The Business School DBA is designed to raise the level of professional capabilities of practising senior managers and executives. It does this by developing the practitioner's skills of reflective practice, by enhancing their knowledge of leading-edge areas of business, and by providing the opportunity to develop their capabilities in practice-based research by means of a major research project.
Our DBA is designed for busy senior managers and executives who want to gain new insights and perspectives into leadership and management based on critical exploration of their own evolving professional practice. It is particularly appropriate for those wishing to improve their capability to lead and manage change in an established or new organisation without having to seek time off for formal study. A key role is played in their capability enhancement by the capstone research project, which enables practitioners to improve their professional practice by undertaking rigorous research into that practice.
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The course is divided into three main phases: the first and second last for a minimum of one semester (6 months) each, and the third continues for a minimum of three further years. During the first two phases of the course, this is achieved through online study resources, online discussions, and the support of a personal academic advisor. For the third phase of the programme of study, participants undertake a major research project that focuses on the work they are undertaking in their organisation as senior professionals, typically in change leadership roles.
Throughout the course, which is studied part time, your focus is on your professional activity in an organisational context. The DBA provides a structured framework for critically understanding your work-based activity, and equips you to operate as a reflective professional practitioner. The research project provides an opportunity for you to critically evaluate the learning you have achieved while leading significant change in the workplace, and to express this in writing in a systematic way that is both informed by and informs relevant theory.
The Middlesex DBA recognises that professional practice is grounded in real organisations, and often in specific disciplines, and that practitioners taking the course will often belong to specific professional bodies. In order to recognise and harness the subject- and profession-specific nature of practitioners' individual practice, those taking the DBA will be encouraged to build learning relationships with other candidates working in similar spheres of activity.
In addition, specialist subject and professional advice will be available from expert and highly experienced staff within the Business School, especially in the following areas:
This module provides an opportunity to show that you are equipped for the high-level work required on the rest of the doctoral programme in three areas: the ability to learn from experiential practice; the professional capability to lead workplace interventions of the kind that will form the basis for their research investigations; and the ability to undertake practitioner-oriented research. These capabilities are reported in a piece of persuasive written argumentation (the Review), supported by relevant documentary evidence, which critically evaluates and sets out your credentials for work at doctoral level in all three areas. Much of this review is retrospective, in that it considers your personal and professional learning leading up to this course, and your research competence to date. Some of it is more future oriented, in that it considers how well you are equipped to lead and manage emerging and new workplace activities, and how you intend to improve your capability for achieving these changes. The Review forms the basis for any claims made for the recognition and accreditation of prior learning (see below), both in relation to professional learning and research capability (such claims are included as appendices to the review).
As part of your Review of Professional Capability, you are invited to submit written claims (supported by relevant evidence) for the academic accreditation of your prior learning, typically in an organisational context. If you do not make such claims, or you make them but they are deemed to be inappropriate or insufficient for the credits claimed, then you will take one or more elective modules in their place. These modules will focus mainly on: the development of reflective practice skills; the development of practitioner research skills; and the development of specific professional capabilities.
You are invited to submit written and evidenced claim for accreditation of advanced prior learning, again in an organisational context. Such a claim is likely to be made by participants who have significant professional experience and major responsibility for leading and managing change in their organisation.
The main aim of this module is to enable you to consider the range of approaches and methodologies relevant to advanced professional practitioner research work, and to use this knowledge to design and plan one or more doctoral research projects aimed at developing your capability as a practitioner-researcher, advancing your organisation, and contributing to your community of practice and/or profession. The outcome of this module is a Learning Agreement, which you draw up to summarise the nature of the research project you intend to pursue in the final phase of the course. This will identify the professional activities in your organisation that will form the focus of your research, the research approach and techniques to be used in your investigation, and expected outcomes for yourself, your organisation and your profession.
This module provides students with a means of applying the research skills gained during Phase 1 to a substantial project focused on their evolving role as change leaders within their organisation. The project provides a context in which the candidate will integrate and develop further their professional practitioner skills and knowledge. The project topic will be chosen in discussion with the academic adviser and the candidate's chosen consultant(s), and will have major outcomes in terms of personal professional development, organisational benefits and broader relevance to the professional community to which the candidate belongs. The aim is for students to develop a project in relation to a specific organizational issue or problem. It enables students to demonstrate proficiency in relation to the scope of the relevant issues identified, consider relevant literature relating to the project, collect and apply data, consider the financial implications including any cost/benefit analysis in relation to justifying specific recommendations as well as consider any other relevant implementation issues.
You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.
You can start the DProf in October each year (a February start is also sometimes available), and you study part-time, typically over 4 years. As for the nature of studies, the programme was specifically designed for busy professionals who are unlikely to be unable to attend a university on a regular basis while studying for their doctorate. All study is therefore undertaken by distance learning, using modern communication technologies, including: web resources, online discussion forums, email, Skype, etc.
Moreover, each participant has the support of a dedicated academic advisor throughout their period of studies, in addition to drawing on tutors, a possible specialist consultant and other participants in your cohort. We do not have conventional lecture or seminar classes on campus, nor do we require attendance at residencies, summer schools, or block teaching periods. This means that there is no need for overseas students to acquire a student visa, because residence in the UK is not required for study on the programme.
Of course, all programme participants are welcome to visit us on campus any time they wish, whether it is to use our extensive on-campus facilities, or to meet their academic advisors and other programme staff. The only mandatory attendance is at our Induction Day, which immediately precedes the start of the programme.
Professor Ifan is Professor of GeoBusiness at Middlesex University Business School, where he researches and teaches personal branding, electronic marketing and geodemographics. He is also Director of the Business School's professional practice programmes (including the DBA, DProf, DProf by Public Works, and MProf), and is heavily involved in a major FP7 R&D project (CRISIS), involving 11 European partners, which is developing interactive training simulations for emergency managers based on 3D videogame technology.