Supporting information for Professional Doctorates

The University of Stirling has a range of professional doctoral programmes, a clinical doctorate and a PhD TESOL Research programme, which are part of our postgraduate research portfolio.

On this page, you'll find the specific requirement of each of these programmes. Please make sure you have read and understood this information before starting your online application.

Doctor of Education

Course Director: Dr Marty Chamberlain – 

Our Doctor of Education is for senior education professionals seeking to enhance and utilise their research expertise. Whatever your area of education – from schools, colleges and universities to professional, work-based and lifelong learning, or policy development – a Professional Doctorate will position you as a leader in your field.

Application details

Applicants should provide a commentary on their interest in research in education (1500-2000 words). This can include a speculative appraisal of possible avenues of inquiry for the thesis stage and a reflection on why this programme is an important next step.

Candidates must give two references to provide evidence on the validity of qualifications and career progression, and experience as a professional in the field.

Research commentary

As part of your application, you must write a document called 'A Commentary on My Interest in Research in Education'. This should be uploaded with the application form. This document should include:

  • An introduction: a reflective commentary on how and why you feel educational research is now an important focus for your learning or professional development. How will the skills, knowledge and practices of the professional researcher enhance your development and or career opportunities?
  • Work and funding: you may wish to explain if you have secured time off for your studies (part-time or full-time), if there is funding in place from a funding body, or if you are self-funding.
  • Scoping of relevant recent literature identifying an area/areas of inquiry for the thesis stage (with the understanding this may change as you complete the taught elements of the programme).
  • A short exploration of the possible method(s) or approaches for your research.
  • A summary rationale addressing: why the programme is a suitable pathway for you, why this research area has currency and significance, why it might be important for the policy or practice area, and how you hope to make an original contribution to the educational field of knowledge and understanding through research.

Clinical Doctorate

Course Director: Dr Kathleen Stoddart – 

Our Clinical Doctorate is the only one of its kind in Scotland. It is tailored to the needs of nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. The course is practice-focused and prepares you for leadership roles in the healthcare sector.

Application details

Clinical doctorate programme candidates are not expected to provide a full research proposal at the application stage. You should provide an overview of your field of practice, your role within it and an indication of your research interests. This should be uploaded as a separate document in the 'My documents' section of the application form.

Candidates should contact Dr Stoddart before submitting their application.

Doctor of Applied Social Research (DASR)

Course Director: Dr Marty Chamberlain – 

Our Doctor of Applied Social Research is designed to transform the way you think as a professional. It makes sure you can make a powerful impact in your field.

If you're an experienced professional who wants to advance your expertise and broaden your career opportunities, this course is an ideal match. From the outset, you'll gain high-quality research skills that can be applied in the workplace and refined through access to seminars and advanced training opportunities. You'll also benefit from the guidance of our expert staff and your interaction with fellow professionals and executives from a range of social science backgrounds.

The course is highly flexible, and attendance is minimal so you can fit your studies around your career. You'll also have the opportunity to fine-tune your doctorate based on your profession – choosing one of a range of available pathways.

The programme allows you to develop your current interests or others you complete modules in the early stage of the doctorate programme. This allows for flexibility over your future thesis research.

Application details

Candidates should submit, in addition to the standard documentation:

  • a personal statement detailing what you have done in your professional/voluntary and academic careers
  • why this programme is the right choice for you at this time 
  • your CV
  • a research synopsis including what your key research interests are and how you might contribute to knowledge in the field through doctoral study.
  • candidates should contact Dr Simmons before applying.

Doctor of Diplomacy

Course Director: Professor Holger Nehring –

The Doctor of Diplomacy brings together best practice in academic learning and professional expertise. This course includes face-to-face and practical weekend seminars, which maximise your opportunities for discussion of key issues.

Application details

Candidates should submit a letter of motivation that details how the Doctor of Diplomacy in general and the specific topic you intend to follow would advance your career.

You should and also submit a 1000 word research statement that:

  • identifies a research subject includes basic research questions
  • highlights the contribution to knowledge you intend to make

This documents should be uploaded to your application under the 'My documents' section.

Data Science Doctorate

Course Director: Dr Andrea Bracciali –

The Data Science Doctorate programme focusses on an open problem of industrial interest to be investigated in collaboration with an industrial partner. The topic can be in any aspect of Data Science with applications to, e.g. finance, health, fintech, industrial processes, public administration, life sciences, … Professional Doctorate students can be working in any such company that will support them gaining a qualification while working on the identified problem. Alternatively, students can establish a collaboration agreement with a company interested in the research project.

The Professional Doctorate consists of a thought key part in the first year, and the research collaboration project in the following two years. An articulation with our MSc can guarantee entry to year two. The MSc period can be used to establish a collaboration with an industrial partner for the continuation to the Professional Doctorate. Previous qualifications and work experience can also be taken into consideration.

2nd year entry

2nd-year entry is possible if you have an equivalent Masters qualification in computer science, data science or artificial intelligence. If you are applying for 2nd-year entry, you must submit a research proposal and note your industrial supervisor. Include this in your research proposal document.

Health Psychology Doctorate

Course Directors: Dr Lesley McGregor and Dr Vivien Swanson – |

Our Professional Doctorate Health Psychology is for psychologists with an MSc in health psychology who wish to work in health, healthcare or academia as an independent scientist-practitioner. Health psychologists use psychology to promote health and well-being and prevent ill-health in many different contexts.

With this qualification, you will become a 'Health Psychologist' and be eligible for professional registration. It is based on real-world placement practice, supervision and learning, and includes brief periods of teaching and workshops, as well as your doctoral-level research project.

You will study with a vibrant and experienced professional team of health psychologists and other researchers working in health and well-being at Stirling.

Application details

Candidates should contact the programme administrator, Nicola Hunt, with any questions and to request the Applicant Handbook, which outlines the application process. 

You must submit a completed Placement and training plan. Upload your completed plan in the 'My documents' section of the application form.

Two-year top-up route

The Professional Doctorate award is also available for study via a two-year part-time top-up research doctorate route. Applicants who already hold a doctoral-level (practitioner) qualification in Health Psychology via the British Psychological Society (QHP), and are eligible for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a 'Health Psychologist' can complete the research module for the award of the Professional Doctorate.

If you are applying for the Top-up Route, you should submit a full research proposal.

PhD TESOL research

Course Director: Dr Marty Chamberlain – 

This doctoral programme in TESOL Research is designed for TESOL professionals who want to develop comprehensive knowledge and understanding of research design and research methods in TESOL and Applied Linguistics.

A PhD in TESOL Research will mark you out as an expert researcher in the field of teaching English to speakers of other languages. It will equip you with the skills to understand complex issues, advance your expertise and widen your career opportunities.

This programme is particularly suitable for those who have completed an MA/MSc in these areas and for those who either have yet to settle on a research topic or who want to give their topic further consideration.

In the first year, as well as taking modules in research design and analysis, candidates complete a pilot study for their research project. The thesis is then completed under the guidance of two expert supervisors.

Application details

In addition to the standard documentation, candidates should submit a personal statement which details (in up to 1000 words):

  • why you are interested in the course
  • what problems you wish to explore
  • what kind of research methods you might employ

Upload this as a separate document in the 'My documents' section of the application form.