University of Chester

Programme Specification
2016 - 2017

Doctor of Business Administration


Doctor of Business Administration

University of Chester

University of Chester

Queen's Park Campus and other University of Chester sites

Professional Doctorate


Residential and Open,

4 years (3-7 years)

7 Years

Annual - September


N100 Business


17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Business and Management Centre for Work Related Studies

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and FHEQ (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

Not applicable.

BAM Professional Doctorates Programmes Assessment Board (Joint DProf/DBA) and Research Degree Progression Awards Board.

Monday 6th July 2009

This Programme aims to provide a progression route to doctoral level for students who have completed a Master of Business Administration Programme, or equivalent, and who wish to continue with their professional development at an advanced level.  The curriculum for this Programme is essentially learner-centred and will provide an opportunity for students to focus on developing advanced leadership and management capabilities and understanding with a view to making a significant contribution to business and/or professional objectives.

It is expected that learners will engage with issues that lead them to new ways of thinking about leadership and management that may impact profoundly on business objectives and/or practices and bring about organisational change and development

The outcomes of their research should demonstrate originality of thought and be of a standard suitable for publication within their professional area.

In particular, the programme aims to enable learners to

  • Undertake advanced research in the broad areas of leadership and/or management that will lead to enhanced professional practice and/or understanding and that will make a positive and lasting impact on business objectives
  • Develop their knowledge and understanding of theories of leadership and/or management and their practical application such that they are able to offer creative and original insights to the benefit of their own practice and their profession
  • Demonstrate advanced understanding of research methods and their application to an area of leadership and/or management practice
  • Design a research programme (and to modify it according to need as the project progresses) that will result in the generation of new knowledge and/or lead to the development of new professional practices in the broad areas of leadership and/or management
  • Take control of their own learning and develop to an advanced level their critically reflective and critically evaluative capabilities as well as developing advanced project management skills
  • Produce findings that satisfy peer scrutiny and are deemed to be of publishable quality
  • Facilitate learning that has a focus on the workplace and that will lead to the highest level of academic achievement

At level 7/M students will have achieved

  • the ability to undertake, in a self-directed manner, work based projects that deal with complex issues relating to the broad areas of leadership and/or management (IS7508, IS7022, IS7020, IS7021)
  • they will have used a variety of sources of knowledge/evidence principally from scholarship relating to the broad areas of leadership and/or management, and they will have exercised critical judgment in the application of knowledge and arrived at new insights in relation to their professional practice and/or organisational understanding (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)
  • knowledge of research methods applicable to the broad areas of leadership and/or management which they will have critiqued and taken full cognisance of ethical implications (IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)

At level 8/D students will have achieved

  • advanced trans-disciplinary knowledge and understanding within the epistemological areas of leadership and/or management which underpin their professional practice and which places them at the forefront of this practice (BU8003, IS8004)
  • the ability, through original research and/or advanced scholarship in the broad areas of leadership and/or management, to create and interpret new knowledge and to communicate this to others so that it satisfies peer review and merits publication (BU8003, IS8004)
  • advanced understanding of research method as it applies to leadership and/or management such that they can apply their understanding in new situations and contribute to the development of practice-based research techniques (BU8003, IS8004)
  • the ability to conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of new knowledge and/or for the advancement of professional practice, and to achieve this within the context of the social, political and ethical complexities of the work environment (BU8003, IS8004)

 At level 7/M students will have achieved the ability to

  • analyse and synthesise information in such a way that it can be of use to them and others within the context of their professional practice (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)
  • critically evaluate concepts, theories, research findings and other sources of knowledge in the broad areas of leadership and/or management and make informed judgments about their application in the context of professional practice (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)
  • think critically, to undertake critical self-reflection and to act critically within the context of their professional practice and in such a way that it has advanced their self understanding as a professional and as a person (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)

At level 8/D students will have achieved the ability to

  • engage in critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas in the broad areas of leadership and/or management, enabling them to engage in dialogue with others on complex matters where alternative solutions to problems and practices are being sought (BU8003, IS8004)
  • undertake deep level critical reflection in relation to their own and others' actions enabling them to arrive at new understandings and/or to plan and execute new approaches to professional practice (BU8003, IS8004)
  • communicate ideas effectively to both specialist and non-specialist audiences demonstrating a command of their subject and/or area of professional practice (BU8003, IS8004)
  • make independent judgments and manage their own learning within the context of a community of practice where they will regularly independently and with others critique and evaluate their own practice (BU8003, IS8004)

A key aspect of the rationale for this programme is about continuing professional development and learning achieved in this context will inevitably have potential for transferability

At level 7/M students will have achieved the ability to

  • deal systematically and creatively with complex issues in the broad areas of leadership and/or management and to apply their knowledge and understanding to work place contexts (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)
  • make sound judgments based on evidence and be able to communicate ideas effectively to others (IS7020, IS7021)
  • learn and work independently as well as with others especially in solving problems and dealing with matters relating to leadership and/or management (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021)
  • use existing and recently acquired knowledge in new professional contexts (IS7020, IS7021)

At level 8/D students will have achieved the ability to

  • exercise a high level of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations in leadership and/or management (BU8003, IS8004)
  • take a leadership role in their field, demonstrating their confidence of mastery of a complex body of knowledge relating to their profession, with the ability to communicate it effectively to others both within and outside the work place (BU8003, IS8004)
  • deploy resources relevant to their professional practice effectively in complex and sometimes new contexts taking into account social, political and ethical considerations (BU8003, IS8004)

In addition students will also have developed in the following areas

  • Application of Number - An understanding of statistics and statistical analysis and its use in practical contexts will be achieved through research applications (IS7508, IS7022, IS7020, IS7021, IS8004, BU8003)
  • Information Literacy and Technology - Development of skills in these areas will be achieved through the work based nature of the programme and the consequent need to maintain contact with the University and its on-line resources (IS7508, IS7022, IS7020, IS7021, IS8004, BU8003)
  • Improving own learning and performance - The high degree of motivation and independent learning required on this programme will ensure development in these areas (IS7020, IS7021, IS8004, BU8003)
  • Working with others - With the work place as the principal site of learning for students on this programme, development of this skill is assured (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021, IS8004, BU8003)
  • Problem solving - The focus of the programme is essentially around this area thus skill development in this context is assured (IS7508, IS7022,IS7020, IS7021, IS8004, BU8003)

High levels of communication will be achieved through this programme (both written and oral), especially in the context of assessment tasks and the dissemination of research findings


The curriculum structure for this programme needs to be understood holistically. The Level 7 and Level 8 modules are intended to prepare the student for, and to feed in to, the Major Research Project. Thus, the principal aim of the Personal and Professional Review/Negotiated Programme Learning Agreement (IS7508) module is for the student to make a case for their readiness to engage in level 8/D study whilst also ensuring a mechanism for them to make application for any credit for prior learning that may be appropriate. The level 7 Designing Practitioner Research (IS7022) module is intended to ensure that the student has a broad understanding of research techniques and methodologies so that they can make informed decisions about the approaches that will best serve their needs. 

Negotiated Experiential Learning (e.g. IS7011, IS7017, IS7018, IS7019, IS7020, IS7021) modules at level 7/M provide an opportunity for the student to undertake Work Based Learning in the chosen area for their research and to try out their ideas, including the testing of the various research methodologies that they consider it is most likely they will use. Alternatively, this part of the programme might be a claim for prior experiential or certificated learning that is cognate with the overall area of research. Learners may attend, with agreement of the Programme Leader, classes or modules on the Faculty’s work-based Master’s or MBA programmes to raise their levels of knowledge and understanding in areas related to their research which they have not previously studied to Master's level.

As learners progress to level 8/D, they take the Researcher and Research Development (IS8004) module which is designed to equip them with the resources to proactively plan and develop their own personal and professional development in relation to designing practice-oriented research projects at doctoral level. Broadly, this involves: planning and addressing own personal and professional development priorities as a practitioner researcher seeking to influence practice; developing knowledge at the forefront of a field in order to define and conceptualise practice-based problems suitable for advanced investigation; and developing knowledge and skills in designing methodology and method which contribute to practice and scholarly debate.

Finally, the student will complete the Major Research Project (BU8003) which will normally be a single project of a strategic nature. The Personal and Professional Review/Negotiated Programme Learning Agreement module at level 7/M will have established that the student has sufficient responsibility and influence to ensure access to the necessary information to carry out the research and, through the research, to make a positive impact on the organisation. The focus of the research will be concentrated on a real organisational issue of strategic importance.

At 8/D level studies students will be assessed against learning outcomes derived from the FHEQ level descriptor for qualifications at doctoral level.  Thus, inter alia, they will need to demonstrate originality in research and/or advanced scholarship that is worthy of publication and satisfies peer review by demonstrating new knowledge or applications extending the forefront of the principal disciplinary or professional focus of their enquiry.


  • Negotiated, work based research to target impact
  • Designed to target the development needs of work-based researchers and wider practice
  • Part-time study for professionals seeking to generate impact, facilitated by structured development opportunities through the Faculty’s innovative researcher development hub.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
IS7011 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (single) 20 Optional
IS7017 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (double) 40 Optional
IS7018 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (double) 40 Optional
IS7019 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (double) 40 Optional
IS7020 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (Triple) 60 Optional
IS7021 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (NELM) (Triple) 60 Optional
IS7022 7 Designing Practitioner Research 20 Optional
IS7508 7 Personal & Professional Review leading to Negotiated Programme Learning Agreement 40 Optional
BU8003 8 Major Research Project 270 Comp
IS8004 8 Researcher and Research Development 90 Comp

The overall award is made up of 540 credits, 180 of which are at level 7/M and 360 of which are at level 8/D.

Students exiting with an MProf. will have completed a minimum of 180 credit points at level M or above subject to standard university APL policy (e.g. up to 120  credits can be from APCL or APEL).

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

Applicants will typically need to demonstrate the following within their application and interview:

  1. Be employed or self-employed, and be in a position to influence organisational, sectoral or national policy (or are working towards this); and
  2. An Honours degree with a minimum of an upper second class from a recognised university; and
  3. A MBA degree (or Master's with equivalent content) with a minimum of a ‘merit’ profile from a recognised university; and
  4. A minimum of 5 years’ experience of substantial responsibility and influence (e.g. at organisational, sectoral or national levels); and
  5. Advanced skills in writing (through a 1,000 word (max) project proposal outlining the 'what, why and how' of a research project); and
  6. Commitment to advanced continuing professional development.
  7. Students whose first language is not English will need to demonstrate competence at IELTS Level 7.0.

There are no Subject Benchmark Statements within the context of Professional Doctorates through negotiated, work based learning. However, the design of this programme has been directly informed by the QAA’s Quality Code (QAA, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016), European standards and guidance (EC, 2014, 2016, EUA, 2015), and the ESRC postgraduate training guidelines (ESRC, 2015). International standards of doctoral study and associated doctoral training have also been referenced to strengthen international comparability of standards (including ABS (2005), DET (2015), HKEB (2016), NRC (2011)). Adoption of Vitae’s (2010) Researcher Development Framework is a central feature of the programme.


ABS (2005) Guidelines for the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA), London: Association of Business Schools.

DET (2015) The Australian Qualifications Framework – AQF Level 10, Canberra, Department of Education and Training.

EC (2014) The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. Available at Accessed 19th January 2016.

EC (2016) The European Charter and Code for Researchers, Brussels, The European Commission.

ESRC (2015) ESRC Postgraduate Training and Development Guidelines, Second Edition, Swindon: The Economic and Social Research Council.

EUA (2015) The EUA Antwerp Declaration, Brussels: The European University Association.

HKEB (2016) Qualification Framework Secretariat - Hong Kong Qualifications Framework, Hong Kong: Hong Kong Education Bureau.

NRC (2011) A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States, Washington (DC): National Research Council / National Academies Press.

QAA (2011) Doctoral Degree Characteristics, Gloucester: The QAA.

QAA (2014) UK Quality Code for Higher Education Part A: Setting and Maintaining Academic Standards PART A The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, Gloucester: The QAA.

QAA (2015) Subject Benchmark Statement: Master's Degrees in Business and Management (2015), London: QAA.

QAA (2016) UK Quality Code for Higher Education Park B: Assuring and Enhancing Academic Quality - Chapter B11: Research Degrees, Gloucester: The QAA.

Vitae (2010) Researcher Development Framework, Cambridge: Vitae.

The Faculty’s researcher development hub provides a structured core of skills and knowledge for all of the doctoral students within the Faculty, and includes tutor facilitated group workshops, research seminars, group mentoring, annual conference, individual tutorial sessions, online support materials, and so on. However, the principal method of learning will be through independent reading, critical reflection, writing, and engagement in relevant communities of practice. In addition, it may be possible to attend, subject to agreement, relevant modules or sessions of the part-time or work-based MBAs within the Faculty.

Assessment will be varied across the programme, but will include, for example: a review of literature, a research proposal, a reflective personal/professional development review, a thesis and oral examination. Formative feedback is a core developmental dimension of the programme and opportunities to present, craft and re-present will be provided through tutor feedback, workshops, the annual conference, and through a pre-submission interview processes with specialists. Formative feedback on drafts of work will be given in accordance with the policy of the Department.

The holder of a Doctor of Business Administration award will be an advanced professional who has:

  • extensive knowledge and understanding of theories and models of leadership and/or management as they relate to their field of professional practice
  • the ability to create and interpret knowledge such that it extends the forefront of leadership and/or management practice
  • undertaken original research and/or in-depth enquiry into an area of leadership and/or management practice
  • conceptualised, designed and implemented projects for the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding
  • the ability to make informed judgments on complex issues in the fields of leadership and/or management taking account of social, political and ethical dimensions
  • the ability to be innovative in tackling and solving problems

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

Key benefits of researching with us:

  • We adopt an innovative and whole person approach – aligned to international benchmarks (e.g. Vitae, ESRC)
  • Contribute to and engage with our growing doctoral and researcher community – our doctoral student satisfaction is above national average (PRES)
  • Network with researchers recognised as creating world-leading research (REF 2014)
  • The Faculty has a strong track record of facilitating organisational development across sectors
  • Fast track your doctoral journey by getting recognition for your previous Master’s level achievements
  • Target strategic workplace issues and challenges for organisational and even sectorial change and benefit.

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