Public Policy and Governance - 1746

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Contact: Dr Kim Spurway

Campus: Sydney

Career: Research

Typical Duration: 3 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 12

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 144


Doctor of Public Policy and Governance (Research)

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The DPPG is an applied research professional degree that is designed specifically for policy professionals, policy officers and policy analysts engaged in policy leadership, advocacy and practice. The DPPG aims to develop the policy leadership, expertise and research of policy professionals engaging in real world policy problems occurring within their professional practice.

The DPPG is a postgraduate research degree available for policy professionals working in the government, non-government and private sectors such as policy think tanks, policy advocacy and policy governance institutions. It provides the opportunity to combine postgraduate coursework study directly related to advanced policy work with doctoral research that builds applied knowledge on policy and governance processes.

In this program, mastery of the professional body of knowledge is achieved in the coursework component, which builds on prior education and the experience gained through professional practice.

Based on this mastery of the professional body of knowledge, the thesis component of the program develops the research skills necessary for an experienced practitioner to be able to make a significant contribution to the continuous improvement of their discipline’s professional practice.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

Advanced professional practice in the discipline of policy involves the continuous development of applied knowledge and research. Leadership in professional policy work requires experience, in-depth advanced applied study and sophisticated research skills.

In this program, in-depth advanced professional applied study is achieved in the specialised coursework component, which builds on foundational policy knowledge and governance, and the experience gained through professional practice. This advanced study provides the basis for a contribution to policy and governance knowledge through empirical or conceptual research. The thesis study component of the program develops the sophisticated research skills necessary for an original and significant contribution to professional policy knowledge. The DPPG program as a whole prepares experienced professionals for policy leadership in their area of interest.

Graduates of this program will have:
  1. a substantial body of applied knowledge at the frontier of advanced policy and practice, including knowledge generated through their own original research in their area of policy interest
  2. substantial knowledge of research principles applicable to their selected field of advanced applied policy and practice.
  3. an expert understanding of the key theoretical knowledge of relevance to their applied area of policy interest;
  4. intellectual independence to think critically, evaluate existing applied knowledge and undertake systematic investigation of applied policy problems;
  5. expert technical and creative skills applicable to their professional field of policy practice;
  6. well developed communication skills to clearly explain conceptual and applied knowledges to their professional peers and broader communities of interest within their applied area of research
  7. expert skills to communicate research on emerging and complex policy problems to a diverse range of audiences
  8. expert skills to plan and execute research within their area of applied policy interest

Program Structure

The DPPG is designed as a three year full-time equivalent program, structured as one-third coursework (equivalent to one year full-time, Year 1) and two-thirds research (equivalent to two years full-time, Years 2 and 3). All coursework must be completed before the commencement of the dissertation.

A candidate shall present a thesis for examination embodying the results of the investigation no earlier than six full-time equivalent semesters and no later than eight full-time equivalent semesters from the semester of the first date of enrolment.

Approval for extension to candidatures beyond the maximum time of eight full-time equivalent semesters must be obtained via the Committee.

Assessment of the research component is in accordance with the UNSW Thesis Examination Procedures.

The coursework component is 48 UOC of advanced coursework in the area of public policy and governance.

Academic Rules

1. Award of the Degree

The degree of Doctor of Public Policy and Governance may be awarded by the Council on the recommendation of the UNSW School of Social Sciences Higher Degree Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) to a candidate who after satisfactorily completing a qualifying program comprising 48 units of credit in the Master of Public Policy and Governance degree has through the submission of a thesis based on his or her research made an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the field of Public Policy and Governance.

Full credit for the qualifying program will be given for students who have previously completed the Master of Public Policy and Governance (formerly Master of Policy Studies).

2. Qualifications / Program Entry Pathways

Students must meet the following criteria:

Standard entry pathway:
  1. A minimum 2 years post-qualifying professional policy practice experience within either the government, nongovernment or private sectors; and
  2. A first class (Distinction) Honours degree within a cognate discipline that includes a substantial research component that demonstrates capacity for higher degree research.

Advanced Standing Entry Pathway:
  1. A minimum 2 years post-qualifying professional policy practice experience within either the government, nongovernment or private sectors; and
  2. A demonstrated capacity for independent research under the guidance of a supervisor; and
  3. A Masters (Coursework) degree with a distinction average and a significant research component, minimum equivalent 18 units of credit consisting of methodology training and a stand-alone research project.

3. Enrolment

(1) An application to enrol as a candidate for the degree shall be made via the Apply
Online function on myUNSW.

(2) In every case before making the offer of a place the Committee shall be satisfied that
initial agreement has been reached between the School of Social Science (SoSS) and
the applicant on the provision of adequate facilities to be prescribed and that these are in accordance with the provisions of the guidelines for promoting postgraduate study within the University.

(3) The candidate shall be enrolled as either a full-time or part-time student.

(4) A candidate will present the thesis for examination no earlier than three years full time equivalent from the date of enrolment for the degree. Students who wish to submit earlier may seek approval from the Higher Degree Committee.

(5) The candidate must complete the course work component as an internal student; that is on campus. He or she may undertake the research as an internal student or as an external student who is not in attendance at the University except for such periods as may be prescribed by the Committee.

(6) An internal candidate will normally carry out the research on a campus or at a teaching or research facility of the University except that the Committee may permit a candidate to spend a period in the field, within another institution or elsewhere away from the University provided that the work can be supervised in a manner satisfactory to the Committee. In such instances the Committee shall be satisfied that the location and period of time away from the University are necessary to the research program.

(7) The research shall be supervised in accordance with the Supervision Policy. This will consist of at least two supervisors (either joint supervision or lead and secondary supervision). Lead supervisors will be members of the academic staff of the School of Social Science (SoSS), Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) or the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) or under other appropriate supervision arrangements approved by the Committee.

4. Progression

(1) The progress of the candidate will be monitored by the Committee throughout the candidature.

(2) The enrolment of all candidates is subject to confirmation.
(a) In addition to a progress review, the first annual review must include consideration of the confirmation of candidature.
(b) Satisfactory progress, as assessed in accordance with the university procedures for confirmation of candidature between six and nine months after enrolment, is required in order for the candidature to be confirmed.
(c) The confirmation period may be extended for the purpose of re-assessment as per 4.4(c) but the full confirmation period may not be extended beyond fifteen months for full-time candidates or thirty months for part-time candidates.

(3) Following the confirmation review:
(a) the progress of all candidates must be assessed at least annually at subsequent reviews in accordance with the University procedures for reviewing the progress of higher degree research candidatures.
(b) re-enrolment in each year of the degree is conditional upon approval of the Committee following the annual review of candidature.

(4) As a result of the review process, including the confirmation review and subsequent reviews, the Committee will determine to:
(a) confirm the candidature and approve re-enrolment (following the confirmation review), or
(b) continue the candidature and approve re-enrolment,(following subsequent reviews), or
(c) approve re-enrolment for the purpose of re-assessment of the candidature within a specified timeframe and according to prescribed conditions and/or criteria that will be provided to the candidate in writing, or
(d) transfer the candidature to a Masters Degree (Research), or
(e) take such other action regarding the candidature as it considers appropriate.

(5) Where the progress of a candidate towards the completion of the degree is unsatisfactory, the Committee may:
(a) approve re-enrolment for a three month period for the purpose of re-assessment of the candidature against prescribed conditions and/or criteria that will be provided to the candidate in writing; and/or
(b) require the candidate to show cause as to why that candidature should not be terminated. In such cases, the candidate must be given written notification of the reasons for the unsatisfactory progress and must be provided with the opportunity to make a written submission to the Committee; and/or
(c) terminate the candidature, where, in the opinion of the Committee, the candidate does not show good cause.

5. Thesis

(1) On completing the program of study a candidate must submit a thesis embodying the results of the investigation. The length of the thesis shall normally be not more than 60,000 words.

(2) The candidate may request in writing to the Graduate Research School, UNSW Kensington at the time of submission of the final library copy an embargo on its public availability for a period of up to two years.

(3) The candidate will give in writing to the Graduate Research School, UNSW Kensington six weeks notice of intention to submit the thesis.

(4) The thesis must comply with the following requirements:
(a) it must be an original and significant contribution to knowledge of the subject;
(b) the research work described must have been completed during the period of enrolment for the degree;
(c) it must be written in English;
(d) it must reach a satisfactory standard of expression and presentation;
(e) it must consist of an account of the candidate’s own research with all research performed conjointly with other persons fully acknowledged and inclusion of a statement of the candidate’s contribution to the conjoint research.

(5) The candidate must not submit as the main content of the thesis any work or material that has previously been submitted for a university degree or other similar award.

(6) Three copies of the thesis must be presented in a form that complies with the requirements of the University for the preparation and submission of theses for higher degrees.

6. Examination

(1) There shall be not fewer than two examiners of the thesis, appointed by the Committee, at least two of whom shall be external to the University unless the Committee is satisfied that this is not practicable. The number of examiners appointed will be in accordance with the Thesis Examination Procedures. In line with this policy, two external examiners will be appointed however, an additional examiner may be appointment if deemed appropriate.

(2) At the conclusion of the examination each examiner shall submit to the Committee a concise report on the thesis and shall recommend to the Committee that:
(a) The thesis merits the award of the degree, or
(b) The thesis merits the award of the degree subject to minor corrections as listed being made to the satisfaction of the Head of School, or
(c) The thesis requires further work on matters detailed in the examiner's report. Should performance in this further work be to the satisfaction of the Committee, the thesis would merit the award of the degree, or
(d) The thesis does not merit the award of the degree in its present form and further work as described in the examiner's report is required. The revised thesis should be subject to re-examination, or
(e) The thesis does not merit the award of the degree and does not demonstrate that resubmission would be likely to achieve that merit.

(3) If the performance at the further work recommended under (2)(c) above is not to the satisfaction of the Committee, the Committee may permit the candidate to re-present the same thesis and submit to further examination as determined by the Committee within a period specified by it but not exceeding eighteen months.

(4) The Committee shall, after consideration of the examiners' reports and the results of any further work, recommend whether or not the candidate may be awarded the degree. If it is decided that the candidate be not awarded the degree the Committee shall determine whether or not the candidate be permitted to resubmit the thesis after a further period of study and/or research.


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Further Information

Prospective students are strongly advised to make contact with a potential supervisor and the UNSW Graduate Research School before applying for research study at the University.

Further information about the DPPG program and scholarships at UNSW can be found by emailing a query via
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