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Doctor of Professional Practice Health and Social Care

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This part-time programme has been specifically designed with health and social care professionals in mind and is appropriate for practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds, including lecturer practitioners who have completed a Master's; practitioners aspiring to be a nurse, midwifery or therapy consultant; and service leaders and managers from a range of health and social care organisations.

Our Professional Doctorate has been developed to encourage practicing professionals to pursue formal qualifications by conducting in-depth research related to activities performed in the workplace.

You can complete the course while you are in full or part-time employment, which fits in well with the objective of researching a work-related topic. To be awarded a Professional Doctorate, you will be expected to critically investigate and evaluate an approved organisation-centred topic that leads to a fundamental advance in theory and practice. You will also have to demonstrate an understanding of appropriate research methods and will need to present and defend your thesis by viva voce (oral examination) to the satisfaction of the examiners.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018


Bournemouth University, Lansdowne Campus


5 years

Entry requirements:

An Honours degree at 2:2 or higher and/or a relevant Master's degree. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 7.0 (Academic) or above. For more information check out our International entry requirements

Course details

The Doctor of Professional Practice (D.Prof) is a journey of personal and professional development which enables individuals to use their experience and knowledge from practice to inform their study. The focus of the D.Prof study is likely to come from your own personal experience and desire to explore or understand an aspect further in order to develop care or services.

The D.Prof course will incorporate the four interlinked elements of:

  • Research
  • Practice development
  • Literature review
  • Personal narrative

Via your practice-focused study you will develop a vision of what to focus on and why and how it can be explored.

Your independent learning will be supported by six – nine facilitated days a year which involved group learning and support, topic sessions linked to the study milestones and research and supervision.

Via nurtured scholarship and membership of a small class of six to eight students, you will engage in peer and group supervision regularly throughout each year. The focus will be on developing your personal narratives and conceptual framework to guide practice in the caring professions. This will be informed by principles of humanisation and upholding the values of what it means to be human, developed at Bournemouth University by Galvin & Todres.

From year two you will have two supervisors who will enable the development and progression of your research and practice development elements, as well as providing support through the ups and downs of the D.Prof journey. You also benefit from learning with and from each other within an interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning community.

Our DProf course is deisgned for health and social care professionals from a range of backgrounds including:

  • Lecturer practitioners who have completed masters studies
  • Practitioners aspiring to be a nurse, midwifery or therapy consultants
  • Service leaders and managers from a variety of health and social care organisations including general practitioners, psychotherapists and counsellors, and educationalists.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for Doctor of Professional Practice Health and Social Care.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.


Your supervisory team will:

  • Provide appropriate support and guidance regarding BU’s research degree regulations, policies and procedures
  • Give support when you are planning your research project, progressing through key milestones to successfully completing in the expected timeframe
  • Maintain regular contact with you and provide constructive feedback on written work and during meetings to support your progress
  • Advise you on professional and personal skill development available training opportunities
  • Give guidance about attending and presenting your work at internal and external seminars, conferences etc
  • Advise on publication of your work in journals and other appropriate media.

The learning journey

To help you on this journey support is provided by being a member of a cohort and engaging in group tutorials with one or two facilitators. Within this group and peer support (GPS) process, and via collaborative engagement involving listening, sharing, discussing, and reflecting on events, experiences and things read, new insights and understandings emerge. This informs and supports the creation of the personal narrative of the study journey which in turn informs the other three elements of the D.Prof.

Exploring the literature is associated with the practice context and study vision and is supported by enhancing existing skills of searching and analysing the literature alongside the expectation that individuals will undertake on-going independent work in this area as the study unfolds. The remaining two elements of research and practice development are both associated with the study focus. Support is provided by two academics from the development of a proposal through ethical review, to undertaking, analysing and writing up the study. These research and practice development supervisors (RPDS) will guide, support, challenge, review and provide feedback on the development of the study focus, its context and approach/es selected to explore it in order to develop knowledge and practice.

Alongside the GPS and RPDS there are facilitated sessions on a range of topics shown on the in the table below. These are structured within the six to nine study days a year and are focused on nourishing the individual in their scholarship activity in order to progress and archive the study milestones of review and examination. 

Academic support

This course is designed to be self-managed, with formalised support to help you through each of the three stages. You will be expected to complete four pieces of work in stages 2 and 3, which draw your work together and allow you to present your contribution to knowledge.

The stages are broken down into the following:

  • Stages 1 to 3 - Throughout all of the stages you will develop a written learning plan and undertake compulsory support modules
  • Stages 1 and 2 - During stages 1 and 2, you will undergo a systematic review, conduct a research inquiry and work on a practice development project or reflections on casework element
  • Stage 3 - At this point you will bring all you have learned together through the production of research theses, integrative narrative and will undertake a viva voce (oral) examination.

The compulsory support units each year will cover topics such as research methods, theoretical frameworks for practice development, group research and practice supervision. There are no taught units, which makes this course very flexible.

Full entry requirements

We would normally expect you to have:

  • A Master's or Bachelor degree (2.2 or above) in a related subject, and at least three years of continuous experience in professional practice 
  • Be engaged in employed or voluntary work within, or associated to, health and social care and have three to five years’ experience

  • Evidence of professional development over the last three years. 

Some supervisors may ask you for additional entry requirements, such as relevant work experience, evidence of written work, or previous study of a particular subject.

Entry requirements may vary so it is important to discuss your application in principle before submitting a formal application.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally: 

  • IELTS (Academic) 7.0 with minimum 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

How to apply

You can apply for a Professional Doctorate by clicking on the 'Apply now' button and completing the application form. You can find further guidance about applying for a postgraduate research degree in our Postgraduate Research section.


A research degree can be applied to roles in commercial research and development, consultancy, or could lead you to starting your own business. You may alternatively consider a career in academia.You may wish to undertake research to contribute to your knowledge of a specialist subject, or develop your employability by enhancing your skills in project management and analysis.

Additional information

Science forensic toxicology research

Fees and funding

Find out about the fees and different funding options for postgraduate research degrees.

About the Doctoral College

About the Doctoral College

Learn how the Doctoral College can support you and find out more about our role in postgraduate student life.

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International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.