Policy Officer - Higher Apprenticeship – CertHE - Cert

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This HE Certificate in Policy Studies apprenticeship (Level 4) is an 18 month program (including end point assessment)


The HE Certificate in Policy Studies aims to produce policy officers equipped with the skills to play an enhanced role within central and local government or within private and third sector organisations that interact and strive to influence government policy.

It has been developed with, and for employers and is delivered as a blended course. Most material is in the form of directed self-learning via the university’s e-learning platform, Moodle, on- and off-site academic support, and face to face block teaching throughout the length of apprenticeship.

The University of Kent is at the forefront of providing higher and degree apprenticeships. Our expertise in e-learning delivery, together with flexible entry points, means that the programme can be delivered with the least disruption to the business.

About the Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships

The University of Kent has delivered higher apprenticeships since 2011, working with industry-leading employers including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Unilever to name a few.

Kent launched the Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in 2016 to build on this experience. The Centre works in partnership with regional and national employers to develop apprenticeships tailored to their needs. The Centre also has an important role to play within the University, supporting academic schools on all aspects of delivering apprenticeship training. 

We help to devise a tailored programme of study that complements activity in your workplace, underpinned by our leading academic programmes.

Flexible tariff

Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee

We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.

*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.

Entry requirements

It is down to the employer to ultimately decide which grades they wish to accept for upskilling or recruiting to their websites. The typical offer/minimum that employers require is below:

  • medal-empty

    A level

    2 x A Levels at grade D or above

  • medal-empty GCSE

    5 x GCSEs including English Language and Maths (or level 2 equivalent) at grade C and above (or the new grade 4 and above).

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University welcomes applications from Access to Higher Education Diploma candidates for consideration. A typical offer may require you to obtain a proportion of Level 3 credits in relevant subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Nationals

    BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma at grade PPP and above; or

    Level 3 apprenticeship; or

    Equivalent level 3 qualifications of at least 48 UCAS points.

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme


  • medal-empty T level

    The University will consider applicants holding T level qualifications in subjects closely aligned to the course.

Supported by the University of Kent, each employer decides on their entry requirements and selection process for the programme. In the case of applicants who do not meet the academic requirements listed below the employer may consider alternative qualifications or relevant work experience to be acceptable.

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you have to have the right to work in England. 

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.


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Course structure

Duration: 24 months Part-time - Work-based learning

This 18 month part-time programme comprises 120 credits and an EPA (End Point Assessment) upon successful completion of the course.

120 credits

Core modules

  • SAPX4001 Readiness for Policy Officer Apprenticeship (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4002 Who runs the UK? Power, politics and policy (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4003 Applied policy analysis (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4004 Implementing policy (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4005 Making and communicating policy (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4006 Project management for Policy Officers (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4007 Critical thinking for policy analysis (15 credits at Level 4)
  • SAPX4008 Applied research methods for evidence-based policy (15 credits at Level 4)

Additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


Each apprenticeship is tailored to the needs of the employer, please contact Centre for Higher & Degree Apprenticeship for full costings.

The university is working with levy and non-levy employers to provide apprenticeships and welcome inquiries from interested organisations.

Read more about levy and non-paying levy information here: https://www.kent.ac.uk/apprenticeships/employers.html

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Teaching and assessment

The emphasis of the programme is to link the knowledge and learning to work-based learning and employment wherever possible.

Teaching and learning are delivered using a blended learning approach, primarily through the extensive use of e-learning materials, which include: videoed lectures; links to related reading; individual guided study; activities with feedback provided; and discussion forums.

Whilst most material is in the form of e-learning, apprentices have regular contact online and face-to-face with the lecturers through bimonthly review meetings, webinars; and Saturday intensives.

This Certificate of Higher Education is defined by the integration of employer involvement and having work-based learning at the core of the programme. A supervisor in the workplace provides on-job training and support for the apprentice. This allows the opportunity for apprentices to apply their knowledge and understanding in a work context.

Progress and attainment of learning outcomes are determined by a variety of methods of assessment including: portfolios; oral presentations; and short written assignments.

Contact hours

The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

This apprenticeship has been designed to develop policy officers’ knowledge and
understanding of government and how their role fits into the bigger picture of shaping the
policies which affect and impact the general public. 

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

History of the policy area; policy aims, challenges and issues; how to engage relevant organisations; political context; relevant policy tests; legal implications; international aspects as applicable; consideration of sustainable development duties.

Organisational structure; strategy; purpose; activities; aims; values; visions; structures; how to support and achieve these through own role

Political Environment: Government and Parliament - history, structure, relationship and responsibilities; electoral systems and processes; the British constitution and legislative processes; parliamentary committees; local government; public sector bodies; groups and movements influencing policy

Contextual Factors: Economic; social; technological; legal and environmental factors and the subsequent impact of these on policy; internal and external barriers that exist and how to overcome them

Programme and Project Management: Basic concepts, language and principles; importance of effective project management including delivering to plan, on time and in budget; advantages and disadvantages of different planning methods; importance of identifying risks and issues upfront; importance of continuously reviewing and updating plans

Commercial Awareness: The steps involved in making commercial decisions; organisational procurement processes; the requirement to achieve value for money; how to achieve best value; engaging customers and suppliers; elements of risk; financial and reputational implications

Consultation Process: Purpose of consultation; the importance of taking into account stakeholder and public views; engagement with local communities; consultation planning; timescales and deadlines; sample size and quality; advantages and disadvantages of different consultation methods; legal requirements

Policy Delivery: Policy aims and intended outcomes; what successful implementation looks like; basic delivery systems available; the delivery environment including other organisations involved; user-centred design; reputational risks and public perception; how to measure success of the policy

Intellectual skills

Evaluation: Use research and trials to inform policy; consider evaluations of previous policies; read graphs and tables; understand simple descriptive statistics; consider advantages and disadvantages of evaluation methods including validity and reliability

Presentation Skills: Select and present information in a clear and effective manner; present information according to the audience; use correct grammar and punctuation; structure work in a logical order; write accurately, briefly and clearly; speak confidently and coherently; plan for and be able to answer questions

Communicating with Influence: Communicate confidently; be personable; ask insightful questions; recognise levels of authority; be able to influence others; be able to negotiate effectively and respectfully; confidently represent your organisation; recognise importance of objectivity and impartiality in policy-making

Time Management: Identify risks and issues; monitor progress of actions; demonstrate effective use of resources; manage conflicting priorities and pressures; work to agreed deadlines and timescales; dedicate time to specific activities

Subject-specific skills

Evidence Gathering: Apply analytical techniques; make use of analytical support and key statistics related to policy area; work with experts outside of policy; apply the basics of economic appraisal; handle sensitive information securely

Evidence-based problem solving: Define the policy problem; demonstrate hypothesis-based thinking; seek advice from relevant experts; make decisions based on sound reasoning and evidence previously gathered; know when to escalate issues

Big Picture Thinking: Takes an active interest in understanding organisational priorities and strategy; looks beyond the immediate role; keeps abreast of wider issues which may impact on policy area; keeps a clear focus on the overall policy aim.

Transferable skills

Continuous Learning and Agility: Takes responsibility for self-development; reflects on lessons learned and feedback to improve performance; champions continuous improvement; seeks out opportunities to improve ways of working; looks to create effective change

Looking to the future: Is mindful of future trends and influences; considers potential risks  and opportunities and adapts working style accordingly; anticipates how the future can support actions in the present; considers multiple possible outcomes

Working Collaboratively: Shows consideration for others; seeks to develop trusting and effective relationships; shares knowledge; encourages collaboration; is a team player; promotes diversity; listens to others; appreciates different perspectives and respects alternative opinions

Resilience: Is proactive; has a ‘can do’ attitude; is open to receiving feedback from others; is tenacious and remains motivated under pressure; deals positively with setbacks

Self-Awareness: Reflects on own performance and feedback from others; is mindful of the impact of own actions on others; adapts style to suit circumstances; understands limitations of own knowledge and uses networks to inform own work


Policy officers, regardless of sector or organisation, will typically be responsible for engaging and interacting with government policy. Policy officers in the public sector will likely be involved in the development, implementation and evaluation phases of policymaking.

Policy officers in private or third sector organisations will likely engage with policymakers including Government, Parliamentarians and industry groups to contribute to or influence policymaking. Typical job titles for this role could include policy officer, policy administrator, policy adviser, policy support, political affairs officer, public affairs officer, drafting officer and correspondence manager.

Apply for this course

This forms part of an apprenticeship and cannot be applied for as a standalone programme - see the apprenticeships website for more info and a full list of current apprenticeships

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

Get in touch with team for support and advice on all aspects of employing, training and assessing an apprentice.

E: apprenticeships@kent.ac.uk

T: 01634 888459 or 888467 


International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk