Research course

Sport, Exercise and Health Science

University of Portsmouth · Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Entry requirements

A master's degree in an appropriate subject and a suitable workplace environment to support the professional research and development project. Applicants are subject to interview. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 7.0 with no component score below 6.5.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

The Professional Doctorate is an alternative pathway to a doctorate qualification. It is a rigorous programme of advanced study and research, designed specifically to meet the needs of commerce, industry and professional groups and is the professionally oriented counterpart to the more theoretical PhD. It enables you to study a specific subject to the same depth as PhD students, but also to apply learning to your professional practice.

What will I experience?

The Faculty of Science offers a suite of Professional Doctorates. You will be supervised by experienced researcher-practitioners with extensive applied experience.

On this course you will:

  • Gain advanced research skills through the completion of a doctoral level programme of research
  • Be supervised by staff who have a wealth of experience in research and applied practice in sport, exercise and health science
  • Develop advanced ethical, communication, and consultancy competencies in applied sport, exercise and health science practice

What opportunities might it lead to?

On a personal level, successful completion of the Professional Doctorate will offer personal fulfilment, professional development, career enhancement and encourage reflective practice.

The programme enhances personal development planning for continuing professional development. It encourages an advanced level of critical, analytical, debating and publishing skills, plus knowledge of the range of different research methods encountered in professional practice. Further to this, you will have the opportunity to research, with appropriate supervision, a professional issue/topic to generate findings and/or implications for the improvement of you own, or others delivery of that profession. As such, the benefits of the qualification extend to the broader organisation and profession.

Across many organisations (e.g. professional bodies for sport, exercise and health; NHS), a Professional Doctorate is now viewed as a necessary academic qualification for attaining higher level posts.

Module Details

This is a part-time course, which has been specifically designed so that it can be available to sport, exercise and health professionals from all over the country, to fit with the demands of full-time employment. The course structure is only offered in a part-time mode and would require you to achieve 540 credits. These credit would be made up from three core units (420 credits), the remaining 120 credits would come from a compatible MSc, professional qualification and or experience that could be accredited through the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning process. Claims will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Years 1 to 2 would comprise of two taught units (Unit 1 - Publication and Dissemination; Unit 2 - Proposal for Professional Research and Development) these will equip you with the skills that you will need in preparation for years 2 to 6. Attendance of these units will be taught in blocks spread over two academic years. Typically, you will be required to attend the University for up to 56 hours to complete both units. Assessments will be through a presentation and course work.

Years 2 to 6 are dedicated to the Professional Research and Development Project unit, with attendance for consisting of tutorials, seminars and oral presentations. This unit comprises one or two pieces of practice-based research, linked with a commentary demonstrating the relevance of the research to both practice and the practitioner. The nature of this study may include pure basic research or applied research related, for example, to a management or educational setting. This should normally take between 24 and 48 months to complete. Assessment will be by a thesis, an oral presentation and a viva voce examination.

Core and optional units include:

  • Proposal for Professional Research and Development Project
  • Publication and Dissemination
  • Professional Research and Development Project

Programme Assessment

You will be assigned one or more university supervisors, depending on the area of research and professional development. Access to specialist advisors in the workplace will be required for Part 2 of the programme and will vary according to the area of investigation. We have excellent support systems for our Professional Doctorate students and you will be assigned a Personal Tutor for Part 1 as well as two Supervisors for Part 2 of the course.

There are further opportunities to attend Research Seminars and Workshops organised by the University's Graduate School.

The Professional Doctorate consists of coursework and research and is credit based. The coursework component will build on professional expertise by exposing you to challenging and innovative ideas in your field.

Assessment is by coursework including preparation of an article for publication, a research proposal, and oral presentations. This should normally take 24 months to complete.

Student Destinations

The programme is predominantly work-based and the activities will benefit your workplace/profession. The decision to support an individual on this programme recognises their importance to the organisation and the projects undertaken should allow your organisation to develop new processes and procedures that will be of benefit to the workplace. We would also expect this course to be appealing to those interested in pursuing a career in academia (i.e. research, lecturing) in addition to, or as a potential option, to applied practice in the domain of sport, exercise and health science.

Fees and funding

UK students
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,670 p/a* *All fees are subject to annual increase
International students
International part-time students: £6,600 p/a* *All fees are subject to annual increase

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months

Course contact details

Research Team - Faculty of Science
023 9284 2994