Crawford PhD in Policy and Governance
The Crawford PhD in Policy and Governance encourages and stimulates interdisciplinary and theoretically guided approaches to public policy and administration, social policy and governance. A wide variety of disciplines are represented in the backgrounds of Policy and Governance supervisors: political science, political theory, social policy, international relations and economics.
Their empirical interests range widely across key policy issues in Australia, the neighbouring Asia-Pacific region, and other countries of the world, as well as regional and global public policy and governance challenges. The interdisciplinary and theoretically rich nature of the program ensures students are well informed in the selected research area and able to emerge as highly competent researchers engaged at the cutting edge of international academic scholarship.
This information is for prospective PhD candidates.
Step 1: Check your eligibility
The admission requirement for PhD study in the Crawford PhD in Policy and Governance program requires the student to have one of the following qualifications:
- A Master’s Degree in social science or related fields of social studies. The applicant should have received an average of 75 at ANU or equivalent results from other universities.
- ABA with honours degree with at least three years’ work experience in a research environment and with a proven academic publication record as a first author may be considered to be equivalent to a Master’s Degree. This will be assessed on a case by case basis.
- Students wishing to undertake a PhD in either of these fields whose first language is not English are required to have an overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a score of no less than 6.0 in each individual band.
If you are not sure whether you can meet these criteria, please contact the Student Administration Officer for advice.
Step 2: Look for possible supervisor(s)
Please look through the Crawford School Webpage to see what type of projects are currently being pursued by students and supervisors.
At the ANU, higher degree research students have a primary supervisor and a panel of co-supervisors and/or advisors. If you apply for a POGO PhD, the primary supervisor or at least one of the co-supervisors needs to be from POGO. POGO supervisory panels are typically made up of experienced professors, mid- and early-career researchers working in the field of interest to the student and one or more colleagues from disciplinary areas that relate to the student’s topic.
The POGO supervisors who are available for recruiting new students this year include:
- Dr. Chunlai Chen
- Dr. Bjoern Dressel
- Dr. Llewelyn Hughes
- Professor Peter Macdonald
- Dr. Amanda Smullen
- Professor Peter Whiteford
You may see their research interests by clicking on the links to their name.
Step 3: Write the thesis proposal
A precise and informative description of the project.
A summary of the proposed research (approx 300 words) that includes the key research question or hypothesis, the rationale for the research, and the method to be employed in the study.
Aims & significance
A clearly focused statement of the overall purpose of the proposed research (ie, why is it important?).
Research questions &/or hypotheses
The questions that the proposed research will address and/or the hypotheses that will be tested.
You need to demonstrate that are aware of the wider literature published internationally and your research can be engaged with the on-going debates. Therefore, you need to provide a preliminary review of the key research that has already been carried out in the field and identification of the gaps in the literature that the proposed research aims to fill.
An explanation of what type of data will be required to answer the research questions, or test the hypotheses and how the data will be collected and analysed.
An indication of how the research will be carried out over the duration of a full-time (3 years for PhD) or part-time (6 years for PhD) candidature.
An indication of the funding that will be required over the course of the candidature (eg, for fieldwork) as well any special materials or training that may be necessary for the successful completion of the project.
A statement on why POGO is suitable for your project and an indication of potential supervisors/advisors.
A list of references cited in or relevant to the proposal.
General tips on proposal writing.
Step 4: Submit an expression of interest and contact potential supervisors
Before submitting an application for admission, you must submit an expression of interest by emailing the following documents to, a least, two potential supervisors.
- Curriculum vitae (CV)
- Academic transcripts
- IELTS/TOEFL results (if applicable)
- Thesis proposal (5-10 pages)
Step 5: Make a formal application to the ANU
Once a supervisor has interviewed you and signed off on your proposal, you may then submit an online application. Your application will be sent to the Crawford HDR Admissions Committee for assessment at the next Crawford HDR Admissions meeting. Please contact the Crawford HDR Coordinator for more information and see PhD programs for application due dates.
Students studying a PhD program in the Public Policy and Governance fields are required to complete Postgraduate Training through coursework by taking the following subjects
- POGO9096 Research Design (12 units, Semester 1, offered by Crawford School of Public Policy)
Note: This course is different from the Masters level research design courses available at the ANU as important guidance on PhD training and thesis writing will also be covered. This course is specific to the degree and program. Students who have taken Master’s level research method courses would not be exempt from these courses unless the student has a proven record of academic publication or extensive research experience.
The Policy and Governance Program conducts a PhD candidate Reading Group on selected themes on public policy and governance. All students are expected to participate and contribute to the reading group.
If a student’s background is inadequate and needs more detailed and basic research methods training, they may be asked to take or audit:
- POGO8096: Research methods (This is a Master’s level course)
A student may also be asked to undertake additional courses if the supervisor considers it necessary to aid the successful completion of their dissertation. The following is a list of Master degree courses available at Crawford School of Public Policy which are possible additional courses.
- Master of Public Policy
- Master of Public Administration
- Master of Public Policy specialising in Policy Analysis
- Master of Public Policy specialising in Development Policy
- Master of Public Policy specialising in Economic Policy
- Master of Public Policy specialising in International Policy
- Master of Public Policy specialising in Social Policy
Students are expected to give one seminar each year of their doctoral studies in the Policy and Governance seminar series attended by staff members and fellow students. These three presentations will be:
- 1st year: Research proposal (including research question, literature review, research design and research methods)
- 2nd year: Fieldwork experience and reflection on research methods
- 3rd and 4th year: Research findings (or further research plans)
Apart from presenting, PhD students are expected to attend seminars regularly, and be actively involved in providing constructive comments on the work of others.
Supervised Research and Thesis
The main supervisor (or the Chair) should be an on-going academic in the Policy and Governance Program. The student is expected to be an active member of the program and contribute intellectually to the program’s research activities.
At the end of the first year, in preparation for their research proposal seminar, the student is expected to complete a no more than 35 page document which includes the following:
- Introduction—Introduces the broad topic, explains its relevance and sets out the specific research questions;
- An initial review of the relevant literature which will provide the theoretical framework for the PhD; Methodology chapter which restates the research questions, sets out the proposed methodology and research design and includes research timeline.
A summary of this information is expected to be presented at the first seminar which will be attended by the supervisory panel as well as other staff members and PhD students. At the conclusion of the proposal seminar, the supervisory panel will meet to discuss whether the student:
- Needs to make any changes or amendments to research design and methodology before being allowed to progress to next stage of research—i.e. data collection (fieldwork); or
- Whether in the opinion of the supervisory panel, the student is not capable of completing the PhD and their enrolment should be terminated.
The assessment will be based on:
- Whether the student has a clear idea about their research question
- Whether the student is aware of the main literature and on-going debates on the topic
- Whether the research methodology is suitable for the research question
- Whether the research plan is feasible
The final thesis should be no more than 100,000 words in length including footnotes and tables. When the thesis is complete, the thesis is examined by two outside examiners who are experts in the relevant field. The PhD degree is awarded solely on the basis of the examination of the research thesis. While examiners will be aware that the candidate has completed coursework requirements, the level of performance in coursework is not taken into account in examining the candidate for the award of the degree.
End of PhD presentation
A final presentation of the PhD results will occur after the student submits their thesis, preferably after the candidate has received positive responses from external examiners. The presentation will be publicised to a wider audience from outside Crawford School of Public Policy.
The decision on whether the student is qualified for a PhD will still be made by external examiners.
It is University policy that each candidate’s progress should be reviewed periodically. Within the Policy and Governance program, the supervisor will regularly meet with the student to discuss progress and offer written suggestion for progress every year.
Every six months, supervisory panel will formally assess the students’ progress. The student will be given a written consent to proceed or warning to improve. Failing to improve as suggested, the supervisory panel can decide whether the student should terminate.
At the end of each year, PhD candidates are required to submit an Annual Plan, which outlines their research plan for the next twelve months, and an Annual Report, which summarises their progress in their research and also discusses difficulties or changes in their research path, if any. The Progress Report and the Annual Plan form the basis of the student’s Annual Review. The University’s policies in relation to higher degree research students can be found at the higher degree research guide page.
POGO PhD can be in the form of a book or by publication. If the supervisor considers a student needs to write a PhD in a different format from the two specified here, it should be considered case by case.
Book format thesis
The thesis is usually a book length work (70,000-90,000 words) with maximum 100,000 words, exceeding of which should seek special permission as the school regulation suggests.
Thesis by publications
We would only recommend this option to students with significant independent research experience or existing publication records. The significant independent research experience would be determined on a case by case basis by the supervisory group. ANU has regulations on the requirement for thesis by publications (as attached in the following sections). It is generally advisable that the student has research papers or drafts of research papers ready for submitting within the first six months of the PhD. The thesis should be consist of single authored four published papers in good journals, or received acceptance letters of the four papers from good journals. These should be journals that are considered to be good quality in the relevant topic and disciplines. The supervisors should work together with the students to set a list of good journals for the students to aim for. The journals should be indicated in the students’ annual report and be approved by the supervisory panel and delegated authority. The submitted thesis should still be bound together with an introduction chapter, a literature review chapter and conclusion. The students need to show the logical connections between the different chapters and demonstrate that the published papers are well integrated into one research. It is important that the four papers should not repeat each other.
Teaching and other work experience
As well as active participation in student seminars, Policy and Governance PhD students may have the opportunity to gain teaching experience by working with Policy and Governance academics as a tutor or teaching assistant. Students who are interested in doing this should discuss the option with their supervisors.