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Doctor of Professional Practice in Health and Social Care

Key Facts

  • Level


  • Duration

    5 years part time

  • Starting


  • Fees UK 24/25

    £2,545 per year with registration ordinarily five years (with an annual increment of 5%).

  • Location

    Waterside, Distance Learning

Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries

0300 303 2772


We anticipate that our next intake to the programme will be in January 2026.

This course offers experienced clinicians and practitioners in health and social care the opportunity to develop their academic and research skills, through a programme of study which is both grounded in and applied to professional health and social care practice. It provides the platform, opportunity and context for students to make change happen in health and social care. This inter-professional and multi-disciplinary programme combines modules and independent research.

All coursework will draw on professional expertise grounded within practice. Students will study seven facilitated modules during years one and two of the programme, followed by an independent research project, supported by a supervisory team leading to a doctoral thesis.

For further information about the Doctor of Professional Practice in Health and Social Care and about our next intake, please contact Dr Michelle Pyer, Programme Leader, by email at Michelle.Pyer@northampton.ac.uk

Updated 25/03/2024


  • Engagement in advanced research within an inter-disciplinary and multiprofessional learning environment.
  • Study as a cohort within facilitated modules (years 1 and 2).
  • Work with a dedicated supervisory team to complete your own doctoral thesis (years 3-6).
  • Hands on experience of project work from early on in the programme.
  • Work with research leaders across a range of fields.
  • Peer learning with recent alumni of the programme.
  • A range of assessment methods applied through facilitated modules, including the opportunity to submit a paper for publication.

Course Content

  • We are passionate about delivering this programme, which we have designed for experienced clinicians and practitioners in health and social care. During your first two years with us, you will study seven modules which offer a sound grounding in research theory, methods and application. Our modules offer you extensive opportunities to work directly with a range of different types of data, including that arising from your own project work. Assessments include presentations, proposals, academic posters and a journal article which you may choose to submit for publication.

    Our programme team is made up of Professors and Associate Professors from the Faculty of Health, Education and Society, and we carefully plan our delivery to enable you to make links from research specialists from across the institution and further afield. During the second year of your studies, you will be allocated a critical friend; a senior researcher within the institution, who will support you to finalise your thesis idea into a detailed proposal, ensuring that you are ready to hit the ground running with your own research from the start of year three.

    From the start of year three, you will work with a supervisory team of at least 2 senior researchers, chosen to meet your support needs of both your research topic and the research methods you will use. The research study (thesis) element of the course can last up to four years, culminating in a viva voce examination where you will defend your thesis with both internal and external examiners. The thesis element of the programme follows the same procedures and regulations as our PhD students, including annual reviews and an internal presentation to other staff and students plus a viva which takes place after the first 18 months to endure adequate progress.  All of these are designed to support your progress through the programme.  The thesis is examined to the same standard as conventional PhDs but is typically half the length (with a proportionately small research project) to recognise the assessments that were undertaken in the first two years.  Unlike a PhD, there is a requirement that the research for the thesis element should make a contribution to practice.

    Postgraduate Research Student satisfaction with our extensive support programme is evidenced by our university ranking 1st in the 2020 UK Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), up 3 places from 4th in 2018. In the 2019/20 PRES results, 91% of students taking the survey were satisfied with their research degree experience. Our staff are proud of what we do, and even prouder of what our students achieve.

    The programme has been designed to enable students to demonstrate:

    • An original contribution to the advancement of professional knowledge and practice in an area of professional activity through the identification, development and execution of original research based in a health or social care practice environment.
    • Systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge appropriate to an area of health and social care practice.
    • Advanced knowledge and understanding of relevant methodologies for research and the advancement of professional practice.
    • Engagement in advanced research within an inter-disciplinary and multi-professional learning environment in a flexible and blended way.
    • Independent critical judgement related to a specialist area of professional health or social care practice.
    • A contribution to the achievement of the modernisation agenda by development of research leadership in a health or social care practice environment.

    We are committed to delivering outstanding research that makes a difference to society. Our Research Institutes and Centres work closely with external partner organisations, locally, nationally and internationally. We produce internationally renowned and relevant research and disseminate knowledge on an international scale.

    Visit our Research Hub page for more information.


    Module information can be found on the Award Map: Doctor of Professional Practice

    Please note the modules shown here relate to the academic year 23/24. The modules relating to the academic year 24/25 will be available from June 2024.

  • Applicants should normally meet the following criteria:

    •  Be able to demonstrate that you have achieved 180 credits at Level 7 (through APCL). This will normally be in the form of a Masters degree in a cognate subject, completed within the 10 years prior to enrolment. Applicants holding a Masters degree completed more than 10 years prior to enrolment will need to demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the Programme Leader, updating of their knowledge and skills at the equivalent of Level 7 during the past 10 years.
    • A minimum of 3 years relevant work-experience at an appropriate level (e.g., demonstration of leadership, autonomy or advanced practice).
    • Due to the work-based nature of the award students should currently be employed in a suitable workplace environment to support learning and assessment on the programme.
    • Please download the Research area form to submit alongside your application.

    Find more information about applying for research study.

    English Language Requirements

    All International and EU students applying for a course with us must meet the following minimum English language requirements:

    • Minimum standard – IELTS 7.0 (or equivalent)
      for study at postgraduate level.

    For information regarding English language requirements at the University, please see our IELTS page.

  • 2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • Part Time: £2,545 per year with registration ordinarily five years.
    2022/23 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 22/23 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    • Part Time: £2,425 per year with registration ordinarily five years.
    Additional costs

    There are no additional costs for this course other than potential research costs arising from the thesis element of the award which will depend on the project. Should this change, applicants and students will be contacted by the university with details of the costs.

    For more information about possible funding options, please visit our Fees and Funding pages.

  • What is the application process?

    You can apply for this programme directly to the University. You will be asked to complete a short application form about yourself, and to upload the following documents:

    • Personal statement.
    • Brief overview of your proposed research area (1,000 words).
    • Photocopies or scans of your Masters certificate and transcript and other relevant certificates.
    • Two references (you can find a reference request form here)
    • Evidence of English language ability (where English is not the first language).
    • Change of name document, if your application and certificates are in different names.

    All applicants are expected to attend an interview, usually completed remotely, with the Programme Leader and Deputy Programme Leader.

    How will I be assessed?

    Practice related assignments, including hands-on project experience (audit or evaluation). Assessments within the first two years of facilitated modules include:

    • Extended essay
    • Research proposal including appropriate application for ethical approval for research
    • Case Studies (using data sets)
    • Portfolios
    • Seminar presentation
    • Literature review
    • Reflective accounts
    • Journal article.

    The Professional Research Module is assessed by completion of a doctoral thesis and viva voce examination.

    Do the modules run on the same day of the week for every session?

    Feedback from previous students has told us that running the modules on the same day each time can lead to some people missing out, for example where they are regularly in clinic on a Wednesday. For this reason, we run module days on a range of different weekdays to enable students to attend for the majority of sessions across a module. Where possible we set module dates six months in advance of them running to ensure that as busy professionals, students are able to plan them into their work schedules.


Michelle Pyer, Associate Professor in Child & Family Wellbeing
Michelle Pyer

Associate Professor in Child & Family Wellbeing

Faculty of Health, Education and Society


Careers and Employability

Students studying for this award are experienced clinicians and practitioners in health and social care. Throughout the programme, we work with you to identify your development goals and career aspirations and give you the tools to further your progression in these areas.

Opportunities to work with current students and alumni of the programme as well as research leaders across a range of fields support your reflection and action planning to enhance your career prospects, either in your current or future roles.


This programme is taught via a blended learning approach including face to face sessions at our Waterside Campus and online. Postgraduate Research Students (PGRS) have full access to University facilities, receiving staff level access to Library resources. Within our Senate building at our Waterside Campus building, PGRS have a bespoke office area for independent study with access to printing, tea and coffee making facilities, and views across the campus and the town beyond.