Regulations for Doctoral Degrees by Examination and Thesis or Portfolio [DProf]

These regulations govern the award of Doctoral Degrees by Examination and Thesis (Professional Doctorate – generically DProf – or a specifically named award) at Aberystwyth University. Professional Doctorates will be awarded in recognition of the successful completion of an approved taught programme of study, together with successful completion of further study and research.

The regulations are intended to enable qualified professionals to engage in high level CPD and to study for a doctorate while remaining in employment and closely associated with their profession/workplace. Usually candidates will work for a business or a professional organisation with which the university, has, or is developing, a collaborative relationship and for whom the university has designed a specific named pathway.

Such degrees will be awarded to students who have demonstrated:

the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication or production;
a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice or is likely to lead to professional or organisational change in the candidate’s workplace/profession;
the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;
a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to development of new knowledge, techniques, ideas or approaches.

Doctoral degree holders will have completed research training that provides the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, viz:

the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations in professional or equivalent environments;
the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

In judging the merit of work submitted in candidature for Doctoral Degrees by Examination and Thesis or Portfolio (DProf), the examiners shall bear in mind the standard and scope of work which it is reasonable to expect a capable and diligent student to present after the period of registered study.

On completion of a Doctoral degree, graduates will have attained Level 8, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (August 2008).

Doctoral Degrees by Examination and Thesis (Professional Doctorate) may not be conferred honoris causa.


1. A candidate for a Doctoral Degree by Examination and Thesis, may study for the degree by pursuing the programme of study and research on a full-time or part-time basis in an external place of employment.

2. Candidates may qualify following successful completion of an approved taught course and programme of research pursued either on a full-time basis or on a part-time basis.

3. A candidate for a Doctoral Degree by Examination and Thesis must hold one of the following qualifications prior to commencement of the course:

• an initial degree from Aberystwyth University;
• an initial degree from another University approved for this purpose;
• a non-graduate qualification which the University has deemed to be equivalent to graduation.

Irrespective of a candidate's qualifications, the University must satisfy itself that a candidate is of the required academic standard to complete the scheme of taught courses and research proposed.

4. A candidate must register at the University, pay the appropriate fee prescribed and pursue the scheme of teaching and research for the minimum period defined below:

Full-time candidates: minimum period three years;
Part-time candidates: minimum period five years.

5. Candidates will be required to present themselves for examination in two parts.

6. In Part One a candidate shall follow a taught programme of study (which may include periods of approved professional/industrial practice and training), together with a programme of research for the duration prescribed. Typically this will comprise 60 taught credits and a portfolio of work or research thesis (approximately 20 000 words in length) equivalent to a further 120 credits. The taught credits must include an element of research training. Exemptions may be granted by the University (based on previous postgraduate or professionally accredited qualifications) from specified components of Part One of the scheme.

7. Part One examinations shall comprise assessments of an advanced character in fields of study prescribed by the Programme Regulations. These examinations shall include evaluation of the professional practice and training and may take the form of unseen written examination papers or set projects or other forms of course assessment. In order to progress to Part Two all components at Part One must be passed at a minimum mark of 50%.

8. A candidate who fails to pass Part One may, at the discretion of the Examining Board for the taught components, re-present himself/herself for examination on one further occasion only, not more than fifteen months from the date of the original examination. A fee shall be payable for re-examination.

9. Part Two of the examination shall take the form of a thesis or portfolio of work, embodying the methods and results of a research project or projects.

10. At Part Two the thesis shall be examined via oral examination. A portfolio of work shall be examined in the manner laid out in the specific Programme Regulations.

11. Both the taught and research components of the examination must be passed in order to qualify for the award of the degree.

12. A candidature shall lapse if a thesis is not submitted, in the form and manner prescribed, by the time-limit listed below:


In the case of a three candidature, four years from the official beginning of the candidate's period of study.


In the case of a five-year candidature, seven years from the official beginning of the candidate's period of study.

13. The University shall ensure that candidates are supervised, on a regular and continuing basis, in accordance with its general procedures for postgraduate supervision.

14. For each candidature, the University shall approve a supervisory team including a minimum of one main supervisor and a second supervisor nominated by the candidate's Department.

15. The main supervisor will normally be a full-time member of the academic staff of the University. The second supervisor will normally be a full-time member academic staff of the University or collaborative institution or organization.

16. Every candidate's research shall be completed by the presentation of a thesis (normally not exceeding 60,000 words in length, excluding Appendices and genuine footnotes) which embodies the methods and results of the research or a portfolio of work. A properly constituted Examining Board is required to conduct an oral examination of a candidate who submits either a thesis or portfolio for examination. This requirement might, however, be waived at the discretion of the Examining Board, when an examination of re-submitted work is being conducted, and the examiners judge the work to be a clear pass

17. Candidates shall sign a declaration to certify that the work submitted has not been accepted in substance for any degree or award, and is not being submitted concurrently in candidature for any degree or other award. The signed declaration shall be included in all copies of the works submitted for examination.

18. The University shall ensure that the form of submission and examination of the thesis conform with the University's ‘Regulations for the Submission and Examination of Research Theses'.

Additional Regulations pertaining to named programmes

DAg (Doctor of Agriculture)

Part One shall comprise a total credit value of 180 credits. The research Examination shall consist of a thesis of up to 60,000 words (excluding Appendices and genuine footnotes).

DBiol (Doctor of Biology)

Part One shall comprise a total credit value of 180 credits. The research Examination shall consist of a thesis of up to 60,000 words (excluding Appendices and genuine footnotes).