University of Chester

Programme Specification
Doctor of Public Health DPH
2016 - 2017

Doctor of Public Health

Doctor of Public Health

Doctor of Public Health

University of Chester

University of Chester

University of Chester, Riverside Campus

Professional Doctorate

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

2 years (full time), 4 years (part time)

7 Years

Annual - October

B910

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Health and Social Care Health and Social Care

  • QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (2008): descriptor for qualifications at doctoral level.
  • The Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) joint statement on Skills Training Requirements of Research Students (2010).
  • The programme has been benchmarked against the Public Health Skills and Career Framework, which defines nine areas of competence applicable to the UK multi-disciplinary public health workforce (Public Health Resource Unit (PHRU) & Skills for Health (SfH), 2008).

Health and Social Care Postgraduate Module Assessment Board

Sunday 1st June 2014

The proposed programme reflects the professional doctorate tradition, requiring students to carry out a systematic inquiry which makes an original contribution to knowledge in practice. It is based on the premise that some issues and problems characterising the public health profession will benefit from the level of academic analysis represented by doctoral studies. It provides an opportunity for students to focus on developing advanced capabilities and understanding as public health leaders, with a view to making a significant original contribution to public health professional objectives.

The objectives of the programme are to enable students to:

  • Demonstrate a systematic and syntactic knowledge of public health ethics, philosophies, principles and ideologies, and the ability to derive new insights into their application to wider national and international contexts.
  • Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the research ethics, philosophies, methodologies and methods appropriate to the field of public health.
  • Demonstrate ability to critically examine and evaluate an approved public health investigation, resulting in an original, independent and significant contribution to practice and the understanding thereof, to a standard which would satisfy peer review and merit publication or other dissemination.
  • Demonstrate an ability to relate the findings of the study to a broader professional and/or academic context.

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 (PH7031, PH8002).
  • 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 (PH8002, PH8001).
  • A comprehensive understanding, of a practical and conceptual nature, that enables the students 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 (PH8002, PH7031, PH7032 PH8001).

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 (PH8002, PH7031, PH7032, PH8001).
  • 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 (PH8002, PH7031, PH7032 PH8001).
  • 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 (PH8002, PH8001).

Students will demonstrate:

  • The ability to use information technology in relation to systematic scholarly review, data analysis and data presentation (All modules).

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose, e.g. progress reports, published documents, thesis (All modules).
  • Give oral presentations with a delivery which is lively and engaging (All modules).
  • 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 (PH8002).
  • Contribute to promoting the public understanding of one's research field (PH8002).

The programme leads to a final award of Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). An exit award of Master of Professional Studies (MProf) shall be awarded to students who successfully complete 180 credits of level 7 and/or level 8 study within a professional doctorate programme, but who do not proceed to or complete the doctoral award programme. No more than two-thirds (66.7%) of the credits for the MProf may be awarded through APL. No students will be enrolled on the MProf, nor will it be advertised as a separate programme (see section 32 for details of the structure of the MProf programme). Both the DrPH and MProf are fully coherent with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (QAA, 2008).

The Doctor of Public Health programme contains a total of 540 credits, comprising 160 level 7 credits and 380 level 8 credits. It consists of six taught modules: four of these are level 7 (160 level 7 credits) and two are level 8 modules (100 level 8 credits). There is also one supervised Thesis module (280 level 8 credits). 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 of their progress.

All modules are compulsory. The modules can be considered as two strands: public health principles and practice development, and research. Cross-cutting themes throughout this programme are ethics, philosophy and practice.

The public health principles and practice development strand comprises three modules:

  • Public Health Principles
  • Health Economics and Policy
  • Leadership, Power and Influence.

The research strand comprises four modules:

  • Writing for Publication
  • Research Methods for Professional Enquiry
  • Practice-based Public Health Research Proposal
  • Thesis.

Students will progress to the Thesis module subject to review by the Professional Doctorate Review Board, and from that point their research studies will be governed by the Graduate School's Research Regulations.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PH7030 7 Leadership, Power and Influence 40 Comp
PH7031 7 Public Health Principles 40 Comp
PH7032 7 Health Economics and Policy 40 Comp
PR7001 7 Research Methodologies for Professional Enquiry 40 Comp
NM8002 8 Writing for Publication 40 Comp
PH8001 8 Practice-based Public Health Research Project 60 Comp
PH8002 8 Thesis 280 Comp

Progression of awards

  • In order to gain a named award of Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) students must successfully complete a total of 540 credits, of which up to 180 shall be at level 7 and at least 360 shall be at level 8.
  • Students must successfully complete all taught and compulsory modules on the Doctor of Public Health programme, including Practice-based Public Health Research Project, before they can undertake the Thesis module.
  • The major project may consist of up to three linked elements, submitted separately but assessed as a whole by modules appropriate to the discipline. An award of MProf can be granted to those who have accumulated 180 credits at levels 7 and 8.

Applicants will normally have, or expect to obtain, at least an upper second class Honours degree in public health or a health and social care related discipline, or a lower second class Honours degree plus a master's degree. Substantial prior research or professional experience may, in some instances, be acceptable in place of an appropriate degree qualification. Candidates will also normally have professional experience and access to a professional environment as a context for their study. They shall also satisfy the requirements for English Language, where English is not their first language (IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 570 (230 computer-based) is the minimum requirement).

Admission will be determined through the following processes:

  • Submission of application form with a written personal statement.
  • All applications will be scrutinised by the Faculty of Health and Social Care screening committee.
  • Applicants who meet the minimum entry criteria will be interviewed by members of the Faculty of Health and Social Care screening committee and a representative from the Graduate School. A record will be kept of the interview and this will be forwarded to the Graduate School office. Telephone interviews may be acceptable where the candidate is unable to attend for good reason. The interview panel will normally make one of the following recommendations:

    i)That the applicant should be accepted onto the programme;
    ii) That the application should not be progressed and a reason given.

Accreditation of Prior Learning

  • Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) will be granted up to a maximum of 270 credits of which no more than 90 may be at level 8.
  • A maximum of 180 credits combined at level 7 and 8 for APL, on the basis of equivalent professional experience for level 7 and up to 90 at level 8 based on published research, may be considered.
  • Exceptionally, a maximum of 90 level 7 credits for APL for work previously submitted for an award at the University of Chester or other recognised Higher Education Institute may be considered.
  • In no circumstances shall APL be granted in respect of the major project (thesis), which must be at level 8 and shall normally count for a minimum of 270 credits.

The programme aims, learning outcomes and content conform to the QAA (2008) Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) at levels 8 (doctoral level) and 7 (Master's level) as appropriate, assuring the achievement represented by the qualification is appropriate and represented consistently.

In addition, the Public Health Skills and Career Framework (PHRU & SfH, 2008), endorsed by the Department of Health, has been used to define and organise the core areas of knowledge and identify relevant skills. This framework, based on four core and five defined areas of competence, is currently viewed as the main point of reference for developing a ‘skilled public health workforce that is fit for purpose to tackle health inequalities and deliver the national public health agenda' (PHRU & SfH, 2008, p. 5), and is consequently the defining set of standards for the whole public health workforce. The nine areas of competence are shown below.

Core competences and knowledge areas

  • Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and well-being.
  • Assessing the evidence of effectiveness of interventions, programmes and services to improve population health and well-being.
  • Policy and strategy development and implementation to improve population health and well-being.
  • Leadership and collaborative working to improve population health and well-being.

Defined competences and knowledge areas

  • Health improvement.
  • Health protection.
  • Public health intelligence.
  • Academic public health.
  • Health and social care quality. 

The learning and teaching strategies of the DrPH course reflect both the aims of the University and the Faculty's commitment to student-centred learning and developing highly independent lifelong learners. Indeed, the aims of the DrPH itself enable students to critically and reflectively engage with the principles of public health within their own practice. The course is designed to involve the student in work-based research, independent study and study on the University campus.

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 the Virtual Learning Environment (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-profession working, and inculcate the identity of being a Professional Doctorate 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. Formative assessment methods will facilitate a developmental process, and 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry within health and social care.
  • 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 to 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.

The holder of a Doctor of Public Health award will be an advanced professional who has:

  • Advanced knowledge of the research ethics, philosophies, methodologies and methods appropriate to the field of public health.
  • Sophisticated knowledge of public health ethics, principles, theories and philosophies, and the ability to relate them to national and international agendas.
  • The ability to create and interpret knowledge such that it extends the forefront of a discipline or field of practice.
  • The ability to critically undertake research in an approved area of investigation, resulting in an original, independent and significant contribution to practice.
  • The ability to produce findings that satisfy peer scrutiny and are deemed to be of publishable quality.
  • The ability to conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding.
  • The ability to make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, taking account of social, political and ethical dimensions.

The programme adheres to the University's policy on equality and diversity, namely:

  • The University can only fulfil its responsibilities to students and staff and its broader responsibility to society if it builds on a foundation of respect for the dignity of each individual.
  • Discrimination is unacceptable within the University community in that it represents a waste of human resources and it unjustly denies individuals the opportunity to fulfil their potential. It can also be unlawful.
  • The active support of the University community is sought through the commitment and involvement of all groups of staff and students in the implementation of this policy.
  • The University is committed to a programme of action to ensure that this equal opportunities policy is fully effective. Positive action may be needed where there are historical imbalances.

To this end, the programme will ensure:

  • That all students and staff are treated with respect.
  • No student or professional colleague will be knowingly discriminated against.
  • All participants in and contributors to the programme will be encouraged to become involved in the development, management, delivery and evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme.

Master of Professional Studies: structure and features

The Master of Professional Studies consists of five taught modules: four of these are level 7 (160 credits) and one is level 8 (60 credits). 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 of their progress.

There are three compulsory and two optional modules. The modules can be considered as two strands: public health principles and practice development, and research. Cross-cutting themes throughout this programme are ethics, philosophy and practice. 

Professional placements will be offered to students who are not currently in a relevant professional role. Local public health practitioners will be involved in delivery of all modules, thus ensuring that access to a relevant role in a professional context is maintained throughout the programme.

The public health principles and practice development strand comprises three modules:

  • Public Health Principles (Core)
  • Health Economics and Policy (Core)
  • Leadership, Power and Influence (Option)

The research strand comprises two modules:

  • Research Methods for Professional Enquiry (Option)
  • Practice-Based Public Health Research Project (Core)

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