Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice DPRP

8 years, starting in September 2019

This pioneering doctorate will enhance professional capability and critical reflection on the theories, methods and practices of policymaking.

The course enables 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.

It combines advanced training in policy research and analysis with a thesis based on original research, and is based on a cohort model.

During the course, you will have access to a wide range of sector-specific expertise across the University, including Technology Policy, International Development, Health, Education and Social Policy.

This is a part-time distance-learning course including face-to-face teaching on a two-week residential, held in September. The course is designed to be compatible with near full-time employment over a six-year period with the possibility of being completed more quickly for high-performing students who can allocate more time to study. Read more about the progression and exit points.

Educational aims of the programme

This course is designed to:

  • give particular priority to multidisciplinary research and learning relevant to the workplace, to enhance the academic and the professional contribution that policymakers and practitioners can make to theory and practice in their field

  • engage current practitioners with knowledge, awareness and understanding of philosophical, organisational, political, social, economic, managerial, interpersonal, and technical dimensions of policy

  • develop the capability to broaden an understanding of critical issues facing policymakers today

  • give a broad foundation from which to hone specific interests towards the conduct of supervised research and make an original contribution to their field

  • support participants in publishing and disseminating their research

Download the course brochure, read more about the current students or find out about the academics who are most likely to be closely involved in supporting the core units of the course.

You'll be taught by experts from across the University drawing upon the best possible range and depth of policy-relevant expertise and experience. Policy experts from outside the University will also be involved in your learning experience.

Find out more about the people who are most likely to be closely involved in supporting the core units of the professional doctorate.

Course structure

This course lasts 8 years. It starts in September 2019 and ends in 2027.

Occasionally we make changes to our programmes in response to, for example, feedback from students, developments in research and the field of studies, and the requirements of accrediting bodies. You will be advised of any significant changes to the advertised programme, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions.


The course has two stages: the taught stage and the research enquiry (thesis) stage.

In Years 1 to 2, teaching is focused on a two-week residential held in early September each year, with subsequent virtual seminars, tutorials, and supervision throughout the rest of the year.

Your academic progress and general welfare will be monitored by a personal tutor (taught stage) and supervisor (research stage).

Taught stage

During the first year, you will develop the knowledge and capability to understand and use a range of research methodologies, novel analytical frameworks and toolkits to address key issues within a broad policy context. You will complete two compulsory core units:

Transformational Policy and Practice

This unit introduces theoretical understandings of ‘policy’ and policymaking and how they relate to practice. It includes a series of case studies of policymaking and implementation from different countries.

Policy Research Methodology

This unit will develop your knowledge and understanding of the methodologies (philosophic frameworks) employed in policy research, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as the merits of particular quantitative and qualitative methods.

Specialist streams

Over the subsequent two years you choose two specialised units, relevant to your field of practice, from a choice of up to four units. These enable you to develop and hone specific interests towards the conduct of supervised research. The current optional units are:

- international development policy
- education policy
- health policy
- technology policy
- networks, governance and citizenship in a digital world

We will ask you to choose one specialist unit during your first year, so we can plan teaching resources for the following year.

You can progress to the Research enquiry stage when you have passed 4 taught units, with a grade of ‘Merit’ or higher for at least two.

Research enquiry (thesis stage)

You will spend the final three years of your study developing a supervised research enquiry. Supervision is primarily provided virtually over this period but we would normally expect that you adhere to a minimum number of face-to-face contact hours.

We also provide other online support for you during this time including webinars and online forums.

Skills training

You should engage in skills training at each stage of your course. In the research enquiry stage, we expect you to complete five days of skills development each year. Elements of this training are provided online to ensure greater flexibility for students during their time away from campus. Together with your supervisor or assignment tutor, you will be responsible for identifying your principal training needs and for identifying appropriate developmental opportunities to meet these.

You will have access to the full programme of research skills training courses offered within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. This programme includes formal training attendance at conferences seminars and workshops as well as subject specific knowledge, skills as a researcher and a range of academic (key) skills which will help you to become an independent learner.


Each core and specialist unit carries 18 credits. You must successfully complete 270 credits (at level 8) to be awarded the DPRP:

- total of at least 72 credits in years 1 to 3
- 198 credits for the supervised research enquiry

Each 18 credit taught unit will normally be assessed through an assignment of 8,000 words – excluding references and annexes - with a maximum 10% variation either way. Each unit assignment includes a 200 word (max) abstract (not included in overall word length).

Students may be requested to also pass an oral or written defence of their submission.

The Unit Convenor, in consultation with the Director of Studies, designates individual assignment tutors for each student to support work on assignments and to serve as the First Internal Examiner in assessing the assignment. Students negotiate the details of each assignment with their designated assignment tutor for the relevant unit.

The 45,000 word supervised thesis will be assessed by the same arrangements and criteria as to those for the award of a PhD.

Read more about requesting extensions for assignments.

Learning and assessment


  • Online resources
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials


  • Attendance
  • Coursework
  • Essay
  • Residential
  • Seminar
  • Thesis

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

  • First or 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject, from a recognised university
  • Advanced qualification (MEd, MA or MPhil) in a related field. Where professional experience is extensive and has involved research practice, this requirement may be waived

Professional requirements

Appropriate professional experience in the practice of policy or a related field. Students in the programme will normally be expected to have at least three years of experience

English Language requirements

  • IELTS 7.0 (with not less than 6.5 in each of the four components)

Certificates must be dated to within two years of the start of the programme of study.


Two references are required. At least one of these should be an academic reference

Fees and funding


Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on whether you are a Home, EU, Island or Overseas student.

Learn how we decide fee status

Tuition fees

Find out the annual fees for this course.

Find out more about the structure of payments throughout the course.

Extra costs

The accommodation cost (including breakfast) of the Residential programme is included in your course fee but you should budget for the travel and other expenses for the Residential.

You should also budget for:

  • meetings with your supervisor during the course and attending the final Viva Voce, including travel, breakfast and evening meals and accommodation.
  • IT equipment and miscellaneous costs to enable participation on the course from a distance
  • cost of printing final soft-, and hard-bound theses


You will need to budget at least £100 for the cost of photocopying, printing and binding. You will also need to budget for the cost of text books.

Some courses involve visits away from campus and you may be required to pay some or all of the costs of travel, accommodation and food and drink.

If you’re on a placement, you’re responsible for your own travel, accommodation and living costs. You should also consider the financial implications if you go on an unpaid or overseas placement.

Application information

  • Course title
    Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice
  • Final award
  • Mode of study
  • Course code
  • Department
  • Location
    University of Bath
    Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY
  • UK/EU application deadline
    31 May 2019
  • Overseas deadline
    31 May 2019
  • Application eligibility
    UK and Overseas students are eligible to apply
  • Regulator

Selection process

Applications for September 2018 entry will open soon. In the meantime, you can make enquiries about the course to the Director of Studies.

You don't need to provide a comprehensive research proposal at the application stage, however, please outline your research interests in section seven of the application form.

The selection process usually includes an informal conversation with the Director of Studies.

Course enquiries

Apply for 2019 entry

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