Professional Doctorate in Health

Qualifications and durations

This is a part-time distance-learning programme (it can be completed in four, or up  to eight years)

Students who exit the programme before achieving a DHealth award may be eligible for other exit awards. These are the Postgraduate Certificate, the Postgraduate Diploma, or the MSc Research in Health Practice (3 years), depending on the number of credits achieved at the time of exit.


The Professional Doctorate in Health is designed for a range of health and social care professionals who are interested in furthering their development as expert practitioners and researchers in practice.

By utilising web-based delivery blended with Summer Schools (typically five days in length), the programme aims to meet the learning needs of busy health and social care practitioners.

During the first two years of study you will complete a series of units covering research methods, evidence based practice, comparative health policy and other topics relevant to research in practice. Throughout the first two years you will also be developing a protocol for your doctoral research project. Unlike the PhD programme, we do not expect you to have a well-developed research protocol before commencing your studies. Your Personal Development Adviser (PDA) will work with you to develop your research plans, before handing over to an academic and practice-based supervisor during the second year.

“Supervising students on the PD Health is hugely rewarding. I enjoy guiding and facilitating my students to develop their research ideas and conduct their doctoral research projects. I feel that providing pastoral support is important, working with each student to codevelop the best study plan for them. Helping my students to further develop their research skills and see them grow in confidence toward becoming an independent researcher is hugely gratifying.”
Dr Nikki Coghill, Doctoral Recognition Awards winner 2021

Programme features

  • Carry out independent research and understand research methods whilst remaining in your practice area.
  • Choose your learning style within a flexible environment amongst a multi-professional community.
  • Expand your understanding of policy and practice in the context of international healthcare systems and service.

Time required for study

We recognise that many of our students are in demanding full-time health or social care jobs and the Professional Doctorate in Health programme is designed to be flexible and supportive in order to accommodate these demands. However, you will need to be able to commit at least 15 hours per-week (on average) to your studies, either through study leave or by working during evenings, weekends and holidays.

Programme structure

This is a flexible programme. You will typically study over four or five years, but may take up to eight years (if required).

Year one

  • Research project preparation and planning
  • Introduction to practice based research
  • Research design and methods
  • Evidence into practice

Year two

  • Research project design and development
  • Professional issues in health 1 (policy)
  • Professional issues in health 2 (practice)

Year three/four (Doctorate)

  • Thesis
Pictorial representation of programme structure

Learning and teaching

Teaching takes the form of online units, which include resource libraries, access to all of the online journals (held by the University of Bath Library), and a structured series of activities and online discussion boards.

All resources can be accessed through ‘PD Online’ - our bespoke virtual learning environment. You will also be able to submit your assignments on PD Online and communicate directly with staff and your fellow students.

A Summer School is held once a year at the University. You will attend one Summer School/Induction during your first year and one Summer School at the beginning of the second year.

Your tutor will provide support for your assignment preparation, as well as learning needs analysis and personal development planning.

The ‘research and thesis’ phase will be supervised by a panel of specialists; comprising a University academic member of staff (to ensure that the work is of a sufficient standard), and a practice-based specialist (to ensure that the work is at the forefront of practice).

Methods of assessment

Assessment consists of a combination of written assignments, literature reviews, research protocols and reflective accounts. There are no written examinations.

You will also produce a portfolio of evidence of application to practice, and have to undertake a face-to-face transfer interview and a final viva.

Entry requirements

Academic and professional requirements

  • First or 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject, from a recognised university, (this may be waived if you have a higher degree, or can demonstrate a track record of practice based research that has been published in peer reviewed journals) and
  • Candidates must have a practice-based role within a health, social care, education or clinical/medical context. This will be a condition of entry onto the programme. Candidates should normally have at least 1 years’ experience within their field.

English Language requirements

Certificates must be dated to within two years of the start of the programme of study.

  • IELTS 7 (with no less than 6.5 in each component)
  • PTE Academic of 69 with no less than 62 in any component


One reference is required from your employer or line-manager.

This should describe your academic capability, how the Professional Doctorate in Health will aid your professional development, and also indicate that you will be able to meet the time requirements for your studies.

If you have recently completed a University based programme of study you may also submit an academic reference in support of your application, although this is optional.

How to apply

To apply for this programme please complete the online application form (there is no need to provide a comprehensive research proposal at the application stage, however, please outline your research interests in section seven of the application form).

The deadline for applications is 10 July 2022.

Financial information


  • Tuition fees
  • Cost of attending the Summer School, meeting your supervisor during the programme, and attending the Transfer Seminar and the final Viva Voce, including travel, breakfast and evening meals and accommodation
  • IT equipment and miscellaneous costs to enable participation on the course from a distance
  • Cost of Printing final Soft-, and then Hard-Bound theses


Tel: +44 (0)1225 385949

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