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Professional Doctorate in Health Practice - DHealth

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

The Professional Doctorate in Health Practice (DHealth) is a part-time multi-professional programme leading to a doctoral award. It will enable you to advance your skills, knowledge and practice through research engagement....

  • Level Postgraduate Research
  • Study mode Part Time
  • Location City South
  • Award N/A
  • Start date September 2024
  • School School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

This course is:


The Professional Doctorate in Health Practice (DHealth) is a part-time multi-professional programme leading to a doctoral award.

It will enable you to advance your skills, knowledge and practice through research engagement. You will be an experienced practitioner seeking to develop your research capacity, transform practice and make a direct contribution to knowledge in your professional environment.

You will benefit from being able to work within, and study alongside, a multidisciplinary team of experienced researchers and health professionals. The course draws on the considerable expertise and reputation in health professions development, education and practice- focused research in our Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences. The course is suitable for practitioners (including educators) from diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, nursing, midwifery, public health, radiography, speech and language therapy and other allied health professions.

This course is not open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

There is a period of structured and supportive learning activity and assessment in the first two years (‘Module stage’), followed by the conduct of an independent doctoral inquiry and the production of a research thesis in the ‘Thesis stage’ (third year and beyond).

Course delivery in the Module stage is designed to meet the learning needs of practitioners through a blended learning approach: study blocks (typically 2-3 days up to twice a year), supported by online learning activities and resources. The DHealth modules support the development of knowledge and skills for doctoral level professional practice, including critical thinking, and synthesis of knowledge and practice. You will explore contexts for health practice: policy, professional identities; research methods and methodology; evidence appraisal & literature review; knowledge mobilisation and co-creation. You will also have the opportunity to conduct a pilot study on an element of your research topic. Through your work in the modules and with the support of a Personal Tutor, you will generate and refine a plan for your research thesis.

In the Thesis stage (year 3 onwards), you will have a team of doctoral supervisors, at least one of whom will have expertise in your field of practice. They will support you to carry out a piece of original, independent research that can will generate new knowledge for practice, and to produce a thesis.

Why Choose Us?

  • 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
  • Carry out significant independent research whilst remaining in your practice area
  • Expand your critical 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
  • Generate new knowledge, or make novel applications of knowledge for your specialist field of study that can have a positive impact on your professional practice and workplace
  • Develop confidence in presenting and defending your research within your area of practice


Join us on campus where you'll be able to find out more about postgraduate research at BCU, meet our academics and learn more about financing your research degree. Booking for the next event isn’t open yet. Register your interest below and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.

Next Event: 29 June 2024

Register interest

Research Interests

Research Interests 

Research in health-related practice in our Faculty is led by the Centre for Social Care, Health and Related Research (C-SCHaRR).

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.

Here are some examples of current or recent work that has significance for health practice, undertaken by researchers in C-SCHaRR:

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.


Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Part Time
  • 4 years
  • TBC

International students

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

If you’re unable to use our online application form for any reason, please email University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

UK students

Professional doctorates are designed for mid-career and senior professionals who have previous higher level study, and significant professional experience. 

The emphasis is on developing links between theory and professional practise through an extensive process of reflective and reflexive learning.

Professional doctorates are not designed as a teaching qualification; rather they provide evidence of advanced study and research in a relevant education area.

Research proposal

As part of your application, you are required to upload a personal statement / proposal. Due to the developmental nature of this course, there is no need to provide a comprehensive research proposal at application. However, you must outline your practice and research interests in one-two pages:

  • Current area of practice: Describe your professional role and –if relevant – how it has developed. Identify the setting in which you currently work.
  • Research interests: what aspect of your role / practice are you interested in investigating? What experience or involvement in research activities have you had?

Download the research proposal template

Course in Depth

Level 7 modules

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 60 credits):

Level 8 modules

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (not credit bearing as Level 8 /research modules):


In order to complete this course a student must also successfully complete:

Download course specification

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Course structure

You will be introduced to an array of new techniques and emerging philosophies that are available to develop your ability to critically analyse practice and the relevance of theoretical concepts which underpin them. Furthermore you will investigate the relevance of digital technologies as a means to deepen your understanding of the mobility of people, ideas, networks and meanings derived from multiple geographical and historical origins.

A major outcome will be that you will enhance your own professional skills and be in a position to influence others in the development of your organisation. At the same time and notwithstanding national policy requirements and professional practices, you will recognise a global reconfiguring of social relationships largely disconnected from national origins.

Central to this will be the need to engage in reflective and reflexive practice in order to understand the potential consequences of actions and plan for professional change in the context of the global circulation of educational ideologies, discourses and practices.

The framework of the programme incorporates components intended to develop research skills and a willingness to adopt an approach which is explicitly enquiring and involves the critique of existing practice and encourages challenges to established theory. Assessment strategies will provide you with opportunities to develop and demonstrate a range of doctoral level skills including multi-model approaches (visual and verbal) in addition to the more traditional forms of critical writing.

You will be awarded a professional doctorate on successful demonstration of the following:

  • The creation and interpretation of new knowledge and contribution to professional practice through scholarly research of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the subject and merit publication;
  • Significant development in key aspects of professional practice;
  • A systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an area of professional practice;
  • The general ability to conceptualise, design and develop a project for the generation of new professional knowledge, and to modify and influence practice in the light of contextual considerations, as appropriate;
  • A detailed understanding of applicable techniques for both research and advanced academic enquiry.

The EdD programme is undertaken in three phases.

Phase 1 - you will undertake the first two Critical Perspectives modules through which you are introduced to key concepts in educational research methodology within the policy and political contexts of educational practice.

Phase 2 - in the second phase you will extend your experience of research methodologies and engage with a range of contemporary and experimental approaches and undertake a pilot project in an area of your choice. In phase 2 you will also undertake the university-wide PG Certificate in Research Practice which provides the opportunity to discuss and write a research proposal for the EdD thesis.

Phase 3 - you will complete a 50,000 word thesis in an area of your choice.


Employment opportunities

After you've completed this course, you 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 your ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

You'll also continue to undertake theoretical and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas, or approaches.

The course will also give you the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

Facilities & Staff

We have invested over £400 million in our facilities, including an upgrade to our Skills and Simulation facilities at City South Campus. We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that you may come across in the workplace. These resources are essential in offering you a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice.

Mock Wards

These are set up to look like typical hospital wards, with four to six bays. Depending on the topic in hand, different manikins can be used as patients and relevant equipment is provided to practise clinical skills. Some of the manikins are interactive and can simulate different scenarios e.g. some allow you to cannulate, check pulses, intubate etc, and some can talk to you. One ward is often used as an adult ward, and the other as a child ward.

These rooms also allow for scenarios to be set up for other professions such as dietetics, paramedic science and social work.

The Operating Theatre and Recovery Suites

The operating theatre and recovery suite gives you the sense of what it would be like in a real surgical environment.

These spaces emulate the full surgical journey from anaesthetics, through surgery and into recovery. ODP students can practice a range of skills including gowning, hand washing, preparing instrument trays, and working with a patient. Nurses and midwives may experience a surgical placement and need to go to theatre or be part of the midwifery team involved with caesarean sections. Many other Allied Health Professionals may also see patients in recovery if necessary.

Home Environment Room

This space is used to simulate non-clinical settings, as not everything health professionals deal with is hospital based. This is used for simulations of home visits and home births. It also houses soft matting and a bubble machine that are used by the Learning Disability Nursing team.

Assisted Living Space

This space replicates a flat and is used for scenarios such as home visits. The sitting room area provides a different space to practise skills and simulations and work with service users and other students.

Assisted Kitchen

This specially designed kitchen has different areas where you can practice cooking, cleaning, boiling the kettle etc., with someone who has actual or simulated visual impairments. There are adapted devices to help, and simulation glasses for you to wear to experience visual impairments.

Physiotherapy Room

This is a space for physiotherapy students to use, with various equipment to practise client meetings.

Radiotherapy Planning Computer Suite

Our computers allow you to plan hypothetical treatments, in terms of angles and directions, ensuring that radiotherapy reaches where it is needed on a patient’s body.

Radiography Image Interpretation and Reporting Stations Computer Suite

These facilities allow you to view and analyse x-rays.

VERT - Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training

This room contains 3D technology to view virtual patients and look at trajectories for treatment.


This room contains the same bed/couch used when patients are given radiotherapy treatment. While students of course do not administer radiotherapy in this room, it does allow them to practise adjusting the equipment to make sure both it and a patient would be in the correct position to receive treatment.

Telehealth Room

This room allows for small group teaching in a central area (large boardroom type table) with five small telehealth booths down either side. These are to allow all our health professions students to practise delivering healthcare and advice remotely, either over the phone or on a video call. This addition to our teaching reflects moves in the sector to offer more flexible access to healthcare services, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Imaging Academy

This new facility is a larger version of our existing image interpretation computer facilities and forms part of the Midlands Imaging Academy Hub, funded by Health Education England. These expanded facilities will mean we can further develop our courses and expertise in radiography and imaging.

Speech and Language Therapy Resource Room

Our Speech and Language Therapy Team have developed a collection of tools, books and resources to help you learn and understand the implications of a speech or swallowing limitation. You can practise one to one client meetings and clinics and use the video recording equipment to review role play scenarios.

Ultrasound simulation suite

Students have access to a wide range of Ultrasound simulation equipment to develop their clinical skills and aid in training. The equipment includes two ultrasound machines with a range of phantoms, scan training stations and eve body works.

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...

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...

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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...

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Professor Judith Dyson

Professor in Implementation Science, Deputy Director of the 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