Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care

Preparing you to carry out a practice-focused research project at doctoral level

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Our Professional Doctorate is designed to enable advanced practitioners to lead and respond innovatively to the rapidly changing health and social care environment.

We develop leaders who can improve health and wellbeing through addressing local, regional and national concerns, and who have the ability to build evidence bases that inform policy and practice development.

You’ll develop skills in critical analysis, enquiry and research through core units of study with relevance to health and care professionals in practice, across the state, third sector and business sectors.

This will help you to form your own conclusions about the implications for your professional practice, and intervene in health and social care debates as appropriate.

We deliver this practice-based course in two phases. Phase one, in the first two years of study (part time) one year (full-time), involves the study of four core units and one option unit. We teach these units via blended learning, a mix of face-to-face teaching, and online, supervised and guided study.

In phase two, (years three-five part-time; years two and three full-time), you’ll undertake independent study under supervision, submitting your thesis of approximately 40,000 – 60,000 words.

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

You’ll develop skills in critical analysis, enquiry and research, helping you to lead and respond innovatively to the rapidly changing health and social care environment.

You could become an experienced practitioner-researcher, or further your career in academia.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

To be accepted onto this programme, students are expected to have a UK undergraduate degree classification of minimum 2:1 or have successfully completed a masters degree.

We will also consider applications from students with less formal qualifications if they can demonstrate equivalent professional experience and evidence of study at Level 7.

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

Our Professional Doctorate (DProf) gives you the opportunity to gain academic recognition at doctoral level through a research project that links to your specialist area of practice.

Keeping the service user at the centre of your thinking, you’ll engage with policy, practice, and debates in relation to health and social care to inform the research you undertake.

If you opt for the three-year, full-time route, you’ll usually study four core units and one option unit over the first year. Option units may include topics such as contemporary issues in practice or the principles of health economics.

If you opt for the part-time route, you’ll typically study phase one over two years, and phase two up to four years.

In phase two, you’ll focus on your thesis. This is a typically a piece of original research that enables you to better understand, engage, and improve your own practice.

You’ll typically submit a thesis of 40,000 – 60,000 words in year three. You will be questioned on aspects of your thesis and you’ll have the opportunity to respond constructively in a viva voce exam.

Over the duration of your course, you'll cover the following units:

Core units:

  • Collection, Management and Analysis of Data
  • Practitioner Research: Philosophical, Political, Ethical and Practical Issues
  • Person Centred Practice
  • Evidence based practice and project planning
  • Thesis

Option Units:

  • Contemporary issues in Health and Social Care
  • Contemporary issues in practice
  • Principles of Health Economics
  • Safeguarding in Health and Social Care

 For the full unit descriptions, click read more about this year of study below.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Collection, Management and Analysis of Data

The overall aim of this unit is to provide you with practical experience in relation to the collection, and analysis of data; and enable you to make informed choices in relation to the theoretical and practical strengths and weaknesses of a range of methods of data collection and analysis when considering research design.

Data collection management and analysis (overviews, examples of and practice of collection/analysis) relating to- for example:

1) manipulating things to see what happens;

2) observing things happening directly;

3) asking questions about things;

4) using existing documents and data to find things out

5) measurement and detecting differences.

Such examples will also explore core research design issues (e.g. ethical issues, target populations and sampling, keeping a research journal, validity / accuracy / credibility, basics of quantitative analysis, basics of qualitative analysis).

Practitioner Research: Philosophical, Political, Ethical and Practical Issues

We've designed this unit to enable you to develop your own in depth understanding of a particular tradition of research. This unit will also facilitate your ability to critically reflect on various factors that influence the development of research (designed to be carried out by practitioners, into their own field of practice).

Identifying potential researchable problems for the practitioner from within health and social care practice.

Defining research.

Current research in specialist areas of practice. Conformity and diversity in researching health and social care practice.

Exploring different perspectives on research and the research process (underpinning philosophies; methodologies, research designs). Examples from the field individual approaches to carrying out research (eg generic qualitative research, pragmatic trials, phenomenological research, decision rule development, survey research, narrative research, systematic review, bricolage).

The impact of various factors (personal beliefs about research; previous research in the area; accepted practices, and other political, ethical and practical issues) on research design

The politics of research stakeholders and differing perspectives on research and practice.

Person Centred Practice

In this unit you'll understand the ways in which people are located at the centre of professional practice. It recognises the communicative and interpersonal aspects of the service user-professional encounter, and the ethical, legal, social and political contexts that frame their engagement.

You'll learn about the principles of ethical person-centred practice; Power, expertise and relationships in health and social care practice and its leadership; Diversity, identity and the self in professional practice contexts; Knowledge and skills for relationship-building, negotiation, leadership and professional effectiveness; Group and organisational awareness, culture and politics.

Evidence Based Practice and Project Planning

We've designed this unit to develop your understanding, critical stance and utilisation of evidence-based practice and practice based evidence in a context of uncertain knowledge, competing value and belief systems and resources and to develop a viable project proposal to address an issue in practice.

  • Government policy development
  • Clinical Governance
  • Research paradigms, epistemology of evidence and professional practice
  • Getting evidence into practice
  • Project management defining the project, stakeholder engagement, the project team, planning the project, managing the project, controlling risk, reviewing projects, evidence based practice, making and disseminating the evidence for practice developing practice, project and research ethics, managing information. Feasibility studies and piloting.  Models of applied research for practice evaluation and different evaluation perspectives. Audit culture? and the risks of evaluation strategies. Examination of current evaluation strategies in health and social care. Developing creative, reflective and critical thinking skills that can be used in effective practice problem solving and practice development.

This unit will support you in carrying out your independent study, culminating in a thesis that makes an original contribution to the body of knowledge in your professional discipline. The thesis should demonstrate "the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication" (QAA 2014:30)

Independent study, culminating in a thesis that will be submitted for examination at doctoral level.

Likely Optional Units

Principles of Health Economics

This unit is designed to enable practitioner/you to explore health economics and equip them with the basic principles of economics. You will examine the current fundamental economic principles and their application to health care.

Safeguarding in Health and Social Care

This unit will help you to develop a critical awareness of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. You'll achieve a comprehensive understanding of the relevant policies and procedures that impact on the Safeguarding agenda. You'll also consider the application of current policies to the protection of children and adults within the UK and within the international context. 

Contemporary Issues in Practice

The content for this unit will be entirely student led. You'll be encouraged to take account of your own practice based issues and negotiate your own content for this unit with your course tutor.

There will be elements of tutor-led learning (including tutorials and directed study for 40 hours) and an independent study aspect for 160 hours.

Contemporary Issues in Health and Social Care

This unit will explore contemporary issues in health and social care. It will address the ways in which the social policy landscape rapidly change and evaluate the impact of these policy changes on the delivery of health and social care for adults and children. The unit will draw on examples of current practice to develop relevant debates including personalisation, integration of health and social care, innovative models of providing services, and user involvement. 

Explorations of the processes of health and social care policy development Integration of health and social care;

  • The personalisation agenda;
  • Evaluation of the changing provider market including the private sector and social enterprises;
  • Communities and health and social care;
  • Policy and legislative framework;
  • Impact of financial austerity measures on service provision and service users;
  • Impact of demographic changes on health and social care;
  • User involvement

Over the duration of your course, you'll cover the following units:

Core units:

  • Collection, Management and Analysis of Data
  • Practitioner Research: Philosophical, Political, Ethical and Practical Issues
  • Person Centred Practice
  • Evidence based practice and project planning
  • Thesis

Option Units:

  • Contemporary issues in Health and Social Care
  • Contemporary issues in practice
  • Principles of Health Economics
  • Safeguarding in Health and Social Care

In your final year, you'll start your final core unit Thesis which extends to the end of your course.

Department of Health Professions

Our Department of Health Professions teaches subjects including physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and nutritional sciences.

The department is committed to ensuring its courses stay relevant and up-to-date with current professional practice, by maintaining links with colleagues in clinical practice and research.

More about the department

Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £2,204 per year. Tuition fees may increase each academic year in line with Research Council indicative guidelines.

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Please contact the department for more information about the fees for this course.

Additional Information

A Master's qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Taught tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). Research tuition fees may increase each academic year in line with Research Council indicative guidelines.

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

Download our course application form. There are instructions on what to do next and who to send the form to in the Word document.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
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