Structured PhD Programme in Public Policy


3-4 years full time and 6+ years part time

This programme provides an interdisciplinary graduate learning and research environment for doctoral studies in the field of public policy. Pooling the resources of the UCD College of Social Sciences & Law and the College of Business, the programme provides doctoral training with considerable flexibility and breadth of interest.

The PhD programme in Public Policy is a research degree that is normally undertaken full-time over 3-4 years (with a part-time option over a longer period).

As set out by the requirements of the UCD Structured PhD Programme (PDF), candidates are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits of course-work, that is, three 10-credit modules. One of these should be the Research Design module provided jointly by the College of Social Sciences and Law and the College of Business. The other two modules should normally be chosen from among the core modules provided by the Master of Public Policy programme (unless the candidate has already completed this or an analogous degree programme, in which case the required modules will be decided in consultation with the student’s Doctoral Studies Panel).

It is also possible to take additional modules, depending on the training needs identified in consultation with the candidate's principal supervisor and the other two members of the Doctoral Studies Panel (DSP).

The PhD may take the form of a traditional thesis, or a collection of papers (including published papers or papers submitted or prepared for submission) describing a coherent programme of research which has been published or prepared for publication in peer-reviewed journals of international standing, accompanied by a critical and theoretical overview of the work presented in the papers.

A formal transfer assessment takes place after about 15 months (longer if part-time), in order to progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the PhD. Students must submit a body of written work to a review panel, who will conduct an interview on the work submitted; students must have attained an average of B- in all modules, and must also complete a Research and Professional Development Programme (RPDP).

All students will submit their final dissertation to UCD and upon successful completion of their examination, will be awarded a UCD PhD.

For inquiries, please contact the Programme Directors, Dr. Stephan Koppe and Michelle Norris in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice.

For the structured PhD programme in Public Policy, applications are welcomed from applicants with a good Master’s degree in an appropriate area. If you are interested in exploring your research plans further with a member of staff, please feel free to contact us individually.


The students can start the programme in September as well as in January. The corresponding deadlines for submission of applications to the PhD Public Policy programme are to be confirmed.

Please allow us up to two months for reviewing your application.

Here is the list of required application documents:

  • PhD Public Policy Application Form (MS Word)
  • A letter of application indicating the basis of your interests in this programme and its potential contribution to your career goals;
  • Thesis title and abstract on a separate page (maximum 1500 words) or your proposed project proposal;
  • Two academic references;
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Official (stamped) transcripts from your undergraduate and postgraduate (if applicable) studies. This applies to non-UCD graduates only.
  • Students whose education prior to university level has not been carried out through the medium of English must satisfy English language requirements of a minimum score of 600 TOEFL (250 computer based, with a test of written English at 475+) or 6.5 IELTS (minimum of 6.0 in each band). Please also note that in all cases the test results must be less than 2 years old.

Your application will be assessed by the Programme Board for Public Policy. Applications will be assessed on the basis of the appropriate and available expertise within the Programme, the quality of the applicant and the nature of the proposed research.

Please email scans of your complete applications and post the original hard-copies to:

UCD Doctoral Programme in Public Policy
School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice
Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington Building
University College Dublin
Belfield, Dublin 4

For further information, please contact


EU Fees / Non-EU Fees (PhD Public Policy is listed under the College of Social Sciences & Law.)