Doctorate in Professional Practice

Course Overview

The work-based Doctorate in Professional Practice (DProf) is aimed at Senior Practitioners engaged in health, social work or higher education. Equivalent to the traditional PhD, the DProf is an innovative blend of taught modules and research projects which investigate the students own sphere of professional practice and workplace.
Studying for a DProf is a truly challenging and deeply rewarding experience, and Swansea University provides an excellent environment in which to pursue your research studies.

Key Features

A research degree gives you the chance to pursue a research project based around your own passions and interests, leading to a qualification which can open the door to an academic career, boost employment prospects outside academia, or enhance your existing skill set.

The Doctorate in Professional Practice (DProf) is the equivalent of a PhD, but differs in that it incorporates a training element along with three, theme-based, research projects which are focussed on your own practice and workplace.  This means you do not need to take time out of work to upgrade your qualifications.  Key features include:

  • Two compulsory research training modules of 30 credits each: ‘Introduction to Work-based Research in Professional Practice’ and ‘Planning Work-based Research’.
  • A focus on identifying, planning, implementing and evaluating three work-based research projects
  • Pursuing research which is of relevance to your workplace and role.
  • An environment in which you can develop and enhance transferable skills such as problem solving, independent thinking, project management, and critical thinking.
  • The support of two academic supervisors throughout your studies.
  • The availability of structured training, interdisciplinary seminars, dedicated research facilities and software from both the College and University.
  • Support from a dynamic community of research staff and students each pursuing their own lines of research.

The most recent UK-wide assessment of the quality of research in HEI’s (the Research Assessment Exercise 2008), revealed that 70% of the research carried out by the College was of international or world-leading quality.  With our research into the health disciplines demonstrating outstanding quality in originality, significance and rigour, students can be assured that they will be immersed in the dynamic and supportive research culture needed for their studies.  


Drawing on cutting edge research, the College of Human and Health Sciences is bringing about real-life benefits for the healthcare, social care, voluntary and private sectors ultimately leading to improvements for patients, users, practitioners, managers and policy makers. 

As a forerunner in the field, the College is well placed to respond rapidly to changes in the delivery of care, whilst also establishing links with the main service providers in Wales, such as the NHS.  Our researchers are continually working to tackle the challenges facing the health and social care system across the full range of areas, from biomedical studies, service organisation, workforce practices and public health through to policy and ethics.

Currently students are looking at effecting change in an elderly rehabilitation service, creating, implementing and evaluating an equitable lymphoedema service in Wales.

Find out more about some of the academic staff supervising theses in these areas:

Dr Ruth Davies

Dr Jayne Cutter

Dr Sherrill Snelgrove

Find out more about our Research Groups at Swansea.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for the DProf programme would normally have, or be studying for a Master’s degree, however we may consider those with a first or upper second degree in a discipline related to the proposed research project.  Please note that due to the nature of this programme we can only accept applications from UK based students.

Applicants to this programme would normally be expected to meet the minimum entry requirements indicated above. The College/School reserves the right to ask for higher academic grades and qualifications. Admissions decisions take into account not only prior academic qualifications, but also factors including the standard of the research synopsis/proposal submitted by the applicant, their performance at interview (if required), intensity of competition for limited places and relevant professional experience (where appropriate).

How To Apply

Details of the application process for research degrees are available here, and you can apply online and track your application status at  As part of your application you should include a 500 word proposal outlining the three proposed research projects which will make up your studies.  Guidance on writing a research proposal is also available here.

Applicants can expect to be interviewed following their application to discuss their topics of research and ensure they demonstrate the necessary level of commitment to their studies and training.

Please note that it is advisable that you contact us before submitting your application.  This will ensure we can identify appropriate supervisors, and where necessary work with you to refine your proposals.  If you would like to do this you should contact The Postgraduate Research Academy

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU International
DProf. Part-time £2,130 £8,350

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

If your course starts in January, April or July 2018 please refer to the 2017/18 fee costs on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: It is now possible for some students to study part-time under the Tier 4 visa route. This is dependent on factors relating to the course and your individual situation. It may also be possible to study with us if you are already in the UK under a different visa category. Please visit the University information on Visas and Immigration for further guidance and support.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

The tuition fees do not cover the costs of purchasing books or stationery, printing, thesis binding or photocopying costs.

There are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course, but in addition to tuition fees studies may also incur a further element of cost throughout your research. This could take the form of travel costs, hospitality to run a focus group, conference fees, etc. You should spend some time considering what other costs you may need to fund when designing your research proposal.

Occasionally postgraduate research studentships can be made available at Swansea University in specific areas. Details of current opportunities can be found at


The DProf is only offered on a part-time basis lasting six years in duration, and is open only to UK based students.


Throughout your studies you will be required to incrementally build up a thesis (of no more than 80,000 words) from three distinct, yet coherent, empirically based research projects centred on your own practice and workplace.  These projects will be linked together with an overarching commentary.

Modules will be assessed through compulsory assignments.

Students are also required to give verbal presentations of their work throughout their programme of study as well as at the end stage. This is then followed by an oral examination of the thesis (viva).


The College of Human and Health Sciences has state-of-the-art facilities including:

  • Simulated clinical practice facilities and bioscience practice rooms, for realistic workplace experiences.
  • Specialised psychology laboratories hosting a sleep laboratory; computer controlled visual and auditory displays for work on perception, attention, memory and language; an eye movement laboratory; fMRI brain scanner; EEG facilities and a nutrition laboratory.

We also have access to many different facilities and further equipment at organisations that we work closely with, such as the NHS.

Other resources include:

  • Service Users and Carers Group which can help in providing essential advice or improving engagement between your research project and the user community.
  • Structured training programmes, interdisciplinary seminars from worldwide speakers, dedicated research/study facilities and specialist analytical software.

As well as being immersed in the vibrant research community of the College and its research groups, you will also be able to access wider support and advice through the research networks staff are involved in, such as,

Wales Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience

WICN is a multi-centre initiative which draws together psychology research from across the breadth of Wales to create a world leader in the study and application of cognitive and clinical neuroscience.

Older Person and Ageing Network Cymru (OPAN)

OPAN Cymru aims to improve the lives of older people through the integration of research, policy and practice across Wales.

Welsh Health Economic Support Service (WHESS)

WHESS provides health economic support at the early conceptual stages of proposal planning, in research funding applications, in research practice and in the dissemination of information.


Delivering high quality research is a key step in enhancing the health, social and economic well-being of all sections of society. It is essential that decisions on policy and practice are informed by the latest research findings and evidence available if we hope to improve organisational effectiveness and sustainability, social welfare and cohesion, and quality of life.

Through our cutting edge research, the College of Human and Health Sciences is bringing about real-life benefits for the health care, social care, voluntary and private sectors, ultimately leading to improvements for patients, users, practitioners, managers and policy makers. 

As a forerunner in the field, the College is well-placed to respond rapidly to changes in the delivery of care, whilst also establishing links with the main service providers in Wales, such as the NHS and Local Authorities.

Our research is delivered through discipline focussed research centres.  In doing so, we have secured funding from a number of prestigious collaborators and funding bodies in recent years such as the Welsh Government, NHS Wales, Public Health Wales;  European Union; Amgen Europe; Ministry of Defence; GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; British Medical Association; National Institute for Social Care and Health Research; Astrazeneca; and the Wellcome Trust. These collaborations have been crucial in ensuring research informs, and is informed by, the wider healthcare environment.

Examples of how our research has impacted health and social care services can be found here.