UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


PhD in Innovation and Public Policy

The UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) is open to applications for our Doctoral Research Programme in Innovation and Public Policy.

Universtiy College London - portico winter
Apply now


IIPP is a UCL institute providing radical thinking about public policy driven by public purpose. Tackling the grand challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to ageing populations, requires actors in the public, private and third sectors to work together in new and dynamic ways in order to drive innovation. In this dynamic context, the public sector cannot limit itself to simply facilitating business by fixing market failures, but needs to actively co-create and shape the markets of the future to help achieve these societal goals. This implies creating not only public goods but also targeting the creation of public value. The emphasis on co-creating markets and public value challenges the orthodoxy in economic and governance theories and moves towards radical new thinking about how to justify, nurture and evaluate public policy driven by the idea of public purpose.

IIPP research uses multidisciplinary perspectives to rethink ways in which innovation leads to transformative change. Our main focus is on the development of capabilities and capacities needed within public institutions, and new forms of collaborations between actors in both private and public spheres, to drive innovation across society-wide missions.

Back to top


About the programme

The Innovation and Public Policy PhD is an interdisciplinary Doctoral Research Programme focusing on rethinking innovation in the context of public value creation.

The programme aims to develop the next generation of world-leading interdisciplinary scholars in the economics of innovation, innovation policy and its governance, thus focuses on providing students with a bespoke programme of scholarly development designed to improve applied conceptual, theoretical and analytical skills.

A key goal of the programme is to prompt doctoral researchers to blend and synthesise different disciplinary tools to offer truly interdisciplinary analysis on how innovation can be harnessed to tackle global challenges. The students are encouraged to take courses and undertake research with other departments across UCL, as relevant for their research.

In their first year, students are registered as MPhil candidates but are then expected to upgrade to PhD status. Full-time students are expected to complete their PhDs in three to four years, whilst part-time students are expected to complete in five to seven years. The main and final product of this programme is the thesis, and your result rests on the examination of this.

Back to top


Events and open days

More information will be added when events and open days are available.

To browse our upcoming and past events, including our public lecture series in partnership with the British Library, go to our Events feed.

For videos of previous lectures and talks, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Back to top


Entry requirements

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.

Exceptions: 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.

Back to top


International/overseas 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 their country from the map.

Back to top


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. The English language level required for postgraduate research degrees in The Bartlett is ‘Standard’. Further information can be found on the UCL website.

Back to top


How to apply

  • Check whether you meet our entry requirements listed above.
  • Consider how your research topic relates to IIPP’s research and policy agenda. If you are unsure, please contact iipp.studentenquiries@ucl.ac.uk. 
  • Write your proposal. Your PhD research proposal is the central component of your application. We encourage you to invest significant time in making it as strong as possible. The target length of a proposal is 2,000 to 2,500 words. It should include your aims, core research questions, a discussion of the relevant theoretical literature you will contribute to and develop, the methodological approaches you intend to use, details of how the research will be accomplished practically and a concise bibliography. The proposal should make clear how your research is related and contributes to IIPP’s research agenda, and indicate potential supervisors of your thesis (further information on PhD supervision in UCL can be found here). You should include one or two sentences about how you intend to fund your degree.
  • Submit your application. When your proposal is finalised, you need to submit it along with the email addresses of referees, transcripts and your CV. Full details of what is required, including the link for submitting your documents, can be found here.
Apply now
Back to top


Following your application

The university will conduct a number of checks to ensure you are eligible to study at UCL. Your application will be assessed by two academics with relevant expertise and you may be invited for an interview, which may take place in person, by telephone/video or by email, to explore further your ideas, skills, experience and commitment to doctoral research.

We aim to provide a decision within six working weeks of receiving a complete application and references. However, this may be longer due to other external factors. The Graduate Admissions Office will contact you with an official, binding offer.

Once your application has been formally accepted, you will now be able to apply for funding to support your programme of study. The university maintains a current list of scholarship and funding opportunities here. We encourage you to look widely and discuss options with your prospective supervisor. 

Back to top



  • EU/UK full-time: £5,060
  • EU/UK part-time: £2,530
  • Overseas full-time: £19,970
  • Overseas part-time: £10,140
Back to top



The deadline to apply for the Baillie Gifford studentships has now passed. Please sign up to IIPP's newsletter to find out when more opportunities become available.

The Baillie Gifford Studentships cover fees (3 years full-time equivalent or 5 years full-time equivalent) and an annual stipend of £20,000 (pro-rated for part-time students) and are awarded based on academic merit.

To qualify for a studentship, you must hold an unconditional offer of a place in IIPP's PhD programme. These studentships are not transferable to another year or course and are not subject to right of appeal.

To apply, simply send an email to iipp.studentenquiries@ucl.ac.uk confirming you would like to be considered for a studentship and please include your UCL Application Number.

Visit the UCL scholarships page for information on other UCL financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies. To learn more about scholarship eligibilities, please visit this page.

Please note that you can only be considered for any sources of funding once you are in receipt of a formal offer of study from UCL – 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 governments or other external sources, so prospective applicants are advised to check with the Ministry of Education in their own country or the British Council for information about other potential funding opportunities.

Back to top



Back to top


Visit the UCL Doctoral School website for more information for prospective and current PhD students.