UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


PhD programme

Looking for a PhD programme that offers a Grand Challenge? Our new PhD programme begins in January 2018.

About the IIPP and our approach

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) is a new institute providing radical thinking about public policy driven by public purpose. We believe that the Grand Challenges facing our world, from climate change to ageing populations, require the public, private and third sectors to work together in new, dynamic ways to drive innovation, in much the same way as the ‘mission’ to put a man on the moon did.

IIPP plays a leading role in rethinking innovation and societal challenges, driving a mission-oriented approach and reshaping industrial strategy agenda on a national and global scale.

The focus of your PhD

This is a research degree. We are looking for PhD candidates that are interested in how public policy can be used to direct economic growth and innovation in order to tackle societal and technological challenges. The PhD programme that we are offering will be interdisciplinary, co-chaired by the IIPP Director, Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Deputy Director, Professor Rainer Kattel.

As our research focuses on real world impact, to address some of the most pressing problems facing human societies worldwide, we will expect successful candidates to carry out independent research and create an original and cross-disciplinary thesis on a topic developed with support from supervisors. 

This PhD programme aims to develop the next generation of world-leading interdisciplinary scholars in innovation theory, public policy, economics of innovation, innovation policy and its governance. 

If you think you’ll love this Grand Challenge, make it your mission to find out more.

The entry requirements for the IIPP PhD course

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, in a relevant subject, is essential. Exceptionally: where applicants have other suitable research or professional experience, they may be admitted without a Master's degree; or where applicants have a lower second-class UK Honours Bachelor's degree (2:2) (or equivalent) they must possess a relevant Master's degree to be admitted. We expect any successful application to include a sufficiently strong and convincing proposal, and those holding a Master's degree are typically well prepared to provide one. Relevant work experience is highly desirable.

International students

Country-specific information can be obtained from the UCL International Students web page. International applicants can find out the UK equivalents of their qualifications by selecting from the map on this page:

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Further information can be found on the following UCL web page. The English language level required for postgraduate research degrees in The Bartlett is ‘Standard’.


Details of the tuition fees for the 2017/2018 academic year are available here:


A limited number of scholarships and funding opportunities are available and so competition is very fierce. The following webpage for information on UCL financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies:http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships. Additionally, information on studentships offers by UCL departments may be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research/funded-opportunities/studentships.

Please note that you could only be considered for any sources of funding once you are in receipt of a formal offer of study from UCL - obviously those applicants who haven't secured a formal offer are excluded from consideration as they may not ultimately be successful in their application for admission.

UCL also attracts students who have received funding from their own government or other external sources, so prospective applicants are advised to check with the Ministry of Education in their own country or from the British Council for information about other potential funding opportunities.


The length of an MPhil/PhD programme is normally 3 years full-time and 5 years part-time. MPhil/PhD programmes students, whether full-time or part-time, are expected to centre their academic studies on UCL. Full-time students study for 40 hours per week. Part-time students study normally half the rate of full-time study. MPhil/PhD students do not have term times: they are required to be in continuous attendance, apart from periods of leave to be taken in line with UCL staff holiday entitlements. All students should ensure they are able to attend UCL in person for teaching and meetings as required by their supervisors. During the first month of study, the student and the principal supervisor will agree a strict timetable for supervisory meetings and progress reports; such meetings should take place at least every two months. Students can apply to spend a defined period of time away from UCL undertaking research related to their field of study.

Information for international students on qualification equivalents

Applications from potential PhD students are now open. Interested students should contact iipp-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk for more information.

Key information

Programme starts
January 2018

Modes and duration
Full time: 3 years
Part time: 5 years