The use of inquiry-based learning in public administration education: challenges and opportunities in the context of internationalisation

Alice Moseley*, John Connolly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


This paper discusses both challenges and opportunities for using inquiry-based learning in public administration postgraduate education in a context of internationalisation. In particular, we discuss the appropriateness of inquiry-based learning for teaching diverse groups of students from varied international backgrounds. Inquiry-based learning has been widely promoted in the United Kingdom higher education sector and seems intuitively appealing as a pedagogical approach for an applied subject such as public administration. However, there are challenges associated with using inquiry-based learning with postgraduate international students who have a short time to assimilate complex theories and concepts in a second language, and have often been educated previously in contexts with a more didactic tradition of education. With the increasing internationalisation of the United Kingdom higher education sector, we suggest there is tension between some of the teaching and learning methods that are being promoted nationally and the needs of an increasingly diverse international student body. Reflecting on our own experiences as teachers of international students on public administration programmes, we outline both the benefits and limitations of teaching with inquiry-based learning but also suggest ways in which this type of approach could be assimilated within the broader set of pedagogical practices used with international postgraduate students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-286
Number of pages17
JournalTeaching Public Administration
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Public administration
  • internationalisation
  • inquiry-based learning
  • research-led teaching
  • active learning
  • problem-based learning
  • politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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