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Professional Doctorate (DProf)

A Professional Doctorate (DProf) allows qualified professionals to study for a doctorate while remaining in employment.

A DProf will be awarded in recognition of the successful completion of an approved taught programme of study, together with the successful completion of further study and research.

This research can be directly linked to and benefit your organisation, resulting in organisational or policy-related change.

The DProf is a structured programme, a mix between taught and research aspects, which guides candidates through the research project development. The course begins with the taught aspect comprising of a number of modules in the first year. These modules cover generic research, work-based training and pilot research aspects. Following this, a work based research project will be developed. Throughout your DProf you will be closely collaborating with your supervisory team.

Topics Covered

  • Undertaking Work-based Research in Professional Contexts: This topic aims to ensure that DProf students embarking upon their pilot studies and final theses or professional practice portfolios will be fully prepared to do so. It will also ensure that students possess a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of methodological frameworks and specific methods used in work-based research. It will look in details at practical considerations facing the work-based researcher.
  • Research Skills and Personal Development: This offers research students a broad knowledge and range of transferable skills which can be applied in a variety of research contexts. This module will cover personal development, including skills in negotiating, networking, academic writing, research management, team working, and writing a conference paper.
  • Principles of Research Design: This topic aims to give research students an understanding of the basic principles of research design and strategy: to identify and formulate research questions clearly and succinctly, analyse and break questions down into relevant sets of sub-questions, and where appropriate formulate testable hypotheses. Students will also learn to explain why research questions are significant in the context of the discipline/research subfields.
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collections and Analysis: This is designed to give students grounding in the basic principles of quantitative and qualitative research methodology. Students will be introduced to the basic techniques of analysis, presentation and description of statistics and how qualitative data are actively constructed and interpreted by a researcher and an appreciation of any issues raised by qualitative data collection.
  • Leadership for Researchers: Postgraduate researchers are introduced to the range and models of leadership in this topic, which outlines how to apply these models and provides students with the opportunity to explore leadership styles and behaviours through experiential learning.
  • Pilot Inquiry and Professional Research Project: The pilot inquiry is a precursor to the professional research project, which could form the basis of the final, fuller project in the subsequent years of the course. The pilot inquiry and professional research project offers students the opportunity to identify a ‘professional concern’, and subsequently scope out an area of professional inquiry-based within their professional setting. Knowledge and insights derived from earlier modules will be applied.

Modules will be delivered through lectures, seminars and workshops during a series of 4 compulsory residential schools totalling approximately 35 days during the first 14 months, with assignments spanning between schools. Residential schools are a chance for DProf students to meet other students on the course and fully integrate in the Aberystwyth University’s research community. The schools are also an opportunity to meet face to face with supervisors and engage in activities beyond academia. 

There are a variety of assessment methods designed to support learning and develop appropriate doctoral level communication skills, these include coursework and presentations. Professional and practical based doctorates are assessed through submission of a thesis or portfolio, and an individual oral examination (‘viva’ or ‘viva voce’).

Students on the DProf must have a relevant degree or equivalent professional experience.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
  • Continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to development of new knowledge, techniques, ideas or approaches.

As a student at Aberystwyth, you will be staying in a vibrant bilingual university town, between the rolling Cambrian Mountains and the stunning coastline of Cardigan Bay. You’ll be part of a campus university with its own sports centre and busy Arts Centre; and you’ll be next door to the National Library of Wales, one of only five copyright libraries in the UK.