Professional Doctorate in Health

    About This Professional Doctorate

    Course Description

    This is a part-time distance-learning programme (it can be completed in four, or up to eight years)

    Students who exit the programme before achieving a DHealth award may be eligible for other exit awards. These are the Postgraduate Certificate, the Postgraduate Diploma, or the MSc Research in Health Practice (3 years), depending on the number of credits achieved at the time of exit.


    The Professional Doctorate in Health is designed for a range of health and social care professionals who are interested in furthering their development as expert practitioners and researchers in practice.

    By utilising web-based delivery blended with Summer Schools (typically five days in length), the programme aims to meet the learning needs of busy health and social care practitioners.

    During the first two years of study you will complete a series of units covering research methods, evidence based practice, comparative health policy and other topics relevant to research in practice. Throughout the first two years you will also be developing a protocol for your doctoral research project. Unlike the PhD programme, we do not expect you to have a well-developed research protocol before commencing your studies. Your Personal Development Adviser (PDA) will work with you to develop your research plans, before handing over to an academic and practice-based supervisor during the second year.

    Programme features

    • Carry out independent research and understand research methods whilst remaining in your practice area.
    • Choose your learning style within a flexible environment amongst a multi-professional community.
    • Expand your understanding of policy and practice in the context of international healthcare systems and service.

    Time required for study

    We recognise that many of our students are in demanding full-time health or social care jobs and the Professional Doctorate in Health programme is designed to be flexible and supportive in order to accommodate these demands. However, you will need to be able to commit at least 15 hours per-week (on average) to your studies, either through study leave or by working during evenings, weekends and holidays.

    Programme structure

    This is a flexible programme. You will typically study over four or five years, but may take up to eight years (if required).

    Year one

    • Research project preparation and planning
    • Introduction to practice based research
    • Research design and methods
    • Evidence into practice

    Year two

    • Research project design and development
    • Professional issues in health 1 (policy)
    • Professional issues in health 2 (practice)

    Year three/four (Doctorate)

    • Thesis

    View summary table.

    Learning and teaching

    Teaching takes the form of online units, which include resource libraries, access to all of the online journals (held by the University of Bath Library), and a structured series of activities and online discussion boards.

    All resources can be accessed through ‘PD Online’ - our bespoke virtual learning environment. You will also be able to submit your assignments on PD Online and communicate directly with staff and your fellow students.

    A Summer School is held once a year at the University. You will attend one Summer School/Induction during your first year and one Summer School at the beginning of the second year. 

    Your tutor will provide support for your assignment preparation, as well as learning needs analysis and personal development planning.

    The ‘research and thesis’ phase will be supervised by a panel of specialists; comprising a University academic member of staff (to ensure that the work is of a sufficient standard), and a practice-based specialist (to ensure that the work is at the forefront of practice).

    Methods of assessment

    Assessment consists of a combination of written assignments, literature reviews, research protocols and reflective accounts. There are no written examinations.

    You will also produce a portfolio of evidence of application to practice, and have to undertake a face-to-face transfer interview and a final viva.

    Visit the Professional Doctorate in Health page on the University of Bath website for more details!

    Related VideosVideos
    (Student Profile)

    Dr Denise Proudfoot

    2802.jpg “Since the early 2000s I have been working as a lecturer in nursing. A lot of my colleagues had started PhDs or Doctorates and I knew it was inevitable I would want to do one so I started looking at options. I came across the Professional Doctorate in Health at the University of Bath and started in 2007 as a part-time student, combining this with my lecturing at Dublin City University.

    The reason I chose a Professional Doctorate was because I like structure and the peer element of the programme was quite strong. In the first couple of years we did a lot of research training looking at both qualitative and quantitate methods which I think is important. We had assignments which is different to a PhD where you have a narrower focus. I enjoyed the structure, and as I progressed through the programme there were milestones to achieve.

    The majority of people on the doctorate were mature students and senior professionals across health disciplines so you have an interesting group of people to work with. Some were clinicians, whereas I came from an academic background in a practice discipline.

    I was working full-time as an academic while I was a part-time student and it was quite challenging, but because I was in an academic environment it helped, I had access to a lot of resources.”

    Dr Denise Proudfoot
    Professional Doctorate in Health, 2014


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    Entry Requirements

    First or 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject, from a recognised university, (this may be waived if you have a higher degree, or can demonstrate a track record of practice based research that has been published in peer reviewed journals) and;

    Candidates must have a practice-based role within a health, social care, education or clinical/medical context. This will be a condition of entry onto the programme. Candidates should normally have at least 1 years’ experience within their field.

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