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Doctor of Public Administration

2024-25 (also available for 2025-26)

This course is eligible for Doctoral loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

16 September 2024


The maximum duration for a Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) is 4 years (48 months) full-time with an optional submission pending (writing-up) period of 12 months.

About the research degree

The Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) is one of the highest and most prestigious management qualifications in the UK. Here at Huddersfield we understand that the professional leaders of the future need the highest level of leadership and personal development. The course encourages the application of sound theory and rigorous research to complex issues in business and management; the foundation for which is the development and application of knowledge and theory.

A taught programme of study is carried out in the first two years and provides preparatory training for the doctoral research phase, culminating in the submission of a research thesis. It contains four taught modules which address major aspects of research methods knowledge in a classroom-based setting. You may only progress to the research phase when they have successfully completed the taught element.

The doctoral research phase constitutes the substantive component of the DBA/DPA programme. You are required to conduct an individual supervised research project which is written up in the form of a doctoral thesis. You will have critically investigated and evaluated an approved topic, resulting in an independent and original contribution to knowledge in a relevant professional discipline, usually with a practical application. Applying the skills learnt in the taught element of the programme, you’ll be able to demonstrate an understanding of research methods appropriate to the chosen field. In addition, you are required to submit a personal reflection and impact statement to demonstrate learning over the period of study. This should capture professional and personal reflections on your experience, and how these relate to your professional and research curiosity, critical thinking, creativity and innovation in your working environments.

The thesis should be a substantial submission of 50,000 words and should demonstrate publishing potential in the field of managerial/public administration/ leadership in business or other organisations. It is an individual document that synthesizes the professional experience of the candidate, the original applied research undertaken, the academic insights achieved and the potential for contributing to practice and to the professional development of the author. The thesis should normally include: a review of the literature; research questions; conceptual framework; methodology; results; discussion on key findings and their contribution to academic and managerial/public administration/leadership practice; conclusion. The thesis will not be assessed unless it is accompanied by the PRIS.

The Personal Reflection and Impact Statement (PRIS) Successful DPA candidates will be able to demonstrate self-awareness regarding the impact the DPA experience has had on personal, professional and academic development. The statement should therefore include a future orientated strategic leadership personal development plan. The PRIS should showcase ability to critically reflect on your own actions, experiences and learning during their DBA/DPA studies. You must demonstrate critical attention to the influences that have shaped development by examining practice reflectively and reflexively, and to consider the impact of these on their professional effectiveness and ability to lead and implement strategic change in your organisation into the future.

Supervision All students are required to submit a research proposal on application to the DPA . This will ensure that you have some idea of the focus of the research you wish to undertake and will allow the School to identify supervisors with appropriate subject specialisms. On admission to the course all students will be allocated a supervisor who will be required to hold bi-monthly 1:1 sessions with their students. The research proposals from International students whose first language is not English will be diagnostically tested by colleagues in the Learning Innovation and Development Centre who will then identify bespoke academic writing support, and be supported by online resources and 1:1 sessions when on campus.

Supervisors will also be responsible for marking their students’ assignments for all the taught modules. This will ensure wrap around support for students and will engender strong supervisor/student relationships.

The Doctor of Public Administration is equivalent to the PhD but is centred around bridging the gap between your academic knowledge and professional practice. The programme retains emphasis on your own contribution to your organisation while enhancing your analytical and research skills.

Course detail

Managing Literature

This module explains the role of the literature review in research in business and management in both private and public organisations. The module will outline the process of undertaking a review of the literature. It will address the systematic approaches to conducting a review (e.g. explicit criteria for selection of publications). It will provide an overview of thematic approaches, critical analyses and synthesis procedures.

Research Methods

This module provides the opportunity to acquire and apply the techniques of research design regarding both qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. It provides for the exploration of a range of possibilities in data collection and analysis with relevance to particular research questions. It will include general issues about research methods (e.g. research formulation and design, inductive versus deductive approaches), and will then cover a range of both qualitative and quantitative research designs. Elements of mixed methods design will also be introduced here. The module will address theoretical and practical aspects of data collection and analysis along with practical support of the application of relevant computer techniques/programmes to support data analysis.

Research Proposal

The module aims to develop your abilities to prepare and formulate a proposal for a significant piece of research work. You will be required to select a topic for investigation relevant to the broader DBA/DPA thesis, formalise a coherent set of objectives for the study, review and synthesise the relevant academic literature and develop a conceptual framework as well as identify and discuss the philosophical base most appropriate for the research undertaken for the professional doctorate in the broader context of research in the social sciences. The module will consider general issues relating to developing a research proposal (e.g. philosophy of research and ethics) and will address the procedures and difficulties around specific sections of the research proposal (e.g. methodology and analysis sections).

Applied Research: Responsibility, Reflection and Impact

The module focuses on applied research and provides the opportunity to develop links between other modules on the DBA/DPA. In the broader DBA/DPA journey, it provides the underpinning to the development journey that you will demonstrate in the final Personal Reflective Impact Statement. The heart of the module is centred on allowing you to develop your own position and identity in relation to the practice and purpose of research in a real-world context. You will be encouraged to reflect on the concept of impact and make sense of it in the context of your own research. More broadly, you will aim to reflect on the relationship between your role as researchers alongside other roles that you play. You will also consider your impact as leaders and managers, to organisations and wider society.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for this course are normally:

  • A Masters level, or equivalent qualification, normally with a classification of merit or distinction, and have held/or hold a Senior Management position for three or more years.
  • Applicants must submit a 3,000 word (maximum) research proposal that indicates the area of Business/Management/Administration/Leadership that is likely to be researched.
  • A reliable internet connection is required.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.5 overall with no element lower than 6.0, or equivalent. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

Student support

At the University of Huddersfield, you'll find support networks and services to help you get ahead in your studies and social life. Whether you study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, you'll soon discover that you're never far away from our dedicated staff and resources to help you to navigate through your personal student journey. Find out more about all our support services.

Researcher Environment

Our postgraduate researchers contribute to our thriving research culture at Huddersfield, in return we provide an experience that enhances your potential and inspires you to think big and become a globally competitive researcher.

Join our community of like-minded people who are passionate for research and gain access to world-leading facilities, advanced research skills training, and expert careers advice.

Reduced inequalities

We recently ranked 6 out of 796 global institutions for reduced inequalities in the Times Higher Impact ratings – this recognises our research on social inequalities, policies on discrimination and commitment to recruit staff and students from underrepresented groups (THE Impact Rankings 2022).


We are in the top 50 UK universities for research power, and nearly two thirds of our research environment is classified as world leading and internationally excellent (REF2021).

As a researcher, you’ll gain access to our Researcher Skills Development Programme through the Graduate School, to help broaden your knowledge and access tools and skills to improve your employability. The programme is mapped against Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF), you’ll benefit from Vitae’s career support as well as our own programme. We also have a team dedicated to improving the academic English needed for research by our international PGRs. Our training is delivered in a variety of ways to take advantage of online platforms as well as face-to-face workshops and courses. You can access a range of bespoke training opportunities and in-person events that are tailored to each stage of your journey, including: * sessions on PhD thesis writing, publications and journals, post-doctoral opportunities, poster and conference presentations, networking, and international travel opportunities * opportunity to work and study abroad via the Turing Scheme through The Graduate School * externally accredited training programme with Advance HE (HEA) and CMI * online research training support accessed through a dedicated researcher module in Brightspace, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment * We also hold a series of PGR focussed events such as 3 Minute Thesis * PGR led research conference * informal events throughout the year.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

When you are offered a place on a research degree, your offer will include confirmation of your supervisory team, and the topic you will be researching and will be governed by our terms & Conditions, student handbook and relevant policies. You will find a guide to the key terms here, along with the Student Protection Plan.

Whilst the University will use reasonable efforts to ensure your supervisory team remains the same, sometimes it may be necessary to make changes to your team for reasons outside the University’s control, for example if your supervisor leaves the University, or suffers from long term illness. Where this is the case, we will discuss these difficulties with you and seek to either put in place a new supervisory team, or help you to transfer to another research facility, in accordance with our Student Protection Plan.

Changes may also be necessary because of circumstances outside our reasonable control, for example the University being unable to access it’s buildings due to fire, flood or pandemic, or the University no longer being able to provide specialist equipment. Where this is the case, we will discuss these issues with you and agree any necessary changes.

Your research project is likely to evolve as you work on it and these minor changes are a natural and expected part of your study. However, we may need to make more significant changes to your topic of research during the course of your studies, either because your area of interest has changed, or because we can no longer support your research for reasons outside the University’s control. If this is the case, we will discuss any changes in topic with you and agree these in writing. If you are an international student, changing topics may affect your visa or ATAS clearance and if this is the case we will discuss this with you before any changes are made.

The Office for Students (OfS) is the principal regulator for the University.

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