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Our Master of Public Administration (MPA) equips modern public managers and policy-makers with the skills needed to make a decisive contribution to contemporary governance and policy.

The research-led MPA is delivered jointly by experts from the School of Media, Culture & Society and the School of Business & Enterprise, and combines a rigorous social science focus on:

  • Governance
  • Public administration
  • Public policy and politics
  • Public sector management and strategy

The MPA combines the study of political science and public policy with leading edge scholarship in public sector management and strategy. It reflects reflects the changing nature of the policy-maker or public manager’s role and an increase in demand for skills development in policy analysis, public administration and management, and evaluation. Emphasising public policy and governance as well as the traditional business and strategy focus, the MPA will enable you to make a decisive contribution in a range of relevant fields.

Modular Delivery

The MPA is offered as a full master's degree, but modules can also be followed individually and used to contribute to a post graduate diploma (120 credits) or post graduate certificate (60 credits).

Explanation of PG Certificate in Conference Management Course | University of the West of Scotland
This MPA is unique because it combines the applied skills of policy analysis and evaluation with a focus on resilience, crisis management, and communication. How uncertainties, risks, disasters, and crises are managed is a major determinant as to whether organisations prosper or fail. Students will be taught and supervised by experts in the field of public policy, politics and crisis management. This research-led and flexible programme and will appeal to individuals who are employed in the public and third sectors and to those aspiring to have future careers within these sectors.

Professor John Connolly, UWS School of Media, Culture & Society

UWS Student on Part-Time Study Learning New Skills | University of the West of Scotland

Key features

  • Focus on understanding public management, leadership and administration within a global and comparative context
  • Opportunity to develop expertise in the area of public management, public leadership, public administration, and governance that interests you
  • Emphasis on public sector innovation, improvement and evaluation in the context of multi-level governance
  • Opportunity to combine learning with existing work experieince makes the MPA ideal if you have an appropriate professional background
  • Employability and career-relevant content through innovative learning and assessment

The MPA equips you for employment in a number of sectors, particularly (but not exclusively) within the public sector and civil service.

International Focus

The MPA is international in its focus and is both research-led and inter-disciplinary in nature. It has been developed with internationalisation and key global themes at the core as a major driver for evaluating content and delivery.

Practicality Built-in

Throughout the course, our academics enable you to build links with our existing partners through the Oxfam partnership and with wider civil society and public sector bodies. The course offers you the opportunity to enhance your CV by undertaking a practice-based project as part of your final dissertation in collaboration with a public or third sector organisation.

The lecturers not only present theory; they all have great depths of practical experience they readily share and this adds a great sense of reality to all the lectures. The course has the perfect balance between business and social science, theory and practice. I would highly recommend this course to everyone working in or considering a career in the public sector.

Kevin Limond, 2017-18 MPA cohort


Entry Requirements

What qualifications do you need?

We welcome Scottish, UK and international students and consider all applicants on an individual basis.

Don’t worry if your qualifications are not listed here, we take a range of factors into account when assessing your application and are happy to consider other alternative combinations of qualifications and experience

If you are applying with an EU or non-EU qualification, please check our Postgraduate Entry Requirements page which gives more information about country-specific entry requirements.


Academic Requirements

You should hold a relevant Honours degree (or equivalent) at second class lower division (2:2) or above. Relevant subjects include: Social Science, Business, Health, Law or Social Work.

Applications will also be considered from those with a degree in another discipline or other professional training or experience relevant to the programme at the discretion of the Course Leader.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for most courses

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level. The qualifications below must have been gained within two years of the start of your course.

General English language requirements at UWS: International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.0
  • no sub-test less than 5.5

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII with the minimum of a Pass in all sub-tests
  • PTE Pearson Academic English: An overall score of 54 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5). An overall score 61 with no element below 51 (for programmes that require IELTS 6.5 with no element below 6.0)


IELTS Score Exceptions (Research degrees, Nursing & Midwifery degrees with NMC registration, Certificate of Higher Education, etc.)

For our research degrees (MRes, MPhil, PhD, DBA, DProf), applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0

For Health, Nursing & Midwifery courses that lead to professional registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council, applicants are required to have an IELTS or Occupational English Test (OET)*.

For such courses, the IELTS score is as follows:

  • overall score of 7.0
  • score of at least 7.0 in reading, listening and speaking and no less than 6.5 in writing

* Note that the Occupational English Test (OET) will now be accepted in addition to IELTS as proof of a Nurse's English Language Competence (Nursing & Midwifery Council, 2019). 

For our Certificate of Higher Education courses, applicants are required to have an IELTS score as follows:

  • overall score of 5.0
  • no sub-test less than 4.5



TOEFL IBT*: 78; no sub-test less than:

  • Reading: 17;
  • Listening: 17;
  • Speaking: 17;
  • Writing: 17

* Please note that TOEFL is still acceptable for admission to this programme for both home/EU and international students.
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use TOEFL to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level courses. We therefore still accept TOEFL tests taken in the last two years for admission to this programme.


West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE)

West African Senior School Certificate of Education (WASSCE) including acceptance of WAEC Scratchcard*

  • C6 or above in English

*UWS will accept a WAEC scratchcard confirming that an applicant has achieved C6 or above as evidence of meeting English language requirement from Nigeria if the student graduated within the last 5 years. After 5 years applicants would be required to provide the WAEC Certificate.


Pre-sessional courses

Applicants who do not meet the minimum English language requirements have the option to study one of our preparatory and pre-sessional English courses. The UWS courses available are:

    • 10 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.0 with no element below 4.5.
    • 5 week pre-sessional - entry criteria UKVI IELTS 5.5 with no element below 5.5.
    • English Language for University Study - entry criteria UKVI IELTS with score of 4.0 in all elements (10 month course), or 4.5 with no score below 4.0 (7 month course).

Find out more about our English lanaguage Courses.

Course details

You will complete five core 20-credit modules and a further one optional module for the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip). This ensures that all students can pursue their chosen specialisms on solid intellectual and disciplinary foundations. You will then complete your MPA by carrying out an extended research project dissertation.

For the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) stage, you will study the following core modules:

  • Comparative Governance & Public Admin (core, 20 credits)
  • Public Service Management (core, 20 credits)
  • Research Methods in MCS (core, 20 credits)
  • Policy Analysis & Practice (core, 20 credits)
  • Public Service Performance Management (core, 20 credits)

To complete the PgDip stage, you will select one, 20 credit modules from the following options:

  • Global Crisis Management (optional, 20 credits)
  • Power, Politics & Civil Society (optional, 20 credits)

Successful completion of the PgDip allows you to proceed to the master's module:

  • MSc Social Sciences Dissertation (60 credits)

The master's dissertation gives you the opportunity to specialise in an area of public policy, leadership, administration and governance that interests you, while under academic supervision. You will also have the opportunity to enhance your CV by undertaking a work-based project as part of your final dissertation with a partner organisation (eg. NGOs, campaign groups, public agencies, third sector organisations, etc.).

Teaching & Assessment

Students complete five taught core modules plus one option, followed by an extended research dissertation. You will be taught and assessed through a combination of:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Exams
  • Essays

A recognised innovative feature of our course is the possibility of carrying out a work-based dissertation as well as integrating policy practitioners’ perspectives into the module delivery.


  • Scheduled learning: 16%
  • Independent study: 84%
  • Placement: 0%


  • Exam: 0%
  • Practical: 0%
  • Coursework: 100%

Course Structure

Find out more about the structure, learning outcomes, compulsory and optional modules in this course.

Master of Public Administration (MPA)Course Structure 

Postgraduate Tuition Fees

Class-based (Scottish campuses) 2019/20

Scottish & EU

£5,500 per year of study

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£5,500 per year of study

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£5,500 per year of study

International (Non-EU)

£12,600 per year of study

More on current & future tuition fees

Module Fee: Class-based (Scottish campuses) 2019/20

Scottish & EU

£790 per module (20 credits)

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£790 per module (20 credits)

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£790 per module (20 credits)

International (Non-EU)

£2,000 per module (20 credits)

More on current & future tuition fees

Postgraduate fees for this course delivery in Paisley 2020/21

Scottish & EU

£6,500 cost of study

English, Northern Irish & Welsh

£6,500 cost of study

Channel Islands & Isle of Man

£6,500 cost of study

International (Non-EU)

£13,000 cost of study

More on current & future tuition fees

Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) postgraduate tuition fee and living cost loans may be available for eligible (Scottish/EU) students. Check SAAS website for more information.

Additional Costs & Sources of Funding

The cost of attending university is an investment in your future career.

In addition to tuition fees and living expenses, some courses involve extra costs like study materials, field trips, equipment and uniforms.

Fortunately, there is a great deal of financial support available to help students meet the cost of their study. This ranges from:

  • statutory government loans to pay for tuition fees
  • scholarships for Scottish, EU and International (non-EU) students
  • bursaries to help towards living expenses

The sections below provide details of additional costs that your course may involve along with any financial support that may be available.

You can also find additional information in our Postgraduate Money, Fees & Funding section.

Additional Costs

Students on certain degrees will incur some additional costs not covered by their tuition fees. These could be for things like specialist equipment, study materials, work placements, graduation, membership of relevant organisations or costs related to carrying out fieldwork.

For students on course with an element of fieldwork, there may also be extra costs for travel and accommodation.

Please contact the course leader for details of the additional costs associated with this course.

Tuition Fees & Living Cost Support

Tuition Fees & Additional Costs

Tuition fees are calculated based on where you are from and what you are studying. Some courses also involve additional costs, such as mandatory field trips, equipment or studying abroad.

Find out how much it will cost you to study at UWS as a postgraduate student.

Funding for Scottish Students

Scottish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for English, Welsh & Norther Irish Students

English, Welsh and Northern Irish students studying at postgraduate level at UWS are entitled to various funds and support towards tuition fees and living costs.

Find out more.

Funding for EU Students

EU students studying at postgraduate level of UWS may be eligible for SAAS funding, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find our more.

Funding for International Students

There are several scholarship and incentive schemes available to international students studying at postgraduate level at UWS, as well as support to meet the costs of childcare and various sources of additional funding.

Find out more.

Other Financial Support

Discretionary & Childcare Funds

UWS administer a range of discretionary and childcare funds. These are designed to support students who are experiencing financial difficulty or struggling to meet the costs of childcare.

Find out more.

Benefits & Tax Credits

Becoming a student can have an impact on your entitlement to certain benefits. It may mean you are no longer eligible to claim a benefit you have been receiving, or your new income from student funding may affect the amount you are able to receive.

Find out more.

Additional Financial Support

If there isn’t a statutory source of funding for you or your course, or you are in need of additional financial support, you may wish to consider more alternative sources of funding such as trust funds and scholarships.

Find out more.

Money & Debt Advice

Choosing to become a student can have a big impact on your budget and you may need to reassess your spending to account for a reduced income. We’ve put together some guidance to help you manage your money and make the right financial choices for you and your family.

Find out more.

How to apply

Postgraduate courses (MA, MSc, MEd, MBA, DBA, PG Cert, PG Dip, etc.) & Post-experience courses (BA, Grad Cert, Grad Dip, etc.)

All students should apply directly to the University through our online application system. Before you apply, you should check that you meet our entry requirements and you should have all your supporting documents ready.

The first stage of the process is to create a profile; you don't have to complete the application in one session - you can complete it in stages by saving each section and return to complete it at a later date.

You will need to upload documents with your applications, which may include transcripts and degree certificates.

Most courses don't have a formal closing date, but they will close when they are full; apply early to avoid disappointment. There may also be funding deadlines that apply to you.

Before you begin your application, it is important to read the Postgraduate & Post-Experience application step-by-step guide for a smooth process.


An ATAS certificate is not required for overseas students applying for this course.

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With cutting edge facilities, specialist knowledge and world-leading and internationally excellent expertise, we aim to develop research outputs that have a tangible, early and positive impact on society across the globe.


We will always try to make sure that we publish accurate course information but we do not accept responsibility for any mistakes or omissions. We will also try to make sure that we deliver our courses in line with our published information. However, we may not always be able to do so and you can find further information about this in our enrolment terms and conditions.