

Standard entry conditions

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.

Entry Requirements

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 in the UK or Irish civil service.

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.

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

In this section

Career options

Our graduates are already employed but this qualification should enhance the prospects of further progression.

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

2025/26 Fees

Postgraduate fees are subject to annual review, 2025/26 fees will be announced in due course.

See our tuition fees page for the current fees for 2024/25 entry.

Scholarships, awards and prizes

High performing students may be awarded the MPA with Distinction.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.

Testimonials

“Effective policy making has made and continues to make a real difference to the people of Northern Ireland. The collaboration between Northern Ireland Civil Service and Ulster University in delivering The Postgraduate Certificate has been very successful. Specifically it provides current and future policy makers with the necessary skills to fulfil their role, inspiring them to get involved in seeking out new, innovative approaches to support positive future outcomes.”
Course Participant, DAERA

“The combination of academic theory and practical skills, along with the ability to take some time away from the office, provides a unique opportunity to take a step back in order to test theories and inform practice. The interactive nature of the course and the chance to hear from senior civil servants provides a valuable insight into the realities and challenges of policy development. The course is challenging but the benefits reach far beyond the classroom.”
Course Participant, DoJ

“…the content provided by lecturers and external speakers, as well as the in-class discussions, helped me develop a better understanding of the machinations of government and the policy-making process. The assignments also encouraged us to consider a variety of theoretical models and procedures, and it was interesting to learn how this knowledge could be applied in future.”
Course Participant, DfC

“Participating in the Post Graduate Certificate in Public Administration provided a unique opportunity to put a structured framework around policy and test practice against theory. The theory, whilst heavy going at times, was brought to life through robust and lively class discussions and the assignments gave us a chance to explore the dynamics of policy-making in a way you would not have the opportunity to do in work. Fitting in the reading and meeting deadlines was tough but having access to experts in the field, both academic and practitioner, made it more than worthwhile. I thoroughly enjoyed all four modules and would recommend this course to anyone interested in policy-making.”
Course Participant, DoJ

“Whilst the PGC is, at times, daunting, it is a wholly enjoyable experience. The course requires time and dedication, but the quality of teaching and the wide range of guest speakers and their applied learning ensures that you are engaged throughout. I would highly recommend the PGC course, particularly for those involved in policy design and implementation.”
Course Participant, DfC

“….I found the course extremely interesting and worthwhile. The mixture of lectures grounded in academic theory and supplemented by the experiences of senior officials brings a very interesting and insightful dimension to the course. Whilst I found keeping on top of the reading challenging at times, I have gained a comprehensive knowledge of academic policy theories along with a greater general awareness of how government works and the challenges faced in policy making, all of which will benefit my day-to-day work.”
Course Participant, DfI (NISRA)