Doctoral research

The Department of Public Administration and Policy has a vibrant and close-knit international research community of early-career and established researchers. We have PhD students from all over the world, conducting fascinating research in the fields of local governance, public management, and public policy. Part of our cohort is formed by part-time PhD students who are conducting their project next to working in a variety of public sector roles. Monthly PhD seminars offer a supportive environment for presenting projects and learning from each other. In addition, the Department organises a range of other research activities, including writing retreats, ‘work-in-progress’ sessions, and ad hoc thematic sessions, that bring PhD students and staff together.

PhD Student profiles

To get an idea of the rich variety of projects and backgrounds of our current PhD students, please view our doctoral researcher profiles. 

PhD pathways

We have four exciting PhD pathways which link to our research themes and agenda. Below you can find out more about topics that are of current interest to our research community and that we would be particularly interested to receive research proposals on. We of course are open to other innovative ideas and topics. For further details and examples, please check our Staff, Research, and PhD profile pages.

Governance, institutional design and leadership

Research in this theme is oriented to the governance of networks, partnerships and central-local relations and new ways of thinking about their institutional design and leadership. We are particularly interested in the role of multi-level governance and institutional policy networks, political and systems leadership, and performance management.

Potential supervisors

Current PhD students

Adriana Algarin Castillo, Biswanath Chakrabarty, Minkyu Jin, Jason Lowther, Eileen Masters, Matty McKenna, Adam Payler, Pak Wan Major Pau,  Bryony Rudkin, Philip Swann, Vitaly Voytenko, Camila Ramos-Fuenzalida 

Co-production, democratic and social innovation, and inclusion

Research in this theme is oriented to the wide range of ways in which citizens and communities are engaged in governance and developing innovative responses to complex societal issues. We are particularly interested in how public policies and services can be coproduced in inclusive, democratic and empowering ways.

Potential supervisors

Current PhD students

Adriana Algarin Castillo, Kevin Harris, Tangang Andrew Tangang, Sally Ward, Mega Waty

Policy-making, implementation and service delivery

Research in this theme is oriented to the practices and interactions of a wider variety of ‘policy-makers’, including councillors, street-level bureaucrats and citizens, and the ways in which these give shape to policy processes and outcomes. We are particularly interested in policy agendas, the everyday practices of front line workers, public encounters with citizens, and the impact of digitalisation.

Potential supervisors

Current PhD students

Minkyu Jin, Jason Lowther, Bryony Rudkin, Mega Waty

Smart, sustainable and creative approaches to policy challenges

Research in this theme is oriented to how smart cities and digitalisation initiatives are developed to address complex policy challenges. We are particularly interested in how such approaches generate creative and sustainable changes across multiple levels of governance and policy sectors.

Potential supervisors

Current PhD students

Laurie Duncan

Research degrees offered

Studying part-time and full-time

We welcome applications from prospective students wishing to study both part-time and full-time. Part-time students should expect to spend the equivalent of 2 days per week on their research. One day per week during the first year will normally involve attendance at postgraduate modules. While full-time students should be able to devote the full working week to their studies. 


PhD students will be assigned two supervisors (a first and second supervisor) with whom you will meet on a monthly basis to discuss the progress of your project. Supervisors are experienced in managing the research process and are chosen to complement your area of interest. Staff have connections with a wide range of local authorities and other governmental, voluntary sector and research bodies in the UK and abroad.

Visiting PhD students

We welcome applications for visiting PhD student positions. Applicants should initially contact either their preferred mentor or the Director of Postgraduate Research. Applicants should indicate the purpose, preferred duration and source of funding of the visiting period, and include a full research proposal, C.V. and plan for what they wish to achieve during their stay. Once a mentor has been identified, a formal application needs to be made following the School of Government Visiting Fellowship scheme.

Find out more

For more information, contact Koen Bartels (, Director of Postgraduate Research