Professional Doctorate in Public Policy and Political Economy

    Course Description

    Course Info

    This unique Professional Doctorate programme is aimed at individuals who are working in, or who have previously worked in, an area of public policy practice (for example, a think tank, charity, in journalism, in the civil service or a central bank, or as a political researcher). Teachers of economics and politics can also take the programme. The format of teaching and research provides a structured, but flexible, framework making this the ideal way to combine doctoral studies with professional life.

    The programme leads to the qualification “Doctor of Public Policy and Political Economy” and will be an important qualification for those wishing to advance a career in any area of public policy or advance an academic career. We also welcome students later in life who, as well as studying for the qualification, will be able to share their experience with other students at the study weekends.

    Teaching & Assessment

    There are four modules in the professional doctorate programme.

    Module One

    You will attend the weekly evening seminars held on the MA in Political Economy by Research. These cover topics such as Adam Smith; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neo-classical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics. You can attend these seminars by distance learning.

    Module Two

    You will attend a study weekend in May of your first academic year at the Vinson Centre, University of Buckingham. The study weekend will include: further lectures on schools of economic thought and their relevance to public policy and a preliminary research proposal presentation as well as research methods training.

    You must attend this in person.

    Module Three

    This module will be a reflective analysis relating experience in your professional role to models in political economy (for example, public choice, institutional economics, market failure models etc) or to key figures in the development of thinking on political economy or public policy.

    You will then attend a second study weekend in October of the second academic year and your research proposal will be finalised. This will also be at the Vinson Centre.

    Module Four

    In Module Four, you will undertake a research thesis of a recommended length of 55,000 to 65,000 words. The research thesis will be on an approved topic related to your professional work (or former professional work) and is supervised by academic staff.

    October study weekend

    Every year you will be invited to the October study weekend. You can attend as many of these events before completing your thesis as you wish, but you will be required to attend at least one further study weekend, after your initial October study weekend, before you submit your thesis. You do not have to attend each year.


    You have between four and six years following registration to complete your thesis.


    You will be able to make use of the Vinson Centre’s superb economic policy and history of economic thought library throughout your period of study.

    International study

    This programme can be taken by overseas students as long as you are able to attend the three study weekends (the May and two October weekends) during the course of your registration period (up to six years). All other studies and supervision can be undertaken online.

    Teaching, Supervision and Assessment

    Teaching is a mixture of online provision and seminars at the study weekends held at the Vinson Centre. Each module will be assessed by shorter assignments before you move on to the thesis. These shorter assignments are designed to ensure that you are well prepared when you start your thesis. Appropriate supervisors will be appointed for module four. You will meet those supervisors regularly.

    A Flexible Qualification – entry and exit routes

    This programme is flexible so that you can join from other University of Buckingham programmes and gain exemptions from modules of the professional doctorate. Also, if you decide that the professional doctorate is not for you, your work will not be wasted: there are other exit routes.

    MA in Political Economy – you can register for this degree and transfer to the Professional Doctorate in January of the first academic year. The fees that you have paid for the MA will be credited towards your professional doctorate so that the total fee will be approximately the same as if you had registered for the professional doctorate from the outset.

    MA in Political Economy 2021 entry – students who enrolled on the MA in Political Economy in 2021 will be able to transfer to the professional doctorate in October 2022 and move straight to module four. A special programme of study and assessment will be designed so that those transferring in this way obtain at least 120 level-7 credits when taking into account the assessments that they have already taken at that point. If you entered the professional doctorate in this way, you can extend your MA thesis to doctoral level.

    There are also flexible exit routes so that, if you complete Modules One to Three successfully, but choose not to complete Module Four, you will receive a Postgraduate Diploma in Political Economy. However, you will be able to return within five years and complete the professional doctorate subject to the usual rules and regulations of the University regarding the return of qualifications when a qualification is taken further for another award.

    Visit the Professional Doctorate in Public Policy and Political Economy page on the University of Buckingham website for more details!

    Entry Requirements

    Good Honours (2.1 or above) BA or BSc degree in an appropriate discipline or a relevant Masters degree. If you only have a Masters degree, you must have achieved an average of 60 per cent or above.

    In addition, you must have had two years’ work experience in a relevant area if you are currently working. Alternatively, you can enter the programme if you have had ten years’ previous relevant work experience if you are no longer working in a public policy area or if you are not working at all.

    Course Fees

    Please visit our website to see our latest tuition fees: View Website

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