Doctoral Degree

The Doctoral Degree is a research degree whereby the individual becomes an increasingly independent scholar who makes a substantial and original contribution to knowledge. 

It is normally the culmination of study which begins at the bachelor level and reaches a stage beyond the masters. For the PhD/DPhil and the named doctorate (e.g. D Mus), the development takes place under the guidance of recognised experts in the field of study and under circumstances that allow the individual access to appropriate research resources.

The contribution to knowledge is judged by independent experts applying contemporary international standards of the discipline. The hallmark will be the individual’s capacity for substantial independent research or scholarly creative activity as attested by his/her educational institution and/or as demonstrated by submitted work.

The major component of all doctorates is original research.  The body of work that leads to the award of a doctorate will be one or more of the following:

  • a thesis (the PhD/DPhil)
  • creative work in the visual or performing arts (the PhD/DPhil)
  • a thesis or equivalent creative work in combination with coursework (the named doctorate)
  • a creative work in the visual or performing arts (the named doctorate) with a thesis (the named doctorate)
  • published work.

Credit requirements

A Doctoral Degree requires at least 360 credits and is listed at level 10. 

The following types of Doctoral Degree are recognised.

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD/DPhil)

A thesis constitutes the entire body of work on which the award of the qualification will be judged. Coursework may also be prescribed for the individual, but this will only contribute to the preparation for research and acceptance into the doctoral programme. Where appropriate, individuals may present a creative work as part of the thesis requirement.

Doctorate in a specified field or discipline - the named doctorate (e.g. EdD or the DMus)

For a doctorate in a specified field, coursework may contribute to the assessed programme of study, but research or the scholarly creative activity and the associated thesis must occupy at least two full-time academic years and contribute not less than two-thirds of the overall credit for the degree.

The coursework, which is to be at a standard in advance of that expected for a masters paper, must be part of a coherent programme with the research work, and should normally cover no more than one full-time academic year.

An individual for a named doctorate must gain a passing grade in both the coursework and the thesis or its creative work equivalent.

Higher Doctorate (e.g. the DSc or the DLitt)

Higher Doctorates are awarded for independent work of special excellence, as judged by leading international experts, which is completed before a person makes an application to enrol for the degree. Individuals will normally be expected to have completed at least ten years of independent work and to have published extensively.

Publication will normally be in scholarly books and/or in reputable international journals. Individuals in the visual or performing arts will have made equally outstanding contributions in their creative work.

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