Doctorate, MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
As a Doctor of Applied Social Research student in the Faculty of Social Sciences you will follow a programme of study that will allow you to develop your skills as a researcher before working with experienced supervisors on the conduct of an original piece of research.
Our Professional Doctorate programme is very flexible - you are able to take a tailored pathway through your studies. Currently there are six professional pathways: Housing; Social Work; Dementia Studies; Drug and Alcohol Studies; Criminal Justice and Social Research.
In the taught components of the programme, each route allows you to work together with other professionals to build key research skills while also deepening your professional development through a range of specialist options. You will then complete an assignment based on a professional project within the workplace. This will connect your research skills and real-world experience, encouraging you to engage
reflexively at an advanced level over your professional role and practice. The thesis then provides an opportunity for advanced research on a topic of your choice.
The Professional Doctorate programme is open to experienced executives or professionals.
We welcome enquiries from prospective students. Informal enquiries may be made to Richard Simmons (Programme Director) using the details opposite.
Our Housing pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Providing Housing Services; Sustainable Communities; Organisational Behaviour; Delivering Affordable Housing; Housing Governance; Healthy Housing.
Our Social Work pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Understanding Children and Young People's needs; Understanding Children and Young People's Experiences; Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People; Knowledge and Skills for Understanding Infant/Parent Attachment; Evidence Informed Interventions; Working with Complex Families and Systems; Leading in Partnership and Collaboration; Leading Change, Innovation and Improvement; Citizenship and Self-Directed Support; Foundations for Effective Practice Education
Our Criminal Justice pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Criminological Perspectives; Criminalisation, Social Control and Human Rights and Research Methods in Criminology and Socio-legal Studies.
Our Dementia Studies pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Evaluation and Assessment in Dementia Care and Researching Dementia.
Our Drug and Alcohol Studies pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Understanding Addiction: Society, Policy and Practice and Understanding Addiction: Treatment and Recovery.
Our Applied Social Research pathway includes a choice of specialist modules in Comparative Social Research; Policy Analysis and Evaluation Research.
Our Professional Doctorate programme is very flexible - you are able to take a tailored pathway through your studies. Currently there are six professional pathways: Housing; Social Work; Dementia Studies; Drug and Alcohol Studies; Crime and Criminal Justice and Social Research. In the taught components of the programme, each route allows you to work together with other professionals to build key research skills while also deepening your professional development through a range of specialist options. You will then complete an assignment based on a professional project within the workplace. This will connect your research skills and real-world experience, encouraging you to engage reflexively at an advanced level over your professional role and practice. The thesis then provides an opportunity for advanced research on a topic of your choice.
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.
The Professional Doctorate is intended for experienced professionals; you will normally need the equivalent of a minimum of two years' appropriate professional experience. For entry onto our Professional Doctorate programme you will also normally need an Honours or Masters’ degree in a relevant social science from a UK university or equivalent. Credit may be awarded for previous study, according to SCQF guidelines.
Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can not accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.
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.
If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email email@example.com to discuss your course of study.
From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all postgraduate taught courses are to be held at the level set upon entry.
Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information
Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling
Find information on paying fees by instalments
Please note that fees can be paid in instalments. Please see further information.
It is expected that many Professional Doctorate students will be supported by their organisations. The benefits to sponsoring organisations include:
Teaching methods are adapted to suit the aims of each module, and include lectures, seminars, computer-based workshops and group work. There are many opportunities for discussion and feedback from peers and teaching staff. Students experience a range of different forms of assessment — these include coursework essays, critical review essays, book reviews, research proposals, research papers, conference posters, group project reports and oral presentation.
At the thesis stage, each professional doctorate student will have two supervisors, with the Principal Supervisor having expertise in your chosen area of interest. In addition, you will also have access to courses, seminars and development opportunities offered by Stirling Graduate Research School (SGRS) and the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences, giving access to advanced training and summer school programmes.
For the convenience of part-time students, attendance for each of the ‘core’ Applied Social Research modules is concentrated into either three or four one-day blocks. The professional modules are also designed for part-time students, several being offered online (Housing and Dementia Studies). On-campus attendance is kept to a minimum.
The programme is designed to change the way you think as a professional. It is expected that you will be able to make a significant difference to your professional environment from the very beginning of the programme. Ideas and methods from a range of disciplines will be applied to your own fields of expertise. Candidates on all Professional Doctorate pathways work together on a range of ‘core’ research modules:
|ASRP002: Research Design and Process||20 credits, SCQF 11|
|The module takes students through the process of designing a research project. It enables them to think up an interesting research idea, to carry out a literature review, identify appropriate theoretical frameworks, refine the research question and then work out which methods to use. It introduces students to some of the more common research strategies and methods. It invites reflection on the ethics and politics of the research process, and encourages students to think systematically about dissemination of findings, knowledge exchange and research impact. The assessment for the module reinforces what has been learned: it involves thinking up a research topic, refining it into some researchable questions and then writing a proposal for funding.|
|ASRP003: Introduction to Information Technology and Library Services||No credits given|
|The module is designed to make you aware of resources concerning Information Technology and Library Services; make you comfortable in the application of certain core IT and Library skills and aware of how to go about extending your knowledge of and confidence in further IT applications and Library Services.|
|ASRP004: Quantitative Data Analysis||20 credits, SCQF 11|
|The module introduces quantitative data analysis, covering a selection of those statistical techniques which are most commonly employed in social science research. It also covers practical training in the application of quantitative methods to social science data. The emphasis will be on the analysis of data collected in social surveys, particularly the secondary analysis of large scale surveys.|
|ASRP001: The Nature of Social Enquiry||20 credits, SCQF 11|
|This module aims to introduce students to the theoretical foundations that underpin social scientific research and analysis. The module begins by examining the main themes and issues within the philosophy of science and social science and then investigates different classical and modern theoretical perspectives for exploring the social world.|
|ASRP005: Qualitative Data Analysis||20 credits, SCQF 11|
|This module introduces students to qualitative data analysis. It aims to provide them with understanding and experience of conducting the analysis of qualitative data (including visual data), as well as a critical awareness of the role of computer assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS). Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct secondary analysis on a qualitative dataset and a critical appreciation of the impact of analysing secondary as well as primary data.|
|ASRP020: Professional Practice Research||60 credits, SCQF 12|
|This module aims to provide students with the ability and insights to reflect on their place and role as a professional within situated and wider communities of practice. With supervision, students are encouraged to use and develop their accumulated research skills and theoretical, epistemological and ontological knowledge to engage in an exploration of their own practice. In examining these issues, the module therefore aims to configure students’ relationship between practice, practice development and academic enquiry.|
|ASRP011: Thesis||360 credits, SCQF 12|
|Following completion of the taught modules, you progress to the empirical research stage and ultimately construct a thesis of approximately 45,000 words on a topic that will enhance the knowledge base in your field of practice.|
Thie core modules give the opportunity both to build high-quality research skills and to learn from each other’s experiences as professionals. Each professional pathway then offers a choice of modules from which two mayt be selected to tailor your own programme. (See 'Pathways' above).
The aim is to bring you up to date with the latest ideas, findings and methods, challenging assumptions and changing how you as a professional think about the relationship between research, scholarship and expertise. You will be encouraged to look at new ideas about systems, how decisions are made and how to design the professional environment so that you can see, understand, evaluate, plan and take action with maximum speed and efficiency.
Full-time or Part-time
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.
In the Social Work and Social Policy unit of assessment for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework:
The Faculty has attracted considerable sums of external research funding from Research Councils, Government, Independent and Charitable funders, and from the European Commission.
The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .
Professional Doctorate candidates within the Faculty of Social Sciences join a growing community of research students from varying backgrounds working on a range of topics. We provide the opportunity to conduct research in a world-class, interdisciplinary school with strong links to theoretical, empirical, policy and practice developments. At the most recent Research Assessment Exercise 95% of our research was ranked as internationally excellent, with the top 10% judged as being ‘world class’. We are part of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences and our research training is accredited as part of the ESRC Scottish Doctoral Training Centre. Research postgraduate students are all members of one or more of our research groups: Childhood, Families and Relationships; Crime and Justice; Dementia and Social Gerontology; Governance, Participation and Inclusion; Scottish Addiction Studies; and Social Statistics. You can find details of the research interests of our staff and current research students by following the links on our website.
“The Professional Doctorate has allowed me to
combine both work and research interests in a
stimulating and rewarding educational experience
that I would recommend to any senior managers
contemplating postgraduate study”
Carole Hunter, former student
As a practitioner as well as a research student, you will find a supportive home within the school for putting research into practice and having a direct impact on people’s lives. Professional Doctorate candidates also frequently find themselves at the forefront of cutting-edge developments and initiatives in their organisations. You may find this helps you to develop your career to a new level, or to open up interesting consultancy opportunities. You may also choose to carry out further research and build an academic career.