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Research degrees

Applying for your Professional Doctorate

Guidance on the application form and interview process.

We accept new Professional Doctorate students on 1 January each year. We strongly recommend that that you make your application as early as possible, and by 1 November at the latest to meet the January start deadline.

Our Professional Doctorate courses allow you to carry out research which will expand knowledge in your profession and develop your professional practice. The degrees combine 4 taught modules with an extended research thesis.

How to complete your application form

This is a straightforward section which just requires you to fill in basic information about yourself.

You should write January in the preferred start date field, as this is when professional doctorates begin each year.

You can include up to 20 different qualifications in this section. However, we would prefer you to only include those from degree level onwards. These are the only ones we really need to make our decision and it saves time when it comes to reviewing and authenticating certificates.

If you are able, it is useful to scan and upload copies of your certificates to include in the application. You will also need to bring your certificates with you if you are invited to interview.

In order to apply for a professional doctorate you will need to be working in a relevant field and have at least 2 years of relevant professional experience.

You do not need to provide your entire professional history in this section –  just the experiences which are relevant to the course.

This form is used for several different degrees offered at the university, which is why it includes a request for a research proposal. However, for a professional doctorate we would like you to instead submit a personal statement.  At this early stage you may not have a fully formed doctoral proposal in mind. In fact, we encourage you to use the first 2 years of the course to experiment with ideas before committing to your final research project. 

Please include a personal statement of between 1500 and 3000 words. This should tell us:  

  • Why you have chosen to study for a professional doctorate, and in particular why you have chosen a Professional Doctorate rather than a PhD. If you are applying for the EdD, AppLing, RelD or Dmin, tell us why you think that award suits your circumstances.
  • The aspects of your previous or current experience that make you suitable for this course. For example, have you been involved in developing practice within your profession by helping colleagues, developing new initiatives, or as member of a professional body?
  • How your study will fit with your current work. Please outline your capacity to devote sufficient time to study and to attend the necessary residentials. We try to time these to fall in school half terms to help those who teach, but the dates may not always coincide with local half terms, so you may need to show that you can set aside time when needed.
  • How you see the course benefiting you, your employers or clients, and the wider profession to which you belong.
  • Whilst you do not need to include a detailed proposal, we would like to know which areas of the subject you might be interested in exploring in detail and why. Has it been sparked by a particular question, incident or problem that you want to investigate more fully? Please bear in mind that your final research topic will need to be negotiated and approved, and this will partly depend on what expertise is available to supervise your project.

We recommend that you get in touch with your referees before submitting your application. This will help to ensure your application is processed quickly.

It is especially important that you provide a reference from your place of work if joining the course and participating in the residentials will require permission from your employers.

Your referees’ statements do not need to be long, but they should indicate to the interview panel your capacity and potential to study at doctoral level. It is useful to have at least 1 academic referee, if possible.

Interview process

Interviews may take place either in person or online. You will be interviewed by the Programme Lead and usually 1 other member of the doctoral teaching team.

Interviews are intended to be supportive and exploratory and as much an opportunity for you to find out about the course as for us to understand more about you.

Things we might talk to you about include:

  • How your professional setting will support you in undertaking your doctoral studies.
  • How you will balance up to 6 years of part time work alongside other commitments.
  • How confident you feel about academic writing, and whether you can identify any areas where we might be able to support you. This is especially relevant if it is a long time since you last studied.
  • Your potential areas of research interest.


We hope that this guidance has been helpful and we look forward to reading your application soon.

If you have any other questions about the course, please do not hesitate to contact us at:

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