Professional Doctorate (Health and Social Care)
Prof Doc

Part-time study available
Distance Learning

3 good reasons to study Professional Doctorate (Health and Social Care) at Salford


Promotes an evaluative culture in your workplace to complement professional and organisational goals


Helps you utilise an evidence-based approach to all dimensions of your practice


Develops your leadership capability, critical and creative thinking and self-awareness

Course Summary

This course has been developed in collaboration with in-service professionals along the key themes of education for:

  • Personal strategies for practice development
  • Creative decision-making and risk-taking
  • Developing presence, influence and political know-how
  • Evidence-based practice and research

The taught component is two years part-time and is concerned with critical self-assessment and the identification and development of strategies for use in the practice area. The research component is three years part-time, building on the taught component to develop evidence-based practice and introduce innovative strategies in all areas of professional practice.

Course Details

Professional Doctorates are as rigorous as traditional PhDs but are different in focus. A traditional PhD subject can be relatively fixed, in terms of what is researched. A Professional Doctorate is more variable and adaptable to change due to developments in your profession. This is because the Professional Doctorate is linked intrinsically to your workplace.

The doctorate has run very successfully for eight years. It comprises two years taught modules which you must pass to progress onto a further three years research component during which, you write up your thesis.

During the research component you independently undertake PhD level research study, supervised by two experienced academics. Although the Professional Doctorate programme is housed within the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Care we have supervisors from across the Health & Social Care College. We have experts in child psychology, social care, public health, occupational therapy, radiography, physiotherapy to supervise your own area of expert knowlege.

Course Structure

The first two years of the course are modular, with facilitated content, designed to help you refine and develop your initial research ideas. The latter three years are part-time also, focused upon the research element, and there are key milestones at the end of each year within the research element. The thesis is between 40,000- 60,000 words long and you have a viva.

Year 1, Semester 1

  In this module you will learn: 
  • Introduction of moduel: the politics of education, the importance of co-operation
  • Theory and styles of learning
  • Reflective practice
  • Identifying strengths and learning needs
  • Expectations   at doctoral level; critical thinking; critical listening; critical   appraisal; originality and creativity for example
  • Introduction to the politics of research
  • Introduction to Research Methodologies
  • Participation and empowerment in research, reaching out to excluding groups
  • Applying theory to practice
  • Social divisions and ethics
  • Reading and reviewing journal articles
  • Presentation skills

Year 1, Semester 2

  This module will explore: 
  • Comtemporary issues and debates in research
  • Theories/paradigms of research
  • Ethics of research
  • Reviewing literature and the critical analysis of existing research
  • Developing a research question/hypothesis
  • Designing appropriate research
  • Role and function of the pilot study
  • Developing a research proposal
  • Access and sampling
  • Methods of data collection
  • Fundamentals of frequently used statistical tests
  • Presentation, analysis and interpretation of data
  • Uses and application of ICT
  • Dissemination and publication of research

This course has been developed in collaboration with health and social care professionals and has the following themes:

  • Personal strategies for practice development
  • Creative decision making and risk taking
  • Developing presence, influence and political know-how
  • Evidence based practice and research skills
These key themes can be applied to the following modules:

Year 1, Semester 3

Critical Leadership (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 1

Professions and Practice (30 credits)

Year 2, Semester 2

The Practitioner Researcher (60 credits)

Year 3 onwards

  This is a 40,000 - 60,000 research thesis.

Entry Requirements

A good bachelors degree, normally 2.1 or above, and/or masters degree, with appropriate practice experience.Quality research proposal that fits the aims of the School research programme.

Along with the application, prospective candidates are required to show relevant qualifications and a research proposal that identifies their area of research interest, and the contribution to new knowledge their research would make.

The close date for applications is early September, but there is latitude for late entries (sometimes due to late funding being granted).

If you require further information about the different course components please feel free to contact Elaine Ball -

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).

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We aim to widen access for senior health and social care professionals who may not have the above entry requirements, and therefore welcome applications from students with alternative qualifications and/or significant relevant experience, subject to approval through a process of Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).

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

Health and social care professionals working at senior levels who have responsibility for the development of evidence-based professional practice.

Typically you will study part-time, while engaged in full-time employment at senior levels of practice. As such you are more than likely to be engaged in challenging roles, often studying against a backdrop of organisational change and uncertainty.

Applicant profile

You will make a significant contribution to professional practice with transferable skills to your clinical area. You will also study inter-professionally with peers in a collaborative environment, strengthening networking opportunities across health and social care disciplines.


This course is very flexible; with two years part-time of facilitated modules which you use to frame, explore and refine your initial research question. For example, you will use the modules to explore general philosophical and methodological ideas, examine what is known about your topic, what your research will contribute to new knowledge; best methods for undertaking the research and, critically, learn about the leadership skills you will need to lead research in practice.

All the modules are facilitated using blended learning. For example within each module there are face to face sessions led by a module facilitator. In addition specific learning activities for each module will be developed using the virtual learning environment ‘Blackboard’ and the virtual doctorate learning environment (VLS). Both enable greater flexibility about the when and where of learning, and enables you to keep in contact with your peers and the programme team, wherever they have internet access.


Within the professional doctorate the assessment processes have been developed to enable you to critically interrogate, analyse, and reflect on your research ideas, demonstrating your ability to take account of professional and methodological issues. The assessments are designed to enable confident articulation and robust exploration, justification and defense of research ideas in keeping with the principles of the doctoral viva.

With this in mind assessment processes comprise:

  • Essays
  • Seminars
  • Verbal presentations
  • You are expected to engage in critical self assessment and personal/professional development planning as a basis for developing the skills associated with doctoral level study and the leadership of research in professional practice.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

The professional doctorate within the College of Health and Social Care is generic, and draws students from a wide range of professional and related practice disciplines. Staff and student research interests range hugely across the disciplines represented on the programme with physiotherapy, occupational therapy, counselling, social work, nursing, midwifery, speech therapy, and voluntary sectors. Practitioners are drawn from clinical practice and all share generic research interests in leadership, management, dissemination and educational.

Staff delivering this course are actively engaged in connecting their teaching and research expertise. This is reflected by a strong publishing output from module leaders and supervisors. For example, Dr Lee published a key text, Achieving Your Professional Doctorate which informed professional doctorate development, delivery and student experience in the UK. She recently contributed to the definitive guide to Professional Doctorates by the UK Council for Graduate Education (2011).

Dr Elaine Ball, the course lead has served as an external adviser for professional doctorate programme validation for UK universities and has a strong publication output in health and social care. Supervisors delivering on the course have a strong research profile. 25 staff were returned in the Research Excellence Framework with 300 published outputs, 11 books, 14 PhD completions. As a department nationally, nursing was 10th (of 35) if you take research capacity, and 15th on 'research quality'.


You will make a significant contribution to professional practice with transferable skills to your clinical area. You will also study inter-professionally with peers in a collaborative environment, strengthening networking opportunities across health and social care disciplines.

Career Prospects

Increasingly, employers are looking for flexible and creative key staff receptive to innovation. At this stage in your career, you may be expected to have research and analytical techniques and 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 the Professional Doctorate uniquely enhances personal development, stronger professional self-worth and confidence and improve your career prospects and job satisfaction.

Alumni Profile

Dr Val Finnigan MBA – is a specialist midwife focusing upon infant breast feeding. In particular she is known nationally for her work with baby friendly hospital settings, and gaining accreditation for the hospital with the World Health Organisation as regards infant feeding. Her research was used interpretive phenomenology to explore the experiences of women from ethnic minority groups in relation to skin to skin contact immediately following birth. She has published about her professional doctorate experiences. Finigan V and Lee N (2010) The doctoral journey: supervision from the perspective of students and supervisors MIDRIS 20 (2) 155-158.

Dr Mary Braine is a lecturer in adult nursing at Salford University, during the programme she moved from a clinical to educational role. Dr Braine used phenomenological approaches to explore family experiences of challenging behaviours following acquired brain injury; she has published her research findings.

Links with Industry

By successfully completing your professional doctorate, you will be granted with the title Dr (like a traditional PhD). The professional doctorate benefits you in producing a qualification which is equivalent in status and challenge to a PhD, but is more appropriate if you are pursuing professional, industry based careers and are interested in gaining accreditation or the chance to reflect on best practice, rather than in pursuing academic careers

Fees and Funding

Fees 2016-17

Type of StudyFee
Full-time InternationalTBC