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Doctorate in Professional Studies

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Course overview

The Professional Doctorate will equip practising health and social care professionals with leadership skills appropriate to their particular field. It will enable them to advance professionally by undertaking and supporting original research and implementing advanced practice.

The approach is critical and reflexive. It uses adult learning models and is underpinned by social science perspectives.

The programme is suitable for:

  • Professionals in health and social care e.g. nurses, medical practitioners and social workers
  • Allied health who may be working in a variety of clinical, educational, development or managerial roles. The focus of the programme is interprofessional. It aims to provide transferable knowledge and skills which underpin health and social care professions broadly.


Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Professional Doctorate
Duration 3 years full time or 6 years part time
Department and Faculty Psychology, Faculty of Science
Partner institution(s) Kingston University and St George's, University of London
Course director Professor Tony Evans
Contact for more information

Professor Tony Evans

Professor Jonathan Gabe

Professor Mary Chambers m.chambers@sgul.kingston.ac.uk

Dr Lynda D’Avray

Dr Eleni Hatzidimitriadou e.hatzidimitriadou@sgul.kingston.ac.uk  

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.


Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

Entrants will normally have at least a Masters degree or equivalent and at least three years post-qualifying experience (or equivalent). Entrants will normally have at least one degree in the social or behavioural sciences, or a qualifying degree in one the health or social care professions.

For those without relevant academic qualifications, a system for assessing prior learning will be developed..

English language requirements:

IELTS and TOEFL scores for non-native English speaking applicants.

The MA Marketing course offers two pathways and is therefore appropriate both for those who have prior study experience in the Management area and for those who have studied alternative disciplines at undergraduate level.

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.


Additional requirements:

  • All candidates will be asked to attend an interview to discuss their application, where a face to face interview is not practical an interview will be organised via media such as telephone or Skype.

Why choose this course?

The course:

  • provides transferable knowledge and skills which underpin the theory and practice of health and social care professions in complex environments
  • equips practising health and social care professionals to provide leadership and management in their specific fields,
  • enables professionals to contribute to the development of their profession by developing new knowledge through undertaking original research and advanced level scholarship, evaluating and commissioning research, and developing advanced practice informed by theoretical analysis.
  • develops practitioners’ skills, knowledge and expertise for work at senior levels, and also enable them to undertake practitioner researcher roles
  • enables practitioners to make significant contributions to their profession by undertaking, evaluating and supporting research which is of direct relevance to clinical or professional practice and the workplace but which also has academic credibility.

Department research and industry highlights

The department of X has research expertise in the following areas:

Research in the Department of Social Work focuses on the themes of Diversity, Justice and Power; and Contemporary Professionalism. The research themes cut across traditional client-group boundaries and address the increasingly complex and globalised nature of practice.

Current projects that the department has worked on include:

  • Anna Gupta, Head of Social Work, will investigate how professionals, including teachers, police officers and social workers, can help to protect children. The study, which is the first of its kind, will present a clear picture of what help is currently available and what can be done to ensure that all possible support is available to children at risk.
  • Tony Evans is conducting an exploratory study to look at the experiences of German trained social workers [social pedagogues] working in social work roles in England. The study will consider, in the context of the attempts to incorporate aspects of social pedagogy in UK practice, what the experiences of these social workers can tell us about the extent and nature of continuing differences in ideas of social work between the two countries?

Course content and structure

Core course units

6 units organized into 3 streams:

  • Research for practitioners (includes intro. to social research; research design; qualitative and quantitative methods; innovative methods for the research of practice) (11% weighting) (60 CP out of total of 540)
  • Professional and interprofessional practice (includes global and national contexts of professions; policy contexts; major issues facing profession in west and in developing world; professionalism and reflexivity; professional expertise) (11% weighting) (60 CP out of total of 540)
  • Portfolio (may includes electives, personal learning plans, articles submitted for publication application of research learning to specific topics and pre-dissertation work) (11% weighting) (60 CP out of total of 540)
  • 50,000 word Thesis (66% weighting) (360 CP out of total of 540)

On completion of the course graduates will have:

  • Developed a continuing and robust professional identity and sense of professionalism in relation to key current challenges facing health and social care professions
  • Advanced levels of critical analysis, evaluation and interpretation of the evidence underpinning relevant policy or practice in the student’s own field of work.
  • The ability to critically reflect upon the complexities of key professional practices and policies and how they are implemented
  • A high level ability to critically evaluate key literature and research studies relevant to the student’s own field of work.
  • The ability to devise relevant, topical and significant research questions from the student’s own field of work
  • The ability to design and conduct research relevant to policy or practice in the student’s own field of work
  • The ability to commission high quality research conducted by others and to evaluate it appropriately
  • The ability to write papers suitable for publication in refereed forums relevant to the student’s own field of work
  • The ability to disseminate research findings in high level forums in ways relevant to the student’s profession and practitioners in that profession
  • The ability to provide leadership in a professional area relevant to the student’s own field of work

View the full course specification for Doctorate in Professional Studies in the Programme Specification Repository


Each unit will require the equivalent of one major assignment of 4,000 - 5,000 words, but this may be made up of a series of smaller assignments/exercises. In most instances the work required for each assignment may be used as a basis for other assignments. Students will be permitted to request informal advice on aspects of written work for assignment, before submission of the final piece. This is an important strategy a) to provide support b) to avoid plagiarism.

The maximum thesis length is 50,000 words, excluding bibliography and appendices.

Employability & career opportunities

This is a new course and it is designed to support expert professional practice and provide the academic background to better place professionals to engage in policy development, professional leadership and management, and research. 

Related courses

No related courses have been found.


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