University of Chester

Programme Specification
2015 - 2016

Doctor of Business Administration


Doctor of Business Administration

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester campus

Professional Doctorate


Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Business and Management Centre for Work Related Studies

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

University of Chester

Joint DProf/DBA Programmes Assessment Board/Research Degree Progression Awards Board

Wednesday 1st 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)



 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • communicate ideas effectively to both specialist and non-specialist audiences demonstrating a command of their subject and/or area of professional practice (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)

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 (BU8001, BU8002, BU8003)
  • 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)
  • deploy resources relevant to their professional practice effectively in complex and sometimes new contexts taking into account social, political and ethical considerations (BU8002, BU8003)

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,BU8001, BU8002, 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,BU8001, BU8002, 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,BU8002, 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,BU8001, BU8002, 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,BU8001, BU8002, 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/M modules, together with the Research Methods and Action Learning modules at level 8/D, 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 join, with agreement from the Programme Leader,  modules on the Chester MBA programme 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 will take the Business Administration Research Method Proposal (BU8001) module which is designed to give them in-depth understanding of research at doctoral level and in particular to focus on the research method or methods they propose for their major research project.  The assessment of this module will include the completion of the major project research proposal which will be thoroughly tested through oral assessment.

They will then proceed to join a series of action learning sets, Action Learning (BU8002) designed to expose them to expert facilitation in areas relating to leadership and management.  Through these experiences, they will have their own ideas for the Major Research Project challenged and tested through dialogue with peers and expert facilitators.  This will increase their understanding of doctoral level study, and their thoughts about the live issues to be researched in the setting of the workplace will become enhanced and refined.  Mandatory.

The Major Research Project (BU8003) 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 in his or her work place to ensure access to the necessary information to carry out the research and, through the research, to make a positive impact on the organisation.  To this end, the Negotiated Programme Learning Agreement will normally require the signature of the student's line manager to ensure that the employer is fully cognisant of, and supportive of, the proposal.  The focus of the research will be concentrated on real business issues that either affect the daily operation of the workplace or are of strategic importance in terms of the development of the organisation.

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.



  • Part-time study
  • Flexible delivery including on-campus meetings and learning opportunities
  • Negotiated time schedules with agreed hand-in dates
  • Projects designed to increase the learner's professional capabilities while, at the same time, addressing organisational objectives

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
IS7011 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (single) 20 N/A
IS7017 7 Negotiated Experiential Learning Module (double) 40 N/A
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 N/A
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
BU8001 8 Research Methods for Business Administration/Proposal 30 Comp
BU8002 8 Action Learning 60 Comp
BU8003 8 Major Research Project 270 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 for the DBA shall normally have obtained a MBA or an equivalent Master's level qualification in leadership and/or management. 

Applicants who do not satisfy the above criteria but who hold either at least an upper second class honours degree or lower second with either a Master's degree or with evidence of Level 7/M achievement and have a minimum of 5 years' professional experience in a leadership and/or management position may, in some instances, be acceptable.

To be admitted to the DBA programme, candidates must demonstrate that they have access to a suitable learning environment.  This will normally be their place of employment.  At interview, candidates will need to show that they have sufficient scope and influence within their job role to undertake major research, and that the nature of the work in which they are engaged provides opportunities for major research.

Students whose first language is not English will need to demonstrate competence at IELTS Level 7.0.

There are no subject benchmark statements that can be referred to in this context.  However, the programme has drawn heavily on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - January 2001 and the subsequent FHEQ/EWNI 2007 discussions. It has also drawn on the Association of Business Schools (ABS) Guidelines for the Doctor of Business Administration award (2005).

A summary of the requirements for the award of a Doctor of Business Administration degree reflect accurately the FHEQ statement regarding doctoral level awards in general.  Thus, for the DBA, candidates will have shown their ability to undertake projects which they have conceptualised, designed and implemented and which have led to "the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding"(FHEQ ‘D' level descriptor, 2001).

DBA students will normally be in full-time employment and, through their programme of study, they will have increased their "ability to make informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields" (ibid), and they will have demonstrated "innovation in tackling and solving problems" (ibid).  The successful completion of the DBA will be an assurance that they are at the forefront of their professional practice.

DBA students will typically be in full-time employment and will use the workplace as a source of learning.  Some aspects of their programme will involve Work Based Learning where they will be required to take a high degree of responsibility for their own learning while being supported by the University. Typically, they will engage in critical self-reflection and reflexive practice and achieve considerable learning through their membership of a community of practice.

Action Learning will be a feature of level 8/D study through membership of a series of expert-led Action Learning Sets. 

Formal teaching sessions will be conducted where it is appropriate to do so, for example, Business Administration Research Methods. There is an expectation that all students will attend the annual research conference.

There will be one-to-one sessions with a tutor as well as small group sessions, where economies of scale allow, introducing the programme and introducing modules, where it is appropriate to do so.

Maximum usage will be made of on-line learning and communication facilities given that students will be learning at a distance from the University with their place of work being an important source of learning.  Thus, telephone and email will be common methods of communication between tutor and student, supported by on-line learning materials. 

Students will be given formative feedback on drafts of work in accordance with the policy of the Business School.

The Major Project will be assessed by a Project Report and a presentation and viva voce examination.

The Personal & Professional Review/Negotiated Programme Learning Agreement will have a number of assignments including a reflective essay and detailed learning agreement.

Business Administration Research Methods & Proposal will be assessed through a written report and an oral presentation.

Action Learning Sets will be assessed by means of a negotiated assignment : either a group or individual activity

For Negotiated Experiential Learning modules, it is expected that students will play a part in negotiating the way in which their Work Based Learning projects will be assessed.  Typically, this will include essays, written reports, portfolios of evidence, oral presentations, dialogue assessment, story-board assessment, assessment by artefact with supporting report.

Formative feedback will be offered to students on essays and written reports.  The Major Research Project will reside within the University Regulations for Research Degrees.  All other modules within the programme will reside within the University Regulations for Taught provision.

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 Doctor of Business Administration award will have a high degree of individuality built into it with the student taking a significant share of the responsibility for its planning, content and mode of delivery.  Students taking this programme should be aware that they need to be highly self-motivated and self-directed to maintain the necessary momentum to complete the programme successfully.  University support will be provided but the distance learning nature of the programme requires determination from the student and pro-activity in maintaining contact with tutors.  Successful completion of the programme would normally require the student to be in full-time employment at a sufficient level of seniority to influence strategic and/or operational decisions.

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