Doctor of Health Studies

The professional doctorate is aimed at managers and a wide range of practitioners who are experienced and who are working at senior and middle levels of their professions and organisations. It offers the opportunity to examine contemporary leading theories and research evidence, and to apply these within the professional context.

The professional doctorate is a part-time doctoral research degree. It is fully equivalent to the PhD, but substantially different from it in that it is strongly professionally oriented, focussing on ‘applied’ rather than ‘pure’ research.

While the PhD generally prepares candidates for a research-based career, the professional doctorate is a more in-service orientated degree, addressing the career needs of practising professionals, particularly those in or who aspire to senior positions within their professions. The linkages between research-based knowledge and its application in a wide range of professional settings are central to this doctorate.

We offer an integrated professional doctorate scheme within which education, health, social work and social policy professionals engage together in integrated learning for some of the taught modules. This unique inter-professional learning allows you to reflect on what is shared across professional boundaries and what is distinctive to their own occupational traditions.

Above all, a professional doctorate is an opportunity to examine contemporary leading theories and research evidence, and to apply these within the professional context.

The Health Studies taught modules introduce a range of social science perspectives and methodologies in order to explore the contemporary importance of health, medicine and health care organization policy and practice, and how these interact with social capital, economic and material environments, public services and positive community well-being. Research-based and critical understanding in relation key aspects of community, well-being, health, illness and medical sociology are promoted. Different approaches for examining how health care systems are organized and to the causes of health and ill-health are explored, particularly in relation to inclusion and exclusion, social identities, and the local and global environment.

The other distinctive pathways within the professional doctorate scheme are:

Key facts

Mode of study Part-time
Qualification DHS
Part-time duration DHS 5-7 years
Start dates October
Application deadline(s) Applications are welcomed until 1 June annually.

Your studies with us consists of two elements:

  • Part one: completion of six taught weekend modules, each with a 5,000-word assignment or equivalent task. The pass mark for each module is 50% and you are required to achieve an overall mark of no less than 60% for all modules collectively in order to progress to the thesis stage of the programme.
  • Part two: research thesis of between 35,000 to 50,000 words in length. The research thesis may focus on any approved topic and is individually supervised by academic staff.

There are two different types of taught modules: four core and two specialist. Your specialist modules will depend on your chosen pathway.

Core modules

  • Changing Modes of Professionalism
  • Research Design
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Quantitative Research Methods

Specialist modules

  • Health, Medicine and Society
  • Community, Sustainable Health and Well-being

Teaching Methods

Each taught module is delivered over the course of a single weekend: teaching starts on Thursday evenings and continues throughout Friday and Saturday. Professional doctorate teaching is carried out through lectures and smaller seminars and workshops where the emphasis is on discussion. Teaching also places emphasis on directed independent study.

Skills Acquired

By the end of the programme, you will have acquired research skills, theoretical capacities, and will have experience of deploying them in a manner appropriate to your particular professional context. These skills include:

  • The ability to analyse practices and policies which affect agencies and client groups in your professional field;
  • The ability to manage innovation and resourceful change in your chosen area;
  • Communicating and working effectively and constructively with other professionals in other disciplines across organisational and service boundaries;
  • The provision of clear leadership, supervision and consultation in your field based on your extensive knowledge, interpersonal skills, explicit values and acknowledgement of the responsibilities within your role;
  • The ability to work independently and be accountable and make constructive and innovative use of consultation and management processes.


The scheme provides a maximum period of candidature of seven years. However, students many complete in as few as five years. This will depend on student’s flexibility and availability for study.

Alternative exit awards

You will be encouraged and supported to complete your full doctoral degree. However, we do offer alternative exit awards for students who are unable to complete their programme of study. These are:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice Studies upon completion of three taught modules;
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Practice Studies upon completion of six taught modules; or
  • MSc in Professional Practice Studies upon completion of six taught modules and submission of a 20,000-word research-based dissertation.

The School of Social Sciences is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading centre for theoretically informed, empirical research, combining inter-disciplinaryworking, impact on policy and practice, and innovative methodological approaches, both qualitative and quantitative. Our expertise encompasses a broad range of topics and themes and we encourage applications in the following areas:

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework exercise (2014), we ranked 3rd and 5th in the uk for the quality of our research in sociology and education respectively. We have the highest per capita external grant capture of any social science school or department in the country.

Amongst our academic staff we have the winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Sociological Association and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.

Research environment

We are a large School with over 160 academic staff and over 1000 students studying across a number of disciplines, including sociology, education, criminology, social policy, health and social care. Interdisciplinary research training is a particularly strong feature of our postgraduate research student programme and our teaching is informed by our research. You will exposed to the latest ideas in the social sciences and enjoy face-to-face contact with internationally recognised scholars shaping the future of their respective fields.

Our home is the historic Glamorgan Building in Cardiff’s prestigious Civic Centre. The building boasts excellent teaching and learning facilities, including computer labs, lecture theatres with the latest audio-visual technology, a suite of tutorial rooms and social space for conversation and the exchange of ideas.

Doctoral students are vitally important to the School’s overall research profile and culture. First-class facilities for independent postgraduate study are offered in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, with most academic members of staff directly involved in working together with, and supervising, doctoral students.

All postgraduate students are encouraged to take part in our academic and research activities. These include annual series of large public lectures by high profile speakers, which are complemented by the seminars organised throughout the year by individual Research Groups and Research Centres. Our PGR Café, a student-led initiative, also provides a unique intellectual forum and support network.

You can visit our website for further information on our research groups, projects and impact.

Typically professional doctorate candidates are employed when they study with us, although current employment is not a condition of entry.

Graduates are able to further their careers within their employment settings or move beyond these into, for example, Higher Education, policy and planning, and/or research development and management.


There are currently no funding opportunities available.

Tuition fees

The fee structure for the professional doctorate programme consists of sixteen modules in total: six taught modules and the equivalent of ten taught modules for the thesis stage. Funding for professional doctorate candidates is typically provided by employers, though some students are self-funded.

UK and EU students

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

The professional doctorate scheme has an annual admission date in October and applications are welcomed until 1 June annually. Application to this programme must be supported by a research proposal of between 500 and 1500 words.

Further details can be obtained via our website or by contracting the School on

You must possess a good first degree and usually have completed a master’s degree. You should also have two or more years’ professional experience in a field appropriate to your chosen pathway.

Much of the module learning and associated assignments aim to support applied professional development and you are expected to have experience of - or current access to - professional settings in a field appropriate to your doctoral degree.

English language requirements

A score of 600 on TOEFL (250 on computer-based marking) or band 7.0 on IELTS is required where English is not a first language or for those who have not had a substantial part of their education taught in the English language.

Please read our English language requirements for more details.


Administrative contact(s)

Adriano Neri

Administrative contact


Apply now
Scholarships available worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2018.

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