Development Policy & Practice

This pathway draws on The Open University’s (OU’s) research excellence in Development Policy and Practice.  Many students come to this pathway with some work experience in development and related professions, and use this prior knowledge to inform their doctoral research and knowledge exchange activities.

Development Policy and Practice at the OU challenges 'top-down' and aid-driven development policy models and promotes research into more participatory and inclusive approaches. In particular, its approach to 'inclusive innovation' focuses attention on how technological, economic and social innovations in food, health and education systems and sustainable energy infrastructures can bring benefits to marginalized groups. Underpinning this pathway is a history of research at the OU on the social and economic impacts of innovation and the political dimensions of development, all with a strong orientation to policy and practice.

The Development Policy and Practice Group (DPP) is the OU’s main centre for international development research and teaching and is also the hub for the University’s inter-faculty Priority Research Area in International Development and Inclusive Innovation. Additionally, DPP is joint home to the Innogen Institute (with the University of Edinburgh), which promotes research into the social and economic impact of innovation in the life sciences.  Therefore students have access to academic researchers across the University and to a wide range of networks in policy and practice.


Students who have completed core research training at Master's level that meets the ESRC 2015 Training Guidelines take the +3 route.

The +4 route provides tailored research training for students with professional, practitioner and policy-making experience to develop a full set of academic research skills. Depending on training needs, students can also study materials from modules within three MSc programmes, all of which can be undertaken flexibly with the support of supervisors:

  • MSc Development Management
  • MSc Environmental Management
  • MSc Systems Thinking in Practice

There are related materials, for example on Technology Policy and Innovation Research, on the university’s OpenLearn website, while specialised workshops and seminars are provided during training.

Further information about PhDs at The Open University can be found here.

All DTP-funded students on this pathway will be expected to undertake knowledge exchange activities, such as an internship in an organisation related to their research at an appropriate point in their doctoral study. Recent examples of internships include working with NEPAD, teaching at the Institute of Crisis Management in Nepal, and working with a film-set company in Nigeria.

Former students have published in a World Bank working paper series, worked with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, been a CLACC Fellow at the Institute of Environment and Development, and contributed to teaching at the OU and other universities. Co-funded students have carried out work with collaborative partners, including Voluntary Services Overseas, the UK Co-operative College, the International Potato Centre and the African Centre for Technology Studies, and produced a range of different outputs for non-academic publics. The pathway will continue to seek co-funding opportunities.

Graduates typically move into positions in academia, government ministries and agencies, policy and research institutes and consultancy work, many at senior levels of leadership in the UK, internationally, or in multilateral organisations.

Pathway leader: Dr Mark Lamont and Dr Frangton Chiyemura

Contact: and

The Open University

Development Policy and Practice
Structure of provision: +3, +4