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Professional Doctorate (Health and Social Care)

Prof Doc

School - School of Health and Society

Subject area - Nursing

Start Date(s): September


Professional Doctorate (five years part-time)

Variable points of entry are available for applicants who come in via the Accreditation or Prior Learning route

Fees 2018-19:

2019-20 fees will be displayed shortly.

Part-time - £1,260 per 30 credit module

In Brief:

  • The DProf provides an excellent framework in which to develop issues identified in a clinical or health related environment
  • The translation of work-based observation and evidence to credible robust findings has long been the achievement of the DProf graduate
  • Two years of modular intensive support in developing a credible research proposal, learning research methods, critical and creative thinking and self-awareness
  • A part-time only course

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.

"Returning to undertake a professional doctorate, part time, was initially very daunting, especially also working full time. Whilst I knew it would be a supportive environment; even so, I was pleasantly surprised at how much support and encouragement was available. The course has certainly taken me on an amazing journey and during my years of study I have gained so many skills. The rigorous assessment and review processes allowed me to flourish and be successful in my research and my confidence has also increased. Indeed all the experiences along the way helped me to develop both personally and professionally and none of which would have been possible without the support that I received during my professional doctorate studies from members of the academic staff, support staff and fellow students within the school" Anita Flynn (Dr) Graduated 2015.

“I tell all my colleagues and friends interested in postgraduate education about the DProf programme at Salford as it exceeded all my expectations in contributing to my development, both professionally and personally. The support I receive from the programme lead, supervisor and tutors is second to none and I hope the uptake of this programme continues to increase as it’s steeped in values of acceptance, respect, community, professionalism”.

Desiree Demingo Year 5 DProf Student 2016

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 University. We have experts in child psychology, social care, public health, occupational therapy, radiography, physiotherapy to supervise your own area of expert knowledge.

Student Support

The programme supports how you go about developing your presence, influence and political know-how; broadens and deepens understanding of your research topic to provide you with appropriate transferable skills in the real world. Peer support is one of the most important values informing the DProf programme. Students benefit from an interaction with peers through such activities as seminars, virtual learning and the sharing of common facilities.

The course is run on a part-time basis and arrangements for supervisory meetings are negotiable.

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 and include:

  • Contemporary 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 1        

Doctoral Foundation (30 credits)        

Year 1, Semester 2        

The Leader as Practitioner Researcher (30 credits)        

Year 2, Semester 1        

Critical Understanding of Professions in Practice (30 credits)        

Year 2, Semester 2        

Practitioner Research (60 credits)        

Year 3 to 5        

Research Component

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 Alison Brettle on 

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 of Prior Learning (APL)

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.

For more information about applying for this course, please contact the Programme Leader Professor Alison Brettle:


Phone: 0161 295 0447

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.

Fees 2019-20

Fees for entry in 2019 will be displayed shortly.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,260 per 30 credit module

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section.


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 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).

The Programme Lead, Professor Alison Brettle, is a Professor in Health Information and Evidence Based Practice with expertise in evidence based practice and evidence based library and information practice. Her research and research interests cover systematic reviews and systematic review methodology, information literacy, information skills training, the evaluation and impact of library and information services, effective literature searching, evidence based practice and evidence based library and information practice. Professor Brettle is also interested in how information or providing better access to health information can be used to improve outcomes.

As Director of Post Graduate Research for the School of Health and Society, Professor Brettle is responsible for the community of over 120 PhD students.


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

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