Public Leadership (PrDoc) - 1751

Program Summary

Faculty: UNSW Canberra at ADFA


Campus: UNSW Canberra at ADFA

Career: Research

Typical Duration: 4 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 12

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 144

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The Doctorate in Public Leadership (DPL) degree provides an opportunity to combine a doctoral thesis of some 60,000 words with the coursework component of the Master of Public Leadership and Policy (8633) or an equivalent programs, such as the Master of Business (8388) and the Master of Public Policy and Governance (8259).

The degree consists of one-third coursework (equivalent to one-year full-time study) and two-thirds research (equivalent to two-years full-time study) which may be in an area encountered by the student while undertaking coursework.

The program is intended to prepare candidates for the highest level of professional practice, in which they can contribute significantly to the development of the multi-disciplinary study of Public Leadership while enhancing the Public Leadership they exert in the workplace specifically and society more generally.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

Societies, rightly, expect a great deal from those who serve in public roles. One of those expectations is that they should display leadership, particularly when they are shaping public policy. Very little scholarly study is, however, focused on the particular challenges of public leadership, or the relationship between public leadership and policy formulation. The Doctor of Public Leadership uniquely addresses this gap by offering students a combination of courses focused specifically on public leadership and policy alongside a rich selection of electives addressing broader issues related to national and global policy, and leadership. This combines with a focused and directed workplace-based research thesis that builds on the coursework platform to develop new knowledge in this critically important field.

In contrast to similar programs focusing mainly on public administration, management and supervision, this program will be the first to concentrate specifically on exercising and enriching leadership in professional contexts ranging from government departments and statutory authorities, educational bodies and training authorities, media organisations and advocacy groups, defence and security services.

The Doctor of Public Leadership is ideal for those who are in, or seeking to attain, positions of public leadership, as well as postgraduate scholars seeking to develop a research competence in this field. This program has been designed with relevance to the workplace as a priority. The program as a whole prepares experienced professionals for public leadership in their area of interest.

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.

Graduates of this program will:

1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and an integrated understanding of Public Leadership and its relationship to policy, and be able to apply this understanding to practical problems in a contemporary setting.

2. Analyse, reflect on, and synthesise complex information, demonstrating evidence-based logic and reasoning in the context of Public Leadership.

3. Communicate effectively and confidently in written, oral, and technological forms appropriate to academic and policy discourse on Public Leadership.

4. Display awareness of a range of social, ethical, environmental, intercultural, and global issues, and responsibilities related to public policy and Public Leadership.

5. Undertake independent research on topics relevant to Public Leadership at a level appropriate to a doctoral qualification.

Program Structure

The DPL is designed as a three year full- time equivalent program, structured as one-third coursework and two-thirds research. The coursework component of the DPL will be undertaken through enrolment in courses already established within the Master of Public Leadership and Policy or equivalent programs. Coursework must be completed prior to the research.

The two-year research component consists of an independent supervised study, with a focus on either in-depth investigation and research of a particular professional issue or set of issues (applied practice-based empirical research) or conceptual research about a particular policy area or a Public Leadership challenge that builds on original policy and institutional oversight.

The DPL may be undertaken on either a part time or full time basis.

Academic Rules

1. Award of the Degree

The degree of Doctor of Public Leadership may be awarded by the Council on the recommendation of the Research Higher Degree Committee, UNSW Canberra (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) to a candidate who after satisfactorily completing a qualifying program comprising 48 units of credit in a relevant Masters 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 Leadership.

Full credit for the qualifying program will be given for students who have previously completed a relevant Masters level degree in a field of Public Leadership or Public Policy or equivalent program.

2. Entry Requirements

A candidate for the degree shall:
(a) have been awarded an appropriate degree of Bachelor with Honours from the University of New South Wales at a standard not below Honours Class 2 or a qualification considered equivalent from another university of tertiary institution;
(b) have been awarded an appropriate award of a Masters Degree or Graduate Diploma at an average of Credit from the University of New South Wales or a qualification considered equivalent from another university of tertiary institution;
(c) have had at least two years professional experience of a kind acceptable to the Committee AND have been awarded an appropriate degree of Bachelor from the University of New South Wales or a qualification considered equivalent form another university or tertiary institution,
(i) satisfy the Committee that the qualification is at a level and of a character indicating research potential;
(ii) submit other evidence satisfying the Committee of their research potential.
(2) In exceptional cases an applicant who submits evidence of such other academic and professional qualifications as may be approved by the Committee may be permitted to enrol for the degree.
(3) If the Committee is not satisfied with the qualifications submitted by an applicant it may require the applicant to undergo such assessment or carry out such work as the Committee may prescribe, before permitting enrolment.

3. Enrolment

(1) An application to enrol as a candidate for the degree shall be made online via myUNSW Apply Online for UNSW Canberra by the advertised due date.
(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 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 four academic semesters and no later than six academic semesters from the date of enrolment for the degree (i.e. after completion of the qualifying program), or part-time equivalent, except with the approval of the committee.
(5) The candidate must complete the qualifying program or coursework component before progressing to their proposed research project.
(6)This program has been designed with relevance to the workplace as a priority.Where relevant and feasible, and appropriate to the professional focus of the program, the research study is to be workplace-based, and candidates will in those circumstances not be required to be resident on campus during the research component of their project (appropriate supervision arrangements shall be arranged accordingly).
(7) The research shall be supervised by a team of at least two supervisors who are members of the academic staff of the School or under other appropriate supervision arrangements approved by the Committee.
(8) Supervision will be provided by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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) with the agreement of the candidate, 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 70,000 words.
(2) The candidate may request in writing to the Research Student Unit, UNSW Canberra six months in advance of the thesis submission date that the contents of the thesis be kept confidential for a period of up to two years.
(3) The candidate will give in writing to the Research Student Unit, UNSW Canberra 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) Four 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) The thesis must be examined by two external examiners. External examiners must not be an employee of the University within the past 5 years.
(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 re-submission 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. If the decision of the Committee results non-award of the DPL the candidate may take out a Master of Public Leadership and Policy or equivalent degree on the basis of the coursework completed before the DPL thesis.


For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:  UNSW Fee Website.

Related Program(s)

8633 Public Leadership and Policy
8388 Business
8259 Public Policy and Governance
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