Postgraduate Course

Course details

Study options

Part-time: 4-6 years

Course level




Start dates

March, October


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Is a DBA the right choice for me?

As an executive doctoral research degree designed specifically for business professionals, managers and practitioners, the Derby DBA will challenge you to take your skills and knowledge to the highest level. It combines academic rigour with an applied approach based on your own professional practice.

The DBA attracts experienced professionals in senior and managerial roles who are keen to take the next step in their career development, to undertake impactful business research, and to add to the body of knowledge in their sector and profession. Many of our students have already achieved masters qualifications and choose the DBA as an alternative to more traditional PhD programmes.

Flexibility is central to the DBA. In the first two years, you will attend the University for scheduled taught sessions which are delivered in five short study blocks – three blocks in Year 1 and two blocks in Year 2 of your study- so that you can fit your learning around your work and home commitments. Throughout your DBA programme, you will undertake your independent research project with the support and guidance of expert supervisors.

This structure makes the DBA an excellent choice for international as well as UK students. You will benefit from being part of a dynamic research community where professionals from different countries, sectors and backgrounds can exchange ideas. It is a chance for you to gain global perspectives and build international networks which will serve you well in your future career.

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Our research

The world of business is changing – and our research is changing with it. We aim to be at the forefront of the debate of how to build better business: the kind of business that works for everyone.

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Advance your professional practice

The DBA allows you to investigate an important business issue of your choosing in great depth and apply your knowledge directly to the workplace.

The taught stages of the course help you to engage with advanced critical analysis and finesse your research skills, including how to design research projects and how to communicate your findings. You will learn how to synthesise ideas and concepts, drawing on the latest theoretical frameworks.

The independent research stage enables you to focus on a key challenge within your organisation or wider professional domain. You will explore how to solve problems innovatively, drive change and deliver a significant impact.

Our current DBA students are researching issues which are directly relevant to their experience in the workplace, covering themes such as project management, risk management, business strategy, services marketing, public sector management, cross-cultural management, talent management, environmental sustainability and sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, big data and artificial intelligence.

Our expertise

You will be inspired and motivated by an academic team made up of influential researchers, respected authors and experienced consultants. They are engaged in significant research projects and publish regularly to deliver fresh perspectives on the latest business trends.

Our Business and Management research is internationally recognised through the Research Excellence Framework (2014), and our expertise spans subjects as wide-ranging as behavioural economics, employee engagement, social media marketing, the green economy, industrial policy, supply chain management and corporate social responsibility. As a DBA student, you can also draw on specialist knowledge from across the University, paving the way for you to pursue interdisciplinary research.

Unlike many other DBA programmes, you will be allocated a supervisor who is a subject specialist at a very early stage in your studies, while you are still completing the taught modules and well before you embark on your independent research project. It means you will receive expert support in shaping your research proposal. In addition, a leadership coach works with each DBA cohort to assist students with their continuing professional development.       

Sustainable business

Sustainable Business and Clean Growth Research

Our Sustainable Business Research Cluster has developed a strong track record of researching how low-carbon and pro-environmental business responds to the clean growth agenda.

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New Derby Business School in the city centre

We're building a new Derby Business School, serving as an international centre of excellence. The superb new teaching facilities will build on our established reputation for inspirational teaching and research excellence, as we shape the next generation of qualified business leaders.

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Multi-Faith Centre, Kedleston Road

Postgraduate Open Event

Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.

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What you will study

The DBA programme begins with two taught ‘Theory for Practice’ stages comprising five core modules including a negotiated module requiring you to undertake an applied research project agreed with your DBA supervisor and the module leader. These modules build your skills in argument construction, critical evaluation, analysis and reflection, preparing you for greater learning autonomy as you progress. They also enhance your research skills and familiarity with various research methodologies and methods. The taught stage forms a core part of your doctoral training.

We also offer an optional module at the end of the taught stage of the programme if you wish to exit the programme with the MSc Business and Management Research qualification.

The ‘Independent research stage’ follows from the taught stage. This stage of your DBA programme aligns closely with the doctoral progression milestones culminating in the final examination of your doctoral thesis via viva voice by the internal and external examiners.

  • Introduction to research (20 credits)
  • Designing research projects (40 credits)
  • Developing the professional self (20 credits)
  • Negotiated module (20 credits)
  • Communicating your research (20 credits)

Practitioner project (420 credits) – PhD thesis of 50,000-60,000 words

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

Doctoral level study requires a great deal of independent study, equating to around 20 hours per week.

The scheduled taught sessions occur in blocks throughout the first two years of the programme and you will engage in: 

One-to-one tutorials, typically amounting to 10-15 hours per year, are arranged between you and your tutoring/supervision team. You can access your tutorials via online, phone or face-to-face options.

You can also make the most of online resources through our virtual learning environment (Blackboard/Course Resources).

Showcase your research

We encourage and support you to present your research to a wider audience. Our annual research conferences – at both University and Business School level – are a unique opportunity to share your progress and findings, while hearing from fellow students and academics about their own business specialisms. There may also be the chance to raise your professional profile by attending national and international conferences.

How you are assessed

Assessments are designed to be broad, wide-ranging, flexible and innovative. They facilitate your professional learning and allow you to produce work relevant to your own specialism. The assessments will review your: 

You must pass all the Theory for Practice taught stage modules in order to transfer to the independent research stage. Assessment outputs include preparing a research progress review at the end of stage 2.

At the Independent Research stage, you are required to complete reports which act as progression milestones. The final assessment for the doctoral award is through examination of your major practitioner project and a viva voce. We provide additional support at this stage through mock viva voce examinations.

Throughout your work towards the DBA, tutors and supervisors will give you formative feedback which serves as on-going support and guidance. Formal records of supervision meetings will also be kept to provide you with additional feedback.

Entry requirements

The programme seeks to admit highly capable individuals able to demonstrate motivation, interest and aptitude for doctoral level study with interests in business and management research. Both home and international applications are encouraged.

Where English is not the first language:

Find out more about our English language requirements

Potential applicants are strongly advised to discuss the programme and alternative doctoral study options with the Programme Leader prior to applying to ensure a best fit in terms of personal, professional and career aspirations.

Fees and funding

2024/25 (August 2024 - July 2025)

If you continue your DBA studies after Year 4, you will pay Year 4 fees for each year you remain on the programme.

Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.

Additional costs and optional extras

Funding your studies

Find out more about fees, postgraduate loans and support you may be entitled to.

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Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Find out about the Alumni discountFind out about the Alumni discount

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.


Additional information

  • All applicants must include a research proposal with their application
  • All applicants must comply to English proficiency entry standards as outlined in the entry requirements


Students choose to complete doctoral research for many reasons: you could be keen to take your professional development to the next level; to pursue applied research which has a meaningful impact in your workplace; or to add to the body of specialist knowledge about a particular professional area.

Whatever your ambition, the DBA adds prestige to your CV. When you successfully complete this programme, you will have achieved the highest academic qualification and will be allowed to use the title of Doctor (please note that some countries accept doctoral awards in different ways).

Our DBA students are usually in full-time employment, undertaking research in their own work context, and can use their doctorate as a platform for further promotion to senior roles and an enhanced standing in their profession.

As an elite member of Derby Business School’s alumni networks, you will also be encouraged to maintain your links with the University beyond the DBA programme. There is the potential to contribute to joint research projects and publications, become an associate lecturer or guest speaker, and support students following in your footsteps.

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

Included in your fees