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Professional Doctorate in Health Practice - DHealth

The Professional Doctorate in Health Practice (DHealth) is a part-time interdisciplinary programme which enables participants to advance their skills, knowledge and practice through research engagement. The course draws on our Faculty’s long-established research and teaching expertise in professional fields such as Nursing, Midwifery, Radiography, Public Health, and Speech & Language Therapy*....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  


Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • Level Postgraduate Research
  • Study mode Part Time
  • Location City South
  • Award N/A
  • Start date September 2022
  • School School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

Explore this course

Course overview

The Professional Doctorate in Health Practice (DHealth) is a part-time interdisciplinary programme which enables participants to advance their skills, knowledge and practice through research engagement. The course draws on our Faculty’s long-established research and teaching expertise in professional fields such as Nursing, Midwifery, Radiography, Public Health, and Speech & Language Therapy*.

*We may be able to support candidates from other areas of health or social care practice –please contact us to discuss your needs.

What's covered in the course?

This course is designed for experienced practitioners seeking to develop their research capacity, advance their practice and influence service improvements in their work environment. You will study alongside your professional role.

A period of structured learning activity and assessment (‘module stage’) is followed by independent doctoral inquiry and the production of a research thesis.

Research Interests

There are four designated clusters within the C-SCHaRR centre representing cross-cutting research themes of relevance for more than one area of professional practice:

  • Knowledge2Care –concerned with knowledge mobilisation, co-creation, patient and public involvement and engagement, implementation science (all DHealth students benefit from insights from this cluster, as its researchers lead on the Critical Perspectives 2 module)
  • Family, Gender & Health –gender and health; children and young people’s health; family and health experiences
  • Person-Centred Ageing - research to support and improve quality of life for older people and those with dementia; work with and on all settings including community, hospital, care homes, prisons.
  • The Elizabeth Bryan Multiple Births Centre – a partnership with the Multiple Births Foundation (MBF) which carries out research on all aspects of multiple births.
Why choose us?
  • Module delivery designed to meet the learning needs of busy health practitioners through focused attendance in a small number of focused ‘blocks’ (2-3 days), supported by online learning activities and resources.
  • Expand your understanding of policy and practice in a multi-professional learning community
  • Advance your appreciation of research techniques and methodologies with a focus on relevance for investigating your own area of practice
  • Carry out significant independent research whilst remaining in your practice area
  • In the research stage, you will receive individual support and guidance from our team of supervisors, meeting on a regular basis to review your progress and plan your next steps.
  • Generate and implement knowledge that can have positive impacts on your professional practice and workplace.
  • Benefit from being part of a wider doctoral and researcher community in our Faculty, with a strong focus on practice-relevant research and knowledge implementation.
This course is not open to International students.

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Facilities and Staff

The creation of our new suite of courses in Sport and Life Sciences is yet another exciting development at Birmingham City University. The 10,500sq metre building at City South Campus will enable us to offer a wide range of new health, nutrition, biomedical science and sports courses, as well as providing a new home for our education programmes.

Not only are we investing £41 million in a new building to house the laboratories and teaching spaces needed, but we also plan to open up these facilities to benefit all students and the wider community. This will complement our existing sports facilities, which already provide a base for students to compete in activities ranging from rugby to jiu jitsu.

The courses will reflect the latest developments in our teaching and our focus on practice-led learning with work placements and live industry case studies incorporated into the curriculum. All courses have been co-designed with employers and are endorsed or accredited by professional bodies where appropriate.

By expanding our provision to these new areas, we will be helping to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing society today, such as obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, by encouraging and supporting healthy eating and greater physical activity.

In addition, we will be producing graduates who can support elite performers in meeting the UK’s ambitions for sporting success at events such as the Olympics and other world sporting tournaments. We are constantly looking to enhance the range of courses we offer - please check all our courses for the latest additions to our portfolio.

Simulation Mannequins

We have several Simulation men (SIM men) and Simulation babies (SIM babies) which are leading edge, anatomically correct mannequins used for teaching specific techniques such as advanced adult and paediatric life support skills, acute and high dependency clinical skills, first aid and communication skills.

Simulation Mannequins

SPACE skills practice model


SPACE is an innovative practice area all students can access to use equipment and resources to practise a wide range of skills in a safe, welcoming and supportive environment. It provides students with a creative learning environment to get the best educational experience before becoming a health care professional.


Learning Facilities

We offer up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across. These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice.

Learning Facilities

Nursing - Facilities - Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour

Explore our facilities in 360 panoramas, including welcome videos from key members of staff and Health and Wellbeing student profiles.

Virtual Tour

Doug Ellis Sports Centre

Our £8.5 million Doug Ellis Sports Centre boasts an 80-station fitness suite, an eight-court sports hall, and workout and spinning studios. The centre offers state-of-the-art fitness training equipment and plenty of room for team sports including five-a-side football and cricket. An all-weather pitch adds the finishing touches to the centre.

Visitors to the gym can choose a personalised fitness programme, instructed by qualified fitness trainers, and take advantage of a selection of classes, such as yoga, salsa or body combat.

Doug Ellis Sports Centre website

Our staff

Dr Kate Thomson

Associate Professor

Dr Kate Thomson is Director of Postgraduate Research Degrees for Health and leads on all aspects of recruitment, oversight and student experience for PhD (Health). She is also a member of the Public Health & Therapies department. 

Kate completed her postgraduate study at the University of Birmingham with a PhD on learning disability services and welfare development in Russia. She has more than 15 years’ experience of teaching health policy, sociological aspects of health and research skills at undergraduate, postgraduate and post-qualifying levels. Her main interests lie in health and welfare systems, global health and sociological public health. 

More about Kate

Dr Anne Robbins

Senior Lecturer, Public Health

Anne's background is in public health and health promotion, on research based projects at a local, regional and national level. This has been within the NHS, Local Authorities, BBC and National Charities.

She has undertaken a wide range of research and consultancy appointments on health promotion and public health which have focused on qualitative research and multiagency collaboration. Key areas of interest include communication and community engagement.

More about Anne

Professor Fiona Cowdell

Professor of Nursing and Health Research

Fiona Cowdell joined Birmingham City University in October 2016 as a Professor of Nursing and Health Research. Fiona is National Institute of Health Research Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellow (June 2016 – May 2020). She is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University with a doctorate from Bournemouth University. As a registered nurse she worked for many years in the National Health Service at senior levels both operational and strategic whilst developing close links with academia including posts as a Lecturer Practitioner and later as a Practice Development Consultant.

More about Fiona

Judith Dyson

Reader in Healthcare Research, Implementation Science Deputy Director Centre for Social Care, Health and Related Research (C-SCHaRR)

Judith Dyson joined Birmingham City University in October 2020 as a Reader in Healthcare Research and Implementation Science. She is a registered general and mental health nurse and a chartered psychologist and has worked in many clinical and management roles in the NHS. 

More about Judith