MPA Master of Public Administration with Applied Study

Duration Full time 21 months
  • Politics and International Relations
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September


The MPA with Applied Studies is relevant whether you are working in local, regional, or central government, or for a charity or public-private partnership. It addresses some of the key issues facing the public sector such as effective leadership, anticipating and responding to change, performance management, governance and ethical practice and sustainability,

Run by the Department of Politics with expertise from the University of Exeter Business School, it draws on the work of academics who have an impressive reputation for research and whose ideas are published around the world. We have a long history of working with ministries and national governments, and members of our team have been involved with organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank, European Commission, Competition Commission, the Department of Work and Pensions, the OECD and the Treasury.

Our flexible modular programme, block teaching and excellent resources are designed to meet the needs of both those studying full-time and busy professionals aiming to manage part-time study with full-time employment.

While equipping you with core skills, the MPA with Applied Studies will provide you with the opportunity to research and seek solutions to issues and challenges you face in the workplace. You will also have the option to choose from topics such as such as leadership, change management, regulation, public policy, sustainability or project management. The involvement of leading practitioners from the public and private sector, together with real-life case studies, will make sure learning is relevant and informed by best practice.

On completion of the programme you will have an understanding of strategies for delivering public services effectively, efficiently and ethically and have gained an understanding of the comparative social, historical and financial context of public administration and public sector organisations. You will know how public policies are developed, implemented and evaluated in different systems and countries around the world.

Programme structure

The Exeter MPA with Applied Studies is studied over 21 months (full time) and is University-based throughout the period. The programme comprises 240 credits in total: taught modules worth at least 180 credits in total, and a supervised dissertation worth 60 credits.

The first year consists of a mixture of two core modules which provide the theoretical foundation for the degree; four optional modules enabling you to specialise in areas of interest; and a dissertation.

The second year consists of one MPA Applied Studies core module with 60 credits. The module aims to deepen your understanding of how research and evidence can be used to inform public administration practice, whilst acknowledging the political, practical and professional challenges of doing so. You will apply knowledge gained in term 1 seminars to assist you in completion of your report in term 2. Support and supervision is provided in preparing a 10,000 word report on a specific topic agreed with your employers. The intention is to support you in your ability to conduct independent research and policy analysis that will be of benefit to your professional practice. The module coordinator will assist in setting up/supervising your policy analysis activity, where appropriate linked to work placements.

In addition to registration for the full MPA (180 credits) it is possible to register on this programme on a modular basis. If a student passes the two core modules plus one of the directed modules (60 credits), the award of Postgraduate Certificate of Public Administration may be awarded. If a student passes the two core modules plus four of the directed modules (120 credits), a Postgraduate Diploma of Public Administration may be awarded.

Year 1

Year 2

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Learning and teaching

Based on an ethos of active learning through interactive teaching and learning methods, it aims to encourage the link between theory and real life practice.

Depending on your choice of options, either the majority or your entire course will be delivered in intensive teaching blocks.

Intensive modules will consist of:

  • Preparation period of one week (guided readings and preparatory research)
  • 3-4 days of intensive seminars, lectures/talks, experiments/simulations and workshops
  • Post-teaching period (reflection, task completion, preparation of assessed work)
  • Fast marking turn-around with individual feedback.

The content and delivery of the MPA will include not only traditional teaching methods, such as lectures, seminars and workshops, but depending on your choice of modules may involve:

  • Task-oriented work including case-study work
  • The use of computer networked experiments, simulations or models
  • The use of reflective journals and the negotiation of learning contracts
  • Presentations from visiting speakers such as senior civil servants, chief executives, leading consultants and public figures
  • Field trips to local, regional and national public bodies such as the Welsh Assembly.

You will benefit from excellent online learning resources including lecture notes, articles, and presentations. Students and staff also participate in online discussion forms, which are particularly helpful when preparing an assessed piece of work or working remotely. Work can also be submitted and marked online.

The programme includes an induction to introduce you to the Exeter MPA and help you adjust to postgraduate study. We will provide practical help and advice on subjects such as study and research skills and time management and be available to answer any of your questions. You will have the chance get to know the academic team and your fellow students in a relaxed and informal environment.

You will also have the opportunity to practise reflective learning and consider your professional development at key stages throughout the MPA.


The need to develop management and leadership skills is being recognised as increasingly important within the public sector and this has been reflected by the introduction of management competencies and a growing demand for formal qualifications for senior management positions.

The MPA is a qualification which is recognised around the world and is taken seriously not only by prospective employers but also by organisations who want to retain and progress skilled managers.

There are many reasons to study for the Exeter MPA including:

  • Enhancing your opportunities for career progression
  • Making you stand out in a competitive job market 
  • Obtaining a wider perspective of the environment in which you work
  • Obtaining a personal sense of achievement 
  • Developing strategic decision making and leadership skills 
  • Improving your confidence and credibility in the workplace
  • Gaining more knowledge about other people and other organisations
  • Networking and sharing experiences with public sector colleagues.

We have a long history of teaching public administration and public policy to postgraduates at Exeter. Students have gone on to careers in regional governments, ministries, embassies and other organisations around the world.

Entry requirements


A good Honours Degree (2:1 or above) and experience of working at a managerial level in a public sector organisation. While we normally only accept applicants who meet this criteria, if you have a 2:2 or equivalent, are coming from a different academic background which is equivalent to degree level, or have relevant work experience or professional qualifications, we would welcome your application.

Individuals who do not meet the criteria may be required to submit examples of work or to participate in an interview.

Candidates for the MPA with Applied Study must have proof of employment in and sponsorship from a public sector organisation. Entry to this programme will be agreed between the University and the sponsoring organisation.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.


Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

Prospective students enrolling in 2020/21 will pay £25,000 tuition fees in total.

  • Year 1: £18,875
  • Year 2: £6,125 (9 months)

University funding

The funding section has information on all available Scholarships, Bursaries and Studentships open to prospective students of taught Masters programmes. You can also use the searchable database of all Scholarships and Bursaries to find funding for which you are eligible.

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. You will also be required to pay a tuition fee deposit to secure your offer of a place, unless you qualify for exemption. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

UK government postgraduate loan scheme

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,609 are now available for Masters degrees. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Global Excellence Scholarship

We are delighted to offer Global Excellence Scholarships for students of outstanding academic quality applying to postgraduate Taught programmes starting in autumn 2020.
Please note that this scholarship isn't offered for all our masters programmes.

Contact us

If you have any queries about the Exeter MPA or studying at Exeter we would be happy to hear from you.

Contact us via our enquiry form

By phone

College of Social Sciences and International Studies Postgraduate taught enquiries

Phone: +44 (0)1392 723192

International Office

Phone: +44 (0)1392 723405

Employers and sponsors

Employer benefits

A key strength of the Exeter MPA is its ability to match learning outcomes to your organisational objectives. The range of opportunities offered by the core and elective modules allows participants to plot a course which best matches your immediate business priorities as well as individuals’ professional development needs. As a sponsor, your organisation will benefit from:

  • a training programme which has been rigorously assessed and awarded a place to supply the UK public sector by the Crown Commercial Service (formerly Buying Solutions)
  • access to the latest ideas and innovation from a team of experts whose experience includes consultancy to national governments and organisations like the United Nations, World Bank, European Commission, Competition Commission and the Treasury
  • increased knowledge and skills relevant to management competencies such as strategic thinking, effective communication, leadership, negotiation and influencing, working with others, planning and organising
  • a greater understanding of key skills that underpin the requirements of modernising public sector organisations, including policy analysis, evaluation, use of evidence, problem solving, communication and the management of change
  • enhanced knowledge and skills in strategic financial management and delivering efficiencies
  • best practice solutions to issues faced by public sector organisations in the UK and overseas.

Working together

We are keen to work with you to help you and your managers get the best out of the Exeter MPA and have a good track record of collaborating with sponsors and employers.

We have worked successfully with national and regional government departments to provide training to groups of middle and senior managers. Our expertise in this area includes teaching public administration to cohorts of students from government bodies in Korea and Turkey, in addition to arranging bespoke training on specific issues such as auditing and ethics.

We have experience of delivering continuous professional development programmes to organisations such as the armed forces, police service and education authorities. We also have experience of catering for individual students who have been sponsored by employers such as local government, the emergency services and the not-for-profit sector. 

We aim to take a flexible approach to programme delivery and will be happy to discuss any specific requirements such as:

  • agreeing learning outcomes
  • negotiating work-based projects to deliver business improvements
  • tailoring assessment around specific management competencies
  • on-site training
  • single module delivery or bespoke training
  • competitive fee packages for groups of students from the same employer

International students

The Exeter MPA is multi-national programme and welcomes students from around the world.

The University campus provides a safe and friendly environment for study with easy access to the city of Exeter and some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the UK within easy reach. The College of Social Sciences and International Studies has around 450 international students while students on the MPA have come from countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Sudan, and Israel as well as the UK.

International Office

Staff in the University’s International Office will be happy to advise you about any aspect of living and studying at the University of Exeter, including the suitability of your existing academic qualification and English language proficiency.


We can guarantee a place in University accommodation to all new unaccompanied international postgraduates from outside the EU in their first year of study and attending for the full academic year, provided that their applications for accommodation and deposit are received by our deadline.

English language requirements

Please see entry requirements for more details. 

English language support

The INTO University of Exeter Centre offers Academic English and intensive pre-sessional English summer courses, designed for students who need to improve their ability in English and study skills before they start their degree programme. The Centre also offers non-credit bearing in-sessional support courses including writing tutorials, grammar workshops and oral communication classes throughout the year. These are available, free of charge, to students who meet the minimum English language entry requirements but wish to continue to improve their academic English skills.

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