- Research Institute
- School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering
- 4-8 years (part-time)
A professional doctorate provides a programme of advanced study and research, equally rigorous to the purely research oriented PhD. The taught modules aim to develop practitioners’ skills and knowledge in the key areas of advanced practice needed for career development whilst the research component builds research skills and other transferable skills such as project management, problem solving, information management and academic writing.
The DPharm utilises the expertise of the postgraduate team at Keele’s School of Pharmacy (CPD4ALL) who have been delivering advanced practice programmes and supporting postgraduate research, scholarship and evaluation since 2007. The DPharm will provide the opportunity for pharmacists to achieve the highest academic qualification that is directly related to their professional practice and career development.
Within the DPharm programme structure, students may also choose to exit at key points (e.g. Certificate, Diploma or MSc) prior to completing the professional doctorate. This design is intended to provide flexibility for professionals studying whilst working in practice.
The learning outcomes below describe what you should be able to do if you make full use of the opportunities for learning that are provided to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, and skills. In addition, by completing the Pharmacy Doctorate programme you will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility, leadership and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations in professional environments.
- Evaluate and reflect on the core skills that are required for effective communication at an interpersonal and organizational level.
- Critically assimilate the current political challenges in health and social care and the role that culture, power and politics plays when communicating with organizations in this context.
- Critically analyse and appraise the key elements of productive team working, including effective management of workforce conflicts, and how these can inform planned change processes.
- Identify and apply strategies for implementing a change process and for networking across boundaries to build relationships and share information, plans and resources.
- Critically reflect on the key characteristics and skills of an effective leader and how these can be used to implement change in the workplace.
- Demonstrate a critical awareness of the principles of research and evaluation.
- Critically evaluate the research evidence base to inform the development of practice based/professional research questions.
- Develop an appreciation and knowledge base of quantitative and qualitative paradigms, methodologies and methods and their application to practice based/professional research
- Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a range of research methodologies and methods
- Analyse and reflect on the knowledge of the research process and methodologies and how these relate to own proposed research, providing a rationale and justification for choices made.
- Compose and critically debate a justified rationale for the research philosophy underpinning the project.
- Discriminate between and justify different research methodologies and methods underpinning the research project.
- Select and critically discuss the relevant data analysis methods for the proposed project.
- Develop a research proposal for the pilot study that demonstrates the ability to critically and analytically conceptualize the design of the research project.
- Critically analyse and examine the principles of research ethics and governance.
- Conduct a pilot study that shows the ability to implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of individual disciplines.
- Develop or select appropriate research tools that will collect data to meet the aims and objectives of the research questions/hypotheses.
- Demonstrate the intellectual capacity to undertake independent and original doctoral level research.
- Synthesise the relevant literature in order to develop the research question(s) or hypothesis.
- Design and justify an appropriate framework for the proposed research project that effectively integrates empirical focus, context, theory and methodology.
- Confidently and concisely communicates an appropriate ethical strategy for answering the research questions or testing the hypotheses.
- Communicate ideas and arguments effectively orally and in writing in language that is appropriate to doctoral level study.
- Provide a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate achievement of competencies required for advanced practice as described in the competency frameworks relative to your professional practice.
- Demonstrate that you have developed a comprehensive understanding and critical awareness of a chosen field of your professional practice, through research, enquiry and critical reflection, and created an interpreted new knowledge, principally through the production of a thesis, which is of suitable standard to satisfy the University Criteria on Doctoral work.
The modules which form Part 1 of the Doctorate programme are shown below in table 1. All the modules are compulsory core modules and have to be passed to allow you to progress into part 2 of the programme. They total 180 credits, divided into 105 level 7 credits and 75 level 8 credits.
Table 1: Part 1 modules and credit rating
Credits and level
Year 1 modules
Advanced leadership and change management (PHA 40185)
30 credits (level 7)
Introduction to research methods (PHA 40161)
15 credits (level 7)
Year 1 and year 2 module
Advanced practice development (APD) (portfolio) (PHA 40130)
60 credits (level 7)
Year 2 module
Applying research methods in practice (PHA 50005)
15 credits (level 8)
Doctoral pilot study (PHA 50007)
30 credits (level 8)
Thesis proposal (PHA 50009)
30 credits (level 8)
Year 3 onwards forms Part 2 of the Doctorate programme and consists of supervised completion of the research study and its write up to formulate the final thesis for submission and examination via an oral examination (viva voce). This follows the same rules and guidelines as a PhD thesis in terms of examination standard and rules (see University PGR guidelines and Assessment Guidance); the only difference being the wordage of the final thesis. The professional doctorate thesis is smaller due to the number of words produced for the assessments completed in Part 1 of the programme. Part 2 of the professional doctorate programme equates to 360 credits at level 8.
Students on all routes of the Doctorate programme will undertake all of the taught modules together to facilitate interprofessional learning and development. It will also be an important area of student/peer support as you progress through this stage and allow networking which can be continued into Part 2. The programme will also be delivered and supported by a range of staff from across the Faculty, again to provide a wide experience base on which you can draw to aid your own development.
Part 1-Years 1 and 2
Part 1 is the taught element of the programme where you will achieve the key learning outcomes/competencies required for your specific route on the Pharmacy Doctorate programme, in relation to your area of professional background and your specific research project proposal. Part 1 will conclude with a thesis proposal that will inform your doctoral research for Part 2 (Years 3 onwards) of the programme.
During Part 1, you will study using a variety of learning media and tools, mainly through distance learning at the University, in your home or work place. These will include face-to-face seminar(s) at the beginning of Part 1 as your induction onto the programme, and at various times during the 2-year period of Part 1 to participate in workshops, share progress with other students and staff through group work and presentations, and for formative assessment. There will also be distance learning modules (electronic and paper based) produced by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. These modules have been carefully designed to incorporate activities that will develop your understanding of particular issues and concepts, application of knowledge to practice, and help you to reflect on your current practice. The Advanced Practice Development (APD) portfolio module is a learning and assessment tool that runs through both years of Part 1. You will be assigned a personal tutor who will provide direction and support for the APD module and Year 2 of the programme including the Pilot Study and the Thesis Proposal, which will take to you the progression panel examination that is the final assessment of Part 1.
Part 2 (Years 3 onwards)
Once you have successfully completed Part 1 you will undertake your research in Part 2 to produce your doctoral thesis for the professional doctorate which will normally be a minimum of 65,000 words, which will ensure you will be eligible for future potential NHIR funding for clinical lectureship and senior clinical lectureship awards. However this does depend on your research approach and route taken on the professional doctorate. You will have a supervisor who will have been assigned at the start of year 2 of Part 1 who will now be your main point of contact to take your research project forward to completion. As well as receiving personal support from your supervisor there may also be occasional workshops available at Keele to support your progress and group meetings to maintain contact with your fellow student to continue the peer support developed in Part 1 of the programme. There are also additional Keele postgraduate modules that your supervisor may indicate as being valuable learning opportunities for you, which you can access without being required to complete the assignments for (attendance only basis).
Students who, for any reason, do not to proceed to Year 3 may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate / Diploma in Advanced Practice or given the opportunity to complete modules to achieve the MSc in Advanced Practice award.
Candidates for the DPharm programme must be pharmacists or pharmacy technicians who are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and working full or part-time in an appropriate organisation where they are permitted to conduct work-based research and evaluation. In addition, candidates must have a:
- Postgraduate Master’s degree in a relevant subject, or
- MPharm, minimum 2:1, and a postgraduate pharmacy diploma, or
- Postgraduate pharmacy diploma and evidence of experience of professional practice research or evaluation (e.g. postgraduate Certificate in Research and Evaluation, published papers), at the discretion of the programme manager* or
- Senior practitioner with evidence of an advanced practice role and/or evidence of experience of pharmacy practice research or evaluation (e.g. postgraduate Certificate in Research and Evaluation, published papers), at the discretion of the programme manager*.
*Candidates unable to provide evidence will normally be able to complete relevant research and advanced practice development modules to be eligible for entry if necessary. In any case, please contact the Programme Manager or Programme Co-ordinator/Administrator for a chat to discuss your options.
International applications may be accepted at the discretion of the programme manager. Please contact us to discuss the suitability of the course for your professional development. Potential overseas candidates should bear in mind that there are compulsory study days requiring attendance at the Keele campus in all years of the programme.
English language proficiency requirement
If English is not your first language, you must either:
Hold a degree from a school where English was the language of instruction
Take the IELTS (average of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in all categories)
Please note that IETLS exams must be no more than two years old at the start of the course for which you have applied.
Administrator: PG Administrator
Telephone: 01782 734786
The Health Professional Doctorate programme is led by Dr Alison Gifford, who is an experienced academic and has guided and supported doctoral students over a number of years to gain success in their studies. She works alongside a number of equally experienced academics from all the different schools within the faculty to provide the array of routes available to undertake the professional doctorate.
The Faculty has an exceptional research standing with many staff gaining grants from national and international funding bodies and this also facilitates the expertise that can be drawn upon to support the supervision of doctoral students outside of the immediate professional doctorate team.
Keele's Professional Doctorate in Pharmacy (DPharm) Programme aims to:
- Enable you to acquire and apply the clinical and professional knowledge base and skills that you have identified as necessary to develop your role as an advanced/consultant level practitioner.
- Enable you to develop and use research skills to become an independent, reflective and competent researcher capable of undertaking doctoral research relevant to your area of professional practice.
- Enable you to conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of significant new knowledge and/or understanding.
- Develop your ability to make informed judgments on complex issues in your specialist field and adopt an innovative approach to tackling and solving problems.
- Provide you with a structured learning programme that will enable you to understand and evaluate critically advanced academic work, and that meets your personal professional development needs for career enhancement.
- Enable you to further develop the self-discipline of private study, self-directed learning and reflective practice that will be continued beyond Keele's Programme in your Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
For all programmes you will need regular access to a computer, email and the internet. For courses that required attendance at Keele you will be required to cover the cost of your travel, accommodation and subsistence. Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for our postgraduate programmes.