University of Chester

Programme Specification
Health and Social Care DProf
2015 - 2016

Doctor of Professional Studies

Health and Social Care

Health and Social Care

University of Chester

Faculty of Health and Social Care

Riverside Campus or sites determined by the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

Professional Doctorate


Classroom / Laboratory,

5 years

7 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  • QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008): descriptors for qualifications at Doctoral (D) level.
  • The Research Council’s / Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Joint Statement on Skills Training Requirements for Research Students (2010).

Faculty of Health and Social Care, Postgraduate Module Assessment Board


Friday 1st April 2011

The aims of the Doctor of Professional Studies in Health and Social Care programme are to facilitate the student to:

  • Develop critical skills in advanced research methods, perspectives and theories.
  • Engage critically with self directed learning, advanced scholarship and reflection.
  • Apply appropriate research methods to professional practice that will inform policy formulation and identify new initiatives.
  • Evaluate challenges within professional practice, and justify how various research approaches can be critically applied to the challenges and problems of the workplace.
  • Critically integrate prior learning into the programme and build upon existing knowledge.
  • Engage in multi-professional collaboration by studying with colleagues from other professional disciplines.
  • Develop a high level of expertise in an area which will enhance professional knowledge at individual and organisational levels.
  • Create and conduct original research within the professional environment that will make a unique contribution to existing literature through method or findings.
  • Successfully complete an advanced, structured and progressive programme of study.

Students will demonstrate:

  • A systematic understanding of a substantial body of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights,as represented by sustained engagement with scholarship in the field;
  • Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques - of research and other forms of enquiry/analysis - are used to create and interpret knowledge in disciplines related to their area/field of practice;
  • A comprehensive understanding, of a practical and conceptual nature, that enables the student to critically evaluate:current research and advanced scholarship in disciplines related to their area or field of practice, research methodologies and analytical models/frameworks; develop critiques of them (acknowledging positive and negative aspects appropriately); and propose techniques applicable to their own study of issues within their area or field of practice.

Students will demonstrate:

  • An ability to make informed judgements about conclusions to be drawn from the findings of their own independent study, in relation to their area/field of practice generally and their personal practice development;
  • The creation and interpretation of new knowledge in relevant disciplines in the broad field of health and social care, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline and merit publication;
  • The general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of their field of professional practice.

Students will demonstrate:

  • The ability to use information technology in relation to systematic scholarly review, data analysis and data presentation.
  • Advanced research skills

Personal learning and performance

  • Be creative, innovative and original in one's approach to research;
  • Apply self-discipline, motivation, and thoroughness;
  • Use initiative, work independently and be self-reliant.

Working with others

  • Develop and maintain co-operative networks and working relationships with supervisors, colleagues and peers, within the institution and the wider research community;
  • Understand one's behaviour and its impact on others when working in and contributing to the success of formal and informal teams;
  • Listen, give and receive feedback, and respond perceptively to others.


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose, e.g. progress reports, published documents, thesis;
  • Give oral presentations with a delivery which is lively and engaging;
  • Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally through a variety of techniques;
  • Constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examinations;
  • Contribute to promoting the public understanding of one's research field.

The programme leads to a final award (DProf) and one exit award (MProf). Both are fully coherent with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (QAA, 2001).

An award of MProf can be awarded to those who have accumulated 180 level 7 and level 8 credits. Due to the structure of the programme this will usually involve the accumulation of 140 level 7 credits and 40 level 8 credits.

The programme includes 140 level 7 credits and 400 level 8 credits. Students must complete the full diet of taught, designated modules (140 level 7 credits and 120 level 8 credits) before moving onto the supervised Thesis module (280 level 8 credits). Students will progress to the Thesis module through a Professional Doctorate Review Board and then onto the Graduate School's research regulations.  

All modules are compulsory and are organised around two themes: advancing professional practice through research, and advancing professional practice through personal and organisational development. The research theme comprises three sequential modules - Research Methods for Professional Enquiry, Thesis in Context and Writing for Publication - which are followed by the Thesis. The personal and organisational development theme is made up of four modules. Three of these are at level 7 and can be taken in any order: Leadership, Development and Change, Policy Analysis for Integrated Services and Doctoral Studies in Context. The remaining module, Analysing Professional Practice using Social Theories, is at level 8. Normally students will complete the level 7 modules before commencing the level 8 modules. During the taught element of the programme, each student will have an annual review regarding their taught modular progress.

A table showing the programme's structure is set out below:

Programme structure: Doctor of Professional Studies in Health and Social Care 

Programme total credits = 540: 140 credits at level 7, 400 at level 8


Level 7 (M)

(Note: Where APCL is applicable, up to a maximum of 90 credits at Level 7 may be claimed)

Level 8 (D)

(Note: PR8001 must be taken before NM8002 )

PR7001 Research Methods for Professional Enquiry

Level 7 (M)

40 CATs

NM8001 Analysing Professional Practice using Social Theories

Level 8 (D)

40 CATs

NM7012 Leadership Development and Change

Level 7 (M)

20 CATs

PR8001 Thesis in Context

Level 8 (D)

40 CATs

PR7003 Policy Analysis for Integrated Services

Level 7 (M)

40 CATs

NM8002 Writing for Publication

Level 8 (D)

40 CATs

NM7103 Doctoral Studies in Context

Level 7 (M)

40 CATs



Progression to Thesis phase when all taught level 7 & 8 credits completed (via Professional Doctorate Review Board):

PR8003 Supervised Thesis

Level 8 (D)

280 CATs


A table showing the 'normal' delivery of the programme is shown below.

Programme Delivery: Doctor of Professional Studies in Health and Social Care

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4 onwards


Doctoral studies in context

40 credits L7


Leadership, development and change

20 credits L7


Thesis in context

40 credits L8


Thesis research project

280 credits L8


Research methods for professional enquiry

40 credits L7


Policy analysis for integrated services

40 credits L7


Writing for publication

40 credits L8



Analysing professional practice using social theories

40 credits L8


Total credits for Year 1 

80 credits L7


Total credits for Year 2 

100 credits: 60 L7 and 40 L8

Total credits for Year 3 

80 credits L8



However, the programme is sufficiently flexible to allow variations from the 'normal' programme delivery: 

Example 1: student A successfully claims APCL for PR7001 & NM7012 - 60 level 7 credits. In year 1 she completes the remaining 80 level 7 credits and progresses to level 8. In year 2 she completes all the taught level 8 modules and progresses to the thesis phase. In year 3 she commences her thesis.

Example 2: student B works part time. In year 1 she completes all the level 7 modules and progresses to level 8. In year 2 she completes all the taught level 8 modules and progresses to the thesis phase. In year 3 she commences her thesis.

Example 3: student C decides to complete the level 7 credits over two years because of his domestic circumstances. After progressing to level 8 in year 3, his circumstances have changed and he completes the taught level 8 modules in that year. In year 4 he commences the thesis phase.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
NM7012 7 Leadership Development and Change 20 Comp
NM7103 7 Doctoral Studies in Context 40 Comp
PR7001 7 Research Methodologies for Professional Enquiry 40 Comp
PR7003 7 Policy Analysis for Integrated Services 40 Comp
NM8001 8 Analysing Professional Practice Using Social Theories 40 Comp
NM8002 8 Writing for Publication 40 Comp
PR8001 8 Thesis in Context 40 Comp

The Doctor of Professional Studies will be awarded on completion of the whole diet of 540 credits.

Admission to the Doctor of Professional Studies in Health and Social Care programme will normally require a good Honours degree (or equivalent) and usually a Masters degree related to their professional discipline (the latter usually completed within the five year period prior to entry), and, normally, at least two years' post-qualification experience in their professional field. Given the wide variety of educational qualifications within the Health and Social Care field, it is intended that these admission requirements are applied flexibly within the context of upholding the Graduate School rules. For example, it might be quite acceptable to admit an experienced and senior nurse who holds a Diploma of Higher Education and a Masters degree.  

It is expected that students will be working within health or social care in a professional post, and intending to continue within such practice.

All applicants will be interviewed (in line with Graduate School policy) and this will include identifying their potential area of research interest and judging the Faculty's capacity to support this through research supervision.

It is anticipated that this programme will have international appeal.  It will be marketed overseas and this strategy will be part of the Faculty's business plan.  Students from overseas are required to have achieved the Cambridge IELTS qualification at level 7 or above.

Students may claim APCL for up to 90 level 7 credits. As discussed above in relation to admission requirements, this rule will need to be applied flexibly. For example, a student who has completed a Masters in Research may successfully claim for module PR7001 Research methods for professional enquiry, whereas a social worker who qualified at Masters level is unlikely to be successful with the same claim. The Faculty has an APE/CL co-ordinator and well defined decision-making processes in place. 

The programme has been developed with reference to the QAA (2004) Code of Practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education - Section 1: Postgraduate research programmes. Its precepts are followed through University and Graduate School arrangements with which the programme will comply. This will include use of the e-portfolio and postgraduate skills audit.

The Faculty of Health and Social Care is commited to an ongoing process of student-centred learning aimed at developing highly independent lifelong learners.

As students are engaged in doctoral level study and are experienced in studying within higher education, they will be expected to demonstrate advanced skills in self-motivation, self-direction and time management. Students will be supported and challenged to further develop these learning skills through the teaching methods employed by the programme team. The detail of these methods will differ according to the context of individual modules, but they will share the aim of ensuring active learning. They will include:

  • Group seminars/lectures with students encouraged to question and discuss;
  • Project work in learner groups;
  • Student-led discussions, seminars and presentations;
  • Individual and small group tutorials;
  • E-learning through VLE including tutor/student-led online discussion forums;
  • Use of ICT and audio-visual material.
  • Action learning sets which will form an overarching peer support mechanism, foster cross-professional working, and inculcate the identity of being a Prof Doc student.

Students will be strongly advised and encouraged by the programme team to attend all classes, in the context of developing mature self-discipline and a culture of mutual responsibility. Contribution to group interaction will enable students to challenge assumptions and form a deeper understanding of relevant concepts as well as developing key skills.

The assessment strategy is designed to cohere with the programme's learning outcomes. Specific assessment methods are detailed within individual module descriptors with the intention of realising constructive alignment, and are summarised below.

Formative assessment methods will facilitate a developmental process. They will include review of work in progress by peers and programme tutors. Summative methods will be contextualised in principle by the distinguishing features of doctoral level study: the creation and interpretation of new knowledge in relevant disciplines in the broad field of health and social care, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline and merit publication. The key stages of assessment of the thesis element are in accordance with the normal processes for the development of a doctoral thesis.

In line with the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, all summative assessments will be based on evidence of the degree to which the student has demonstrated:

  1. A systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of their discipline and/or area of professional health and social care practice;
  2. The general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of their field within health and social care, and to adjust the project in the light of unforeseen problems;
  3. A detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry within health and social care;
  4. The acquisition of transferable intellectual and employment-related skills.

The programme will adhere to the assessment policy of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, and the University's policy for the assessment of students with disabilities or special circumstances. Students' work will be marked in line with the University's level 7 and 8 grading criteria.

The thesis module (including the Viva voce), in keeping with University regulations and the requirements of the Graduate School, will be examined independently by at least one external examiner. 


Doctor of Professional Studies - Assessment Schedule



Module Name


Assessment Format

% Mark

PR7001 (L7)

(40 credits)

Research Methods for Professional Enquiry

  1. Assignment (4000 words)
  2. Report (4000 words)
  1. A portfolio of practical exercises and two tests covering key concepts, literature review, interview or focus group, questionnaire, psychometric measure and statistics.
  2. A research report on the design, conduct and analysis of a small scale enquiry within a professional setting.
  1. 50%
  2. 50%


(20 credits)

Leadership Development and Change

  1. Assignment (2000 words)
  2. Assignment (3000 words)
  1. A systematic self-analysis of personal leadership style/skills and the development of a corresponding action plan.
  2. Using a model of reflection critically evaluate the planning, implementation and outcome of a change scenario in your organisation.
  1. 40%
  2. 60%

NM7103 (L7)

(40 credits)

Doctoral Studies in Context

  1. Assignment (6000 words)
  2. Assignment (2000 words)
  1. Conduct an in-depth review and critical appraisal of the literature and theoretical basis of own field of professional practice-based research opportunities. 
  2. A critical, reflexive appraisal of individual social and cultural influences on personal and professional transformations in the context of their professional practice.
  1. 75%
  2. 25%

PR7003 (L7)

(40 credits)

Policy Analysis for Integrated Services

Assignment (8000 words)

Critically discuss the impact of policy on practice in a multi-professional environment.


NM8001 (L7)

(40 credits)

Analysing Professional Practice Using Social Theories

  1. Report (2000 words)
  2. Discussion paper (6000 words)

Analyse a professional matter using two theoretical approaches:

  1. Organisational report designed to influence developmental change.
  2. Discussion paper reflecting the work in component 1.
  1. 25%
  2. 75%

NM8002 (L8)

(40 credits)

Writing for Publication

  1. Presentation (2000 words)
  2. Assignment (4000 words) 
  3. Reflective commentary (2000 words)
  1. Presentation of conference paper to peers.
  2. Production of paper in format of selected journal.
  3. Reflective commentary on the process of writing for publication.
  1. 25%
  2. 50%
  3. 25%

PR8001 (L8)

(40 credits)

Thesis in Context

  1. Research Proposal (6000 words)
  2. Oral presentation (2000 words)
  1. Literature Review - proposal for the thesis including literature review, design and methods.
  2. Essay identifying and critically evaluating alternative approaches to address research topic.
  1. 75%
  2. 25%

PR8003 (L8)

(280 credits)


Thesis (45 000 words)

Thesis - original empirical work. The thesis may be a compilation of up to three projects linked by a common theme.

Successful completion of a Viva voce.


Students undertaking the programme are likely to vary widely in terms of their current career status, therefore progression paths post-graduation cannot be accurately defined. The skills developed during the programme will facilitate the pursuance of individual career ambitions. Graduates, for example, may use the award to gain career advancement in educational, managerial or advanced clinical roles.

Programme graduates will be scholarly professionals who are committed to effective practice development through creative innovation and transformational leadership. They will be active change agents using their skills and knowledge to facilitate better health and social care services.

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.

Notwithstanding the value listed in the final table in s. 24, the credit value for the PR8003 Thesis research project is 280 credits rather than 300.

Students registered on this programme share four modules with the Professional Studies Doctorate (Education) students.

The DProf (Education) has been re-validated for the academic year of 2015-16, importantly all the modules have now been validated at module level 8, with the exception of PR7003 which has been replaced by another module.

The implications for the DProf (Health and Social Care) are as follows:

Year 1:


The DProf (Health & Social Care) students will register for this research module. They will attend the new level 8 module with the Ed Doc.  students and continue with shared teaching and also submit the PR7001 assignment as in previous years.

Unlike previous years the PR7001 will not be presented in the Education assessment boards, but the FHSC assessment boards.


This policy analysis module has been replaced by the new validation of the Education DProf programme.

The Faculty of Health and Social Care will now be required to administer this module. There is an opportunity here, to give a greater focus on health and social policy.

Traditionally this module commences in March.

Unlike previous years the PR7003 will not be presented in the Education assessment boards, but the FHSC assessment boards.


This module is the research proposal, the new validation of the Ed Programme embrace both assignments, marked separately, of the proposal and viva into one 100% assessment.


The PR8004 will replace the PR8003, with 300 credits an increase of 20 from the PR8003, reflecting the increased word count to 50,000. DProf (Health and Social Care) student s will be able to continue with the PR8003 module (which they will undertake in the Graduate School).

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