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Professional Doctorate (Built Environment)

Prof Doc

School - School of the Built Environment

Subject area - Built Environment

Start Dates(s): September


Professional Doctorate (five years part-time)


In Brief:

  • Keep up with your professional commitments while following an achievable path to a doctorate
  • Study part-time via distance learning with others from similar professional backgrounds
  • Reduce your study time by drawing on existing sources of expertise
  • A part-time only course

Course Summary

If you are an experienced property or construction professional, this course is an achievable way to gain a doctorate in a subject related to your expertise. A professional doctorate has equivalent status to a PhD, but it carries more weight for professionals, like you, who work in industry. During your time with us, you will be introduced to a step-by-step methodology which you can follow to achieve your doctorate. Your studies will take the form of distance learning supplemented by occasional workshop sessions. Consequently, the course is suitable whether you are based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or continental Europe.

Candidates who successfully complete this programme will receive one of the following final awards (according to the subject of their thesis):

  • Doctor of the Built Environment (abbreviated to DBEnv)
  • Doctor of Real Estate (abbreviated to DRealEst)
  • Doctor of Construction Management (abbreviated to DConsMgt)

Course Details

Professional doctorates are as rigorous as traditional doctorates (for example PhDs), but cater specifically for professional practitioners with many years’ experience in their field. You will be provided with the tools for making maximum use of your existing professional knowledge in an academic context, and with the key academic skills that are required for success at doctoral level.

Course Structure

You will be working on your research project from the moment you enrol on the course under the direction of an experienced research supervisor. However, during the first two years your studies will be structured into a number of credit-bearing taught modules, assessed by coursework. Successful completion of these modules allows you to progress to the final three years of the course, where you will rework and expand the written work produced during the first two years into a doctoral thesis.

Credit-bearing modules (Years 1 and 2)

This module introduces you to the nature of doctoral-level knowledge in the various built environment professional disciplines and addresses the differences between academic and professional knowledge. It also equips you with the philosophical knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about the future direction of your research project, and the ability to mount an effective defense of these decisions during the examination of your thesis.
This module draws upon theories of reflective practice and experiential learning to assist you in identifying suitable areas for research from within your own professional environment. As part of this process you are also introduced to the concept of action learning research and its potential use by practitioners. You will use your studies on this module to identify the broad focus for your doctoral research project.
Having identified a suitable area for research from within your own professional environment, this module provides you with the academic skills necessary to place this within its broader theoretical and academic context. You are guided in the process and development of a detailed critical review of the relevant literature. By the end of this module you will have defined your broad practice-centred research focus in terms of a viable research question suitable for further development to doctoral level.
During this module you will develop your understanding of the range of research methods that might be suitable for practice-related research in the built environment, and of how to select an appropriate method for your own previously identified research question. The module also emphasises the relationship between the choice of research method and some of the fundamental concepts studied during module one. By the time you complete this module you will have produced a detailed research proposal which describes, and justifies, the future direction of your research.
The final credit-bearing module supports you in the development of a short dissertation of 15,000 to 20,000 words on the subject of your doctoral research project. It provides an opportunity to use the research knowledge and skills acquired during the first four modules in a preliminary research project which can be further developed as your doctoral research proceeds. The form of the dissertation will vary according to the subject of study, and the research design decisions that you have previously made in collaboration with your supervisor. It may, for example, be largely literature based, or may involve some form of empirical pilot study.

Thesis (Years 3, 4 and 5)

By the time you reach the start of year 3 many of your doctoral-level research skills will be in place, and the direction and process of your research project will already be well-advanced. You are also likely to have had some interaction with the wider international research community and, based on your research to date, to have made some initial contributions to it. You will be capable of making independent and critical decisions about the direction of your own research, and offering criticism and insights into the contributions of your peers on the course.

The nature and scale of the remainder of the research task will vary from candidate to candidate. It may, for example, involve supplementing existing areas of work with other related work. Or perhaps it will involve a more detailed study in one aspect addressed during the dissertation. It might involve engagement with an additional body of literature whose significance has only recently come to light, or maybe involve an empirical study. Equally, some candidates will have decided to make more extensive use of the principles of reflective practice and decide to extend their work by drawing on their existing experience in a more ethnographic style of research. The range of possibilities is infinite, and the direction taken will be a matter for each individual candidate in partnership with their supervisor.

The examination

Once you and your supervisor are satisfied that the research has reached the required standard, you will submit a thesis for examination of between 70,000 and 90,000 words.

Two examiners (one from the University's own academic staff and one from another university) will read the thesis and a viva voce (oral examination) will then be convened where you will be questioned about its contents, the process and the findings of the research.

This Salford professional doctorate course has been designed to enable you to deliver a defensible thesis and to confidently defend it when challenged by the examiners. You will be well-versed in self-reflection, critical thinking and research skills and will be well prepared to justify the steps you have taken in developing your research and the validity of its findings.

Entry Requirements

A master’s degree or good (2:1 or above) honours degree and a recognised professional qualification in the built environment, and a minimum of 3 years’ relevant post-qualification experience.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 (no element below 5.5) is proof of this.

Suitable For

Experienced property and construction professionals with a demonstrable aptitude for academic study, and a desire to influence professional practice through research.

Applicant profile

You will be an experienced practitioner in one of the property and construction professions who is seeking a further challenge from that provided in your current career. You are likely to have a desire to change an aspect of practice, or to lead developments in a particular field. You will need to have strong academic abilities and written communication skills, and the motivation and self-discipline to undertake a significant programme of part-time study over a prolonged period of time.

Fees 2017-18

Type of StudyFee


This course is based on a distance learning model that is designed to be accessible to built-environment professionals based across Europe. To make expert guidance available when you need it, the course features a combination of e-learning support and research supervision. Distance-learning is supplemented by occasional all-day workshops held at MediaCityUK. This venue is easily accessible from Manchester International Airport and Manchester Piccadilly railway station.


  • Each of the first four credit-bearing modules are assessed by  a 5,000 word written assignment
  • The fifth credit-bearing module is assessed by a 15,000 to 20,000 word dissertation
  • All of the above submissions can subsequently be incorporated into the final thesis
  • The doctorate is awarded on the basis of a 70,000 to 90,000 word thesis

Postgraduate Staff Profile

This course is led by Dr Rod Gameson, a construction manager with over 40 years of industry and academic experience.  He has worked, taught and conducted research internationally in areas such as: project management; building procurement; project team development, communication and dispute resolution; construction education, and has published books and articles in these areas.    

University staff page

Academic profile


You will make a significant contribution to professional practice with transferable skills in your specialist area. You will study inter-professionally with peers in a collaborative environment, strengthening networking opportunities across the property and construction disciplines.

Increasingly, employers are looking for flexible and creative key staff who are receptive to innovation. At this stage in your career, you may be expected to have research and analytical techniques and the vision to tackle problems imaginatively and with confidence, but may have limited time or support to do so. By undertaking a professional doctorate, we will help you develop these skills. There is much published evidence demonstrating that a professional doctorate uniquely enhances personal development, stronger professional self-worth and confidence and improves career prospects and job satisfaction.

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