Postgraduate Research/Doctorate

Professional Doctorate (Health and Social Care)

School of Health and Society




Three year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

Professional Doctorates are linked intrinsically to your workplace. The DProf provides an excellent framework in which to develop a credible research proposal based on issues identified in a clinical or health-related environment. 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

There are variable points of entry available for applicants who come in via the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL/APEL) route - there are 3 to 3.5 year routes. For example, if your Master's qualification meets our APEL requirements you can undertake a three year research project during which you write up a thesis. 

You will have two supervisors to support your research.  We have experts across many disciplines, for example nursing, counselling, social care, public health, occupational therapy, radiography, physiotherapy to supervise your own area of expert knowledge. Developing personal support is one of the most important values informing the DProf programme. You might be a mature student having spent lengthy periods in the workplace; confidence around writing support is built into the programme.

More information can be obtained by emailing

At the end of your study, if you have undertaken research you will be awarded a Professional Doctorate Health and Social Care. If you have registration (where appropriate) in the relevant area you can request an alternative named award: 

Professional Doctorate (Social Work)

Professional Doctorate (Advanced Practitioner)

You will:

  • Broaden and deepen your understanding of your research topic
  • Achieve work-based observation and evidence to credible robust findings
  • Be provided with a supportive and excellent framework in which to develop issues identified in a clinical or health related environment.
  • Develop skills that are transferable to the real world
  • Benefit from the interaction with a multi-professional team and peer group

This is for you if...


You want to make a significant contribution to professional practice with transferable skills to your clinical area


You are interested in collaborative learning and networking with peers


You want to develop your presence, influence and credibility

Course details

All about the course

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.

Although the Professional Doctorate programme is housed within the School of Health and Society, we have supervisors from across the University. We have experts in a range of disciplines including child psychology, social care, public health, occupational therapy, radiography, physiotherapy to supervise your own area of expert knowledge.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?

Over the course of the programme, you independently undertake a PhD level research study, supervised by two experienced academics.

The School of Health and Society

The School of Health and Society is a forward-thinking, dynamic school with a commitment to lifelong learning and real world impact.

We live in a rapidly changing world, and we’re keen to leave a productive legacy of helping people at all stages of their lives, improving their physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

This qualification is designed to enhance career prospects. Increasingly, employers are looking for flexible and creative key staff receptive to innovation. There is much published evidence demonstrating that the DProf enhances personal development, stronger professional self-worth and confidence and improves career prospects and job satisfaction. 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.

By successfully completing your professional doctorate, you will be convened 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, as well as pursuing academic careers.

Alumni progression: 

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.


What you need to know

This programme is most suitable for health and social care professionals working at senior levels who have responsibility for the development of evidence-based professional practice. You may be a nurse, midwife, doctor, social worker, occupational therapist, radiographer, physiotherapist, podiatrist or if you are in or allied to social care, public health, counselling and psychotherapy.

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.

At the end of your study, if you have undertaken research you will be awarded a Professional Doctorate in Health and Social care. If you have registration (where appropriate) in the relevant area you can request an alternative named award: 

  • Professional Doctorate (Social Work)
  • Professional Doctorate (Advanced Practitioner)

The closing date for applications is early September, but there is latitude for late entries (sometimes due to late funding being granted) and variable entry points for APL/APEL routes. 

Interview and research proposal is an additional pre-requisite to the online application. Support is provided by the programme lead via email if you wish to seek clarification about writing your research proposal before you make a formal application. 

For more information about this course, please contact

English language requirements 

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

Standard entry requirements

Undergraduate degree

A good bachelors degree, normally 2.1 or above, and/or master's degree, with appropriate practice experience. 



Alternative entry requirements

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).

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Part-time 2024/25 £3,320 for the taught element
Part-time 2025/26 £3,455 for the taught element and £7,000 for the research element.

Additional costs

You should consider additional costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Apply now

All Set? Let's Apply

Enrolment dates

September 2024

May 2025

September 2025