Postgraduate Research

Professional Doctorate

Please note that this course is under review and application is not possible until that process is complete. Updates will be posted here.

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 skills, putting you in a very strong position for progression in your chosen academic or professional field. Our programmes also include an award of a Doctoral Certificate, achieved by completing three READ modules (Researcher Enhancement and Development) each of 20 credits at SCQF level 12.

Your doctorate is a substantial piece of learning and research, reflecting three or more years of endeavour, which 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 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.

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 thesis and publications. Your thesis will be an original, deeply researched piece of work that is of significant interest to you. However, your doctorate at QMU will be about much more than picking a subject and getting on with your studies.

QMU’s Graduate School offers research supervision by academics with 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. We also host a Doctoral Candidates’ Association and the various Research Centres or Institutes offer significant peer support and learning opportunities.

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 are the only university in Scotland that provides a formal academic award at this level for the broader learning that goes into doctoral studies.

Throughout your doctoral programme, you will participate in doctoral education and learning weeks. These focus on developing the knowledge and skills that you require in order to successfully design and progress your doctoral research project and 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.

Teaching, learning and assessment

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

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 or creative work and viva examination. The usual PhD thesis length is 70,000 to 100,000 words. Where PhD research involves creative writing, a portfolio of creative work or the preparation of a scholarly edition, the critical commentary on the material under discussion would normally be within the range of 30,000 to 40,000 words. The usual Professional Doctorate thesis length is 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 (approx. 6,000 words) that is followed by a viva with an internal assessment panel composed of two 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.
  • The assessed seminar in year three (year five to six for part-time candidates) takes place prior to 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.

Professional Doctorate candidate submissions

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 of the processes of learning in relation to the project/research.
  • A single 9,000-word portfolio of work for the Developing and Evaluating Professional Practice module, which shows how various methods have been used to evaluate and draw conclusions that inform the chosen project/research topic. Candidates must submit at least one piece of work every year.
  • A 6,000-word research proposal for the Doctoral Research module, which is preceded by and also assessed through a seminar presentation.

Teaching hours and attendance

There is a longitudinal induction available for doctoral students. This consists of week-long sessions that run in September,  January and April, which all students are expected to attend. Alongside this longitudinal induction, the Centre for Academic Practice at QMU offers workshops that support students to develop key skills that are relevant to their studies and/or their future career development.

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 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: 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



Scholarships supporting PhD study typically cover the cost of the tuition fees, a monthly stipend to support living costs, and a budget to cover research related expenses.

Each year QMU offers a limited number of funded places for specific research topics . Further information about current or past topics can be found on the bursary competition website.

Queen Margaret University also periodically advertises scholarships that are funded by external organisations to cover a specific topic. These positions may be advertised throughout the year. If you represent an organisation interested in sponsoring a research project, please contact the Research Centre Director  relevant to your proposed area of study.

The University can also nominate up to two applicants each year to the Carnegie Trust PhD Scholarship competition , with applications for QMU institutional support normally being due in January 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 is often, but 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 2023/2024 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Start Your Application

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: c. 3 years; Part time: c. 6 years
Start Date
September 2023
Start Date
January 2024
Fees & Funding

Join us at one of our Postgraduate Open Events

Find out about online and in-person opportunities to meet with us to find out more about our postgraduate courses and study at QMU. 

Postgraduate Open Events - More Info and Bookings