University of Chester

Programme Specification
Health and Social Care DProf
2017 - 2018

Doctor of Professional Studies

Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care (L8 2017 Programme)

University of Chester

Faculty of Health and Social Care

Riverside Campus and Parkgate Road Campus, Chester

Professional Doctorate


Classroom / Laboratory,

5 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

National Framework for Higher Education Qualifications


Postgraduate Programme Module Assessment Board

Tuesday 10th January 2017

The DProf Health and Social Care is designed to meet the professional interests of a diverse group of graduate professionals working across the health and social care sector within ‘human services’. This will include lecturers, nurses, and members of the police force; workers from government agencies, third sector agencies, voluntary bodies and social sectors; and all individuals interested in, or wishing to focus on, any aspect of health and social care. Demographic trends reveal that the population is growing and ageing which, coupled with an increase in the number of individuals who are living with concomitant and chronic health problems, brings additional challenges for workers at the forefront of ‘human service delivery’. Consequently, research into health and social care continues to be in the vanguard of social, economic and political debates, and is of major importance in the current climate where we are witnessing a rolling back of the welfare state and growth of third sector agencies. This increases the demand for practitioners who are able to effectively lead, innovate and evaluate service provision with a limited resource allocation.

Our DProf Health and Social Care is designed to support graduate professionals working across diverse health and social care sectors to conduct doctoral research in this complex and evolving arena. The programme is designed to equip students with the relevant methodological, theoretical and analytical tools needed to undertake work at doctoral level. The first stages of the course comprise taught modules that are delivered flexibly to fit in with the busy schedules of working professionals. Students study for these modules as a member of a group in which collaborative support for learning will be encouraged, and students will be furnished with the critical skills to enable them to conduct research at doctoral level. Research methodologies, social theory, philosophy, cultural practices and policy form the major themes around which the teaching is structured. The doctoral thesis requires that students apply the knowledge and skills that they have gained during the taught components of the course through completion of a doctoral level research project. Students are supported in selecting their research topics, and are provided with thorough supervision as they develop their thesis in the final stages of the study. Assessment of modules comprises a combination of written and practical coursework tasks. The final assessment is based on the doctoral thesis and viva.

The programme aims to:

  • Develop a capacity in students to identify, conceptualise and contextualise theoretical perspectives on health and social care and the effects of these on their professional context and practices, in combination with the systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an area of professional practice.
  • Produce reflective learners with the academic, scholarly and critical skills to enable the creation and interpretation of new knowledge through original research into their profession to extend the forefront of the discipline, of a quality to satisfy peer review and merit publication.
  • Enable students to carry out research into their professional practice commensurate with doctoral study utilising appropriate research methodologies and methods, and the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of their professional practice.
  • Develop the critical, ethical and reflexive skills to identify and utilise appropriate research designs, methodologies and methods, and rigorously evaluate research data to produce analyses that yield new findings and insights into their professional field, with commensurate reporting skills.
  • Enable students to be aware of national and international perspectives, politics and ideologies of health and social care within changing global contexts, developing their capacity to generate insights into and new understandings of their professional roles and fields of practice.

Typically, holders of the DProf Health and Social Care will be able to:

  • Make informed judgements on complex issues in their specialist educational fields, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Continue to undertake applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches.
  • Conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of significant new knowledge or understanding.

and will have:

  • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.
  • The qualities needed for employment that require both the ability to make informed judgements on complex issues in their specialist field and an innovative approach to tackling and solving problems.

Students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Advanced trans-disciplinary knowledge and understanding within the epistemological areas which underpin their professional practice and which places them at the forefront of this practice (all modules).
  • The ability, through original research and/or advanced scholarship, to create and interpret new knowledge and to communicate this to others so that it satisfies peer review and merits publication (all modules).
  • Advanced understanding of research methodologies as they apply to their area of professional expertise, such that they can apply their understanding in new situations and contribute to the development of practice-based research techniques (NM8005, NM8006, NM8007, NM8008).
  • The ability to conceptualise, design and implement research for the generation of new knowledge, or for the advancement of professional practice, and to achieve this within the context of the social, political and ethical complexities of the professional environment (all modules).

Students will be able to:

  • Engage in critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas, enabling them to engage in dialogue with others on complex matters where alternative solutions to problems and practices are being sought (all modules).
  • Undertake deep critical reflection in relation to their own and others' actions, enabling them to arrive at new understandings, or to plan and execute new approaches to professional practice (NM8003, NM8004).
  • Communicate ideas effectively to both specialist and non-specialist audiences, demonstrating a command of their subject or area of professional practice (all modules).
  • Make independent judgements and manage their own learning within the context of a community of practice where they will regularly critique and evaluate their own practice, both independently and with others (all modules).

Students will be able to:

  • Exercise a high level of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations in professional contexts (all modules, but particularly NM8008).
  • Take a leadership role in their field, demonstrating confidence in their mastery of a complex body of knowledge relating to their profession, and the ability to communicate it effectively to others both within and outside the workplace (NM8003, NM8004, NM8007, NM8008).
  • Deploy resources relevant to their professional practice effectively in complex and sometimes new contexts taking into account social, political and ethical considerations (all modules).

Students will be able to demonstrate

  • Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose, e.g. progress reports, published documents, thesis (all modules).

    • Give oral presentations with a delivery style which is appropriate for the respective audience (all modules, in    particular; NM8003, NM8006, NM8007 and NM8008).

    • Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally    through a variety of techniques (all modules).

    • Constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examinations (all modules, in particular;  NM8006, NM8007 and NM8008).

    • Contribute to promoting the public understanding of one's research field (all modules, in particular NM8008).

    • Demonstrate an understanding of statistics and statistical analysis and the application to practical context (all modules, in particular; NM8006)

The qualifications offered are in line with the QAA (2015) Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ), and are compliant with the Integrated Qualifications Framework for the Schools Workforce.

The programme is at level 8 of the FHEQ and the IQF, and leads to a DProf Health and Social Care.

There are five taught modules and one independent research module, each of the taught modules is ‘designated’ and therefore must be completed prior to the commencement of the thesis module. Three of the taught modules attract 40 credits (20 ECTS) and the remaining two taught modules attract 60 credits (30 ECTS). Each 40 credit module will provide 20 hours of tutor contact time within a total of 400 hours of student engagement. The 60 credit modules will provide 30 hours of contact time within a total of 600 hours of student engagement. Contact time will include lectures, workshops and seminars.

The research module is the thesis and attracts 300 credits (150 ECTS). This is largely independent study, but will be supported by supervision.

All modules are compulsory. 

Modules are grouped in three strands:

1. Theoretical underpinning

This strand comprises three modules to be studied sequentially:

  • NM8003 Introduction to Doctoral Studies (40 credits)
  • NM8004 Social Theory and Professional Work (40 credits)
  • NM8005 Philosophy of Social Science (40 credits)

 2. Research – the practical application

This strand includes one module:

  • NM8006 Research Methods (60 credits)

 3. Research – application of theory to practice

The final two modules, which are studied sequentially:

  • NM8007 Thesis Proposal (60 credits)
  • NM8008 Thesis (300 credits) 

Students have up to seven years to complete the Doctor of Professional Studies Health and Social Care qualification.



Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM8003 8 Introduction to Doctoral Studies 40 Comp
NM8004 8 Social Theory and Professional Work 40 Comp
NM8005 8 Philosophy of Social Science 40 Comp
NM8006 8 Research Methods 60 Comp
NM8007 8 Thesis Proposal 60 Comp
NM8008 8 Thesis 300 Comp

In order to gain a named award of an MProf Health and Social Care, students must successfully obtain a minimum of 180 credit points at Level 8. This would normally be from NM8003, NM8004, NM8005 and NM8006.

In order to gain a named award of a DProf Health and Social Care, students must successfully obtain 540 credit points at Level 8.



Entry requirements
Admission to the Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care is guided by the precepts in the QAAHE Code of Practice, and is reflected in the following criteria:
• Candidate appropriately qualified and prepared
• Minimum 2:1 or 2:2 with master’s degree in appropriate subject
• Substantial research or professional experience
• IETLS 6.5 (or equivalent).
Applications are made initially to a dedicated staff member in Registry, who will consider these with the programme leader. All candidates will be interviewed prior to acceptance. Candidates will be asked to provide the interview panel with a written piece of work – no more than 500 words providing a critical response to a pre-determined question. Where the normal entry criteria are not met, attention will be given to the professional standing and experience of the applicant and a decision made accordingly. The offer of a place shall be made by Registry.
The normal entry requirement for the Professional Doctorate is a Master’s level degree or its professional equivalent. Exceptionally, where normal entry requirements are not met, consideration will be made of the professional standing, experience and achievements of the applicant, such as published papers for peer reviewed journals, and a decision made accordingly. The programme planning team aim to recruit from a number of areas referred to earlier as ‘human services’. Within the rapidly shifting landscape of health and social care, students may be recruited from areas not previously conceived as being the traditional domain of Prof Doc programmes. Consequently, the team welcome applications from individuals working or volunteering with third sector organisations, housing associations, community groups, fire and safety organisations, and the police. Applicants who apply with a non-academic background will be advised accordingly and the following options may be suggested:
• Pre-reading and engaging with wider literature.
• Undertaking a standalone level 7 module.
• Enrolling on the initial module (NM8003) and reviewing progression
At the interview stage there will be consideration of the University’s ability to provide adequate supervision for the student at every stage of the programme, especially through the thesis stage. Where the University is unable to provide appropriate support and is not able to identify a viable source of external expertise, the candidate will be advised that the University is unable to offer a place on the programme.
There is a single annual start date for entry to the programme; this is usually September.
In accordance with the University regulations for Professional Doctorates (Principles and Regulations Handbook G), students will be expected to demonstrate, at the point of application, that they have suitable professional experience and access to a professional environment.
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) or Accreditation of Certificated Learning (APCL) at master’s level will not be accepted for entry to the DProf Health and Social Care programme.
For applicants previously enrolled on a doctoral (Level 8) programme of study, applications for APCL will be considered on a case by case basis to determine academic viability; this will be done by the programme leader in association with appropriate members of the team. The final decision will be taken by the programme leader in consultation with Registry.
International students will need to provide evidence of a recent IELTS score of no less than 6.5, with a score of no less than 5.5 in any band, and will be invited to interview. English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) students who are resident in the UK will be invited to interview and asked to present evidence of their qualifications in English. At interview, international and ESOL students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their effective speaking and listening skills.

The programme conforms to the QAA (2015) Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) at Level 8 (Doctoral level) and Level 7 (Master's degree level), assuring the achievement represented by the qualification is appropriate and represented consistently.

The programme is informed by the professional values stated by the UK Professional Standards Framework:

  1. Respect for individual learners.
  2. Commitment to incorporating the process and outcomes of relevant research, scholarship or professional practice.
  3. Commitment to development of learning communities.
  4. Commitment to encouraging participation in higher education, acknowledging diversity and promoting equality of opportunity.
  5. Commitment to continuing professional development and evaluation of practice.

It is informed by the Core Knowledge and Areas of Activity of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UK PSF) (2006) at Standard 2 or above.

Qualifications at Professional Doctorate level are awarded to students who:

  1. Make a significant and original contribution to a specialised field of inquiry, demonstrating a command of methodological issues and engaging in critical dialogue with peers, and accepting full accountability for outcomes (CIDG, August 2008).
  2. Meet the Framework for Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area third cycle awards:
  • Have demonstrated a systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of the skills and methods of research associated with that field.
  • Have demonstrated the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity.
  • Have made a contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication.
  • Are capable of critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas;
  • Can communicate with their peers, the larger scholarly community and with society in general about their areas of expertise.
  • Can be expected to be able to promote, within academic and professional contexts, technological, social or cultural advancement in a knowledge-based society.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  1. Make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  2. Continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches.
  3. Demonstrate they have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments. (QAAHE, 2015) 

The DProf Health and Social Care will work within the framework of the University’s Teaching and Learning Strategy which defines four strategic aims:

  1. To develop successful learners.
  2. To design inclusive curricula.
  3. To promote excellence in teaching practice.
  4. To build institutional capacity for change.

The programme also reflects the Learning and Teaching Action Plan for the Faculty of Health and Social Care, and principles of teaching that:

  • Value students’ professional experience and prior learning.
  • Support diversity and personalised learning.
  • Encourage dynamic and participative learning.
  • Promote collaborative learning.
  • Encourage internet and web-based approaches.
  • Support reflective and practitioner enquiry.

The main methods of teaching are:

  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Tutor-led seminars
  • Group sessions
  • Individual tutorials
  • Independent study.

Formative feedback is available during the modules.

The programme adheres to the assessment policy of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, and to the University’s policy for the assessment of students with disabilities or special circumstances.

General principles (applicable to taught modules)

  • Feedback to students is provided four weeks following submission.
  • Extensions or deferrals can be granted if students produce documentary evidence of mitigating circumstances in support of their request.
  • Appeals against assessment decisions can be logged in accordance with the University’s academic appeals regulations.  

Technology supported learning will be utilised via module Moodle spaces to offer a variety of learning opportunities including pre-reading prior to module commencement, the facilitation of critical debate via the discussion board, sharing of resources, and keeping up to date with programme announcements. TSL will be embedded by the programme team, working constructively and systematically towards integrating the following approaches across modules accordingly:

  • Online collaborative working including discussion forums.
  • Guided independent study.
  • Module tasks – including case scenarios or policy exercises.
  • Live 'chat forums' with academic staff tutors and fellow students.
  • Online presentations.
  • Preparation of materials for online dissemination to the group.
  • Developing shared online resources.
  • Online workshops.

It is anticipated that as learners progress through the modules, working within a framework of independent and reflective learning, they will also develop as part of an online community of learners. This will be encouraged at the point of induction at the outset of the programme, and subsequently module materials will be incorporated which actively foster participation in activities which promote online discussion and interaction.


All modules have a handbook; this is available to students via the dedicated module space on Portal (the University’s VLE). The module handbook includes information on:

  • Module aims and learning outcomes.
  • Outline content.
  • Assessment method (outlined below) which includes weighting.
  • Dates and procedures for submission of work.
  • Recommended reading session by session.
  • D level (level 8) assessment criteria.
  • Information about plagiarism.
  • Policy on late submission.
  • Regulations relating to extensions and deferments.
  • Regulations on appeals against assessment decisions.


Modules NM8003, NM8004, NM8005, NM8006 and NM8007 are assessed through a variety of approaches including poster presentation, oral presentations, written essays etc., all of which will be marked on-line via Grademark; feedback will be made available via the Moodle site. Feedback is given against the module learning outcomes and the level 8 criteria. Feedback on the work is intended to identify strengths and points of development, particularly to achieve a publishable standard.

All such assessed work is marked using the University’s level 8 grading criteria linked to the QAA requirements for level 8. Level 8 criteria consistent for all taught doctorates in the University have been developed.

Anonymous marking does not apply. All work is second marked in accordance with the University policy. Where there is a disparity between the first and second marker, a third marker adjudicates.

Where the student is an employee of the University of Chester, all of the student's work will be sent to an external examiner.

The thesis will be assessed following the University’s assessment regulations for research students (see Handbook G, Research Supervision and Assessment of Students). This includes assessment by presentation and viva voce examination.

Supervisory arrangements will also follow the University’s regulations for research students.

The holder of a Doctor of Professional Studies Health and Social Care award will be an advanced professional who has:

  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of their field of professional practice.
  • The ability to create and interpret knowledge such that it extends the forefront of a discipline or field of practice.
  • Undertaken original research or in-depth enquiry into an area of professional practice.
  • Conceptualised, designed and implemented projects for the generation of significant new knowledge or understanding.
  • The ability to make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields taking account of social, political and ethical dimensions.
  • The ability to be innovative in tackling and solving problems.

The University of Chester 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.

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