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DSW Professional Doctorate in Social Work

Course Description

Aims of the Programme

The Professional Doctorate is a vehicle for advanced Continuing Professional Development, not a certificate of competence to practice.

The aims of the programme are:
To critically appraise the current evidential basis of teaching, learning and assessment practice;
To develop relevant advanced specialist research, development & dissemination skills;
To make a valuable and original contribution to knowledge, methodology, practice and policy;

Which meets accepted standards of rigour and excellence, and is widely disseminated.

Programme Content

The Professional Doctorate consists of five modules. The first module focuses on research methods, combining an online course on research methodology, an applied dissertation and a learning plan.

The second of the programme modules comprises a critical literature review. The remaining three consist of a series of linked research projects or a combination into two or one larger project.

Up to two modules (40%) of the programme may be overtaken by Recognition of Prior Learning. Applicants with a full masters degree containing an assessed research methods component may be entitled to skip module one. Otherwise, material for RPL should not been submitted for any other award and be of doctoral standard. Peer reviewed journal publications or research reports are good examples of suitable products for recognition.

Course structure

The structure is of 5 Modules spread over 3 Levels. All modules are individually tailored to theinterests/expertise of the entrant and the needs of their employer or sponsor. They are very flexible and adapted to the needs of part-time candidates. Each Level can be independently award-bearing, if candidates wish to leave with a lesser award.

At Level 1, candidates undertake Research Methods Training and complete a Critical Analysis and Review of Research Literature (in their specialist area of choice). (You can exit here with a Postgraduate Diploma in advanced professional practice.)

At Level 2, each candidate develops an Individualised Learning Plan for future modules. They then complete a second research module on a topic of their choice. (You can exit here with a Master’s degree in advanced professional practice.)

At Level 3, there are Modules 3, 4 and 5. These are also research modules on a topic or topics of your choice. They may be related to each other or quite independent of each other. Each module is assessed by a written product of 15,000 words.

Recognition of Prior Learning is possible for up to 50% of the degree, when the material for recognition has not been submitted for any other award and when it is of a high enough standard. Peer reviewed journal publications or research reports are good examples of suitable products for recognition.

For further information about each of the Levels and modules please see the programme website.

Methods of Assessment

The total written output required is the same as Ph.D. candidates would put into one single thesis. However, for the Professional Doctorate this can be split into five modular products each of around 15,000 words each. You can combine these into larger and deeper studies if you wish, subject to the agreement of your personal supervisor. The standards and criteria are rigorous, as you would expect at doctoral level, but you are given support to ensure you achieve those standards. These written assignments are intended to be easily reducible to a paper which can be submitted for publication, and candidates are strongly encouraged and supported to do this.

All modular work is collected into a final thesis. This is then assessed by viva voce (oral) examination.

Sources of Funding

The School of Education, Social Work and Community Education is not currently offering any school scholarships.

Other sources of funding for postgraduate students can be found on our Scholarships webpage.

Many candidates approach their employers for allocation of time and/or part funding, especially where modular work relates to the employer's objectives and adds value to the employer's operations. This is entirely reasonable, as modular work will entail candidates working significantly more than their contracted hours of employment. However, candidates will also be enhancing their own promotion prospects, so it is equally reasonable to expect them to be prepared to part fund fee costs, especially where modular topics are not obviously of value to their current employers. In addition, where modular work relates to a wider national project, part of fee costs might be recouped through the project budget. Creativity and flexibility are needed in securing an appropriate balance of funding.

Visit the DSW Professional Doctorate in Social Work page on the University of Dundee website for more details!

Student Profiles

5% discount on advance payment of tuition fees - 20+ Awards

5% discount on tuition fees is applicable for international applicants who pay the full amount (for the year), in advance, by a given deadline.

Value of Scholarship(s)

5% discount on tuition fees


For international applicants who pay the full fee amount (for the year), in advance, by a given deadline.

Application Procedure

You must pay the tuition fees due in advance, the full amount must be in the University of Dundee's bank account by the relevant date:Courses starting in September - full payment by 1st July.
Courses starting in January - full payment by 15th Novmber.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Entrants should hold a first degree in a relevant subject, and usually a relevant master’s degree. Entrants would normally be expected to have some field experience in education or be currently working in the field. Entrants with different experience may be suitable for our other professional doctorate degrees (in Educational Psychology, Education, Community Learning and Development).English Language Requirement: IELTS of 6.5 (or equivalent), if your first language is not English.

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