What is the difference between 'directorate' and 'department'?

Is a department, like, a ministry and directorate a sub-ministry? In the political/business context, a directorate doesn't exist on its own and is always subordinate to a department (which is, in turn, a specialized division of a government or company itself), is that right?

  • As a best practice, you should put your main question in the question itself, not as the title of the question. This is explained at this meta post. When a question starts with a follow-on, like this, or like this, or like this, it can be a bit confusing.
    – J.R.
    Nov 22, 2019 at 2:28
  • How can those questions be confusing? If they are in titles, on the contrary, they are easier to notice. Why can't bodies be follow-ons to titles? What's wrong with it? You've already read the title when you clicked the question. Why should I repeat it in the body? Nov 22, 2019 at 15:27
  • Those are your original questions, before they were edited, taken from the revision history. I think they do a good job of showing what a question looks like when you put the main question in the title and follow that on in the body of a question. Anyway, I was just trying to give some helpful advice from a seasoned veteran. Ignore it if you want – I'm not going to waste any more time arguing about it.
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    Nov 22, 2019 at 15:58
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1 Answer 1


It may differ between organisations, but a "directorate" is normally everything that is under one particular director of the company. "Departments" are usually then smaller areas within the directorate, normally under a department head or department manager.

Organisations differ in structure, and I would say that this applies when an organisation has more than one director with different areas of responsibility - otherwise there would be no need to divide the organisation into directorates, as everything would fall under the director or a board of directors.

  • Lexico says otherwise, 'A section of a government department in charge of a particular activity' (lexico.com/en/definition/directorate). Nov 21, 2019 at 15:49
  • @SergeyZolotarev If you have a dictionary definition, why are you asking the question? I've based my answer on my experience working in a UK government organisation.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 21, 2019 at 15:50
  • Don't flip out, I just asked (without actually asking but still) your opinion on that Nov 21, 2019 at 15:58
  • 1
    @I'm not "flipping out". My thoughts are that the word "section" is not business-specific and says nothing about the nature of what goes on within that division of a company. Arguably, a directorate is a section of a company, as is a department. I don't believe a company would use the word "director" if they didn't have management at "director" level, but every organisation is able to design a heirarchy the way they want to.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 21, 2019 at 16:09

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