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Professional Doctorate in Health Science (DHealthSci)

Course Description

Why take this course?

The University of Portsmouth was one of the first institutions to respond to the rapid changes within health and social care by offering a Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care Disciplines programme. This programme started in October 2000, and has been highly successful in its delivery to these professionals.

The Professional Doctorate is an alternative pathway to a doctorate qualification. It is a rigorous programme of advanced study and research, designed specifically to meet the needs of commerce, industry and professional groups and is the professionally oriented counterpart to the more theoretical PhD. It enables students to study a specific subject to the same depth as PhD students, but also allows them to apply learning to their professional practice.

What will I experience?

The Faculty of Science offers seven health and social care programmes at doctorate level:

Doctorate in Biomedical Science (DBMS)
Doctorate in Chiropractic (DChiro)
Doctorate in Health Science (DHealthSci)
Doctorate in Medical Imaging (DMedImg)
Doctorate in Nursing (DNursing)
Doctorate in Pharmacy (DPharm)
Doctorate in Social Work (DSW)

These routes are taught together and this enables students in each cohort to benefit from the experience of others and provides a unique inter-professional learning environment.

The Professional Doctorate is open to a wide range of health and social care professionals, who have an active interest in practice-based research and professional practice issues, wish to attain the highest level of professional and academic achievement and develop their career within the health and social care arena. Relevance and application of the research to the professional environment will be a pivotal feature of the programme and reflection on practice will be integral to the learning process.

This course is recognised internationally as a qualification granted to those who have reached the highest level of professional and academic achievement in their field of endeavour.

What opportunities might it lead to?

On a personal level, successful completion of the Professional Doctorate will offer personal fulfilment, professional development, career enhancement and encourage reflective practice.

The programme aims to enhance personal development planning for continuing professional development and encourage an advanced level of critical, analytical, debating and publishing skills, plus knowledge of the range of different research methods encountered in professional practice.

Within the National Health Service (NHS) a Professional Doctorate is now being seen as an essential academic qualification for attaining higher level posts within the NHS Agenda for Change career framework.

Module Details

This is a part-time course, which has been specifically designed so that it can be available to health and social care professionals from all over the country, to fit with the demands of fulltime employment. The course structure is only offered in a part-time mode and is divided into two parts.

Attendance for Part 1 will be in six study blocks of three days duration spread over two academic years. Typically, students will be required to attend the University for up to 18 days for the whole of Part 1. Attendance for Part 2 will only be required for tutorials, seminars and oral presentations.

Part 1

This is the 'taught' component of the programme, which will equip students with the skills that they will need in preparation for Part 2. Part 1 consists of four units, namely:

Professional Review and Development

Advanced Research Techniques

Publication and Dissemination

Proposal for Professional Research and Development

Part 2

This is the research and professional development component and comprises one or two pieces of practice-based research, linked with a commentary demonstrating the relevance of the research to both practice and the practitioner. The nature of this study may include pure basic research or applied research related, for example, to a management or educational setting. This should normally take between 24 and 48 months to complete.

Assessment will be by a thesis, an oral presentation and a viva voce examination.

The University offers Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL), for applicants with previous learning experience and other academic achievement which could be taken into account for some of the units of study. Claims will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Programme Assessment

Each student will be assigned one or more University supervisors, depending on the area of research and professional development. Access to specialist advisors in the workplace will be required for Part 2 of the programme and will vary according to the area of investigation. We have excellent support systems for our Professional Doctorate students. All students are assigned a Personal Tutor for Part 1 as well as two Supervisors for Part 2 of the course.

There are further opportunities to attend Research Seminars and Workshops organised by the University's Graduate School.

The Professional Doctorate consists of coursework and research and is credit based. The coursework component is designed to help build on professional expertise by exposing students to challenging and innovative ideas in their field.

Assessment is by coursework (including preparation of an article for publication and a research proposal) and oral presentations. This should normally take 24 months to complete.

Student Destinations

Those students completing the MRes Science course will have moved to the next level of qualifications with the advantages that this offers in terms of learning and employability. They will also be in an excellent position to apply for any related doctoral training programme, research assistant positions, graduate teaching positions, or general research related roles.

Visit the Professional Doctorate in Health Science (DHealthSci) page on the University of Portsmouth website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Peri Hanzouli

Professional Doctorate Pathway
Health Science (HealthSci)

Place of Employment & Job Title
Portsmouth City Teaching Primary Care Trust: Consultant Occupational Therapist

What made you decide to come to the University of Portsmouth to study the Professional Doctorate?
I graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2005 with an MSc in Health Research and Development. I studied on a part-time basis, whilst working for the local Healthcare Trust in Adult Mental Health Services. I liked the faculty approach to teaching; I found staff informed, challenging and motivating. I enjoyed learning and found tremendous value in the way the course sought to help students apply their learning to practice. It was as a direct consequence of this learning experience that I decided to enrol on the Professional Doctorate course a year later.

How are you finding the course?
I am six months into Part 1 of the course at the moment. There is as expected, a strong emphasis on the application of theory and learning to practice. We are encouraged to explore innovative solutions to work based problems.

How do you think this course has helped you to develop your career in your profession?
I have just been appointed Consultant Occupational Therapist, one of just a handful in the UK. This course takes into account the complexity of the learning needs of health and social care professionals working at this level, most of whom are entering a newly created role. Given this, the course organisers have a heavy responsibility to deliver relevant and high calibre training and this is achieved via focusing on the application of learning to practice. Without this, I doubt that my managers would have supported my application.

The course has helped my career development, even at this early stage. I am increasingly being asked to deliver training, contribute to business plans and problem solve complex clinical, supervision and strategic issues. Participating in this course has helped me to recognise what it is that I need to know to do this as well as helping me to appreciate my existing skills and how I can apply them to the situation.


Entry Requirements

A postgraduate level qualification or equivalent in an appropriate subject and a suitable workplace environment to support the professional research and development project. Applicants are subject to interview.English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

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Recipient: University of Portsmouth

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