Key Facts

Course name: Doctorate in Medicine (DM)
Research Institute: Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine
Type of Programme:
Duration: 4-6-year rotation
Starting Date:

The DM programme meets the following requirements:

  • The DM programme is designed to accommodate applicants from a variety of sources including medically qualified trainees (beyond F2 grade) on a 4- to 7-year rotation, with adequate time remaining to complete the DM programme.
  • The award is at Doctoral level in line with the National Qualifications Framework.
  • The defining criteria are those for a research degree in that the DM is examined principally on the basis of a thesis, and the examiners are individually appointed for that thesis. All trainees will receive training in research, and need already to have a specialist clinical background.
  • Those wishing to enrol on the DM must have guaranteed time release.
  • Students registered on the DM will be overseen by the Research Institute Postgraduate Committee in consultation with the RI DM programme director, and will be subject to the requirements of the Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees plus the requirements specific to the DM and any additional requirements specified by the RI.

The DM carries precisely the same academic weight as a PhD, as do the Keele professional doctorates. However, the structure makes it more relevant to the circumstances of the main market for the programme, SpRs and GPs.

The timetable for PhD, DM and MPhil (taken on a full-time basis) is as follows:


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4


40 credits of research training (RT) modules prior to doctoral progression

Further 20 credits of RT modules (40+20= 60)

Submit thesis of up to 100,000 words no earlier than end of year two, no later than end of year four



40 credits of RT modules prior to doctoral progression

Further 20 credits of RT modules

Submit thesis of up to 70,000 words no earlier than end of year two, no later than end of year four

40 credits of clinical training (40+20+40=100)


20 credits of RT modules

Submit thesis of up to 60,000 words no earlier than end of year one, no later than end of year two


1.   Timing and mode of attendance

It is likely that SpRs may only be able to commit 2 years to the programme whilst based locally. Nevertheless, some SpRs could, in effect, commit FT for 2 years (where FT is defined as being able to give at least 30 hours a week to the DM programme – this would allow for one or two clinics a week if necessary) if it was agreed by their specialty training committee that their rotation was extended. If this is the case, to use the limited time to best effect, the research training and the research project need to be done largely in parallel, as with a PhD, rather than sequentially as is commonly the case with a professional doctorate.

Registration on the DM normally occurs at two points in the year, September and February. Intermediate start dates may be possible, with the RI DM programme director’s approval.

2.   Integrating academic and clinical training and research

The research project will be closely integrated with the student’s professional employment, and time spent in the clinical environment will be relevant to the student’s acquisition of research skills and the conduct of the research project. Some of the clinical time will be accredited as part of the DM, including where appropriate clinical training taken as part of rotation requirements.

Research projects will be identified by Research Institute staff (principally clinicians), in specialties where there are suitable approved supervisors and which receive SpRs, or where supervision is available for research undertaken in general practice. Some are likely to be laboratory based. Most are likely to be clinical projects requiring access to patients, or possibly in fields such as clinical education; in the former case, NRES approval needs to be given early attention.

3.   Location

Students may register for the DM only if initially based at a clinical centre at which appropriate supervision, facilities and training can be provided (or, in the case of GPs, geographically near to, and with appropriate links to, such a centre). They must be able to attend Keele University for the requirements set out in the DM programme below. The aim is to complete the bulk of the required training and to have made good initial progress on the research during the first two years (data collection should ideally be complete by this point). A structured supervision programme for the processes of data analysis and writing-up period will then be put in place, particularly when the student moves to another location.

4.   Clinical training

This should sum to 40 credits, which may comprise a portfolio and/or individual credit-bearing modules.

Where a portfolio is produced, it should include evidence of all clinical training, competences acquired, reflection on practice, etc, and must demonstrably meet level 7 learning outcomes (study accredited at lower levels cannot be used to meet the clinical training requirements). It must also clearly demonstrate that the clinical training has been appropriately informed by relevant research evidence.

Modules undertaken under this heading may only include relevant modules from the MMedSci or other masters’ degrees if these are undertaken subsequent to registration on the DM.

Only clinical training that takes one of these forms – a portfolio or credit-bearing modules – can contribute to this element of the DM. Routine or ad hoc training that is not formally incorporated within a portfolio will not be eligible.

5.   Study days

These days will help to create a sense of a DM community, whilst also providing the opportunity to interact with students on PhD programmes. An important function is to maintain contact and involvement with students who may have moved to other geographical locations after the first two years.

The study days will be used, e.g. for supervision sessions, exchange of practice, networking, research methods/statistics workshops/surgeries etc.

6. Transfer

Students will be able to apply to transfer to PhD provided that the proposed project is deemed suitable, and that any other requirements of the PhD have been, or will be, met. Students registered for a PhD may similarly apply to transfer to DM providing that their qualifications make them eligible for the DM and that the clinical training requirement can be met. Transfer, in either direction, can occur no later than the doctoral progression stage. Applications to transfer should be made to the appropriate RI DM Programme Director.

An MRes will be available as an interim qualification for students who do not proceed to the full DM but who can satisfy the requirements of an MRes programme (e.g. the MRes Health Research). Alternatively, a student may opt, or be required, to transfer to MPhil at the doctoral progression stage.

7.  Management of the programme

The DM programme will be overseen by a programme director for each RI (RPCHS and RISTM). Their role will be to deal with recruitment onto the DM, and in particular to advise prospective applicants. They should normally be members of the Postgraduate Committee in the relevant Research Institute.

The students registered on the DM will be overseen by the Postgraduate Committee in the relevant Research Institute, and will be subject to the requirements of the Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees and the usual approvals from Research Degrees Committee, plus any additional requirements specified by the Research Institute and the requirements specific to the DM outlined in this document.

SpRs coming to local clinical centres and intending to apply for the DM must discuss their application with the RI DM programme directors Prof Trevor Greenhough and  Prof. Shaughn O'Brien and apply, through the official Keele route of the Graduate School, well before starting their research project. The availability of the DM programme will be dictated largely by whether the relevant clinical specialty at the clinical site concerned has the necessary academic infrastructure and expertise to supervise DMs.

1.   Admission to the programme

Applicants may include Specialist Clinical Registrars during a 4- to 7-year rotation, clinicians undertaking general practice training, GPs who have completed training but wish to enter the academic arena, those in a permanent non-training clinical post (staff grade/associate clinical specialists), medical practitioners coming from overseas to carry out research locally, or others wishing to combine clinical research with specialist training.

Prospective applicants must discuss their proposed research project, timescales, and the availability of supervision in the relevant clinical specialty with the Research Institute DM programme directors Prof Trevor Greenhough and  Prof. Shaughn O'Brien prior to making a formal application to the University.

Selection will be based on an interview and on evidence of appropriate prior continuing professional development. There must be clear evidence that applicants are equipped to conduct doctoral research. The process of acceptance is subject to the approval of the Research Institute Postgraduate Committee and the Graduate School. The applicant must be accepted to undertake a project specified by the Research Institute within the relevant clinical specialty, with a lead supervisor and second supervisor(s), who must be approved through the RI in the usual way.

Each student will also be allocated a mentor in the relevant clinical specialty, to oversee the clinical training (in RSTM the mentor will normally be a member of the supervisory team).

The DM programme can be offered to individuals within clinical training as an SpR or on a GP training scheme intending to do a DM and in the process of applying for funding for a project grant, but registration on the DM, approval of the project, and designation of supervisors must occur and be approved by the RI Postgraduate Committee before the research project can be begun.

2.   Timescales

As for other doctorate programmes:

FT       minimum 2 years maximum 4 years

PT       minimum 4 years maximum 8  years

Students will be deemed to be registered full-time if, and only if, they are able to commit at least 30 hours a week to the DM programme (PhD normal expectation 35 hours a week).

Within these timescales, the usual requirements of Doctoral Progression and other landmarks as specified in the Code of Practice for Research Degrees will apply.

3.   Criteria and award

In order to fulfil the requirements of the DM, students will be expected to complete the following:

  • Take modules and obtain 60 credits of research training (a pre-requisite for submission of the thesis, and equivalent to the requirements for PhD). At least 40 credits must have been awarded prior to doctoral progression.
  • Obtain 40 credits of accredited clinical training, via modules and/or portfolio. All such training must be accredited.
  • Undertake a research project in the clinical specialty and write it up into a thesis for examination (maximum 70,000 words)
  • The award will be made on the basis of the thesis, to be individually examined in the same way as other research doctorates (doctoral level criteria). The maximum length of the thesis is shorter than the equivalent theses submitted for a PhD. However, this represents a difference in the scale of the project, not its academic level. The criteria for examination of the thesis are those relating to PhD.

The DM cannot be awarded on the basis of published work; applicants wishing to pursue this route should register for a PhD by publication.

The accredited clinical training must take place after registration on the DM and allocation of a mentor, and cannot be retrospectively accredited.

Research already in progress cannot be retrospectively registered for the DM (though this does not preclude discrete phases of an ongoing project being undertaken for the DM, subsequent to registration on the programme).

The structure below is based on someone studying FT for 2 years, and PT thereafter, assuming a September start, and is therefore indicative only:

Year 1 (FT)

  • September: develop learning plan in consultation with Lead supervisor, RI DM programme director and RI PGR Director, and begin research training (to acquire 40 credits needed prior to doctoral progression). The RI may have specific requirements for some elements of the RT programme.
  • Commence clinical research training in specialty – and start to develop portfolio (see below)
  • November – commence research project, and apply for NRES approval if appropriate
  • 3 study days during the year (all DM students, all years)
  • January – first progress review
  • July – complete doctoral progression process, as for PhD students

Year 2 (FT)

  • Continue clinical training and maintenance of portfolio
  • Acquire additional credits for research training (normally 20 during this year)
  • 3 study days during the year (all DM students, all years)
  • Complete all data collection for research
  • January – progress review
  • June – put in place structured programme for supervision in year 3, to include face-to-face meetings at least quarterly (which may occur during study days) and email contact in between
  • July – progress review

Year 3 (PT) -   assuming student may have changed location as part of the rotation and/or now has greater clinical commitments

  • Complete data analysis
  • Identify results
  • Possibly submit paper(s) for academic/clinical journals
  • Finalize clinical training portfolio and submit for assessment
  • Complete any remaining research training credits (likely to require about 20 credits at this stage)
  • Draft thesis and invite comments from supervisors
  • Attend Keele in line with structured programme for supervision
  • 3 study days during the year (all DM students, all years)
  • January – progress review
  • July progress review

Year 4 (PT)

  • Attend Keele in line with structured programme for supervision
  • 3 study days during the year (all DM students, all years)
  • Submit thesis

The requirement to attend Keele study days during PT registration in years 3 and 4 may exceptionally be waived by the RI on advice from the RI DM programme director if changes in the individual’s career make it wholly impractical (e.g. a distant overseas post), provided that the educational and supervisory objectives are met through other means. For all others, however, the study days are mandatory.

It is important to keep a clear structure to the latter years of the programme. Web-based resources are likely to be helpful here.

Contact Details

Administrator Zara Richards
Tel : (+44) 01782 674086
E-Mail :