Researcher - Public Policy (2023)

ICF ( is a global consultancy firm working in the UK, across Europe, the US and worldwide. At ICF, we combine unmatched expertise with cutting-edge engagement capabilities to help governments, international institutions, public services and charities solve their most complex challenges, navigate change, and improve the quality of life of people around the world.

We are a purpose driven company with a strong culture and underlying values that prize collaboration, diversity, mutual respect, innovation, open communication, and opportunity for growth. At ICF, we are not all the same. And that has always been our greatest strength. We apply our passion for meaningful work with intellectual rigour. We see strength in difference and pride ourselves in welcoming people from all backgrounds into our community.

We are looking for Researchers to join our UK policy research and evaluation teams.

The Researcher role is a role for early-career social and environmental researchers. The role will give you experience of working across a wide range of projects and topics, coupled with research training that will enable you to grow your career at ICF. We are looking for people with demonstrable professional experience of working on one or more policy research topics and / or research methods relevant to our UK Government and UK third sector clients. These include:

  • Social policy, i.e. research with people that use services and agencies that work in the health, education, employment, social care, food and the food chain, business and regulation of businesses, justice, housing policy areas or similar

  • Environmental policy, i.e. research with stakeholders involved in policy connected with biodiversity, land use and environmental management, farming, fisheries, or similar

  • Research methods: i.e. applied research involving the analysis of primary data, including: qualitative analysis, applied economics and economic analysis connected with UK government policy, evaluation of policies and projects including impact evaluation and quasi-experimental approaches, service design / user experience research, data science and data visualisation or similar

People who have experience of working in front line services with an interest in pursuing a career in research are very much welcome to apply.

What you’ll get to do:

From day one, you will have the opportunity to contribute to a varied range of influential research projects across the UK. Our work is multidisciplinary, and by becoming part of a growing team of more than 50 social scientists, policy analysts, data analysts, behavioural researchers and economists, you will gain experience of different policy areas and research methods. You will be working across multiple projects and we will support you to develop your own career pathway as you grow your skills, through excellent training and development opportunities.

ICF’s clients include government departments and agencies such as NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, Health Education England, the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency, Natural England and the Department for Business and Trade – as well as local government and leading charities. Many of our researchers also support wider ICF teams with a range of social and economic policy research projects for the European Commission.

Examples of some of our recent projects include the evaluation of the Housing First Pilots for homeless people, research on health needs following COVID-19 for a local authority, the evaluation of the Childhood Obesity Trailblazers for DHSC, designing an evaluation strategy for a major charity’s new programme to tackle the health effects of air pollution in urban environments, and the evaluation of a major regulatory programme for the FSA.

(Video) Intro to Public Policy Research for Graduate Students (21 min)

Your main responsibilities will be to:

Perform research and analysis on public policy issues and programmes for public and third sector clients, by:

  • Carrying out open source research, and analysing / summarising academic and policy literature.

  • Conducting face to face, telephone and video interviews, writing up interviews and focus groups, and carrying out qualitative analysis using a variety of tools and software.

  • Managing surveys, and analysing quantitative data using a variety of tools and software.

  • Generating insightful findings, preparing descriptive and analytical texts and data visualisations.

  • Providing research and administrative support to other team members.

  • Writing reports and presentations.

  • Contributing to bids or research proposals.

  • Overseeing the work of new colleagues and / or small project teams.

Essential Requirements:

  • Excellent oral and written English.


  • Excellent time management skills.

  • University qualification relevant to social or environmental policy (graduate or postgraduate, for example but not limited to social sciences, economics or health economics, applied statistics, human geography or anthropology, environmental policy or management, political science, service design, psychology or sociology, public policy research or public administration).

  • Experience of using a variety of methods (qualitative and/or quantitative) in research projects (either own project and/or as part of a team).

  • Strong interest in UK policy, the improvement of public services and use of evidence in policy making.

  • Intermediate or advanced computer user skills related to carrying out research and data analysis.

  • Experience of team working and working with others to achieve research goals.

  • Experience of presenting ideas and research findings to an audience.


  • Skills in editing or proofreading other people’s written work.

  • Experience in undertaking evaluations of projects or programmes.

  • Knowledge of the work of UK government departments.

  • At least one to two years of professional experience in a relevant role.

    (Video) What it's like to be a Policy Researcher

Personal Qualities:

  • Highly developed interpersonal / communication skills, and ability to work with a multidisciplinary team spread across the UK and Europe.

  • Sound research and business ethics.

  • Ability to manage own time and be flexible to handle multiple priorities, managing a varied workload to meet deadlines.

  • Ability to write skilfully and accurately summarise and synthesise information and evidence from a wide range of sources.

  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy.

  • Strong, demonstrable commitment to helping us build an inclusive team that values diversity.

Ready to apply?

The base location for the role will be either London, Birmingham, Leeds, Plymouth or Manchester. Please state your preference in your covering letter. We have a hybrid working model that supports our employees to work from a base office and from home.

  • Interested candidates are invited to follow the link and submit a one-page cover letter and a two-page CV.

  • Applications without a cover letter will not be selected.

  • You must upload your cover letter and CV as two separate files (Word or pdf).

    (Video) Types of Public Policy - With Examples | Researcher Vlog

  • Applicants may have to complete a written test at home as part of the recruitment process, to be scheduled at a convenient time for the candidate.

  • Please let us know if you require any reasonable adjustments to take part in a written test or interview.

  • This is a full-time position, but we are very much welcoming of applications from candidates who would like to work part time.


About us:

Working at ICF means applying a passion for meaningful work with intellectual rigor to help solve the leading issues of our day. Smart, compassionate, innovative, committed, ICF employees tackle unprecedented challenges to benefit people, businesses, and governments around the globe. We believe in collaboration, mutual respect, open communication, and opportunity for growth.

We can only solve the world's toughest challenges by building an inclusive workplace that allows everyone to thrive. We are committed to creating a culture where we embrace our differences in ideas and identities. Together, our employees are empowered to share their expertise and collaborate with others to achieve personal and professional goals.

Learn more about what we do and our commitment to inclusion.

The benefits of joining ICF:

Our people at ICF are our most important asset, so we invest in them from the moment they arrive. When you join our team, you’ll have access to a vast array of benefits to help you live your life well.

We offer a hybrid working policy, which will provide you with the flexibility to collaborate in the office, as well as in the comfort of your own home, ensuring you are able to successfully deliver the requirements of your role.

To support you, our employee wellbeing hub is designed to provide highly personalised support across a comprehensive range of wellbeing issues, such as mind, body, finances, community, career programs and HR support.

(Video) Mind the Gap: Interactions of Policy and Research | Aryeh Gitterman | TEDxYorkUSalon

We enjoy celebrating success, which is why we have a competitive recognition program called ‘You Matter’, which awards points as a ‘thank you’ for your work achievements. These can be spent on a large variety of high-quality items, as well as online or high-street vouchers, all with zero tax payable by the employee.

ICF also offers a range of competitive benefits, which include:

  • Single Private Medical Insurance cover with no restrictions on existing conditions.
  • Dental insurance and an online GP service.
  • 25 days annual leave, plus UK bank holidays (annual leave increases with years of service).
  • Pension scheme with 5% of salary employer contribution
  • Life assurance paying 4x annual salary and Group Income Protection paying 66% of salary for up to 5 years if you are off work on long-term sick.
  • Enhanced parental leave policies, enhanced maternity, paternity, adoption, and shared parental pay.

London, United Kingdom (GB75)


What is a public policy researcher? ›

As a public policy analyst, you research the effectiveness of legislation to help determine its actual effect and impact. Many public policy analysts specialize in specific areas of concern, such as education or public safety.

What is the role of research in public policy? ›

Policymakers and practitioners use research in various ways, including instrumental, conceptual, political, imposed, and process uses. Increased knowledge of these nuances should enable researchers to produce more useful work and better engage with policymakers, practitioners, and intermediaries.

How do you get into public policy research? ›

Most entry-level jobs in the field of public policy require a bachelor's degree. Policy analysts are required to have at least a master's degree, although most think tanks prefer hiring those who are in the process of completing a doctorate degree.

What do public policy majors do? ›

What Is a Public Policy Major? A public policy major is a degree path that trains students to develop, implement and evaluate policy solutions for the problems society faces. Students may look at large-scale problems like controlling the national debt or local issues like homlessness.

Is a public policy degree worth it? ›

Is a degree in public policy worth it? Many graduates find that a public policy degree allows them to develop and implement policy changes that help people live better lives. Careers for public policy majors include research-focused jobs, roles within government agencies, and lobbyist positions.

Why pursue a PhD in public policy? ›

A DPA degree can help you learn how to:

Evaluate effective leadership and management principles (including theory, concepts, and practices) utilized in the public sector. Evaluate solutions to practical problems in public administration using evidence-based practices and research.

Why is research so important in public relations? ›

Research allows us to engage in dialogue with publics, understanding their beliefs and values, and working to build understanding on their part of the internal workings and policies of the organization.

What does research mean in policy? ›

Policy research, therefore, is defined as the process of conducting research on, or analysis of, a fundamental social problem in order to provide policymakers with pragmatic, action-oriented recommendations for alleviating the problem.

What is research in policy making? ›

Research is an investigative piece of work that is provable, contestable, and supported by a body of evidence. Moreover, it establishes facts and provides new insights into the topic studied. Research may be used to inform policy and/or used as part of a wider academic project.

What makes a good policy researcher? ›

Communication is key for policymakers, who must be able to present their ideas to government authorities in persuasive ways. This includes both writing and verbal skills, and the ability to respond to feedback, criticism, and questions in productive ways. Great policy advising doesn't happen from behind a desk.

Where do policy researchers work? ›

While most policy analysts work for the government, they also work for lobbying groups, businesses and other organizations to advocate for policy change. They spend some time at a desk, conducting online research about a public issue. However, they travel a lot for their research to conduct focus groups and interviews.

How long does it take to get a PhD in public policy? ›

It may take anywhere from 3 years to 5 years to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) in Public Policy. It depends, though, on the required number of credits from your degree program and whether you're studying full-time or part-time.

Is public policy a stem field? ›

Overview. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) & Public Policy is a policy field focused on the interactions among scientific developments, technological change, social values, and governmental activities at both international and domestic levels.

What can I do with a PhD in public policy? ›

The PhD in Public Policy (PPOL) program provides the advanced graduate training you need to successfully launch yourself into a research or related position in academia, government, a nongovernmental organization, or the private sector.

Does public policy require math? ›

Graduate students in Public Policy are expected to be literate in mathematics and microeconomics at a level equivalent to MATH 20: Calculus and ECON 1: Principles of Economics before beginning the Public Policy curriculum.

What is the average GPA for public policy? ›

In general, successful applicants will have at least a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (GPA).

How much money can you make in public policy? ›

Public Policy Salary in California
Annual SalaryMonthly Pay
Top Earners$119,465$9,955
75th Percentile$83,724$6,977
25th Percentile$48,471$4,039

Why pursue a masters in public policy? ›

A master's degree in public policy can help improve your understanding of how people are affected by government regulations in their daily lives. The study of public policy is rewarding for many people because it enables them to help their communities.

What is the difference between a PhD and a DPA? ›

addresses applied issues, with the results providing professional outcomes that are of direct relevance to practice. While also intended to prepare graduates for academic careers, the D.P.A., by virtue of its focus on application of theory, has more practical application in managerial settings than the Ph. D. degree.

Is PhD public policy the same as public administration? ›

Public administration typically adheres to policy implementation, agency management roles, and organizational efficiency. Professionals in this field work to find the best methods for governments, nonprofits, or businesses to achieve policy initiatives. Public policy is largely research, analysis, and advocacy work.

What is the difference between a DBA and a PhD? ›

A PhD is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a career in academia and conduct research that contributes to business knowledge or theory. A DBA is a professional doctorate with a focus on theoretical knowledge and its use in business practice.

Why is it advantageous to be a skilled researcher in a public relations career? ›

Public relations professionals can be found researching industries, markets, clients, and conducting competitive analyses. By being an accurate and quick researcher you can communicate accurately on a subject. Public relations professionals must be knowledgeable about their clients and their needs.

What is an example of research in public relations? ›

An example might be to poll the average age of a company's customers, then conduct research on what types of media that particular age group relies on. A younger crowd is probably more in tune with social media, while an older generation might prefer newspapers or radio advertisement.

What are the three dominant approaches to public relations research? ›

Identifying and explaining the three dominant approaches to relations research: These three dominant approaches to relations research as follows are positivist, interpret, and critical social science.

What is the relationship between research and public policy? ›

Policy, for its part, describes a set of ideas or plans used as a basis for making decisions. Thus, research (the act of studying systematically) should be a much-sought-after support to policy-making, as researchers provide evidence on which decisions can be based. Yet, the relationship is not that simple.

What are the three types of policy research? ›

Quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research can be conducted at different stages of the policy process.

What are the two types of policy research? ›

Policy research can be either a field study (primary research) or a desk study (secondary research) or both.

What are the three 3 stages of research policy process? ›

The policy process is normally conceptualized as sequential parts or stages. These are (1) problem emergence, (2) agenda setting, (3) consideration of policy options, (3) decision-making, (5) implementation, and (6) evaluation (Jordan and Adelle, 2012).

What are the five steps when you are doing a research plan for a policy? ›

  • Step 1 – Locating and Defining Issues or Problems. This step focuses on uncovering the nature and boundaries of a situation or question that needs to be answered or studied. ...
  • Step 2 – Designing the Research Project. ...
  • Step 3 – Collecting Data. ...
  • Step 4 – Interpreting Research Data. ...
  • Step 5 – Report Research Findings.
Nov 22, 2022

What is research in social policy? ›

The Social Policy and Social Research MSc combines a theoretical understanding of contemporary social problems, policy intervention, and policymaking processes across different sectors and countries, with advanced research methods training. The relationship between research and policy is a key programme theme.

What are the qualifications for a researcher? ›

Master's or doctorate degree in the research field. Two or more years of teaching experience. Proven knowledge of data collection methods. Proficiency in data analysis tools and statistical applications.

What skills do you need to be a policy research analyst? ›

Good logic skills to read through minutes and summarize the conclusions and actions taken. Flexibility and ability to manage competing demands; must be able to manage a myriad of on-going tasks in a fast-paced environment and adjust to changes. Advanced writing and editing skills; varies writing style as needed.

What does a researcher do? ›

Researchers collect, organize, analyze, and interpret data and opinions to explore issues, solve problems, and predict trends. Most researchers measure public opinion. Social science researchers gauge the public's opinion regarding social issues, services, political campaigns, parties, and personalities.

Do you need a PhD to be a policy analyst? ›

A bachelor's degree is required, and most policy analysts either have a JD or PhD. Employers look for candidates who have experience, even in entry-level positions. Policy analysts are able to interpret and analyze data.

Does the government hire researchers? ›

Engineering, political science, and mathematics are all good fits for many government agencies who need researchers for their specialties. And if you're in a “soft science” like humanities or social sciences?

What are the duties of research and policy analyst? ›

The Research and Policy Analyst will be responsible for the research and analysis of information, consulting with stakeholders, government officials and internal staff, the development of options and preparation of recommendations on a wide range of policy projects.

Can you get a PhD without a masters? ›

Can You Get a PhD Without a Masters? Yes, you can get a PhD without first obtaining a master's degree. A number of universities offer direct entry to PhD programs from undergraduate or bachelor degree studies. In some cases, specific schools or programs may prefer that applicants hold a master's degree.

What is the average age entering a PhD program? ›

The average age of PhD students is quite varied, depending on the field of study. Generally speaking however, the average age of a PhD student can range from 27 to 37 years old. You can see in the table, below, that physical sciences and earth sciences PhD graduates are typically younger than those in other fields.

How long is a PhD in public policy Harvard? ›

Length of Time to Degree

Average time to completion of the PhD is five years.

Is public policy a good major for law school? ›

Policy Studies

It will also be useful for getting into law school because the admissions board knows that this major develops your critical thinking skills. This major also boosts your understanding of human psychology and what factors influence human behavior —all of which are crucial to successfully practicing law.

What is the acceptance rate for Harvard School of public policy? ›

In all fairness, HKS in 2010 listed its acceptance rate as 20 percent, though that only reflected the MPP, where 44 percent of students currently study. Still, that percentage is significantly above the acceptance rates of the college (5 percent), law school (16 percent), and business school (11 percent).

What majors are not in STEM? ›

A non-STEM major is a major that isn't in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This means non-STEM majors include those in business, literature, education, arts, and humanities.

Is a PhD in government worth it? ›

Is a PhD in Political Science Worth It? Yes, a PhD in Political Science is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the life, physical, and social science field are set to grow at 5% over the next ten years, faster than the average overall growth.

Are policy analysts in demand? ›

Most In-Demand Jobs For Data and Policy Analysts

According to job postings that were published between September 2020 and August 2021, the top job sought by employers was Policy Analysts, with 1,347 unique job postings.

Is public policy an art or science? ›

While there are degrees in public policy, public policy in itself is not defined as a social science, but instead uses various forms of social sciences, such as political science, economics, and psychology to develop its evidence base for policy development.

What is an example of a public policy? ›

Some examples of public policy include informing the public about making healthy choices, such as what they eat, physical activity, and consequences about smoking. Policies can also work to prevent the spread of diseases, like the mask mandates and other public policies we've seen during the COVID-19 outbreak.

What disciplines study public policy? ›

The public policy program covers a wide range of elements including economics, statistics, political science, international developments, sociology and public finance.

What are the four 4 types of policy? ›

The four main types of public policy include regulatory policy, constituent policy, distributive policy, and redistributive policy. These four policy types differ in terms of what their goals are, and who they impact or benefit.

What does it mean for policy research? ›

Policy research, therefore, is defined as the process of conducting research on, or analysis of, a fundamental social problem in order to provide policymakers with pragmatic, action-oriented recommendations for alleviating the problem.

Is a Public Policy PhD worth it? ›

Yes, a public policy PhD is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting 5% job growth in management-level positions over the next 10 years. Common public policy careers include policy analyst, political scientist, administration manager, nonprofit director, and public relations specialist.

Is Public Policy a stem field? ›

Overview. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) & Public Policy is a policy field focused on the interactions among scientific developments, technological change, social values, and governmental activities at both international and domestic levels.


1. Public Policy Research
(Western Michigan University Libraries)
2. Starting a career in policy research
(Institute for Government)
3. What is Social Policy?
(University of York)
4. Lamma Mansour PhD Researcher in Social Policy at University of Oxford
(Christ at The Checkpoint)
5. A researcher in search of a policy maker
6. Understanding Public Policy: How to Maximise the Use of Evidence
(Institute of Development Studies)


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