Social Policy Doctoral study

DSPI students doctoral

We welcome graduate students from across the world to apply for our unique DPhil in Social Policy. Doctoral research students are an important part of our academic community, and you will be fully involved and immersed in the life of one of the top-ranked Social Policy departments in the UK and across the world.

We are keen to hear from DPhil candidates who are interested in a wide range of areas of social policy research. These include: 

  • Family and family policies 

  • Theorisation and measurement of poverty 

  • Educational inequalities 

  • The role of policy, economic and social inequalities 

  • Health and social care 

  • Gender inequality 

  • Social mobility and inequality of opportunity 

  • Labour market institutions and policies 

  • Retirement and pension reforms 

  • Politics of welfare state reform 

  • The role of organised interest groups in social policy 

  • Social policy as a vehicle of development 

  • Public attitudes towards social policy issues

Your work using a range of methodologies and approaches is welcome. Comparative approaches are also welcome, including work comparing welfare systems in advanced economies in Europe and OECD countries, and study of social policy in other parts of the world. 

Expand All

The varied research portfolio of staff is organised within the Oxford Institute of Social Policy and its research groups.  

The DPhil programme in Social Policy is available on a full-time or part-time basis. The part-time version of the degree has the same high standards and requirements as the full-time degree, but is spread over 6-8 years. If you are seeking flexibility, this degree is particularly suited to you. It also provides an excellent opportunity if you are a professional looking to undertake rigorous long-term research that may be relevant to your working life. For more information, please contact

Our approach to graduate study focuses on your ability to work independently to explore and develop your research under an academic supervisor (or two co-supervisors). Each member of academic staff has expertise in a particular area of social policy. Therefore, you can only be accepted for a DPhil if there is an appropriate supervisor available. 

DPhil students are also members of a college which provides opportunities for exchange with other students and fellows across disciplines. Oxford colleges offer a unique academic community. Student college membership ranges across the University as the Department has an association with a large number of colleges.

Many graduates of the DPhil programme in social policy go on to pursue academic careers in world-leading research universities, while other alumni hold influential positions in government, non-governmental and international organisations such as the World Bank, the World Health Organisation, and the UN. 

The department, colleges and the University provide several scholarships for DPhil students. You can find out more about this here.

For details on how to apply see here.