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Transforming Citizen Participation: Free Online Course (Public Administration MOOC)

Learn best practices for communicating in the public sector

Citizen participation is an essential component of effective public service, and social media provides a direct way for public servants and stakeholders to communicate in our increasingly digital world. The University of Birmingham’s Transforming Citizen Participation MOOC explores how these online platforms can be used to improve civic engagement and gain valuable insight into citizens’ values, needs, and behaviours.

This course introduces some of the concepts covered in our online Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme in a free, interactive format. It’s designed to offer a taster of the course content so you can experience what it’s like to study public administration online. Explore topics like clicktivism, social listening, and social media best practices using case studies and real-world examples from today’s world leaders and real public servants.

When you finish the MOOC, you’ll have a certificate for your CV and a specialized skill set that employers seek. If you’re interested in applying to a short course or the full MPA, you can highlight the completion of this MOOC in your application. You can join the course at any time – it’s available now. Sign up on our FutureLearn page.

Quick Facts


4 weeks


100% online



*It’s free to access this course for its duration, regardless of when you join. Note that if you wish to print or hold a digital Certificate of Achievement once you complete your studies, you will have to pay to upgrade your FutureLearn account.

Explore the latest citizen participation practices

Free access for four weeks

Two hours of study time per week

Our Transforming Citizen Participation MOOC is self-guided, so you’ll learn at your own pace. The interactive nature of the course allows you to connect with other students and participate in active discussions about what you learn. You’ll study innovative techniques to encourage citizen participation and learn how to engage at all levels of the public sector.

Course topics include:

  • The rise of social media and its impact on policy and the public sector
  • The role of clicktivism and how it has transformed citizen participation
  • Strategies for improving citizen engagement
  • Social media best practices
  • How public servants and leaders are using social media today
View Complete Syllabus

Make an impact in the public sector

This course is open to anyone interested in learning innovative communication strategies for public service. It’s specifically designed for professionals working in the public sector at the local, national, or international level.

While the course is split into four week-long sections, you can work at your own pace. Each week includes about two hours of study time, during which you’ll read articles, watch short videos, and complete hands-on activities.

Start the course today

What you’ll learn

This course explores how professionals in the public sector can harness social media to reach a wider audience and create a sense of community among citizens. You’ll discover strategies to engage with stakeholders, find solutions to common problems, and investigate opportunities for improvement. Along the way, you’ll build marketable skills and learn from a faculty of public administration experts.

Programme outcomes

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Assess the extent of social media usage and the motivation of the user
  • Explore different ways in which social media has transformed citizen participation, including “clicktivism”
  • Critically evaluate the digital “front line” that has been created by social media where citizens can upload crime and incident reports
  • Assess the notion of “sousveillance” and its value in improving relationships with citizens
  • Assess the benefits and dangers of engaging with the public through social media
  • Assess the social media and networking strategies of different organizations
  • Identify and resolve different types of social media implementation failure
  • Critique the benefits and challenges that come from live streaming front-line public service work such as police work
  • Evaluate the reach of different forms of social media posts made by public servants to members of the public

About FutureLearn

The University of Birmingham is committed to providing students with flexible, accessible learning opportunities. FutureLearn uses social learning to create a platform where learners from different locations and backgrounds can study together while making global connections and building valuable skills.

Courses are delivered 100% online and designed to be flexible so you can learn at your own pace and complete the course as quickly or slowly as you like. Chart your progress throughout the course to keep track of your work and assessment scores. With upgraded access, you can receive a certificate upon completion.

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Frequently asked questions

You may have some questions about the programme, the University, or the online environment. It’s always the way when starting something new. Don’t worry; we’re here to answer them.

If you have a question we don’t cover here, request more information or call +44 (0)800 032 7101.

This course consists of four weeks, each with its own activities. It’s delivered 100% online and designed to be flexible so you can learn at your own pace and complete the course as quickly or slowly as you like.

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a free, online course available to anyone. MOOCs offer an accessible way for professionals and students to learn new skills and explore new subject areas. They are ideal for those looking for professional development opportunities in a specific area or those who want to learn more about a topic before committing to a full degree programme.

The Transforming Citizen Participation MOOC is a free online course available to anyone. You can review all course details and costs on our FutureLearn page.

The course is available now. You can sign up today.

There is no application deadline for this course, as it’s self-paced and available now. Sign up on our FutureLearn page to begin.

This free course covers topics like the rise of social media and its use in public service, improving citizen engagement, social media best practices, and how public servants and leaders are using social media today.

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