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Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice

Course Description

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 programme 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
- A cohort structure based around an annual two-week residential to provide networking with other participants as part of the programme
- Access to a wide range of sector-specific expertise across the University, including Technology Policy, International Development, Health, Education and Social Policy

Visit the website http://www.bath.ac.uk/study/pg/programmes/prof-doct-in-poli-rese-and-prac/

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 course involves a blend of face-to-face and distance learning. The academic coherence of the course 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. You 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.

Educational aims of the programme

The Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice is designed to:

- give particular priority to the transfer of multidisciplinary research and learning to the workplace, to enhance the academic and the professional contribution that policy makers 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 policy makers today
- provide you with a broad foundation from which you can hone your specific interests towards the conduct of supervised research and make an original contribution to your field
- support you in publishing and disseminating your research

Course structure

The Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice is built around a part-time cohort model. You will advance through the course with a cohort of other participants from a range of countries, sectors and organisations. 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.

This structure will enable you to interact, learn, and network with a stable cohort of participants, while ensuring the flexibility to continue your own professional career.

The course is structured into two stages: the taught stage and the thesis stage.

If your circumstances change and you are unable to complete the course, there are alternative qualifications that may be awarded depending on the number of credits accumulated.

- Taught stage:
The taught stage is based on four units. In the first year, two compulsory core units provide advanced training in policy analysis and research methods. The first year is designed to equip you with 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. The two core generic analysis units include:

- Transformational Policy and Practice – to introduce you to theoretical understandings of ‘policy’ and policy making and how they relate to practice. This will include a series of case studies of policy making and implementation from different countries

- Policy Research Methodology – to 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.

Each of these generic units carry 18 credits and are assessed with an 8,000 assignment or equivalent. Successful completion of these units would normally entitle you to the PG Certificate exit award if appropriate.

- Specialist streams:
Over the subsequent two years you elect two specialised units, relevant to their field of practice, from a choice of up to four units. These are designed to enable you to develop and hone specific interests towards the conduct of supervised research: current optional units are listed below. The five initial units are:

- international development policy
- education policy
- health policy
- technology policy
- social policy (awaiting final approval).

Each specialist unit carries 18 credits and is assessed by an 8,000 word assignment.

You will be asked to choose a specialist unit in the first year, while undertaking your core modules so that teaching resources can be planned for the following year.

- Research enquiry:
You will spend the final three years of your study developing a supervised research enquiry. Supervision is primarily provided virtually over this period but it would normally be expected 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.

About the IPR

The University of Bath Institute for Policy Research (IPR) brings together many of the University’s research strengths to foster inter-disciplinary research of international excellence and impact. It bridges the worlds of research, policy and professional practice to enable us to address some of the major policy challenges we face on a local, national and global scale.

Read more (http://www.bath.ac.uk/ipr/)

Find out how to apply here - http://www.bath.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/index.html

Visit the Professional Doctorate in Policy Research and Practice page on the University of Bath website for more details!

Entry 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.

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