• Professional Doctorate FlyerAre you interested in undertaking research that will enhance your potential as a professional and enable you to make a positive difference to your profession? ‌
  • Are you interested in studying at one of the world’s top 200 universities? (Times Higher Education Rankings 2018)

If YES, we are interested in hearing from you


Who is it for?

Our Professional Doctorate programmes are aimed at busy full-time practitioners from a broad range of professions, both nationally and internationally, including education, educational psychology, social work, community learning and development, psychology, healthcare and policing whether in public, voluntary or private sector agencies.

Students can also study our Professional Doctorate programmes at a distance, Internationally, enabling students to carry on with their careers in their home countries. Please contact our Research Administrator for more information: ESW-research@dundee.ac.uk

What is a Professional Doctorate about?

This type of doctorate will allow you to reflect on different elements of your professional practice and will contribute to developing evidence, practice and policy in your professional field. Whilst the Professional Doctorates does not certify competence to practice, it does provide you with an opportunity to enhance your own and others' practice.

A professionally based doctorate aims to:

  • critically appraise the current evidential basis of professional theory, policy and practice;
  • develop relevant advanced specialist research, development and dissemination skills;
  • make a valuable and original contribution to knowledge, methodology, practice and policy;
  • meets accepted standards of rigour and excellence; and,
  • widely disseminate that contribution to knowledge.

What subjects do you offer a Professional Doctorates in?

What is the structure of the Doctor of Educational Psychology programme?

There are 5 modules spread over 3 Levels and the modular structure is explicitly intended to be highly flexible.  Students normally take 5/6 years to complete part-time or 3 years full-time. 

  • Module 1 - Research Methods Training, and a Critical Analysis and Review of Research Literature (can exit with a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Professional Practice).
  • Module 2 – Development of an Individualised Learning Plan for future modules.  Research project with a written product of 15,000 words (can exit with a Master's degree in Advanced Professional Practice).
  • Modules 3-5 - Research project(s) with a written product of 15,000 words for each module. These projects may be related or quite independent of each other.  It is possible to combine modules. 

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is possible for up to 50% of the degree, when the material for recognition has not been submitted for any other award and when it is of a high enough standard.  Peer reviewed journal publications or research reports are good examples of suitable products for recognition.

These modules are presented as a thesis and assessed by oral examination (viva voce) at the end of the programme.

What is the structure of the other Professional Doctorate programmes (DEd, DCLD, DSW)?

There are 5 modules. Students normally take 5/6 years to complete part-time or 3 years full-time.

  • Module 1 - Research Methods
  • Module 2 - Literature Review 
  • Modules 3-5 - Research project(s) with a written product of 15,000 words each. These can be three small interconnected projects, a double project plus 1, or a single large project. 

Up to two modules (one, if granted direct entry to module 2) may be overtaken by Recognition of Prior Learning.

How are the Professional Doctorate programmes (DEd, DCLD, DSW) delivered?

The taught component of module 1 is delivered online, so you can complete it in your own time at a distance. If you already have a Masters degree, with an assessed element of research methods, you may not need to complete this module.

These modules are presented as a thesis and assessed by oral examination (viva voce) at the end of the programme.

Part-Time Distance Learning Doctorate for International Students

Students can also study our Part-Time Distance Learning Doctorate for International Students enabling students to carry on with their careers in their home countries.

Please contact our Research Administrator for more information:ESW-research@dundee.ac.uk


Research Interests

Research Interests

There is a broad range of research interests within the School.

To find out more about our research themes please visit our Research Centres pages. The themes listed there may indicate which members of staff may be allocated to supervise your research. 

  • Centre for Peer Learning
  • Centre for Transformative Change: Educational and Life Transitions (TCELT)
  • The WhiteTop Research Unit



1. How will my progress be monitored?
Your progress will be monitored in a variety of ways:
Full-time students meet with their supervisors at least every month and part-time students every two months.
Presentations and fora
From time to time students are expected to make presentations about their work to other students and staff.  This aims to help support students with their work and to build on their work so far. There are also online fora for students to discuss issues relating to their research.
Thesis Monitoring Committee
A doctoral student’s progress is monitored by an independent Thesis Monitoring Committee within the School.  This Committee consists of at least two members of staff not concerned with a student’s supervision and it meets twice per year for full time students, and one per year for part-time students.
Upgrade Review
All doctoral students on the PhD and Professional Doctorate programmes (excluding the DEdPsy) go through a process known as an 'Upgrade Review' (previously known as Transfer of Ordinance). The aim of this process is to ensure that a student is making satisfactory progress towards doctoral study.
At the end of study, students undertake an examining process called Viva Voce to present  their thesis to an Examination Board who will determine whether a student’s work is of a high enough standard to be awarded a Professional Doctorate.
2. What academic skills support will I receive?
We provide Research Methods and Generic Skills Training and students are assigned two supervisors (relevant to the area of a students’ doctorate) who meet with them regularly.  Supervision can take place by telephone, email and video conferencing.  Guidance can also be drawn from other relevant members of staff with specific expertise.
3. How will I be guided through the process of studying for a Professional Doctorate?
The University Code of Practice for Supervised Postgraduate Research provides clear guidance on your responsibilities as a student and how you will be supported.  Students also receive a School Student Handbook which provides further detail.
4. What facilities will I have access to?
Professional doctorate students have access to doctoral student office accommodation, high quality IT facilities, telephones, printing/photocopying and access to financial support to attend research conferences.

Current Students


The School of Education & Social Work currently have over 51 students studying on a doctoral research programme. Below are short profiles from some of our students:


Mikko Ovaskainen

Home Country: Finland

Thesis Title: Social workers’ ethical decision making at the time of increased managerialism and Health and Social Care integration

Supervisors: Professor John Baldacchino and Dr John Young



Shaun Moran

Home Country: UK

Thesis Title: The concept of resilience and its application by social work practitioners in Scotland when making assessments and plans for children in need and Looked After Children

Supervisors: Dr Beth Hannah and Dr Ann Hodson



Brian McCann

Home Country: Dublin

Title Thesis: The Impact of Aikido Martial Art on post-primary students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Supervisors: Professor John Baldacchino and Dr Ann Swinney