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Professional Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)


Course Description

Why take this course?

The DBA is our flagship programme in business and management at Portsmouth Business School. It has been designed for private and public sector management professionals who wish to advance their careers by studying and researching for a doctoral degree in business and management. It allows students to conduct applied, practice–oriented research on topics that are directly relevant to their employing organisations and provide benefits both for their own careers as well as for the employers.

DBAs are increasingly recognised as valuable alternatives to the traditional PhD doctoral research degree that is mostly much more theory-oriented and less applied to concrete organisational problems and needs. The DBA also includes an intensive taught phase that prepares students in considerable depth for the empirical research that they undertake – usually in the organisation where they are currently employed at a senior/executive level.

What will I experience?

The DBA offers students the opportunity to:

Experience a unique approach to intellectual inquiry emphasizing the integration of theory and practice
Conduct practice-oriented research
Contribute to applied management knowledge
Develop intellectually and personally as an individual, as an executive and as a contributor to the professional community
Gain a prestigious doctoral degree achieved through a rigorous, structured and comprehensive educational experience

What opportunities might ti lead to?

The DBA is aimed at Master’s or MBA-qualified postgraduates who wish to:

Take their management and professional development to new levels
Add to their professional body of knowledge
Further develop their own management careers

The research focus of the DBA addresses real business issues, with the results providing professional outcomes that are of direct relevance to your organisation. Research is both theoretical and practical. The DBA thesis is comparable to a PhD in terms of effort, rigor, contribution to knowledge, supervision and assessment.

Module Details

Our part-time programme involves between three and four years study and includes taught units, research methodology and action research. It is assessed by assignments primarily during year one (taught year), culminating in the final assessment of a doctoral level, research-based report.

The Portsmouth DBA comprises two key stages:

Year one: the taught component and assignment assessments.

Years two, three and four: the research component and final assessment.

A formal ‘Progression Board’, by which students should have successfully completed all first year assignments, denotes progression from stage one to stage two.

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: This unit will enable you to conduct a critical self-evaluation and identify your own learning requirements in relation to your doctoral programme of study and your own continuous professional development (CPD).

Advanced Research Techniques: This unit is key to your research practice and will allow you to successfully employ appropriate research theory and methodology in your own doctoral study and professional practice.

Publication and Dissemination: This unit focuses on output – analysing and critiquing publication and dissemination routes/methods within the field of business and management. It will cover both academic and professional dissemination in journals, books and conferences, as well as examine the need to communicate effectively with a range of professional groups.

Proposal for Professional Research and Development: This unit will enable you to reflect upon and consolidate prior learning and will underpin the preparation of a costed, coherent, realistic, achievable and well-argued proposal for a programme of professional research and development. This proposal must have been successfully completed in order to be approved by the formal Progression Board.

Part 2

You will study a research unit (Professional Research and Development) spanning years two, three and four. This will primarily involve supervision by your assigned DBA Supervisor and is overseen by the DBA Director, who will seek to ensure that timely progress is being made in the research, resulting in appropriate completion.

Programme Assessment

Our approach to learning is friendly, supportive and participative. The programme encourages active involvement and debate and fosters a lively exchange of ideas and knowledge. Our focus on application, rather than theory alone, is embedded throughout.

In year one, you will need to participate in the taught sessions, workshops and discussion forums and must be available to attend these. There is no attendance requirement in subsequent years, as your research is likely to comprise independent study in your own organisation, although regular meetings with your supervisor will be necessary.

Supervision and support is also a major component of the course. An allocated supervisor will guide and support you throughout your research programme and you will benefit from the ideas and learning experiences of your peers in what we call a ‘learning set’ (a small group of 3 or 4 peers who are at the same stage of DBA research as you).

Assessment is by coursework assignments at the end of the first year and students progress to the individual research phase after having passed the year one assessment. During the first taught year, students are allocated a mentor to help them develop their research topic in more depth and to prepare them for the research phase where they will be guided by a team of two academic supervisors over the following years.

Student Destinations

Your research will endeavour to make a significant original contribution to professional practice and theory relating to business and management. It will also challenge current assumptions and provide authoritative solutions, as well as influence and provide inspiration and leadership for others in the changing environment of professional practice.

Overall, the DBA is the highest level of professional and academic achievement inevitably leading to career growth in your current organisation and paving the way to further employment opportunities.

Visit the Professional Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) page on the University of Portsmouth website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A postgraduate level qualification or equivalent in an appropriate management related subject. All applicants require a minimum of three years relevant business and management experience. Evidence of recent Continuing Professional Development or leadership experience in a relevant area of business and management/management science will also be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

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