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Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice DPRP

Most students complete this programme in 8 years part-time

Enhance your professional capability and critical reflection on the theories, methods and practices of policymaking.

This 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 built around a cohort model and can be spread out over four to eight years.

Throughout the course, you will have access to a wide range of sector-specific expertise across the University, including industrial strategy, international development, health, education and digital public policy.

This is a part-time distance-learning course that normally includes face-to-face teaching on a two-week residential, this year held at the end of August and early September. The course is designed to be compatible with near full-time employment over a period of up to eight years, with the possibility of being completed more quickly for high-performing students who can allocate more time to study.

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.
  • broaden capability to understand critical issues facing policymakers in diverse fields and contexts.
  • provide students with a strong foundation from which they can hone their specific interests towards the conduct of supervised research and make an original contribution to their field.
  • support you in publishing and disseminating your research.

Read more about students currently enrolled on the course.

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

This course is delivered by the Department of Social & Policy Sciences on behalf of the Institute for Policy Research.

Programme structure

Most students complete this programme in 8 years. You cannot take less than 4 years to finish your research and the maximum time you are allowed is normally 8 years.

You will start this programme in August.

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.

Your academic progress and general welfare will be monitored by your supervisor.

Academic milestones

  1. Registration
  2. Induction
  3. Taught phase
  4. Candidature
  5. Research
  6. Writing up
  7. Give notice of intention to submit a thesis / portfolio
  8. Submission for examination
  9. Examination (Viva Voce)
  10. Examiners report
  11. Final submission of thesis / portfolio
  12. Graduation

Programme content


  • Doctoral skills online
  • Online resources
  • Research project
  • Seminars
  • Supervisory team
  • Tutorials

Taught content

The course is structured in two stages: the taught stage and the research enquiry (thesis) stage.

Each academic year starts with a ten-day residential, normally held at the end of August and first week of September. This is followed by virtual seminars, tutorials, and supervision leading to the submission of assignments at the end of May. Attendance at the annual residential is compulsory for at least the first two years, and thereafter strongly encouraged.

During the first year, you will develop the knowledge and capability to understand and use selected research methodologies, analytical frameworks and models 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 that are 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
  • digital public policy
  • industrial strategy: science, technology and place
  • an open ‘reading paper’ comprising literature research into a self-selected topic with the support of an academic advisor

We will ask you to choose specialist units 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 four taught units, with a grade of ‘Merit’ or higher for at least two.

Research content

You will spend at least two years 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.

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 you during your 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 January, there is an optional week-long hybrid workshop where students at different stages of their study come together and share information on their research, along with guest speakers who have an interest/background in policy.

Professional Development

Professional development is a crucial element of doctoral study, not only in supporting your research but also as part of your longer term career development. Our DoctoralSkills workshops and courses will help you build your skills and help you succeed in your doctorate.

Read more about professional development support


Assessment methods

  • Attendance
  • Coursework
  • Essay
  • Residential
  • Seminar
  • Thesis
  • Viva Voce

Assessment description

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 during the 2-3 year taught stage
  • 198 credits for the supervised research enquiry during the 2-3 year research stage

Each 18 credit taught unit will normally be assessed through an assignment of 8,000 words – excluding references and annexes. You 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. You negotiate the details of each assignment with your 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.

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

You will normally need one of the following:

  • IELTS: 7.0 overall with no less than 6.5 in all components
  • The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic): 69 with no less than 62 in any element
  • TOEFL IBT: 100 overall with a minimum 24 in all 4 components

You will need to get your English language qualification within 24 months prior to starting your course.

If you need to improve your English language skills before starting your studies, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course to reach the required level.


Two references are required. At least one of these should be an academic reference from your most recent place of study.

Fees and funding

Fees and funding information for Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice DPRP


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

Learn how we decide fee status

Tuition fees are liable to increase annually for all University of Bath students. If you aren't paying your fees in British pounds, you should also budget for possible fluctuations in your own currency.

Find out more about student fees

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, accommodation, and meals.
  • 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 also need to budget for the cost of books, photocopying, printing and binding.

How to pay

Funding options

Find funding for doctoral research

Payment options

You can pay your tuition fees by Direct Debit, debit card, credit card or bank transfer.

Paying your tuition fees

Application information

Selection process

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 includes an informal conversation with the Director of Studies or the Deputy Director of Studies.

Immigration requirements

If you are an international student, you can find out more about the visa requirements for studying in the UK.

For additional support please contact the Student Immigration Service for matters related to student visas and immigration.

Programme enquiries

Apply for this programme

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