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Professional Practice DProf (Business)

Learn about the course below

Professional Practice DProf (Business)

September 2024
4 years
Part-time via Distance Learning
£6,300 (UK) *
£8,900 (EU/INT)*
Course leader
Ifan Shepherd

The Business School's DProf is designed to raise the level of professional capabilities of practicing senior managers and executives. It does this by developing your skills of reflective practice, by enhancing your knowledge of leading-edge areas of business, and by providing an opportunity to develop your capabilities in practice-based research by means of a major research project.

Why study the DProf Professional Practice at Middlesex University?

Our DProf 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 your capability enhancement by the capstone research project, which enables senior practitioners to improve their professional practice by undertaking rigorous research into that practice.

Course Highlights

  • It is the professional equivalent of the academic PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), but designed specifically to support participants in undertaking practice-based research into their workplace activities. While the knowledge gained from this research is equally rigorous to the PhD, it is distinctive in that the participant is placed at the centre of their research investigation, and their findings tend to be highly applicable within their organisation.
  • It provides participants with the opportunity to enhance their professional capabilities at an advanced level. These capabilities will feed into, and be evaluated through, the participant's research project.
  • Because senior professionals have achieved a significant amount of both formal and informal learning, sometimes over many years, the DProf provides an opportunity to make a claim for academic credits against relevant prior learning.
  • Participants' study paths and projects are tailored to meet their individual needs and interests, and those of their organisations.
  • Each participant may choose a subtitle for their doctoral award which reflects their chosen specialism. (See the list of subjects/professions in the 'Subject focus' section under the Course Content tab.)

For more information, please contact professionals@mdx.ac.uk

What you will study on the DProf Professional Practice?

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, you will be supported by online study resources, peer-group discussions, and the support of a personal academic advisor. For the third phase of the programme of study, you will undertake a major research project that focuses on the work you are undertaking in your organisation as senior professionals, typically in a change leadership role.

Throughout the course, which is studied part time, your focus is on your professional activity in an organisational context. The DProf 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.

  • Phase 1

    • Review of Professional Capability (30 Credits) - Compulsory

      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).

    • Recognition and accreditation of prior learning, AND/OR elective modules (up to 90 Credits) - Compulsory

      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.

  • Phase 2

    • Planning an Advanced Practitioner Research Programme (60 Credits) - Compulsory

      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.

  • Phase 3

    • Project (360 Credits) – Compulsory

      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.

How will be DProf Professional Practice be taught?

You can start the DProf in October each year, and you study part-time, typically over a period of four 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.

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 their 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.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU/International
  3. Additional costs

Professor Ifan Shepherd
Professor of GeoBusiness

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.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

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Code: 004N101

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