Social Policy Doctoral study

The Department welcomes DPhil candidates who are interested in a wide range of areas of social policy research

The Department of Social Policy and Intervention offers a DPhil in Social Policy and welcomes graduate students from across the world to apply for our unique Oxford PhD. Doctoral research students are an important part of our academic community, and they will be fully involved and immersed in the life of the Department. We are the top-ranked Social Policy department in the UK, and second globally.

The Department welcomes 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 and 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, and public attitudes towards social policy issues. Work using a range of methodogies and approaches is welcome. Comparative approaches are also welcome, including work comparing welfare systems in advanced economies in Europe and OECD countries as well as that studying social policy in other parts of the world.

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 also available on a part-time basis. The part-time version of the degree has the same high standards and requirements as the full-time degree, but spread over 6-8 years. The degree is particularly well suited for students who are seeking flexibility and it provides an excellent opportunity for professionals to undertake rigorous long-term research that may be relevant to their working life. For more information, please contact

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The Department's approach to graduate study emphasises the student’s ability to work independently to explore and devlop their of research under an academic supervisor (or two co-supervisors). Each member of academic staff has expertise in particular areas of social policy and students are accepted for a DPhil only 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.

The Department, Colleges and University provide several scholarships for DPhil students. Please consult the information provided here.

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.

For details on how to apply see here.