Foundations of public administration

Explore the essential skills and knowledge you need as a civil servant - part of the Government Campus learning curriculum

Your learning journey begins on your first day and a strong induction will help you to succeed in your new role. You also need to understand the essential knowledge and skills you need as a civil servant, whatever your role.


To help you find the learning you need, this page is divided into the following sections:

  • Civil Service Essentials
  • Induction
  • Essential knowledge
  • Essential skills

You can also explore other parts of the learning curriculum:

Civil Service Essentials

To deliver the Government’s priorities, the Civil Service must be skilled, knowledgeable and networked. We have developed the Civil Service Essentials interactive guide (April 2024) (MS PowerPoint Presentation, 47.7 MB) to bring together induction with the essential knowledge and skills you need to succeed. You will also find direct links to all elements of Civil Service Essentials below. All of these can be accessed online for free at a time that is convenient for you.


If you are new to the Civil Service - or rejoining after a period away - you should register for the online Induction to the Civil Service course. This is free to civil servants and gets fantastic feedback for its flexible, bite-sized learning. For those joining as senior civil servants, Civil Service Orientation provides an excellent introduction to the Civil Service and the opportunity to meet colleagues.

These central courses are just part of the wider induction offer available from your team, organisation and profession, so please take advantage of all these resources. We have collected suggestions and tips from new joiners to make a crowdsourced resource on what good induction looks like - please have a look.

As a follow-on to induction, we recommend the free Apolitical course How to Build Your Career in the Civil Service. Co-created with the Government Campus, the course looks at learning and networking in the Civil Service, alongside tips for applications and interviews.

Essential knowledge

To ensure consistency across the Civil Service and that all civil servants understand their responsibilities, we have created some core online learning courses. It is likely that your department or agency will mandate that you complete some or all of these courses.

  • Civil Service Expectations - This course provides an introduction to the Civil Service Code and Values. It also covers the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, why diversity and inclusion matter and what they mean to you as a civil servant.

  • Health and Safety - This course explains your role and responsibilities in health and safety.

  • Security and Data Protection - This course explains your responsibilities when it comes to protecting and sharing data. The course provides you with an understanding of what the biggest risks are, what you can do to minimise them, and what actions to take.

  • Counter Fraud, Bribery and Corruption - This course will raise your understanding of the importance of tackling fraud and of risks and issues relating to bribery and corruption.

Essential skills

The Civil Service is a large, complex organisation with many different roles. These courses will equip you with the essential skills you need and you can then build on these by develop the broader range of core and specialist skills you need for your role.

  • Foundations of Writing in Government - This course consists of four hours of bite-sized learning that you can do at your own pace. The principles are relevant to all writing: whether it’s internal emails, text for websites, or more formal reports. The term ‘JASPER’ comes from the initials of the six sections of the course: Jargon, Acronyms, Short sentences, Plain English, Editors and Readers.

  • Essential Analytical Skills - These resources have been specifically developed for non-analysts and we suggest you focus on the bite-sized videos.

  • Excel Foundation - Watch a walkthrough then select your version of Excel to start learning the basics. There are hints and resources, plus the opportunity to put what you’ve learned into action.

  • Project Delivery 101 - This course is an introduction to project delivery in government. It will give you an understanding of project delivery methodologies, terminology and best practices to support you to positively contribute to project delivery success.

  • Finance Foundations -  This course is an introduction to financial management in government. It helps you to understand the importance of managing public money well and your role in securing value for money for the taxpayer. It covers the sources of government finance, as well as financial processes, terminology and accountability.

  • Commercial Awareness - This course will give you an understanding of the importance of effective preparation, procurement and management of services as well as the stages of the commercial cycle. It also covers the role and importance of commercial professionals.

  • Understanding Data - This course will support you to question and challenge data and to engage in more meaningful conversations with data experts to drive effective decision-making.

Everyone in the Civil Service should be a member of at least one profession and have awareness of the key skills of other professions. You can find out more on the ‘Specialist skills you need to grow professional expertise’ page.

From: Government Skills and Curriculum Unit