Institute for Policy Research

Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice

Qualifications and durations

This is a part-time distance-learning course which can be spread out over up to six years.


The University of Bath Institute for Policy Research offers a pioneering Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice (DPRP). The course is designed to enable experienced professionals working in a range of policy arenas – locally, nationally, and globally – to develop their policy analysis expertise without having to take a full career break. Combining advanced training in policy research and analysis with a thesis based on original research, it is based on a cohort model and can be spread out over up to six years.

Key features:

  • A combination of advanced policy research and analysis training with a thesis component based on original research
  • Part-time course structure designed to cater for busy professionals
  • A means to enable participants to draw on their working experience at the same time as engaging with up-to-date academic research and thinking
  • The course is fully flexible, with step-off points at the end of year 1 (for a Postgraduate Certificate) and at the end of year 3 (for a Postgraduate Diploma).
  • A cohort structure based around an annual two-week residential to provide networking with other participants as part of the course
  • Access to a wide range of sector-specific expertise across the University, including Technology Policy, International Development, Health, Education and Social Policy

Why take a professional doctorate in policy research and practice?

In all areas of government and public administration – whether in local government, national civil services or international organisations – the world of policy making is changing fast. There is an increasing recognition of the need for a secure and transparent evidence base on which to make policy, but there are also a range of approaches and methods that policy makers can use to assess the evidence base and consider the likely impact of different policies. This Doctorate will enhance professional capability and critical reflection on the theories, methods and practices of policy making.

The programme involves a blend of face to face and distance learning. The academic coherence of the programme is built around a ‘hub and spoke’ model comprising two core policy analysis units (in Transformational Policy and Practice and Policy Research Methodology) and two specialist units to enable students to broaden and deepen their understanding of policy research across a range of disciplines. Students are required to complete four ‘taught’ units over three years of study – two core and two optional – followed by a supervised piece of original research over up to three years.