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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5352M MPA Project LABS

60 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Katy Wright

Taught: 1 Jan to 31 Oct View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The MPA Project Labs will run across all three semesters. This vocationally-oriented module will provide you with unique opportunities to build a portfolio of independently designed project work anchored in placement with a partner organisation(s), enabling you to apply the advanced skills and attributes of public administration developed across the programme. The module will be supported by regular workshops facilitated by academic staff and by guest speakers from a range of professional roles in the public and third sector. In these sessions you will explore and respond to a variety of case studies and scenarios through problem-focused group work, as well as one-to-one project supervisions. You will be equipped with a depth and breadth of expertise and specialist skills valued by employers and commissioning bodies working in the public sector and beyond.


This vocational research-based module enables students to develop, design and carry out small-scale project work with partner organisations. This is achieved through a combination of individual study and group work, supported by personal supervision, interactive workshops and guest speakers/facilitators from relevant policy-related organisations. Through collaborative, problem-focused case studies students will develop analyses of, and solutions to, a range of public administration issues. Over the duration of the module, Students will:
- Develop a critical understanding of a wide range of factors that influence policy and practice in public administration
- Develop and enhance knowledge and understanding of the challenges faced by professionals in developing and implementing policy solutions to contemporary issues
- Develop and enhance skills in critically engaging with policy solutions, drawing on theoretical frameworks
- Design and carry out research focused on particular policy problems in an individual, self-directed research project
- Produce a portfolio of work documenting their engagement with workshop activities and presentations and experiences of carrying out individual research projects

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate advanced understanding of the types of challenges that impact upon, and are addressed through, public administration;
- Apply theoretical insights to critically engage with issues arising in different policy contexts and organisational settings
- Critically analyse existing policy approaches to solving social problems, and draw on theories, evidence and analysis to develop/refine appropriate solutions to key policy issues
- Identify what kinds of evidence are required to support policy development and implementation, and the use and limitations of available evidence
- Demonstrate a mastery of the methodological issues and ethics involved in conducting research;
- Evidence their ability to plan, carry out and present research which is tailored to the specific needs/concerns of particular organisations involved in public administration
- Demonstrate advanced capabilities in communicating relevant knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences;


Interactive workshops will draw on a range of case studies of challenges as a problem-focused learning tool. The case studies will be selected or negotiated to cover a range of issue-based, organisational or policy-related topics of relevance and interest to student learning objectives.

Different scenarios will be introduced to the group, and animated for discussion, by course tutors, by guest speakers and by students themselves. Policy makers and practitioners in different public administration settings will share insights into the challenges and constraints they face in, for example: strategic planning; policy implementation; resource or information management; evaluation; and assessing or meeting the needs of specific service user /client groups.

Selecting from these challenges, or from their own work experience, students will apply the knowledge, skills and understanding they gain throughout the programme to develop self-directed project work. They will investigate and analyse public administration issues or challenges within a defined project scope to be agreed with course tutors.

Over the duration of the module, the workshops will be increasingly student-led, focusing on collective engagement and peer learning about issues, challenges and questions relevant to their developing through project work and public administration skills.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Supervision Meetings61.006.00
Private study hours528.00
Total Contact hours72.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)600.00

Private study

Students will participate in weekly timetabled workshop sessions throughout semesters one and two (66 hours). They will spend time each week preparing for the workshops by reading prepared materials, taking notes and formulating responses (c130 hours). They will conduct extensive personal research for their project work and write this up in a reflective portfolio for assessment (c330 hours) supported by six supervisory meetings (6 hours).
Throughout the module, students are expected to develop and work on their portfolio, documenting their progress and learning in relation to the module objectives. This will include producing reflections on seminars and case study work, and the issues raised by guest speakers. They will be required to document the design, carrying out and analysis of the agreed individual or small group research project work, and to reflect on the process of working collaboratively with partner organisations

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will maintain an active record of their engagement through the development of a personal learning log (blog) to which tutors also will have continual access. This will form the basis of the portfolio for assessment and will develop in parallel with the supporting workshop tasks and negotiation of personal projects. Much of this learning will be routinely shared and discussed with other students, tutors and external facilitators. The log will be periodically reviewed and discussed with a nominated supervisor.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Portfolio10,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The developing portfolio may take the form of a reflective learning log (or online blog) with multiple entries, rather than a single document, detailed guidance will be included in the module handbook and in project briefs, and the work will be assessed against and a rubric of defined marking criteria

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 05/02/2021 15:27:45


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