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ANZSOG completes review of UK Policy Profession Unit learning offer

13 December 2023

News and media


Main image left to right: Dr Christopher Walker (Academic Director of the Executive Master of Public Administration), Professor Andrew Massey (Academic Director of the International School for Government, King’s College London), Mr Alexander Downer AC (former Executive Chair of the International School for Government, King’s College London).


The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) continues to build on its established links with the UK Civil Service’s Policy Profession Unit (PPU), through the publication of an ANZSOG Review into its Postgraduate Learning Offer KCL PGL2 – a course designed for early career public servants and delivered through King’s College London. The Policy Profession Unit has formally thanked ANZSOG for its most recent work on the review of postgraduate Learning Offer KCL PGL2, and has announced it has accepted the recommendations.

“We would like to thank the reviewers for their thoughtful, rigorous, and constructive approach to the evaluation. We welcome the opportunity to build on the success of the KCL PGL2 to date for the increased benefit of the Policy Profession,” the PPU said in a statement.

Work on the review began in December 2022 and was led by Dr Christopher Walker, Academic Director of the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), with co-lead Dr Avery Poole, Deputy Director, Academic & Research Engagement. The majority of the review work was done remotely and also involved a ten-day visit in April for intensive interviews and focus groups.

As well as fostering links with institutions in the UK and building ANZSOG’s international reputation, the review was a chance for ANZSOG to learn more about similar programs in the UK and their appeal to early career public servants.

Dr Walker said that being selected to undertake the review was a sign of the international recognition of ANZSOG’s leadership in postgraduate executive education reflected through our EMPA, in terms of content, design and program delivery.

“We’ve got significant experience, knowledge and understanding of the elements that contribute to a really well-informed robust executive education program at a postgraduate level and a deep understanding of the content,” Dr Walker said.

“We have the experience of how to conduct an academic program review, insight into how these reviews should happen and the kind of data you need to collect. The previous Director of PPU played an important role as a panel member on the 2021 academic review of our EMPA and this provided an insight into our skills and experience in this important work.”

The KCL PGL2 course has been offered since 2020 and has had over 1000 participants. It is overseen by a steering committee with academic and public sector representatives, and the ANZSOG review is the first extensive independent evaluation of the program.

The course is a highly flexible, modular program which is suitable for policy practitioners engaged in full time work. It is designed for early career policy professionals employed with the UK Civil service, and predominantly delivered online. The review assessed the program’s quality, coverage, contemporaneity, scalability, flexibility, and hybridity.

Dr Walker said the observations and analysis undertaken as part of the review would also provide some useful lessons for ANZSOG.

“This program is below the career level targeted by the EMPA and the review has given us great insight into how these programs work, the audiences they attract, and what public services think about them. This is important since one of the recommendations of the recent review of the ANZSOG EMPA was to have an early career program as a pathway into the EMPA.”

“The learning offer highlights the importance of ensuring that online teaching skills of faculty are developed, and online modules and teaching practices regularly refreshed. It also reiterates the challenges of creating a cohort experience in online teaching – an issue which ANZSOG is also addressing in the EMPA.

“It also shows the importance of ensuring that programs are well aligned to the policy skills and professional development needs of learners. Students value the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of module topics, but want the course to connect these concepts with the applied context of their work. This is a consistent challenge in executive education and the Kings College program provided some insights into how online teaching can do this effectively”

Dr Walker said ANZSOG’s involvement was part of the ongoing collaborative relationship that had been built between ANZSOG and UK academic and government institutions, a relationship that had been fostered by Professor Janine O’Flynn, Professor Catherine Althaus and Dr Lisa Carson. This involved a review of the Executive Master of Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2020.

The PPU and King’s College will publish its joint action plan to respond to the ANZSOG report’s full set of recommendations in the first half of 2024.