PD Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online)

Our online Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (DProf) is designed to enable healthcare professionals to make a significant impact in the field of health and social care. This practice-focused award is relevant for doctors, nurses, medical and paramedical practitioners, allied health professionals, midwives, health and social care managers and health care educators.

Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online)

Key information



Mode of Study:

Full-time Distance Learning


3 years


University of Bolton

Start date:


Course Details

The University of Bolton's online Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care is designed to support you in producing an original independent contribution to knowledge and/or practice that has a significant impact in the field of health and social care.

At the outset, we'll introduce you to doctoral studies and the principles of research design in health and social care. You'll be supported to contextualise your enquiries and explore research methodology, methods and analysis. Our experienced healthcare professionals will guide you as you conduct your fieldwork project and support you as you plan and write your doctoral thesis.

In order to complete the programme, you'll need to submit a 60,000-word thesis and successfully pass the thesis examination and viva voce examination.

Our focus is on helping you to complete and defend your thesis successfully and supporting you as you grow into an independent, ethical and innovative researcher.

  • Independent online learning with associated live tuition and supervision sessions are provided by experienced healthcare professionals as you develop and demonstrate a systematic, analytical and critical approach to complex issues and their application within the field of enquiry.
  • Our aim is to support you in achieving a mastery of academic scholarship in a chosen field of enquiry at the cutting edge of knowledge creation.
  • You'll have the chance to develop independent skills in designing and governing a robust and complex research enquiry.
  • You'll have the opportunity to benefit from our strong strategic partnerships with local NHS organisations.
  • On successfully completing this programme, you'll be awarded a Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online) from the University of Bolton.
Key Features
  • Our dedicated academic team brings extensive health and social care experience to the course content. Along with their passion for service excellence in health and social care settings, they're also currently engaged in highly relevant research, which means they can add valuable context and insight to your learning.
  • We offer accessible learning through online workshops, supervision and extensive digital resources to help you achieve your full potential.
  • This rigorous academic student journey is also designed to develop your research governance, organisation and personal effectiveness skills as an independent researcher.
  • Our ambition is for you to make a real difference in your sphere of practice and influence, making a positive impact on the lives of others.

  • Normally, you'll have at least an upper second class honours degree (2.1) in a relevant subject or a master's degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.
  • You'll also possess credible and relevant experience in a health or social care profession or occupation. Examples of professions and occupations include doctors, nurses, medical/paramedical practitioners, allied health professionals, midwives, health and social care managers and health care educators.
  • We welcome your application if you hold a degree awarded by an overseas institution. The University will assess the equivalence of your qualifications.
  • You'll have an online interview discussion about your research interest and experience with the programme leader or admissions lecturer. You may also be asked to provide a portfolio of work.
  • As this is an online course, you'll need access to a computer with the appropriate software. You'll also need basic IT skills. In particular, you'll need to be able to access and use the University of Bolton's virtual learning environment, Moodle. Please get in touch with the programme leader for details if you are uncertain that you'll be able to meet these requirements.
  • We'll also consider applications where appropriate work experience can be demonstrated in lieu of, or in addition to, the published academic qualifications in line with the University’s Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) procedures.
  • The University of Bolton recognises prior learning, whether gained through academic credit and qualifications or through your professional and employment experience. Previous learning may be used towards meeting the entry requirements for this programme or for exemption from part of this programme. It is your responsibility to make a claim for recognition of prior learning, and each claim will be considered in accordance with the University’s policy and regulations for the recognition of prior learning.
  • If English is not your first language, you will also need IELTS 7.5 with normally no less than 7.0 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details.

Where changes are made to material information contained in this course description or a decision is taken to suspend a course between the offer of admissions and enrolment, we will inform applicants at the earliest possible opportunity and will outline the various options available to the applicant.

The University of Bolton's Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online) is designed for a range of advanced health and social care professionals who are interested in enhancing their expertise through research in practice. Completing this programme will allow you to gain the high-level skills needed to generate new knowledge at the cutting edge of practice development. It will help to develop your career in leading and developing practice as you pursue excellence in your chosen field.

As a graduate of this programme, you'll be able to demonstrate a significant contribution to your professional area and possess a range of advanced skills such as research planning, use of research methods, research analysis, innovation, conference writing and presentation.

What can I do with this qualification?

The Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online) award demonstrates your credibility in undertaking vocationally related research enquiry in the health and social care sector. It will support you to follow a wide range of career paths in health and social care, whether in the NHS, private and third sectors or in education. As a graduate of this programme, you'll be ideally prepared for roles that demand reasoned, evidence-informed thinking and critical analysis, and the development of evidence-based practice in the context of complex health and social care problems and challenges. You'll be in a strong position to develop further post-doctoral research with your networks and health and social care partners.

Graduates from this programme can go on to be senior leaders, researchers and academics in their professional fields. Completing a research degree can open up career paths in commercial research and development and consultancy. Often people will undertake this programme to develop their own professional knowledge to develop practice within their own specialist field.

Alternative career options

Graduates can also use the qualification as a stepping-stone into a range of other careers. Some of these roles may require relevant experience and/or postgraduate study. Possible careers include:

  • Education
  • Public sector health and social care services
  • Third sector health and social care services
  • Private sector health and social care services
  • Industries allied to health and social care
  • Publishing
  • Political advisors
  • Voluntary sector
  • Mental health
  • Occupational therapy
  • Community education
  • Journalism
  • Policy development
  • Nursing
  • Consultancy

Course fees

Home students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Home fee of £5,100 for the academic year 2023/24.

Overseas students starting this course in the first year will be required to pay a Overseas fee of £13,550 for the academic year 2023/24.

Important note regarding tuition fees for the 2022-2023 academic year: EU nationals who meet residency requirements (have settled or pre-settled status) may be eligible for 'Home' fee status. If you do not meet these residency requirements, overseas fees will apply. Irish citizens living in the UK or Ireland will be eligible for 'Home' fee status under the Common Travel Area arrangement. Please read the student finance for EU students web page on www.gov.uk for information.

The fees for a student's course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.


Click here for more information about the scholarships and bursaries available to University of Bolton students.

For details of how to apply for this course, please choose your status from the options below:

You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or admissions@bolton.ac.uk

The University welcomes applications from international students from all over the world. We try to make the application process as simple and as fast as possible for our international applicants.

How you apply is determined by your current location and what you are choosing to study:

  1. Apply direct to the University. Links for the next available intakes of this course are shown below. Please click the link which will direct you to the online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this.
  2. Apply via one of our approved in-country referral partners. A list of our partners may be found on the International pages of this website.
  3. Apply via UCAS for courses starting in September only – visit www.ucas.com.

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email international@bolton.ac.uk

  • Apply online: Distance Learning Professional Doctorate Health and Social Care - 19 September 2023 (Intake not currently accepting international applications)

This online programme blends asynchronous online learning sessions and synchronous online group activities (workshops, demonstrations and application of theory to research practice), including collective and individual supervision sessions. We aim to build your confidence and competence in producing high-quality scholarly work and your ability to defend it independently. The whole programme incrementally guides you to develop draft sections of your thesis sequentially.

Our teaching and learning strategy uses a blended learning model that includes online asynchronous learning resources combined with live synchronous online workshops, tuition and supervision. We focus on building our student community through online activities that include discussion, networking, and presenting. The aim is to develop shared and peer learning that operates within our supervision framework. This education journey promotes your academic citizenship and helps you build relationships with peers in your discipline through active participation in communities regionally, nationally and internationally. It also helps you to develop the networking skills that will support your ability to engage in the global context of research enquiry and dissemination to make a positive impact.

During the taught synchronous elements of the programme, you'll be expected to attend online sessions that are designed to promote collaborative learning and student peer support. Being part of regular discussions and critiques should facilitate the development of your confidence and competence in producing high-quality scholarly work and your independent defence of it as attention moves towards developing impact and dissemination.

The teaching and learning philosophy for the fieldwork and thesis modules centres on promoting your individual development as an independent researcher. We'll guide and support you through supervision. As you undertake your research, regular supervision will support you in developing your researcher skills of critical analysis of ideas and problem-solving during each stage of your project. Knowledge transfer planning to make an impact in your field of enquiry will be promoted through developing scholarly submissions for publication and delivering presentations.

Formative and summative assessments are conducted periodically to determine whether you're meeting the programme's learning outcomes. The range of assessments includes written work, presentations and oral examinations. These are designed to build up sections of your final thesis, develop your skills of presentation and defence of your ideas (including a viva voce examination) and produce work of publishable quality to develop your impact in your chosen field of enquiry.

Please note that the viva voce examination will be conducted in accordance with the University's regulations.


The modules listed below may be a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules shown as part of the course.

  • Introduction to Doctoral Studies
  • Research Design in Health and Social Care
  • Contextualising Enquiry
  • Research Methodology Methods and Analysis
  • Fieldwork Project
  • The Thesis
Assessment methods
LevelAssesment method
Level oneCoursework 100%
Learning activities
LevelLearning activity
Level oneGuided independent study 93%, Scheduled learning and teaching activities 7%


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. The university considers changes to courses very carefully and the university will minimise any changes. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis and changes may be necessary due to legitimate staffing, financial, regulatory and academic reasons. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up-to-date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason, we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

The academic staff detailed above teach across a range of courses in this subject area and may not teach on this course specifically.

Programme Contacts

Russell Gurbutt
Programme Leader and Admissions Tutor


+44 (0)1204 903707

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton


+44 (0)1204 903903

Related courses

PD Professional Doctorate in Health and Social Care (Online) Part-time Distance

Mode of study
6 Years

University of Bolton


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Help Centre

We have the answers to your questions, find all the advice and support in one place.

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