Postgraduate study
Health & Social Care

Doctorate Health and Social Care Professional Practice

This course gives you access to practice-based doctoral study to maximise your full potential in the changing landscape of higher education and the health and social care workplace.

Course information


  • 5 years

More part-time details

September 2018 entry

  • Daytime and evenings
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 384176
  • Fee for UK/EU applicants: £2,525 per year
    More details about our fees
  • Not eligible for any fee discounts. If a student goes beyond the five year period for disseration purposes then their fee must be processed in line with PhD students - a charge based on a pro-rata basis.

Contact details

Further information

  • Facilities

    School of Health & Social Care facilities

    The School of Health & Social Care has amazing purpose-built facilities simulating practice environments such as hospital wards, dental clinics and social care settings. See how students benefit and prepare for practice.


The value of doctoral study is evidenced in documents such as Careers in the NHS, the report to the National Allied Health Professional Advisory Board: modernising allied health professional careers programme (2011), and the future of universities in a knowledge economy (2009). The common theme is that postgraduate qualifications are becoming a necessity for developing careers in particular public and private sectors. It is increasingly evident that postgraduate degrees will become the minimum qualification for entry to certain health and social care professions. With a growing number of healthcare professionals achieving senior and consultant level roles, higher level qualifications are increasingly required. Engagement with our doctorate programme places you at the forefront of strengthening the flow of knowledge and skills at the highest level into health and social care.At Teesside University you benefit from the close and long-established working partnerships between the University and the workplace. Study at this level is challenging and rewarding.

Supporting information for applicants

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The course is structured in two stages, enabling a logical development of your skills and knowledge to ensure that you acquire the level necessary for successful completion. To be awarded this doctorate you must achieve 540 credits in total.

Stage 1
Advance your scholarship and independent inquiry to doctoral level. The emphasis is on enhancing your knowledge and understanding of the research process and building a strong knowledge base of quantitative and qualitative approaches that are applied to research within professional practice. The directed study aspects of this stage are a fundamental prerequisite to accessing the Advanced Independent Research Project in Stage 2.

Stage 1 covers academic Years 1 and 2. You access four modules, two advanced research modules – which form the research methods training component of the programme – and two practice or discipline-specific modules. We recently introduced a new module, Leading a Caring and Compassionate Culture in response to the Francis inquiry.

Successful completion of Stage 1 enables you to:

  • identify an area from practice or professional discipline
  • review and contextualise the area within knowledge and theory
  • design a change for practice and professional discipline
  • implement the change process
  • evaluate the change
  • appraise the implications for practice or professional discipline.

Stage 2
The final stage covers a three-year period when you focus on the Advanced Independent Research Project. This module allows you to integrate and synthesise the knowledge and skills you have developed throughout your study. This culminates in a piece of independent autonomous work which significantly contributes to developing new knowledge or theory relating to your practice or a professional discipline. You also access the modules, Innovation and Enterprise for Excellence in Practice, and Promoting Scholarship through Writing for Publication. This last module helps you to develop the skills to disseminate your work.

Course structure

Stage 1 Core Modules

Advanced Independent Project Preparation

You develop comprehensive knowledge, skills and understanding of advanced research designs, methodology and analysis in both qualitative and quantitative methods as well as service evaluation. You consider how these have the potential to support the advancement and evaluation of practice or professional discipline. This module ensures that you can creatively apply the principles of quantitative, qualitative and service evaluation research methods in advancing practice by preparing an appropriate project proposal and pilot study for your Advanced Independent Research Project.

Advanced Research Methods for Independent Work

This module forms an integral part of the advanced research training programme necessary for students accessing the Doctor of Health and Social Care Professional Practice. This is your first Level 8 research methods module – the aim is to refresh, consolidate and develop your previous knowledge, skills and critical understanding of advanced research methodology. The module content is focused on both qualitative and quantitative approaches used in health and social care as well as service evaluation research. The key focus includes project design, project management, data collection, and analysing and disseminating research findings. We use a variety of teaching techniques to best enhance your knowledge and understanding of the application of research theory and methods in the context of care research. These include lectures, seminars and tutorials – the latter is used to provide individual guidance and formative feedback.

Advancing Scholarship and Independent Research Inquiry to Doctoral Level

This is a Level 8, year-long module within the Doctorate in Health and Social Care Professional Practice. It develops your critical inquiry skills for contemporary professional practice, and progresses your independent study, critical thinking and academic writing to doctoral level. You develop critical inquiry into contemporary professional practice through practitioner reflection and critically review the concepts, knowledge and policy underpinning their practice. Throughout the module, you advance your independent study, critical thinking and academic writing to the standard required at doctoral level. We employ a range of learning strategies – seminars, IT practicals, open learning, guided and independent study. The formative assessment is a 20-minute oral presentation submitted in week 8 of the module. The summative assessment is a 5,000-word critical review submitted in week 23.

Innovation and Enterprise for Excellence in Practice

This module forms an integral part of the doctorate programme building on the Leading Organisations and Managing Change module by further enhancing and enriching your knowledge, skills and understanding of the advantages of innovation and enterprise in achieving excellence in practice. The module content represents the changing landscape of health and social care. You have the opportunity to innovate across a specific area of practice whilst demonstrating a high degree of knowledge transfer at a macro level. The learning and teaching strategy incorporates a combination of key lectures, seminars and workshops to ensure that you experience the theoretical and practical skills required to identify and innovate a change in practice. The change should have potential to lead to enterprise and marketing in the future. We creatively engage through the virtual learning environment, for example with Wimba, podcasts and Second Life as part of the module.

Leading a Caring and Compassionate Culture

This module develops your critical appreciation of the processes involved in assessing and evaluating organisational culture and justifies approaches to leadership for enhancing a caring and compassionate culture. You learn to critically consider your abilities to lead a caring and compassionate culture. You study this module over 18 weeks in term 3 of Year 1 and term 1 of Year 2 plus online learning using our virtual learning environment. The module is student-led using a combination of key lectures followed by seminars and workshops. You critically explore and debate the complexities of leading a caring and compassionate culture. You complete an 8,000-word summative assessment in week 30 of the module, worth 100% of the module mark. The summative assessment comprises a written detailed and critical commentary based on an organisational leadership scenario that you have identified and negotiated with the module leader and team.


Stage 2 Core Modules

Advanced Independent Research Project

This module requires you to creatively apply the principles of research to the practice and/or professional discipline setting. The fundamental purpose of the Advanced Independent Research Project is to implement and evaluate change in practice and demonstrate its contribution to new knowledge within your professional field. This is the pivotal point of the programme, and of your personal and professional development. You are required to submit a 60,000-word project and to defend your project through a viva voce examination.

Promoting Scholarship Through Writing for Publication

This module encourages you to consolidate knowledge, skills and expertise acquired as part of your Level 8 study experiences, and to share and disseminate this through writing for publication. Sharing and disseminating advances or evaluations in professional practice and or discipline through writing for publication is challenging, motivating yet rewarding. To efficiently and effectively demonstrate scholarship through publication requires you to further develop your knowledge, understanding and practical skills to work through the complex systems and processes akin to writing for publication. This module encourages and enables you to demonstrate and apply primary skills in critical appraisal, evidence-based practice and information technology. You also develop a political understanding of the impact of a creative and innovative article for publication in a peer-reviewed professional journal in the change process.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

You experience a variety of learning and teaching strategies throughout the programme, complying with the UK Council for Graduate Education (2002) which states that at doctoral level ‘teaching has to become more a matter of guidance and mentoring rather than a didactic transfer process’. This means that, by using supervised support at the beginning of the programme, you quickly become independent and autonomous, and able to undertake the research dissertation in Stage 2.

The programme team promotes and supports an independent approach to learning. Your academic module tutors and supervisors are seen largely as supporting your autonomous development, enabling you to advance and evaluate your personal and professional practice or discipline.

Throughout the programme you engage with supervisory-led and supporting strategies such as facilitating debates, seminars, workshops, action learning sets and presentations. You are encouraged towards independent autonomous working with the support of the independent project research supervisory team within a student cohort community (SCC). We use a range of teaching and learning strategies, appropriate to the material and concepts within the programme, while considering the varying learning styles within your student cohort by using academic and personal tutors.

This programme has been commended for its student-led strategies, particularly the SCC which is an integral part of the overall programme. Our students, who come from a variety of experiences and knowledge bases, all contribute to student learning on the programme. The principles of action learning form the basis of the SCC – these are initially academic or tutor-led and subsequently student-led. This aspect of the programme focuses purely on the needs of individual students and their specific aspect of development in practice. You are encouraged to share ideas and issues within the cohort community. This approach encourages you to share and develop knowledge, and promotes a more open approach to discussions around practice and professional issues. You realise that similar issues arise across different aspects of practice or professional development.

Throughout your study we use facilitated debates to introduce key concepts which can be further explored in seminar, tutorial and workshop sessions. A recognised strength of this programme is that our learning and teaching strategies encourage multidisciplinary debate and the exchange of practice and professional issues.

An important feature of the programme is developing your transferable skills, such as communication and IT skills. You are encouraged to use and further develop these skills in student-led seminars and workshops.

How you are assessed

The primary role of assessments is to enable you to demonstrate how you have achieved the specified learning outcomes. We use a variety of assessment strategies:

  • to provide a variety of experience
  • to challenge and extend your knowledge base
  • to give feedback as a basis for advancement
  • as a measure of your learning and skill development.

The programme is cumulative – successful completion of Stage 1 is required to enter the final Stage 2. The title of Doctor of Health and Social Care Professional Practice is awarded on successfully completing the Advanced Independent Research Project. We use a number of different assessments across the programme so as not to disadvantage some students. Assessments are used to guide you towards:

  • appropriate knowledge
  • developing an appropriate depth of understanding
  • developing the relevant skills to enable you to contribute significantly to developing knowledge within practice or professional discipline.

Examples of the types of assessment you complete are:

  • oral examination
  • presentation
  • writing proposal
  • report
  • essay
  • viva voce defence (viva).

The assessment strategies provide a balance between tutor-selected material as a focus and student-selected topics. This ensures that assessments can measure progress in key skills but that there is sufficient flexibility within the programme as a whole to allow you to identify and follow up areas of interest and, where appropriate, to link with your professional role.

Career opportunities

The course provides you with the opportunity to develop as a visionary leader who will have an impact on the social and economic future of health and social care.

Entry requirements

You should have:

  • completed a master's degree in a relevant health and social care-related subject
  • a minimum of two years' post-qualification practice experience in a health or social care environment working in a role that will enable you to facilitate change.

Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credits for previous study or related work experience which can be credited towards the course you want to study. Find out more about RPL.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

Course information


  • 5 years

More part-time details

September 2018 entry

  • Daytime and evenings
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 384176
  • Fee for UK/EU applicants: £2,525 per year
    More details about our fees
  • Not eligible for any fee discounts. If a student goes beyond the five year period for disseration purposes then their fee must be processed in line with PhD students - a charge based on a pro-rata basis.

Contact details

Further information