Doctorate, MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
Our Clinical Doctorate is the only one of its kind in Scotland, tailored to the needs of Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals, of all varieties. The programme is practice-focused and has been designed to prepare future leaders of practice, education and leadership. Students will join other professionals from a range of disciplines for on-campus and online study, to benefit not only from the extensive knowledge delivered by the Clinical Doctorate team, but from each others experiences and expertise.
The School of Health Sciences is well placed to deliver a clinically focused programme such as this. We are a multi-award winning institution, led by a group of world-leading academics, with strong and established research records, real nursing experience and a wealth of world-class publications.
The ‘Clinical Doctorate’ programme is designed for experienced clinicians who wish to attain the highest goal of becoming ‘clinical academic’. This is the ideal qualification for those who retain a clinical focus with commitment to the improvement of patient care.
Health care professionals on the Programme may include: nurses; midwives; dieticians; genetic counsellors; occupational therapists; paramedicine; physiotherapists; speech and language therapists; sport and exercise psychologists and podiatrists.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the School of Health Sciences came top for health research in Scotland and was ranked 12th in the UK overall, showcasing our commitment to producing world-leading research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduces health inequalities through impact on policy and practice.
The programme aims to develop you as a clinically focussed senior Nurse, Midwife or Allied Health Professional who will be at the cutting edge of clinical research and practice in your field.
Working autonomously, you will be able to design and execute research to deal with problems and issues in practice and apply constant and integrated approaches to critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas, information and issues.
In summary, the programme is about:
Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.
Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.
Candidates should normally hold a good Honours degree and/or a Master’s degree or equivalent of a university or college recognised by the University of Stirling; hold an appropriate nursing, midwifery or allied health professional registration; and normally at least five years’ post-registration experience. Selection follows consideration of written application and statement.
If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
For more information go to English language requirements
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more informationScholarship finder
Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling
Find information on paying fees by instalments
The programme is designed to challenge and change the way you think. Throughout the programme, your endeavours focus on your own field of practice. You can expect to make a significant difference to your clinical environment right from the very start.
The programme can be studied over three years full-time or, more commonly, over four and eight years on a part-time basis. It consists of three taught modules, an expert practice module and an empirical thesis. Taught components are clustered into two three-day sessions over the first three semesters.
Each taught module is studied over one semester.
Following two years of taught modules, you progress to the empirical research stage and ultimately construct a thesis on a topic that will enhance the knowledge base in your field of practice.
|Full-time||Doctorate||4 - 6 years|
|Masters||2 - 3 years|
|Diploma||1 - 2 years|
|Part-time||Doctorate||4 - 8 years|
|Masters||3 - 6 years|
|Diploma||1.5 - 4 years|
Each taught module and Thesis module (NURPD05) is organised and supported by a module coordinator. They will offer you any advice and guidance required during each module and offer you support with your endeavours.
The main method of assessment for each module is coursework, with one practice based examination.
Students must successfully complete all taught modules before commencing the research stage (NURPD05).
Students are well supported through regular face-to-face contact, video conferencing, skype, email and phone. There is tutorial time in preparation for each assignment, and detailed feedback afterward.
'Succeed' is available to all students via the University portal. Each taught module is supported by a bespoke set of web pages where information, teaching materials and learning resources are deposited by the module coordinator.
This module brings you up-to-date with the latest ideas, the latest findings, and the latest methods – taken from across the spectrum of academic research, and harnessed imaginatively to the clinical environment. It’s a module that will probably challenge some of your assumptions – and it will certainly challenge how you think about the relation between research, scholarship and expertise.
The second module builds on the first, but the underlying theme of the second module is problem solving – not in an abstract sense, but in a way that is directed to a particular clinical problem that you will be invited to identify in your own clinical environment. Students are encouraged to think about designing evidence into fields of practice and organisations.
This doctorate is about clinically significant research. You have to know about research. It’s an essential part of the modern health service. In this module we work together to promote a generic knowledge of research methods whilst keeping the clinical relevance of your research interests in our sights at all times. You start to develop your research proposal ideas at this point.
A clinical doctorate is a PhD-level test of your effectiveness as a clinician. This includes familiarity with recent research, an ability to redesign the clinical environment, and an understanding of the research process. Crucially, however, it also includes your specialist clinical skills. We don’t think we can teach you those, but we do think we can assess them – with the help of experts from your field of practice, and in consultation with you, the student. So this module is all about preparing for that: you have to prepare a demonstration of your expertise; we organise a full and fair assessment. It sounds daunting, but students describe it as ‘a really worthwhile opportunity’; ‘such a validation’.
Assessment: Coursework and assessment of expert practice
The climax! You spend around four years on this – and end up producing a thesis of approximately 40,000 words. You choose a topic that is relevant to your field of practice. You determine whether it’s worthwhile, original – and feasible. Then you design a research study capable of answering a specific question. Next, you conduct the study – thoughtfully, ethically, and meticulously. Finally, you complete analysis of the data, and write the thesis. It’s a long slog, with plenty of ups and downs. You will need a lot of motivation, and excellent supervisors. You provide the first, we provide the second.
Part-time and Full-time routes of study are available
The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.
Each module consists of two 3-day blocks (and six weeks of independent study).
|1 Sept - 3 Sept||NURPD01: Contemporary Health Care Theory and Research|
|3 Nov - 5 Nov|
|12 Jan||Assignment due|
|2 Feb - 4 Feb||NURPD02: Project Management in Health Care Organisations|
|8 March - 10 March|
|19 April||Assignment due|
|6 Sept - 8 Sept||NURPD03: Research Design for Clinical Practice|
|1 Nov - 3 Nov|
|22 Nov||Assignment 1 due|
|10 Jan||Assignment 2 due|
|Dec/Jan||Work with Supervisor to develop research proposal|
|Feb - June||NURPD04: Expert Practice|
|2 May||Assignment due (research proposal)|
|Feb - June||Observation and examination|
|Subsequent 4 - 6 years||NURPD05: Practice Based Empirical research
Submission of thesis
In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Our research is world class and is recognised for its quality and innovation. We are the premier school for health sciences research in Scotland.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014):
We are a new School and will continue to build our capacity to deliver high quality research which improves the health of people in Scotland and reduce health inequalities through its impact on policy and practice.
The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.
Far reaching clinical academic expertise, which feeds into the programme and into student supervision, is available in the School. Research in the School focuses on clinically and socially relevant research about the quality and delivery of health and social care; health interventions; health behaviour change and social marketing. Research activity includes enhancing self care, cancer care, maternal and child health and tobacco control. In addition the School hosts the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU) funded by the Chief Scientists Office. From time to time, keynote contributions are made to the clinical doctorate programme by UK and International academics.
“ We’re all from different clinical backgrounds, which makes the class discussions we have very interesting: we’re constantly learning from each other. This is something we do a lot in class: discuss the work we’re doing for our assignments. It’s amazing how much you can learn from that and, how enjoyable it is”.
“ The best thing about the Doctor of Nursing is the way in which everything is directly linked to what you do clinically, including the assignments. It’s not just an academic exercise: what I’ve done on the course has a real impact on my day-to-day work.”
The core Doctorate team includes:
Dr Kathleen Stoddart; Dr Carol Bugge and Dr Annetta Smith.
Far-reaching clinical expertise feeds into the programme and into student supervision.
Keynote contributions are made to the clinical doctorate programme by UK and International academics.
Professional Doctorates are recognised internationally as a qualification granted to those who have reached the peak of professional and academic achievement in their field of expertise.
Increasingly within the National Health Service (NHS) a Professional Doctorate is seen as an essential academic qualification for progressing to higher level posts within the NHS Agenda for Change career framework.
Graduates have reported benefits of studying a Clinical Doctorate as being: gaining the confidence to see themselves as an expert in their field; the personal fulfilment of achieving the highest academic qualification; enhanced critical and analytical thinking; confidence within specialist areas; the opening of new and advanced career opportunities.
Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).