Like a traditional PhD route the Professional Doctorate is a Research Degree, but it is designed to develop the individual’s capacity to work within a professional context and is considered more likely to introduce research into the nature of professional practice.
The Professional Doctorate in Health and Wellbeing at the University of Wolverhampton embraces two philosophies simultaneously. On the one hand, it embodies traditional research-based purposes derived from the PhD model. From this perspective, the programme is designed to develop competent researchers through a programme of training in research methods and the production of a research thesis at both Level 7 and Level 8. The modules represent a coherent pattern of research progress and throughout the programme there is considerable emphasis upon professional development and practice
The innovative dimension of the programme is in its design for experienced professional practitioners e.g. nurses, social workers and medics, rather than for academic student researchers. It carries the explicit purpose of maintaining researchers in professional practice by undertaking research that focuses on their professional development and the needs of their organisations. The course team recognise the value of preparing students for employment and the need for HE institutions to work in partnership with employers. The needs of employers and students have been considered by incorporating current philosophies and health policy into the pathways. Employers such as those within NHS Trusts, Local Councils and Private Health Companies who sponsor to the University are looking for a course that meets their needs. Thus this pathway aims to meet the demands of health, wellbeing, social work and care services for creativity and enterprise.
The modular approach allows the pathway to be flexible and responsive, and the design of modules allows some choice in study methods. The concept of an ‘effective practitioner’ has greater connotations than an enhanced ability to practise; these include innovation, managing change and the ability to pursue ideas to fruition. The team are mindful of the need to maximise the opportunity for strategic thinking and provide a proactive educational experience that enables practitioners to adapt to change and become proponents and creators of new professional knowledge.
The programme will focus on advanced learning that achieves major organisational change and/or excellence in professional practice, rather than only research leading to a major thesis. Consequently, it will not be perceived as too abstract, or too separate from the time consuming challenges and demands of professional work. Furthermore, because it will be closely integrated with existing work, it will be seen as adding value to the work of any particular professional area as well as enhancing and developing the candidate’s abilities.
In addition to the academic robustness of this Doctorate, Faculty staff involved in providing this programme have a wide research background and the programme will capitalise on these particular research strengths. The University's academic year is divided into 2 semesters for the purposes of teaching, but recognises the normal breaks associated with traditional holidays in December/January, March/April and July/August.
The educational aims of the course are to develop an individual’s professional practice and to support them in producing an original contribution to professional knowledge in that area worthy of publication. The standard of this Doctorate is of the level and intellectual challenge equivalent to a PhD degree. It is fundamental to the course that it is designed to develop research and professional skills in addition to supporting the conduct of original research related to the student’s professional practice. The programme of study is situated within professional practice and students will be required to show evidence that through the course of their studies, they have made a significant contribution to working practices within their professional area.
By combining traditional taught sessions with virtual technologies teaching becomes a more personalised experience and is taken outside of the classroom. Examples of the strategies for blended learning within this programme include:
Doctoral study pathway
The educational design of the Doctorate is focused heavily towards independent study. This is particularly demanding, requiring refinement of the skills of enquiry and innovation. This style of study draws on such personal attributes as motivation, self-determination and enthusiasm. As postgraduate study focuses on this style of learning, your studies will appear to be very different from a traditional taught pathway. This may take some adjustment. You will, however, be supported by your postgraduate tutorial group and by your module leaders.
Within Stage 1 you will undertake an extended piece of research at Level 7. The research area you have chosen at this stage may be developed and evolved within the Level 8 modules and final thesis.
To progress to the thesis module, you must have passed all taught modules and have produced a research proposal outlining your proposed research plan for this study and an action plan of the timings of your main outputs (such as getting ethical approval, collecting materials or data and writing up particular chapters) for the period of your thesis research study.
The information in your research proposal will be used to finalise a suitable supervisory team for the duration of your Thesis research study. Students taking this course are all engaged in professional roles, so this course is studied part time time.
Participation in this programme aims to enhance individual professional practice and expertise of all candidates. Successful graduates would be expected to take a leading role in developing excellence in fields such as management, entrepreneurship, clinical practice, teaching or student development in their own work place or institution as appropriate.
Visit the Professional Doctorate in Health & Wellbeing page on the University of Wolverhampton website for more details!
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