The DBA is designed to raise the level of professional capabilities of practising senior managers and executives. It does this by developing critical reflective practice skills, by enhancing 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 doctoral research project focussed on their role as change leaders.
Our DBA is designed for active senior managers and executives who want to gain new insights and perspectives into change 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, your study is undertaken through online study resources, online discussions, interaction with module leaders, and is supported by a personal academic advisor. For the third phase of the programme of study, you undertake a major research project that focuses on work you are undertaking in your organisation as a senior professional, typically in a change leadership role.
Throughout the course, which is studied part time, your focus will be 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 achieve 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.
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.
Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.
You start the DBA in October each year (a February start is also sometimes available), and you study part-time, typically over 4 years. 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 study resources, online discussion forums, email, Skype, etc.
In addition to being able to draw on the expertise of tutors, a possible specialist consultant, and other participants in your cohort, you will also have the support of a dedicated academic advisor throughout your period of study with us. 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.
Ifan Shepherd is Professor of GeoBusiness at Middlesex University Business School, where he is Director of the Business School's professional doctorate programmes (the DBA and DProf Professional Practice). He is the Deputy Coordinator of a major EC-funded R&D project (VALCRI), involving 17 European partners, which is developing a state-of-the-art visual analytics software system for crime analysts working in European law-enforcement agencies. His other research interests include personal branding, the transfer of training, and historical mapmaking.
Start: October 2019, EU/INT induction: September 2019
Duration: 1 year full-time, Usually 2 years part-time
Start: October 2019, January 2020
Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time