Postgraduate Research


We offer full-time (three years) and part-time (six years) doctoral training programmes (including PhDs and a Professional Doctorate) in topics or research approaches in which QMU researchers have expertise. You will create a significant piece of original research and, in the process, gain advanced research knowledge and skills, putting you in a very strong position for progression in your chosen academic or professional field, or to change the direction of your career. Our programmes include a Doctoral Certificate award achieved by completing three READ (Researcher Enhancement and Development) modules of 20 credits at SCQF Level 12.

Your doctorate is a substantial piece of learning and research, reflecting three or more years of endeavour, that has commercial, cultural or social value. It is also a process through which you will  acquire advanced research knowledge, skills and expertise, be challenged and possibly transform as a person. The training programme for your doctorate will require significant personal discipline, time and commitment. In return, your sense of achievement at the end will be immense, and successful completion of your doctorate will open up a range of opportunities for career advancement.

Please note that the Professional Doctorate is under review and application is not possible until that process is complete. Updates will be posted here.

Why QMU?

  • As a student in our Graduate School, you will benefit from a large range of support for all aspects of your studies.
  • Students receive academic support from their individual supervisory team as well as their Head of Division and/or Research Centre Director. Our Academic Schools also have a dedicated Postgraduate School Research Coordinator, who is available for independent consultation and support.
  • During the course of the PhD programme, there will be many opportunities for professional and personal development. Students receive a wide range of generic research skills training which is organised by the Centre for Academic Practice and delivered during dedicated doctoral study weeks throughout each academic year. Engagement with research skills training and professional development opportunities enables face-to-face interaction amongst the doctoral community, which in turn facilitates collaborative enquiry, shared learning, individual exploration and mutual support and challenge.
  • In addition to the 540 doctoral credits gained by successful completion of the PhD, students are also enrolled on the Doctoral Certificate in Researcher Enhancement and Development (READ). Successful completion of the READ programme awards students an additional 60, level 12, doctoral credits in research skills.

PhD Programme and Professional Doctorate overview

Enrolling on a doctoral degree is one of the biggest decisions you can make regarding your education and learning in your career. We want your doctoral programme experience to be based around feeling part of a thriving learning community. The importance and power of peer support cannot be underestimated during doctoral-level study, so engaging with the community of doctoral candidates, supervisors and academics that exists at QMU is a core element in your programme. It is the community of learning that grounds you and your study and gives you the strength to stay engaged and curious, and to design and craft your research and thesis as well as publications. Your thesis will be an original and rigorous piece of research and scholarship that is something you feel passionate about and is of relevance to the university.

QMU’s Graduate School offers research supervision by academics who are active researchers; many of whom have an international track record and connections to other international researchers working in their field. All doctoral candidates are hosted by a Research Centre or an Institute, and the various research centres or Institutes offer significant peer support and learning opportunities; such as seminars and workshops.

The Graduate School also coordinates a Doctoral Candidates’ Association that offers a supportive community as well as organising informal learning opportunities such as research cafés and writing groups.

QMU is a member of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) and the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH). These memberships allow QMU doctoral candidates to access a large range of additional doctoral training and development opportunities, such as advanced skills training, internships, local 
conferences and summer schools.

Exit awards

PhD (540 credits) or Prof Doc (540 credits)

READ award (60 credits)


You would usually complete a doctoral programme, including the READ modules, in three years full-time or six years part-time. On the successful completion of READ, you will be awarded the 60-credit level 12 Doctoral Certificate in addition to any doctoral award for your research. We were the first university in Scotland to provide a formal academic award at this level in recognition of the broader learning that emerges from doctoral studies.

Throughout your doctoral programme, you will participate in doctoral study weeks. These focus on developing the knowledge and skills that you require in order to successfully train to become an independent researcher and to design and progress your doctoral research project and complete the three READ modules. They also provide a great networking opportunity for you to engage with your fellow doctoral candidates, other research supervisors and the Graduate School team.

Supervision, learning and assessment

As a doctoral candidate you will progressively demonstrate a doctoral level understanding of research philosophies and methodologies, show originality in one or more aspects of your research design (including the application of research methods) and understand how the boundaries of knowledge and practice are advanced through research impact. PhD and Professional Doctorate candidates will extend the forefront of a discipline by making an impact with an original contribution to knowledge, or your field of practice.

Candidates will work with a supervisory team who will provide ongoing guidance and support throughout the programme. The doctorate is ultimately assessed by the thesis, publications or creative work and viva examination. The usual PhD thesis length is from 70,000 to 100,000 words. The PhD by creative practice research involves, a portfolio of creative work with a critical commentary normally within from 30,000 to 40,000 words. The Professional Doctorate thesis length is typically 45,000 words.

PhD candidate submissions

Candidates take part in three assessment exercises to confirm progress towards the submission of the final thesis:

  • The probationary assessment, in Year One (for both full-time and part-time candidates), comprises the submission of a comprehensive research proposal (approximately 6,000 words) that is followed by a viva with an internal assessment panel composed of two experienced research supervisors unconnected with the topic or candidate.
  • The assessed seminar in Year Two (Year Four for part-time candidates) generally takes the form of a 3,000 word paper or thesis chapter, or creative piece, which sets out the progression of study to date and outlines how the candidate plans to progress their research to completion within the timeline. Plus a 20 minute seminar with the internal assessment panel (where possible, the same panel as the probationary assessment) and members of the wider research community.
  • The assessed seminar in year three (year five to six for part-time candidates) takes place before the submission of the final thesis or creative work. A thesis  chapter is submitted for the seminar or presentation, or any publications to date and the draft impact plan, including dissemination of the candidate’s research. Plus a 20 minute seminar with the internal assessment panel (where possible, the same panel as the probationary assessment) and members of the wider research community.

Professional Doctorate candidate submissions

As well as the final thesis, candidates take part in three assessment exercises to obtain a Professional Doctorate:

  • A staged piece of work for the Theory and Context of Professional Practice module, which consists of a 3,000-word justification/rationale for the project/research plus a 6,000-word critical reflective commentary on the processes of learning in relation to the project/ research.
  • A single 9,000-word portfolio of work for the Development and Evaluation Professional Practice module, which shows how various methods have been used to
    evaluate and draw conclusions that inform the chosen project/research topic.
  • A 6,000-word research proposal for the Doctoral Research module, which is preceded by and also assessed through a seminar presentation.

Candidates must submit at least one piece of work every year.

Professional Doctorate post-nominal qualifiers

The award of Professional Doctorate can be made with one of the following postnominal qualifiers to reflect your academic and professional discipline:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Cultural Leadership (DCultural Leadership)
  • Doctor of Cultural Practice (DCultural Practice)
  • Doctor of Global Health and Development (DGlobalHealth)
  • Doctor of Health Sciences (DHealthSci)
  • Doctor of Health and Social Sciences (DHealthSocSci)
  • Doctor of Person-centred Practice (DPcP)
  • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)
  • Doctor of Rehabilitation Sciences (DRehabSci)
  • Doctor of Speech, Language and Hearing (DSLH)
  • Doctor of Social Sciences (DSocSci)

Time commitment

The expectation is that full-time candidates will devote approximately 35 hours per week and part-time candidates approximately 18.5 hours per week to their studies. Meetings with the supervisory team are usually monthly throughout the programme for full-time candidates, and bi-monthly for part-time candidates. However, this is negotiable between the candidate and the supervisory team, details of which are recorded in the learning contract and annual reports.


Wherever possible, doctoral students are given the opportunity to hone and develop their academic teaching skills within their department, and are supported by staff within their discipline, as well as by staff from the Centre for Academic Practice. Opportunities are also available for students to develop other skills in academia, within research or within industry.

Entry requirements

For a PhD route you should have a good UK Honours degree (2:1 or above), OR Master’s degree, OR an equivalent degree from another country OR equivalent professional experience. Additionally, you must produce an outline research proposal (approximately 1,000 words), which we assess to be feasible and appropriate for the level of study, and which is in a field where we can offer supervision expertise.

For the Professional Doctorate route you should have 120 SCQF Level 11 credits, OR the equivalent from another country, OR equivalent professional experience that can be used to gain Recognition of Prior Learning credit as an associate student to allow full access to the programme.

In all cases, we strongly recommend that you contact potential supervisors prior to making an application. If you are unsure whom to contact, please get in touch with the Graduate School

International: Where your Honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Interview: There will be an interview process for all applicants, which may be conducted in person, by Skype or by phone.

Application deadline

Applications are accepted all year round.


QMU offers a small number of University funded PhD bursaries each year that cover specific topics for research. These are typically advertised on the QMU website homepage in February each year.

More information and contacts

We recommend that you contact potential supervisors prior to making an application. Please see the About our staff and the Research Centres, Institutes and Groups pages for information on potential supervisors at the University.

Please contact the Graduate School Team at

Professional Doctorate post-nominal qualifiers

The award of Professional Doctorate can be made with one of the following post- nominal qualifiers to reflect your academic and professional discipline:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Global Health and Development (DGlobalHealth)
  • Doctor of Health Psychology (D Health Psych)
  • Doctor of Person-centred Practice (DPcP)
  • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)
  • Doctor of Rehabilitation Sciences (DRehabSci)
  • Doctor of Speech, Language and Hearing (DSLH)
  • Doctor of Social Sciences (DSocSci)
  • Doctor of Cultural Leadership (DCulturalLeadership)
  • Doctor of Cultural Practice (DCulturalPractice


Wherever possible, doctoral candidates are given the opportunity to develop other relevant academic skills within their research centre or institute and the associated division. This can be, but is not isolated to, being a teaching assistant in the classroom. Working within Graduate School guidelines, staff within the division provide support for this, as needed. Opportunities are also available for candidates to develop other skills relevant to their research, in academia, within research or within industry.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/24 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

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Course Overview

As a full-time candidate, you will be required to attend the campus regularly. Part-time and distance or international candidates can negotiate on-campus attendance. As a minimum, all candidates need to attend for the doctoral induction and study weeks and progression assessments and final viva. An online Hub is provided, which contains a wide range of resources to support learning and planning.
Full-time: approximately 3 years; Part-time: approximately 6 years Start date: September or January, annually
Start Date
September 2023
Start Date
January 2024
Fees & Funding